Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Repairing and Sealing an Asphalt Driveway

By: Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford applying asphalt sealer to driveway.

Asphalt is a durable material for driveways, but it needs to be maintained from time to time to increase the lifespan of the driveway. Asphalt driveway maintenance includes:

  • Edging the driveway to keep grass from growing over it.
  • Repairing holes in the driveway using a cold asphalt repair mix.
  • Sealing the surface of the driveway with asphalt sealer every few years.

Read episode article to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

This house has great curb appeal, but it’s overshadowed by this ugly driveway, we’re about to change that.

Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement, with projects tips, and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: Many homeowners spend a lot of time and money making sure the front of their house looks just right, while neglecting one of the most visible parts of their home, their driveway.

Now, this is an asphalt driveway, which is probably the most common type of driveway, and it’s very durable but still it can be damaged by sun, rain, snow, drainage problems, and it always seems like roots find someway of breaking the surface of any type of driveway. Well our plan is to completely revitalize this driveway by repairing, patching, and sealing the surface that will make it look a whole lot better than it does now and it’ll make it last a lot longer as well.

Now if you’re driveway is just beyond repair there are many other options that we’ll look at that you might consider, stay with us.

I see a number of obvious reasons why these homeowners are having problems with this asphalt driveway, this is where they park their second car and down below the car all these deposits of transmission fluid and oil; that has a way of really breaking down the asphalt material itself. Also tree roots, not much you can do about it, it certainly causes a lot of problems in this particular situation, also next to it you can see where the water kind of ponds up in this area after a heavy rain.

The reason this doesn’t drain off properly is because the grass is grown up on this side of the driveway causing kind of a damming effect that can really cause problems with the asphalt itself. Now the tips we’re going to share with you this week are tips that you can use whether you’re driveway’s looking like this or it’s a brand new driveway. Ways that you can really maintain the driveway so that it looks and lasts better for a long, long time.

Now before we can do any repair or patching of this problem driveway, we have to get it clean. First Scott and I will round up all the tools we’ll need to get the job done, here that will include a push broom, a pressure washer, and a couple of flat bladed shovels. We begin by edging around the drive with the shovels to cut back the grass. This serves several purposes: first it clears off the asphalt edge so that we can see the whole drive to clean it and second, it just make the thing look better with the edges clearly defined.

But besides getting back lots of driveway that has been covered by the lawn, we’ve extended the life of the asphalt. The grass and dirt hold moisture on top of the asphalt which will shorten its life, and with enough time even these tiny roots will begin to break up the surface.

Now, we’ve made quite a mess so before we do any pressure washing we want to get most of this dirt and debris off the drive so we’re not just pushing around mud. We also need somewhere for the water to go before we fire up the pressure washer and since this is the spot on the drive where water has been standing we’re going to give it a little relief by cutting a trench to carry the water away from the asphalt.

The pressure washer we’re using will generate about 3,000 pounds of force per square inch and that makes the cleaning go pretty quickly. We aren’t trying to get it spotless but we do want to remove most of the dirt that might keep our sealer from sticking later, and cleaning out the cracks and grooves will also make the repair work go easier.

Now that all of our pressure washing is complete, I’m using this stiff broom just to sweep off any of the debris that might be left over. You know you don’t have to clean a driveway like this as clean as you would say a wood deck that you’re resealing, but you want to get as much loose material off the driveway as you can.

Now a lot of times when you pressure wash the outside of your house you may find a few things that you really didn’t want to find, maybe some repairs that were hidden behind some of the dirt and grime that was on the house, well we found a similar situation here, this is a lot worse than what we thought. And it’s going to require a good bit of work and you can see a lot of these loose pieces that are here.

Scott and I are going to have to dig all of this out before we start patching, but that’ll take up most of our time in terms of the repair. But one thing we don’t want to ignore is any of the other small cracks that are around, we’ve got, one here’s a good example because if you don’t fill this up and keep the water out of going down inside here and undermining it, then it will end up looking just like that.

The first step for the roughest spots is to actually remove some of the asphalt, all of the broken, loose pieces have to go, and the edges around these damaged areas have to be cleaned, so that the repair material will have a good surface to bond to. We’re also pulling up any small roots and clearing out any debris that would mess up our patch, for smaller areas this may be as simple as a little digging with a screw drive and a quick dusting with a whiskbroom, but it’s necessary in either case.

