Asphalt is a popular material of choice for industrial, commercial, and personal purposes. It’s used for both busy highways and personal driveways, and is a durable material for both, and everything in between.
As durable as it is, under continued stress from vehicles and other environmental factors over time, asphalt will become cracked. When those cracks are not sealed, they become potholes which will grow over time causing unsafe driving conditions which can also damage the vehicles driving on them.
Here is a simple beginner’s guide for how to patch asphalt on roads.
When do you patch asphalt?
While it is possible to catch cracks before they turn into potholes by sealing them, it doesn’t always work out that way. Once a crack turns into a pothole, it should be patched with coldmix asphalt as soon as possible, before it becomes an even larger pothole or a crater. It is best to do the repairs when the road is still in decent condition, not once it has been completely trashed.
Massive potholes will not only make driving conditions more difficult and dangerous, but it is also more costly to patch these holes later – it requires additional labour, more materials, and may also require a more invasive repair job than what may have originally been required.
Once the asphalt starts showing signs of damage, it’s only a matter of time before it begins to worsen – potholes need to be patched sooner or later, and it is definitely best to opt for sooner.
How do you patch asphalt?
There are different methods for patching potholes, which are intended for different purposes. The chosen method can depend on the time available for completing the work, the weather, the allotted budget, and how long the patch is expected to last. It may also may depend on the traffic that typically uses that road, whether it is rural or urban, super busy or not, or whether it is frequented by big, heavy trucks.
In this method, as little work as possible is done. A shovel is used to put asphalt into the pothole and pack it in. No preparation goes into the hole to get it ready to be filled, and no major equipment is needed to flatten the asphalt in after – the traffic that drives over it will do that over time.
A similar concept to the throw-and-go method, very little or no preparation goes into getting a pothole ready to be filled using the throw-and-roll method. It is a temporary solution, and is used when longer-term solutions are unavailable due to winter conditions or in other conditions that require emergency patches.
These patches are created by throwing on some liquid asphalt and rolling it down flat. It is a very non-invasive method of patching, and is a super quick and easy way to fill in a pothole. Sometimes a layering technique is used in combination with the throw-and-roll method to ensure that the hole has been fully and properly filled.
These patches basically fix the most minimal area possible, while still providing an effective and longer-lasting patch. The semi-permanent method is considered one of the best methods for asphalt repair available.
Semi-permanent asphalt repair involves preparing the damaged asphalt by cleaning it and cutting away the eroding materials. The hole is then filled with asphalt, which is compacted very tightly with the proper equipment – usually a vibratory roller or a similar tool – and is made level with the surrounding asphalt.
This is considered the most long-term pothole repair method, as it is the only method that is considered a truly permanent fix. However, this method isn’t always practical. The full-depth replacement method requires the removal of the entire layer of affected asphalt, and may require the removal of some of the sub-grade, to ensure maximum support is provided in that area once it has been repaired.
It takes longer and costs more than the semi-permanent method, and is the most complex pothole repair solution, but is also the highest quality fix that can be provided.
A method that has proved beneficial in the construction world is spray-injection asphalt repair. This method uses special equipment to clean out the pothole and prepare it for high-pressure injection. The hole will be filled using equipment that combines hot asphalt emulsion and crushed aggregate.
This mixture is delivered into the hole by forced air, which allows it to become instantly compacted – eliminating the need for the final step of compacting, which every other method uses.
Of course, one of the cheapest ways to fix potholes is to prevent them in the first place. It’s impossible to prevent them completely – wear and tear over time will cause them. However, regularly applying a sealcoat to the asphalt can help extend its lifespan, despite external factors that may decrease it like traffic, weather, and the quality of the material used.