You should never ignore a crack in your asphalt driveway, no matter how small and unassuming it might seem. Chances are you spent a lot of money getting yours installed and keeping it looking at its best. A crack of any size is likely to affect its strength and compromise its curb appeal. Plus, the longer asphalt cracks are left, the bigger they'll get.
The good news is that it’s really easy to fill cracks in your driveway yourself, as long as you use quality equipment and approach the task in the right way. To make sure you get everything right, check out our handy how-to guide.
Do I Need to Fill Driveway Cracks?
Driveways crack for a wide variety of different reasons, ranging from expansion caused by heat to frequent freezing and thawing occurring underground. It's a very normal thing to happen, so it’s important not to worry too much. Remember that your driveway is exposed to the elements 24/7, so a little wear and tear is bound to happen eventually.
However, just because they’re normal doesn’t mean they aren’t problematic. Small cracks turn into large ones if left untreated, and large cracks have the potential to cause structural damage that can lead to expensive issues later on. So, filling driveway cracks isn’t just a recommendation – it’s a necessity.
It's not possible to completely avoid cracks in your asphalt driveway. But, with timely driveway crack repair combined with regular seal coating using pavement sealer, you can add up to three decades to the lifespan of your asphalt surface.
What Equipment Do I Need to Repair Large Cracks in Asphalt Driveway?
To fix driveway cracks effectively, you’ll need to invest in professional-grade equipment that can be used again and again. For smaller cracks that are less than an inch wide, all you’ll need is a propane torch burner and a tar-based crack cover tape. Simply apply the tape to the crack, heat it using the burner, and the tar will melt into the crack, sealing it.
For larger cracks, though, you’ll need some more heavy-duty equipment, including an asphalt crack machine that’s capable of melting down and applying hot crack filler. When melted into a crack, this filling material expands and bonds to its edges, which creates an enduring seal as it hardens.
The best machines on the market are expensive but will last for years to come, giving you the best defense possible against frequent cracking. Ensure you buy one that is easy to control and you’ll always achieve a sleek, smooth finish.
As a side note, you should avoid cold patch asphalt repair products if you want a permanent fix. Cold asphalt driveway repair often only provides a cosmetic solution, although some cold pour crack sealants are longer-lasting and resistant to re-cracking.
Fixing Asphalt Driveway: The Costs
The price attached to repairing asphalt driveway cracks is dependent on the approach you take and the equipment you invest in. But, while it is possible to call a professional contractor to do the job for you, we recommend that you learn to fix the cracks in your asphalt driveway yourself. Doing so can save you a substantial amount of money in the long run.
On top of the cost of repairing each crack, contractors will often charge call-out fees and equipment handling fees. On average, it will cost you around $300 at least for repairs that could easily be a DIY job. Over the years, then, the price of relying on contractors for this common problem is likely to pile up. Invest in your own machine, though, and within just a few years, you’re likely to experience significant cost benefits.
That’s not to say that the DIY approach is cheap. As mentioned earlier, asphalt crack filling machines are pricey and you can expect to pay upwards of $1,000 for a good one. Still, they can offer you a heck of a lot of bang for your buck. The HOTBOX 10 asphalt crack filling machine is a good example of one which is well-insulated, has a super-fast heat-up time, and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Our HOTBOX machine is ideal for driveways that are at the mercy of extreme weather conditions and the weight of heavy goods vehicles. In other words, if your driveway is at risk of cracking regularly, then this sort of professional-quality machine is sure to be a worthwhile investment.
How Do You Fill Asphalt Driveway Cracks?
Once you have all of your asphalt crack filling equipment ready to go, it’s time to make a start. The process itself is really easy once you read our step-by-step instructions and those included in your product's manual.
Heat Your Driveway Crack Filler
Put a block (or several blocks) of hot crack filling material into the melter body of your HOTBOX 10 asphalt crack machine and fire up the torches. This will heat the solid blocks of filler and melt them so they can easily be deposited into the cracks in your driveway, and all in 20 minutes or under. To speed up the process, use the agitation bar.
Make sure to keep yourself safe while the machine is hot by wearing the appropriate safety gear, particularly fire-resistant gloves. You may also want to consider boot covers and a bodysuit or apron.
Deposit Hot Melt Driveway Crack Filler
Your driveway crack filler is ready when it’s fully melted and in its liquid form. So, wheel the machine over to the first crack and start slowly pushing it along its length. At the same time, use the controls on your machine’s handles to deposit the crack filler. It will be dropped into a scraper which will smooth the material out along the crack.
Leave to Dry
Once you’ve filled all of the cracks in your asphalt driveway, turn off the machine and allow the crack filling material to dry. By the time it’s hardened and bonded with the asphalt, your results are sure to rival those of even the most experienced contractors.
You can use this time to tidy your equipment. If you’re using the HOTBOX 10, you won’t even have to clear out any leftover crack filler before storing it away. The machine will simply reheat any filler left in the machine when it’s next used.
Can I Repair Cracks in My Asphalt Driveway?
Whether you’re a dedicated DIY fan or a smart and savvy saver, opting to fill cracks in your driveway is the best and most cost-effective way to keep your asphalt surface in ship shape. So, learn the ropes, invest in the best, and put your skills to the test. With the do-it-yourself approach, you could save yourself hundreds over the years and ensure the enduring resilience of your driveway.