Repave, Patch, Or Sealcoat – How Should You Maintain Your New Asphalt Drive?

If you've recently had your driveway paved with asphalt for the first time, you may still be marveling at the smooth, flawless surface. While an asphalt driveway can provide you with decades of loyal service, eventually you'll need to perform some maintenance on your driveway to keep it in good condition. You'll also want to avoid doing things that could potentially cause long-term damage to your driveway. Read on to learn more about sealcoating, patching, and repaving your asphalt driveway, as well as the in-between preventive measures you can take to ensure that your driveway remains flawless for as long as possible.

What are the differences between repaving, patching, and sealcoating?

Repaving an asphalt driveway is the most extreme repair and is generally reserved for driveways with multiple significant holes or buckling (such as if a tree root caused major cracking). If you take steps to avoid damage to your driveway's asphalt, you shouldn't need to look into a full repaving for 20 years or more. When your driveway is repaved, any large holes or cracks will first be patched with durable recycled asphalt. A crew with a heavy roller will put down a fresh layer of asphalt and seal it to the underlying layer so that the previously patched areas will flawlessly blend with the new top layer.

Patching is the most common intermediate repair for an asphalt driveway that has developed some damage (like pitting or minor cracking) in one or more spots. Although there are asphalt mixes sold at most lawn and garden or home supply stores that you can use to patch your driveway over a long (and rain-free) weekend, your best bet is to have any significant patches made by an asphalt paving company. If the area surrounding the patch is improperly prepared, or if the patch itself isn't tamped down with enough force, it will begin to develop its own problems after the next hard freeze or heavy rain.

Unlike patching or repaving, sealcoating does nothing to the underlying asphalt in your driveway. This process simply seals your driveway from moisture, oils, and other substances that can flow through the asphalt and eventually cause cracking and damage. Sealcoating is optional, but an important maintenance item that can help shield your driveway from most of the substances that cause it problems. You can generally apply sealcoat yourself -- most sealcoating products are painted on with a large brush or roller and dry quickly.

What should you do to ensure a long life for your driveway?

In addition to sealcoating your driveway shortly after it's been paved for the first time, there are a few things you should do (and avoid) in order to keep your driveway in pristine condition.

What to do:

  • Inspect your driveway during each change of season to keep an eye on any potential problems. Often, the freezing and thawing during late winter months can lead to spring cracks -- repairing these cracks quickly can help minimize any damage.
  • Keep your driveway clean and free of debris. The moisture from a pile of leaves, or the pressure from a tire repeatedly driving over a sharp twig, can lead to pitting and cracking. Going a few weeks without hosing or sweeping your driveway is generally fine, but allowing your driveway to be covered with debris for an extended period of time can dramatically shorten its life.

What not to do:

  • Even if you've sealcoated your driveway to protect against moisture and oils, it's not a good idea to park leaking or potentially leaking vehicles on the driveway. Repeated or ongoing exposure to oil, antifreeze, and other substances that can commonly leak from vehicles will quickly strip away the sealcoating and begin to damage the underlying asphalt. If you have nowhere else to park your vehicle, place a plastic tarp beneath it to help prevent liquids from touching the asphalt.

If your asphalt driveway is taken care of properly, it can last a long time. You can click to find out more about this topic and local asphalt paving services.