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Question DetailsAsked on 8/22/2015

How to best repair 1/4+" very long deep cracks in asphalt driveway? I would like suggestions on best products.

Cracks are less than 1/2" wide.

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2 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Best - hot-poured melted coal tar - same crack sealer they use on city streets. Would require repair by a crack filling specialty company. You want the about 350-450 degree tar, NOT an asphalt emulsion product.

Next best - DIY or Driveway contractor - melted asphalt (again, high-temp) by driveway or roofing company (basically same product as used for hot tarred roofs). Both this and above by commercial paving companies - very few residential paving companies do the hot liquid crack sealing.

Third - DIY or contractor - a melt-in-place asphaltic strip product like this -

Fourth - liquid crack sealer (gallon jugs and caulk tubes) from M-D or ATCO or similar. I would NOT use Black Jack brand from box stores like WalMart - seems to have very poor lasting power, mostly or almost all water. Liquid crack sealer works OK up to about 1/4" wide, use caulk gun tube type asphalt crack sealer if not more than 1/4" wide, pourable works in wider cracks but will probably take several passes to get filled to top because it soaks in and shrinks, and in cracks over 1/4" the pourable has more cracking issues. With pourable you HAVE to mix VERY well - typically means shaking around in bottle, empty some into can, shake more, etc to empty it out, then put back in bottle or better yet, use partly crushed open top tin can to pour from with narrow pour edge - less messy than pouring out of gallon bottle. I have never seen a brand where liquid type was not all settled out in the bottom of bottle and could be mixed adequately in the gallon bottle - usually all gummy at bottom and dirty water on the top. Quart bottles from ATCO (jet black asphalt emulsion, not brownish watery emulsion type) are fine if not old and hardened. However, VERY tiring on hands to tube caulk a long or wide crack, so many times one just bites the bullet and uses the less effective liquid sealer - or use the melted-in-place strip, though that is a LOT more expensive.

Fifth - Cracks over about 1/2-3/4" should be patched with hammered in (I use 5# rubber mallet first, finish with 5# hand sledge hitting on scrap plywood to bring up to flush with drive) asphalt patch mix (small aggregate patch mix in cans or tubs, not large-aggregate paving asphalt). Then, after cured a couple of weeks or more, because the patch mix is pretty pouous surface coat with thin coat of liquid crack sealer or regular asphalt driveway sealer.

Crack sealer should go full depth - you can save on material with a backer rod shoved down in the crack, but will crack again sooner.

Note these measures will generally not permanently solve the cracking - likely to have to be redone, because once cracked that is the weak point so shrinkage or downhill creekage cracks will form same place again. If paralle to the edge of the drive, likely indicate soft subgrade so the edge of the paving is "breaking down" as it is driven on.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Thank you LCD for the very detailed answer. This info will help very much. The several long cracks are in the top pad where we "back out" of garage, in amongst otherwise perfect asphalt, which is odd. The top pad is about 32 x 32'. Then, the drive continues down at 8 feet wide for about 120' to street. Again, no such deep cracks on that area, just the usual hairline cracks from sun etc as it is southern exposure. I think we got the long deep cracks on the top pad during the DC earthquake 4 years ago. I hate to dig it up and repave, as the job would be huge and most all is in good shape. Although three of our closest neighbors have redone their driveways since the quake.

We did buy the 4 gallons of liquid asphalit crack filler and have sand here to provide base. Is sand helpful or a negative? The cracks do not run downhill, just slope slightly on a flat pad. Do you think we would get decent results DYI? And should we reseal soon, on top of the crackfiller? We had the drive sealed in April but we could buy a bucket of sealer if it would help now. Their sealant did not penetrate the cracks because we had put some cold patch from a bucket on the long deep cracks last fall. Then our patches pealed or popped off after the sealer went on, or it wore off with the sealer.

Also, we have some gatoring at the bottom where the drive meets the street. We did the pound in asphalt last fall and some lines came back. I think that we could redo that and paint crack filler over it to fill in. I wonder how long we should wait before putting the crack filler over the ound in asphalt? Do you suggest a time to wait?

I can also look for a commercial paver that does crack repair. What is the best way to phrase it to them?

Thanks again,


Answered 3 years ago by srar


If your cracks are right along the garage and parallel to it, likely from settlement of the fill along the foundation - only remotely possibly due to the quake because that was a real mild quake, more likely due to consolidation due to poor compaction or water ponding there. Water ponding gaets to be a self-regenerating thing, because it causes soil consolidation, which cracks the asphalt, letting more water in, hence more settlement, so more cracking, and so on.

If the cracks are perpendicular to the garage, especially if pretty much along the wheel tracks or where cars park, again likely due to base/subbase consolidation of fill that was not initially compacted right, or due to subbase softening from water getting in under it. If concentrated along the edges again due to poor base/subgrade conditions or wetting, or due to cars getting too close to an edge that sticks up above surrounding ground (not a bad thing in itself) and parking too close to it is breaking the edge down.

Either cause - check for runoff situation and try to restrict as much runoff as feasible (roof, walk, lawn, etc) from getting along the asphalt where it will flow in under it by gravity.

Many people get acceptable results with DIY - the melt-in works a lot better but requires a fairly high-heat torch and not being scared of working with above-boiling tar, and the caulk-tube sealant is back-breaking and hard on the hands after about the second tube but works nearly as good as the hot-melt DIY product, so most people use the pour-in crack sealer. Match with surrounding asphalt not much different for DIY or pro applications.

The sand reduces the amount of filler needed, but of course since the crack is not filled it is not sticking as well so recracks easier. With the pourable, whether you use base sand or not, leave about 1/4" low at the top on first pass, then after it has hardened and dried, top off with second pass, because it will shrinkage crack as it dries, as well as shrink down from the surface.

Crack filler or patch asphalt needs to cure, outgas, and weather for a good month or more before sealing, because otherwise the large amount of oil in it will bleed through the sealer. Sealer over the top, especially with patch asphalt, is a good idea to weatherproof it and will make the color match closer if that is important to you. For cracks, you can buy sealer in a quart or gallon squeeze bottle that is a lot easier to use than out of a 5 gallon pail or gallon bottle - just be sure to take the top off and mix it up real good with a scrap stick or such before use - I use a piece of welding rod (heavby wire would work) on a drill stuck down in as a paint mixed to stir it up, because it settles real bad during shipping and storage.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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