In 2017, a news story detailed how a group of Dutch researchers were developing a type of asphalt that repaired itself. Potholes, cracks and sinkholes would be a thing of the past. Instead, at the first sign of distress your road, sidewalk, or driveway would repair itself. Is it too good to be true? Only time will tell.
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In the meantime, you’re asking yourself who’s going to repair the large pothole in the street just outside your front door. It is driving you crazy. Despite several calls to your municipal roads’ department, no one has come out to repair it. So now it’s time to take matters into your own hands. At Workman’s Friend, we understand your frustration. Damaging your car and it’s alignment on a pothole or watching your newly paved driveway begin to crack is unnerving. But there is something you can do-do it yourself! We created Barrier Skin Cream to help you get the job done by protecting hands like a glove without losing dexterity as you work. Apply the cream before you get started and the invisible layer of protection will prevent dirt, gravel and grime from touching your skin or getting into any cuts or small scrapes you may have. Once you are finished, you can quickly clean up with a quick wash or single wipe so hands are spotless and moisturized. Now, let’s repair that asphalt.
Type of Problem
To decide what type of repair your asphalt requires, you need to identify the problem. This will help you determine if it needs major repairs or if it simply requires a few crack fills and then a sealcoat.
A pothole is a structural failure in a paved surface. Simply put, it is a piece of asphalt that has either broken away or is missing from the rest of the structure, whether that is a road, sidewalk or driveway. A pothole can vary in size from 2 inches to several feet in diameter.
Alligator or spider web cracks are lines within the asphalt that have broken away without splitting the concrete completely apart. They are the problem that requires the least amount of repair time but if they aren’t done correctly, they could lead to much larger issues.
Sinkholes are usually caused by a major settling of the ground underneath the asphalt surface. That unsettling is often the result of a poorly constructed foundation. A sinkhole can often be several feet wide and deep.
Preparing the Surface
To prepare whatever surface you’re going to repair first and foremost it must be cleaned. Using a stiff-bristled broom sweep off or around the areas to be repaired making sure it is free of any debris. If you feel it could use a more thorough cleaning, use a garden hose or pressure washer to ensure the surface is spotless. Make sure the affected area is completely dry before you begin any repair work. Don’t forget to remove any vegetation from alligator or spider web cracks. You can use a hoe or even get down on your hands and knees to remove weeds, leaves and other greenery that is growing.
Make the Repair
If you’re missing chunks of asphalt and the hole is at least 2’ deep then you’ve got a pothole. To begin repairing you will need an asphalt tamper and pothole patch. A tamper has a flat, square, head, and is about 8” wide. The patch material is usually sold in bags of 50lbs a piece and both are available at your local hardware store.
Check to see if the pothole goes deeper than the bottom of the asphalt layer. If that is the case then you’ll need to plug it with gravel, sand or dirt. You’ll want to fill that hole until it’s about 4” from the surface. At that point, you can pour your patch aggregate into the cavity and make sure you overfill it by 1” to 2” from the ground surface. Then with your pothole tamper begin pounding the asphalt aggregate to flatten it out. This will compress the pothole patch material into the hole. Remember the more compact the pothole patch is, the better it will hold up to water and other elements.
If you’ve got tiny cracks that look like a spider web or alligator skin repairing this type of problem requires a little more elbow grease. Firstly you’ll need alligator patch material which is similar to cold-pour crack-fill materials. Empty the material into the middle of the repair area. Using an asphalt squeegee spread the material out over the alligator cracks leaving about a 1/8” to ¼” layer of material on the surface. Remember to allow a few hours for the filler to dry. Then you can apply a sealant over the cracks to ensure they stay packed and protected.
With regards to a sinkhole, we can’t recommend that you try and fix this type of damage by yourself. Due to the uncertainty and unpredictability (shifting ground) of sinkholes, we suggest you contact a professional to make these repairs. Often what appears to be a simple fixing can balloon into something much larger and more dangerous. We’ve all seen the news stories where a small sinkhole appears in a road only to swallow two cars a few hours later! Leave this repair to the professionals.
One Final Repair
Until the day where self-repairing asphalt becomes the norm, it will be man’s responsibility to fix the cracks and holes. Do your homework before visiting your local hardware store to purchase all your patching materials and don’t forget to pick up a bottle of Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream. Ask friends and neighbors or even the employees at the hardware store about their experiences. The more information you have the greater your chance will be of making your required repairs successfully. Happy patching!
-------------------Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is light-weight and odorless cream perfect to help you with all types of asphalt repairs. An application of our non-greasy formula means your hands will remain moisturized as you tamper, fill and seal all of your pavement holes.