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A Driving Need for Attention

September 26, 1998|From Associated Press

To maintain an asphalt driveway that was originally installed with at least a 4-inch depth over a good subbase, simple periodic filling of minor cracks and cosmetic sealing are required. Driveways exposed to a lot of extreme weather, or those with a relatively shallow (1- to 2-inch) thickness, require more attention.

Repair techniques for common driveway problems:

To repair cracks, use blacktop driveway crack filler. This material comes in a cartridge and is used for cracks up to one-quarter-inch wide. Brush or vacuum loose material out of the crack, then lay in a continuous bead of filler. Allow it to set for about 10 minutes, then stroke over it with a putty knife to level and firm the bead to the crack's edges. If the crack is more than half an inch deep, it should first be packed with sand to within a quarter-inch of the surface.

Repair large potholes with cold-mix, an asphalt-based filler that has a larger aggregate than driveway patching compound. Typically, it comes in a 60- to 70-pound bag.

Use a cold chisel and hammer to chop out crumbling pavement until the pothole is rimmed with a clean, firm edge. If possible, undercut the hole slightly to lock the patch in place. Dig down until you get to a solid surface and remove loose debris from the hole's bottom. Shovel the mix into the hole, mounding it so it's about half an inch higher than the surrounding surface. Compact the mound by tamping with a block of 2-by-4.

You can also pack the cold-mix by placing a scrap piece of plywood over the mound and driving back and forth over it with the front tires of your car. Deep potholes should be filled and tamped in layers. Add some mix, tamp, then add more mix and tamp.

A coat of waterproof blacktop sealer, applied every two or three years, will protect the driveway from the sun, rain and snow, and will improve its appearance.

The sealer comes in 5-gallon cans and usually needs to be stirred only before use. Read the product label to determine how much area it will cover. Usually this ranges between 200 and 300 square feet, depending on the porosity of the surface. Apply the sealer with a long-handled applicator that has a squeegee on one side and a brush on the other. Roller applicators are also available.

First, pour enough sealer from the can to work a 3- or 4-foot-wide strip across the driveway. Using the squeegee side of the applicator, spread the sealer across the driveway, working it into all tiny cracks and crevices. When the strip has been covered, flip over to the brush side and use it to level the coating and smooth the ridges left by the squeegee. Work the brush at right angles to the path worked by the squeegee.

Don't leave puddles of sealer, and don't spread it too thin. It's best to apply two coats. Read the label to determine how long to allow the sealer to dry before recoating.

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