These larger voids are being filled with an asphalt repair material called Tamp and Set, the idea is pretty simple, you dump it in the whole, spread it out a little to smooth the surface, pack it in place with the tamp, although you don’t have to heat this stuff to work it like you would asphalt, the weather does need to be pretty warm. Combine that with the workout you’ll get from this tamp and you’ll work up a sweat in a hurry.

For less severe damage, we found a paste like patch that trowels over the divots and low places of a half-inch or so. If you put this material on thicker than that, it may crack. It can be layered but it takes several hours to dry between coats, this will make an enormous difference for driveways that have a pitted or kind of bumpy surface.

The oil spots I mentioned before, they don’t need any repairs but they do need to be isolated so that they don’t bleed through our sealer, this primer will keep that from happening and it should ensure that the sealer will stick well to the asphalt.

After we sweep out all the smaller cracks we’re going to make sure they don’t become bigger ones by filling them with a rubberized caulk. Because it’s more of a liquid than most caulks, this mixture levels itself in the hole and because it’s elastic it will continue to fill the gap even if the crack expands or contracts a little with temperature changes. It’s important to seal every single crack you possibly can to prevent any of the water from getting under the driveway which can undermine it and cause you a lot of problems.

Also, if you live in a real cold climate, that water can freeze and that damage is unbelievable on a driveway. Now we already have all of our cracks filled and all of our patches complete, now we need a little drying time before we can apply our first coat of sealer.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: There are several simple home improvement products that we tend to make much more complicated than they need to be, including hanging pictures. Now I’ve seen all sorts of gadgets and tools and special levels even lasers that you need to hang a picture, and I just don’t get any of that.

I’ve discovered that all you really need to hang a picture is a strip of wood and a single nail. And this just a piece of light, thin piece of wood with a single roofing nail, and I like to use a roofing nail because it has a nice broad head.

What you do is you just slip the nail onto the wire on the back of the picture and then hold it up where you want it; in this case we’re trying to center it in between the closet doors and the curtain. So you get it the proper height that you’d like then just simply press in, and the nail will make a hole right in the wall and you just drive your nail down through there and you hang your picture exactly where you want it.

Danny Lipford: We’re back out on our asphalt driveway repair project and we’re at the point where everything has been cleaned, we’ve chopped away all our grass on our edges of the driveway, pressure washed everything, then we were able to proceed with all of our patching and all of the crack filling that we’ve done.

Now, after we got it clean we saw all the damage that we had here, we had no idea it was as bad as it was, but we’ve gotten it to the point where we’ve repaired it and we’re ready to start the sealing process in the next couple days.

Now, one of the things that the manufacturer suggested in order to accelerate the drying time is that we use playground sand like this, and we just spread a little over the surface of the patches, that will help it dry and give it a little bit of texture and strength to it. Just put a little bit more here and there and we should be in really good shape.

Now, we were able to save this driveway, even though we had to do a lot of work on it; but if your driveway’s in worse shape than this, you’re option is a new driveway. If you’re going to the trouble and expense of replacing an asphalt drive it may not be a good idea to just pave over the old drive, if there were problems with grading or the base material beneath the old drive that caused it to fail in the first place, you’re just throwing good money after bad.

A well packed clay or gravel based that is graded so that the water runs off of it will protect the investment you’re making in the new driveway. This can be a very time consuming process and often the guys who do the best work will cost a little more because they’ll spend the extra time it takes to do this part of the job right. After the surface is properly graded and compacted the asphalt can begin going in place.

While spreading the asphalt can also be done by machine, that’s sometimes difficult by close quarters of a residential driveway so shovels, breaks, and some strong backs do the work of establishing a rough grade before a roller compacts the material into a smooth flat surface.

This kind of work is not only harder than the tamping I was doing earlier but it’s also a lot more dangerous because this asphalt has to be incredibly hot in order to both shape and form it. In face the roller that’s packing this asphalt has water that’s constantly rolling over the drum to cool the surface as it’s compressed. Though the work is hot, it does go quickly and because of that fact asphalt is among the least expensive options for a driveway surface.

If you’re faced with having to replace your driveway, nothing says you have to use the same material. Now one option that’s even cheaper than asphalt is to use gravel, rock, or some type of limestone.

