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Repair and seal your asphalt driveway

January 14, 2013

You've worked hard to keep your home in top shape, inside and out. But don't forget to renew the driveway—often the last (or sometimes forgotten) piece to a picture-perfect property. The best time to repair your driveway is summer and early fall, while the hot sun is working its hardest. (Newly paved driveways need to cure 1 year prior to sealing).

Most of the time you spend will be preparing the driveway and waiting patiently. Allot 3 days from start to finish for this project. Make sure the forecast calls for sun and warm temperatures, above 60 degrees. (Make sure at night it's above 55 degrees, as the sealer will not adhere if it's below that.)

Tools and Materials

Asphalt crack filler Asphalt patch mix Shovel or spade
Stirring stick Tamping tool Gloves
Wire brush Oil spot primer Driveway cleaner
Driveway sealer Chisel or screwdriver Push broom
Driveway squeegee Trowel Hammer
Shop vacuum Lawn edging tool
Garden hose with spray nozzle

Step 1
. Clean your driveway.  Clean and trim the edges of your driveway of any grass or growth. Clean any weeds out of cracks in the asphalt, being sure to remove the roots, if possible.

There are a few driveway cleaners/degreasers available at The Home Depot, some of which connect directly to your hose. If after cleaning you still have oil or gas spots, use an oil spot primer, also found near the driveway products. Oil and gas spots will eventually seep through your newly sealed driveway if not taken care of.

Sweep and spray your driveway one last time before applying crack-fillers in the next step.

Note: While cleaning, take the sealer you plan to use and turn the pail upside down for the day. This will make mixing your sealer easier, before you spread it the next day.

Step 2. Fill cracks and potholes. Scrape, brush with a wire brush and clear out cracks before filling. Crack sealers are available at The Home Depot or at homedepot.com. For rough spots, shallows and large cracks, use a smooth “Trowel” patch. Allow these repairs to cure overnight before starting early the next day. For ruts and potholes, use an asphalt patch “Stone” mix.

Follow the manufacturer instructions for applying these products. Tamp the pothole repair using a tamper or any blunt object (like a cinder block—you also can use a 4"x 4" piece of lumber). Allow two weeks for pothole repairs to cure prior to sealing (if you spray with a hose and it "beads" up, the repair is not ready for sealer).

Step 3. Mix your sealer well. Storing it upside down for the night helps, but you'll also need to mix it quite well. Failure to do so may result in an uneven, blotchy appearance. You can use a mudflap attachment for your drill if you have a lot of pails or buy an empty pail and “batch" the pails by pouring back and forth.

Step 4. Apply your first coat early in the day. First, block off your driveway. Take a moment to read the pail. When applying, edge first using a paintbrush or a large wallpaper brush. This will help prevent any adjacent sidewalks or walkways from getting stained.

Once the edging is done, spread sealer with a rubber squeegee, starting up by the house (work with gravity . . . not against it). Two thin coats are always better than one thick coat, as that may track. Don't start and stop the project, as that may cause shading. It's important to not let your sealer form puddles, as this will cause uneven drying.

Step 5. Apply your second coat. Let the first coat cure for at least 4-12 hours before applying another coat. If the humidity is high or temperatures drop, it's best to wait until the next day.

Step 6. Let it cure. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding drying time. You'll want to wait 24-48 hours before driving on your newly sealed driveway.