How Can You Ensure The Longevity Of Your Asphalt Driveway?

If your home or business has an asphalt driveway, you already know how attractive they are and how smooth a car ride they can create. However, these driveways do require some regular maintenance -- and when not properly maintained may need to be repaved, costing you thousands. Read on to learn more about what you should be doing to ensure the health and longevity of your asphalt driveway.

Why maintain your asphalt driveway?

Some maintenance of any type of driveway is necessary to prevent future problems. However, because asphalt is distilled from petroleum (just like gasoline), its cost can fluctuate wildly depending on current oil prices. If you don't properly maintain your asphalt driveway and need it to be repaved or resurfaced during a time of high gas prices, you may find yourself in a financial crunch. However, with proper maintenance, most asphalt driveways can last 20 to 35 years or more.

What should you be doing to maintain your asphalt driveway?

There are several steps you can take to ensure that your driveway reaches its maximum lifespan.

  • Provide a protective layer

When an asphalt driveway is installed, small rock pellets are mixed with sticky petroleum chunks and compressed by powerful machinery into a hard, smooth surface. Although this asphalt looks and feels solid, it remains semi-porous -- and can be harmed or prematurely aged by vehicles with oil or antifreeze leaks, fertilizer runoff, or even just excessive rain. Finishing the driveway with a coating or two of specially-formulated sealant will ensure that these tiny pores are sufficiently clogged to block the internal pavement itself from damage. A sealant coat is likely the most effective step you can take to extend the life of your driveway, and can be refreshed every few years to provide even longer-lasting protection.

  • Avoid known hazards

Although this sealant is able to keep out even the most corrosive substances on a one-time basis, long-term and repeated exposure to hazardous material can cause the petroleum to break down and lead to cracks and pitting. If you have an older vehicle, you may wish to park it on a protective sleeve or even a tarp if you're worried about dripping oil, antifreeze, or other engine liquids. Be sure your driveway is adequately sloped and any dips are filled in so that rainwater doesn't pool or form puddles. By identifying and eliminating common hazards as they arise, you can substantially reduce the wear and tear on your driveway.

What happens if repair is needed?

Fortunately -- unlike brick or concrete -- asphalt is versatile enough that it can be seamlessly and easily patched when cracks or holes appear. However, this process can go very well or very badly, depending upon the amount of preparation you undertake. If you're dealing with a sizable hole or any type of crack that gives you doubt, consult a professional from a site like to help you out.

Before engaging in a DIY repair of small cracks, large cracks, or holes, you should ensure that the entire surface of the asphalt is swept clean and free from liquid or debris.

  • For cracks

Most small cracks can be repaired simply by adding some extra sealant to the area. After you've cleaned the area, pour the sealant into the crack until it is level with the surface. Then spread a thin layer of sealant over the area, let dry, and add another layer to ensure that the patch is solid.

Large cracks can be handled in a similar way, but you'll need to substitute asphalt patching material for the fill-in sealant. You'll want to pack down the patching material with a sledgehammer or other heavy tool -- if it's too fluffy, it may quickly work its way back out of the crack.

  • For holes or dips

If you're facing a hole or dip, you'll want to fill it in with gravel or other hard stone before applying the patch and sealant. Because you're unable to apply the pressure needed to compact a large amount of patching asphalt, you'll need a more solid underlayment to ensure that the patch remains on the same level as the rest of your driveway.