Now, just like with any other driveway, you want to make sure that the base that it’s sitting on is very compacted, so you may want to use some type of material that’ll pack very well and a mechanical tamper or compactor that will really pack it out well before you put four to five inches of gravel on top of that.

Now, if you want a good clean edge, then you may need to use some kind of edging like a landscape material or treated wood or even some bricks. But this works out fairly well, so that you’re gravel and you’re grass is pretty much level. It makes it very easy to keep it mowed and in order to rake any of the gravel very easy to maintain the gravel itself. And one of the best advantages of gravel is it drains very easily so that you don’t have any problems with drainage which as you know, can cause a lot of damage.

Now another option for a driveway is concrete. These surfaces also require a solid well compacted base to begin with but they also depend on the forms that are constructed around that base to contain the concrete while it cures. One of the advantages of concrete is that it is harder than asphalt but that also means it’s more brittle, to combat that it needs reinforcement.

Now, some people rely on fiberglass added into the concrete mixture, but I prefer the old fashioned reinforcement wire bedded into the slab as it’s poured. This grid of steel ensures that the whole thing stays together.

However, even the best concrete slab is prone to crack from the expansion and contraction that comes with temperature changes so adding expansions joints is a must. These grooves give the slab a convenient place to crack, which will also hide the crack from view.

Concrete on driveways is usually given a brushed finish or a washed aggregate finish like this one, but it also can be stamped to give it even more character. This treatment gives the appearance of being created from another material like bricks or pavers.

Of course those are also options for a driveway that work well. Again you’ll want a well compacted base to support the pavers and you may even want to combine them with another type of surface like concrete for some variety.

Lucky for us this driveway can be repaired, so we don’t have to consider any of those new driveway options, but our driveway will look brand new once we complete applying all of our sealer.

Now, we finished up all of the crack filler and the different places we patched on the driveway a few days and then allowed them to dry thoroughly before we started this next step, which is applying the sealer itself. But first just like any stain job or paint job you have to get the surface clean so that anything that you apply to the surface will stay there for a long time.

Now, I’m going to finish sleeping a little bit here, but when we come back we’ll finish putting all the sealer on here that will make it look great, right after this.

Announcer: Let’s join Danny at the home center to check out this week’s best new product. Brought to you by the Home Depot.

Danny Lipford: Do-it-yourselfers all over the country face this problem all the time, you’ve just filled in those nail holes in the wall with spackle or completed finishing a drywall repair but you’re not sure when to begin sanding and painting. If you paint or sand too soon when it’s still wet, you could ruin all of your repair work and it’s right back at square one.

One of the solutions is the DryDex line of spackle and joint compound from DAP, solves that problem with the unique technology that lets you know exactly when it’s ready to sand or paint.

DryDex is applied like ordinary spackle or joint compounds except this material is pink when it goes onto the wall, as it dries the color changes from pink to white to let you know it’s time to sand and apply another coat of paint. Now proper application means you’ll get a smoother finished surface with a lot less work, and we found the spackle for less than $6 and a large tub of joint compound for around $20.

Now that’s comparable to ordinary spackle and joint compounds that won’t tell you when they’re dry.

Our driveway’s not a very pretty sight right now, but wait till you see it after we apply the driveway sealer. Now, when we started this project we had to do a lot of cleaning all along the edges where grass had grown over the edge of the asphalt driveway as well as some of the dirt that had accumulated over the years.

After all of that was out of there we realized what kind of damage we had, so a lot of filling of cracks and a few holes where we had to remove the old asphalt and then patch it with a driveway patch. Now we’ve allowed it to dry thoroughly and now we’re ready to apply our sealer, and that’s the fun part.

Before we got started we mask off the concrete around the perimeter of the drive so that we wouldn’t mess it up, we also used a mechanical stirrer to mix the latex based sealer, even though the manufacturer calls it a no-stir formula. The mixing process mostly just breaks up the lumps in the materials that would cause splatters when it’s poured out or makes it more difficult to spread it out once it’s on the drive.

Because this stuff is so thick, a roller wouldn’t work very well for spreading it, so the tool they recommend is a squeegee. You can pay a pro to do this job, but really the process couldn’t be simpler.

