Patching A Pothole? Here's How To Thoroughly Prepare For This DIY Asphalt Fix

Asphalt repairs rely on a strong bond between the new patch and the old pavement in order to restore your driveway to good condition. If you're planning to fill in a pothole, you'll have to prepare the area extensively before you can think about mixing up an asphalt patch. 

Cleaning Dirt Off Of The Pavement

Before you can start fixing a pothole, you first need to thoroughly clean the area. Dirt and other debris can stop the new asphalt from adhering properly to the surrounding material, which could lead to the pothole opening back up again.

Clearing the dirt away can be accomplished quickly with a strong leaf blower, if you have one. You may need to scrape at stuck-on dirt with a bristle brush before blowing it off of the asphalt. Alternately, you can use a precision nozzle for your leaf blower to achieve the same effect. If you don't have a blower, you can still clean the pavement thoroughly with just a broom and brush, but it's more time consuming to do so.

You might want to use a power washer or strong garden hose nozzle to clean off the pavement, but be careful; moisture can get trapped in the asphalt and interfere with the curing process after you patch the hole. If you choose to use water, plan to do the cleaning on a hot day if possible. Be sure to wait several hours between cleaning the asphalt and applying the patch.

Removing Plants From The Pothole

Plant matter can also foil your plans by preventing the asphalt patch from adhering properly. Your method for removing weeds from the pothole will depend on its location and the tools at hand.

If the pothole isn't close to the house, fence, shrubs, or other flammable materials, one very satisfying way to get rid of the weeds is to burn them off with a small torch. This won't harm the asphalt at all, but will quickly reduce unwanted plants to ash, which can then be swept up or blown away easily. If you choose this method, be sure to do it on a clear day with very little wind.

The more traditional and tiring way to get rid of plants is to use a garden hoe in the cracks around the pothole. Simply cut the plants away and dig up their roots as best you can, tamping down whatever remains in the hole when you're done. You may need to use a hand trowel for tiny nooks and crevices in the pothole. 

Gathering Your Materials

Now that your pothole is clean and empty, it's time to measure it and calculate the materials you'll need. If the hole is deep enough to go all the way through the asphalt, you'll need to buy sand, clay, or gravel to compact in the bottom of it. Ideally, you'll only be filling in the top few inches with asphalt mix. 

You can get supplies for your repair at a local lumber yard, construction shop, or even home improvement store. Be sure to talk to an expert for advice on which asphalt mix will work best for your pothole, as well as the ideal quantity you'll need. Larger potholes may require more than one batch of asphalt to fill in.

When shopping for asphalt mix or patches, get a brand that will cure without added heat. Heat-mix asphalts require specialized equipment not available to the average homeowner, and renting it would cost you more than simply having a professional repair the pothole.

Preparing to fill in a pothole can feel tedious, but putting in effort during the planning stages will ensure that your new patch adheres successfully to the rest of the pavement. In the long run, this reduces the risk of your patch coming back out and needing to be replaced, saving you time and money.

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