Take Advantage of the Warm Weather to Do a Little Driveway Maintenance
While the sweltering summer days might make activities from jogging to lawn mowing to even poolside lounging unbearable, the roasting temperatures are ideal for tackling driveway maintenance and repair.
Blacktop is naturally porous and if water seeps into the paving, it can breakdown, forming ridges and cracks. Blacktop also is softened by gas, oil, salt and antifreeze and sealers protect it by blocking those harmful elements. So, well before winter arrives, consider sealing your asphalt driveway. Here are a few tips to get started.
- Before you begin maintaining your driveway, survey the entire surface area, identifying any cracks that need to be filled. Clear the surface of any grass or weeds that are overtaking the driveway or causing cracks. While driveway repairs and sealing typically take place during warmer months, its best to fix cracks when they are first noticed.
- Scrub the entire driveway with a diluted driveway cleaner to remove dirt and oil. Cleaning the driveway thoroughly will allow crack filler, compound and driveway sealer to adhere more successfully. Homeowners might want to first try absorbing any extra gas or oil by sprinkling kitty litter on the spots prior to cleaning. For persistent spots, use an oil spot primer to seal what is left, before moving forward with the maintenance.
- Hose the driveway using the maximum pressure setting—a pressure washer might be worth renting, especially if you have other exterior tasks to complete, such as deck cleaning.
- For cracks up to ½ inch, use crack filler made for a caulking gun or that comes in a squeeze bottle. Smooth out the filler after it’s applied, making sure it does not end up on the driveway surface.
- Remove loose material from the edges of potholes and larger cracks. Try using a wire brush or coax the material loose with a few strong hose blasts. Shovel packaged blacktop into potholes or wide cracks once they’ve been thoroughly cleaned and are dry. Then use an iron rake to level the large sections. Next, compact the material by using a heavy board, adding more material until the hole is just overfilled. Place scrap plywood over the repair work and drive a car over it several times to compact it further.
- Allow repairs to cure for about a month before applying any sealer.
- Before applying sealer, make sure it is mixed well and give it a few stirs during the process. Cover or protect areas adjoining the driveway and then mist with water. Pour a one-foot wide ribbon of sealer across the driveway and push and pull the sealer with the squeegee side of the applicator to spread it until it is roughly 3 feet wide. Then, use a brush to pull the sealer toward you, using enough pressure to any excess. Repeat the process, beginning with a one-foot wide section each time.
- Two thin coats of sealer are recommended to one thick coat. Allow 12 hours between coats and block the driveway from traffic for 24-to-36 hours.
In general, seal a driveway every two-to-three years, but not sooner than 45 days after it’s been paved. Make sure the temperature outside is at least 50 degrees for 24 hours and that the weather forecast doesn’t call for rain.
One other note, do-it-yourself driveway sealing products are heavily diluted, helping keep home owners safe from chemical flash burns. While safer for amateur driveway sealers, it means the products will not last as long as those used by professionals.
Remember, even though the temperatures are sizzling, always wear protective clothing, gloves, footwear and eyewear when sealing a driveway.