What is the Best Way to Patch an Asphalt Driveway?

Asphalt is one of the most frequently used materials for driveway surfaces due to its durability, cost-effectiveness, and versatility. However, whether it's through heavy use, extreme weather, or even just a long life, asphalt driveways may incur some damage from time to time and require repair. 

If you’ve been doing some research, you’ll probably know that there are many different ways to repair an asphalt driveway. Some are better than others, and even our recommended method, asphalt patching, comes in a variety of different forms. From the team of experts here at Asphalt Doctors, here is the best way to patch an asphalt driveway. 

What is asphalt patching? 

Asphalt patching is a broad term referring to the repair of cracks and holes within an asphalt’s surface. Regardless if it is recent or older damage, small or extensive, asphalt patching is the most cost-effective way to repair and protect your pavement. In its most general form, asphalt patching includes the mixing of used and new asphalt that is relaid and paved on top of old asphalt. Damaged sections of the asphalt driveway may be excavated, reheated and mixed with new asphalt, then relaid and tamped down to form a surface that appears and functions like new. 

Types of Asphalt Patching

There are several different types of asphalt patching. The first delineation is hot and cold asphalt patching. Cold patching or cold asphalt repairs are fast and don’t require special heavy rolling machines or applicators. Asphalt is simply shoveled or poured into the pothole, crack, or damaged section and tamped down. Cold patching is certainly a temporary fix, but it is much quicker and easier to achieve. This is a great option if you’re looking for a DIY solution for a private road or driveway, but it does not last very long and another repair will likely be due in the not-too-distant future. 

Hot asphalt lasts much longer, is much more durable, and provides a more solid base. However, it does require specialist equipment and trained contractors, which makes it a slightly more expensive option. Hot asphalt is the best way to patch an asphalt driveway to ensure longevity and structural integrity, but the type of hot asphalt patching depends on your driveway’s particular situation. Hot asphalt has several different forms that are used in a variety of applications, such as: 

Surface “Skin” Patching: this hot asphalt patching method is used for minor defects such as low areas/depressions, minor rutting, delamination or slight deterioration of asphalt. As such, this method is not used for potholes or major breaks. 

Infrared Patching: this asphalt patching incorporates a blend of hot-mix asphalt with the original, damaged asphalt. Potholes, cracks, and rough surfaces are excavated, compacted, and reapplied for a seamless restoration. This is a very popular patching method as the infrared rays allow deep penetration asphalt repair and reclaiming without causing burning, scaling, or separation of the asphalt from the aggregate. Infrared patching has additional advantages including cost savings, as the project is completed with fewer raw materials; time savings, as this repair option takes less time than traditional asphalt resurfacing; seamless repairs, as the patch bonds to the existing surface and produces no joints for water to penetrate; and fewer traffic interruptions, as the patch can be driven on almost immediately.

Full Depth Patching “R&R”: Full depth patching is another hot asphalt patching method, used primarily for major damage that requires the full depth of the asphalt to be repaired or replaced. Damage such as displacement /faulting, alligatoring, and major potholes need this type of repair.

Patching versus New Asphalt 

There are certain situations when a new asphalt driveway may be recommended over patching. A general rule of thumb is that asphalt driveways will have a lifetime of 15-20 years. If your driveway is at this age or beyond, we recommend a new driveway as the amount of repairs it will need will only increase and a new driveway will be much more cost-efficient. Similarly, if your driveway has cracks and potholes covering one-third or more of the driveway, a replacement will be more cost-efficient than trying to repair it all. 

If, however, your driveway is still generally young and the damage is not too extensive, patching will always be recommended because it will be less expensive and much quicker to complete. 

Professional Asphalt Patching versus DIY Repair 

Many people might wonder whether the best way to patch an asphalt driveway is to hire the help of a professional contractor or to get it done as a DIY project. The answer to this ultimately depends on your goals. If you want the quickest and least expensive asphalt patch, then a DIY repair will be the way to go. Unfortunately, DIY projects are only able to use cold asphalt mix as hot mix requires extensive experience and heavy machinery that is hard to use and expensive to rent. 

If your goal is to patch your asphalt driveway with a solution that will be durable, long-lasting, and structurally sound, then hot asphalt patching with the help of a professional is the wiser choice. If time is your biggest concern, hot mix takes slightly longer to apply than cold mix, but in most situations, a driving surface can still be ready within a few hours! 

The Bottom Line: The Best Asphalt Patch with Asphalt Doctors

The best type of asphalt patching largely depends on the particular situation of your asphalt driveway, such as the extent and type of damage. Working with experts such as the Asphalt Doctors will not only be able to provide all the most effective types of asphalt patching, but our experienced team will help you determine the optimal patching method that your driveway needs. 
If you’re ready to get started with your asphalt patching project or if you still have a few more questions, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly professionals at Asphalt Doctors today!