What can I do about cracks in my blacktop driveway?

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Asphalt, commonly called blacktop, is a great choice for driveways because, if it’s properly put down, it can last up to 20 years with regular maintenance (more on that below).

Beyond taking away from your curb appeal, the problem with cracks in blacktop is that they’re pathways for water. Water eats away at the base layer of your driveway, plus when winter arrives in cold climates, that trapped water freezes and expands, compounding the problem with your compound! Cracks and holes will definitely get worse over time, so this isn’t a job you want to put off.

Crack Repair: Fill ’Er Up

Fortunately most cracks can be repaired, or rather filled in, with special materials. Cracks may come back over time, but it’s less expensive to fill them than replace your entire driveway. Some manufacturers such as Gardner-Gibson make compounds for both small and larger cracks, like its Crack Stopper Crack & Joint Filler and Crack Stopper Elastomeric Crack Filler. These take advantage of new technologies for better performing asphalt-based formulations that, more and more, are replacing the old standard, coal tar.

Ruts And Holes: A New Topcoat

If your driveway blacktop problem is dozens or hundreds of cracks and holes, talk to a driveway repair company about putting down a new top layer, an economical alternative to replacing the entire driveway. Make sure the base layer is treated with a product to kill weeds before the new layer is applied.

Sealer: Every Other Year Maintenance

While an asphalt sealer won’t repair cracks, it does offer excellent protection against new ones. The best way to keep your blacktop driveway looking new is to have a sealer applied every other year—don’t wait until it looks like you need it. An effective sealer will fight off wear from all the elements: heat, cold, rain, snow and ice. Depending on your climate, spring and summer are often the best times to have driveway work done.

Finding The Right Pro

As you’re looking for a qualified driveway contractor, keep in mind that many professionals only repair and seal—they don’t replace. That’s fine as long as you don’t need a complete overhaul.

Understand the steps they’re going to take to repair and seal your driveway. Make sure they:

  • use quality products
  • prepare the surface properly, including cleaning and killing weeds
  • patch cracks and holes with appropriate fillers
  • use undiluted, quality sealer
  • apply products at the correct temperature—for sealer, that’s usually 65° F and rising
  • spread sealer manually to avoid puddling

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