You start from the highest end of the drive, so gravity works with you not against you, and you work your way down. You dump out a small amount at a time and then begin spreading it out over the drive with the squeegee. Now one thing I did discover pretty quickly is that pulling works a lot better than pushing, not only because it’s easier but also because it leaves a smoother surface behind.

Along the edges you have to go a little slower to be sure to cover every thing without lumping up the sealer. Nut out in the middle of the drive, it’s kind of like smearing a big pile of mud all around. If the kids see this, you might have more volunteers than you can use.

Even though the work can be done fairly quickly, you don’t want to go so fast that you don’t cover the surface completely. If you drag the sealer over a particularly rough area too fast and too thin it won’t coat the low spots entirely.

It’s also important to keep an eye out for spots that the sealer might be piling up, like the ridges that sometimes form at the edge of the squeegee, you want to be sure and smooth those out before you move on and after a while you begin to develop a smooth fluid pattern that pulls the sealer out quickly and evenly.

The other great thing about this stuff is because it’s latex based, it cleans up with simple soap and water. To allow sufficient time for our sealer to dry we’ve blocked off the driveway with our old buckets to make sure no one accidentally drives onto the driveway.

Now for foot traffic, you only have to wait about three or four hours. And if you need to recoat it with a second coat, which many driveways will be very porous and will need that, then you need to wait about five to six hours. Now before we allow any vehicles to drive on the resurfaced driveway, we’ll need to wait at least 24 hours. And as hot as it is today, I’m sure that won’t be any problem for it to be completely dry by then.

Now this is looking good, but this area that we had to kind of dig out a little bit, really needs a little help. We lowered this area to let water escape the drive but we can’t leave it looking bare, so we’re laying out some sod to hold the soil and dressing up the torn flower beds a bit.

While we finish up here, check out this week’s Around the Yard.

Announcer: Let’s head outside for Around the Yard with lawn and garden expert Tricia Craven Worley.

Tricia Craven Worley: A hedge is a beautiful way to enclose a space or to create a dramatic backdrop in your garden, such as this beautiful Chinese holly, or that fabulous azalea. But you know there are some things that you want to keep in mind when you’re picking out your hedge.

And I suggest that you talk to you local nursery and find out about what hedge would work well in your area. And talk about the spacing, how far apart you’re going to plant them and also how big it’s going to grow.

And something else you want to keep in mind is how much time are you going to have to spend when you’re taking care of it, for example, boxwood I know is really popular with a lot of people, but it takes hours and hours to trim, a lot different than something that’s very natural such as this holly.

Something else that you want to think about is whether it’s going to be deciduous or not, is it going to lose its leaves during a particular part of the time during the year it’s going to break down your privacy.

And then also something else you want to think about is, is it going to be a subject of infestation. In this event you might think about putting two different kinds of plants together so if one happens to get sick the other one is still there, still giving you some green and some privacy in your own garden.

Danny Lipford: We spent about $250 on all the plants, the mulch, the stone, and all of the grass we planted but look at the improvement on this side of the driveway.

Now on the driveway repairs we spent about $400 to by all of the crack filler and the patch as well as the sealer that we applied to it, but think about 400 and 250, $650 spent here. But look at the difference that we made in the overall look of the house, increased the curb appeal tremendously, and increased the value of the home.

Now depending on the type of asphalt driveway you have and what kind of condition it’s in, you’ll need to reseal about every two years but if you’ve done the job right you won’t have to do all the tough repairs that we had to do on this particular driveway. And if you need more information about driveways check out our website at dannylipford.com

A 30 year old kitchen gets an over due update on next week’s show.

If you’d like to purchase a videotape or DVD copy of this weeks show visit our website at dannylipford.com or call us at 1800-946-4420.



Comments

Please Leave a Comment

One Comment on “Repairing and Sealing an Asphalt Driveway”

You can follow comments to this article by subscribing to the RSS news feed with your favorite feed reader.


  • Robert Hong Says:
    July 18th, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    Dear,

    Thank you very much. Your episode of “Repairing and Sealing an Asphalt Driveway” is very informative. I have a driveway with exact condition like the one in your show because it has been neglected for a few years. I plan to DYI repair and seal. But I prefer to have a professional do it. Do you have any affiliated service in Northern Virginia or Washington DC area? You have mention that the material cost around $400, what should be the total repair cost? Thank you very much in anticipation for any suggestion.

    Best Regards,
    Bob


We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at todayshomeowner.com.