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Top Asphalt: Is It Time To Repave Or Repair?

Top Asphalt

Should you top asphalt on your blacktop parking lot or driveway with a fresh coat of paving, or repair it? This is the big money question that people want to know the answer to. And not by asking someone who stands to make a lot of money by saying it is time for a repave! So how can you tell with your own two eyes? Look at the damage, step-by-step, like this:

Potholes are the number one reason people tend to think it’s time to repave or replace, and this simply is not the case. If there is still a good solid base (foundation), this type of damage is easy to repair with a cold asphalt patch. Now if your parking area is more potholes than paving, or if the foundation is in bad shape all over, then it is time to repave.

Depressions and ruts in the blacktop are another big reason people feel the need to replace. You can top asphalt with that same asphalt patch to fill those ruts and depressions. You simply apply the patch and tamp it down. Use a piece of plywood, bottom side lightly oiled, and drive over it. No fancy tamping machinery required. On the other hand, if the dips and valleys are crumbling dry asphalt, and the gravel base is spilling out, then it is certainly time for repaving.

Cracks are never a good thing to see in your blacktop, but again, they are simple to repair. Here you can fill with crack filler rather than going through the expense to top asphalt. Just be sure they are only cracks. If all of the asphalt is crumbling and breaking up, no amount of crack repair is going to work.

Other Key Things To Keep In Mind

  • How Old Is Your Blacktop? Asphalt has a limited lifespan, even with the best of maintenance. 30 years is a ripe old age, if it’s been properly looked after. At this age you can certainly expect to have to top asphalt with a fresh paving.
  • How Much Has It Narrowed? The edges, especially if they are not framed in concrete, are where the worst crumbling occurs. You may not notice from one year to the next, but how much narrower is your blacktop from its original layout? Here again, you may be looking at a replacement of the whole thing.
  • What’s The Estimate? Get an idea of how much it will cost to repair compared to replacement. Be sure to look at how much you can save by doing the repair work yourself. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of any equipment you’ll need to buy or rent.

Repaving or replacing blacktop is a tough choice when you don’t know where to start, and now you do! Examine the potholes, ruts, and cracks to see if they’re easily fixed, or the damage is simply too extensive. Consider the age; is it near the end of its lifespan anyway? How much have you lost on the edges? Finally, look at the actual costs and time involved before you make a final choice as to whether or not to top asphalt.

20 thoughts on “Top Asphalt: Is It Time To Repave Or Repair?”

  • Dave Anderson December 7 at 1:03 pm

    I did not know that even with potholes you don't necessarily need to replace the pavement. It sounds like asphalt is a lot stronger than I thought that it was. However, because there are some pot holes and cracks on the asphalt on my property I will definitely be getting it repaired rather than replaced.

  • Ridley Fitzgerald February 9 at 3:21 pm

    We have a nice asphalt driveway that has been there for years. It's getting old, but we have taken care of it, so we are unsure if we should repair or replace it this spring. It isn't much narrower than it was when we had it put in, and it hasn't reached 30 years old yet. I guess that means it could last for a while yet.

    • Hello Ridley;

      Thanks for your comments. The expected age for a driveway is around 25 years. If it is as well maintained as yours sounds, it can be extended by around 15 years.

      - The Sales Team at AK

  • Kourtney Jensen May 8 at 11:04 am

    This article was very informative and had information I need to look into for the parking lot I have. I liked how you made the point of how long the asphalt lasts--30 years--and that's with it being well kept. How do you know if it needs to be repave and replaced if not unkempt? I will be looking in to how long it has been since being maintained and redone and will be finding a contractor who can help in the repairs and maintenance of it.

    • Glad the article helped! If your parking lot has not been kept up, and has grass growing through cracks (or worse yet, potholes), you'll want to get a professional in to assess if there has been damage to the foundation. Read more about asphalt maintenance in this article we wrote for just this sort of question.

  • My wife and I recently moved into a home with an asphalt driveway leading up to the house that has quite a few potholes. I noticed in the article you said that this doesn't necessarily require a repaving as those can be repaved. The current driveway is quite old though, so we were wondering if it would be worth it just to have it repaved anyways. Would you suggest we consult with a trustworthy paving contractor about what we should have done?

    • Hi John;

      Thanks for your note! The best way to choose an asphalt contractor is to ask for referrals from your peer group - nothing better than an endorsement from a happy customer. Other great ways to find one - look for a company who has a BBB rating, or who belongs to the chamber of commerce in your area: these are two reliable markers of a serious, professional paving contractor.

      If the potholes aren't too bad, check out our Asphalt Patching Store: pothole patching can be done by any handy homeowner and a coat of sealer over top will help protect and preserve your patched pavement.

  • That seems useful that you can get crack filler to repair asphalt cracks. You wouldn't want them to turn into something bigger, like a pothole. If your issue does get out of hand, it might be time to call a pavement contractor.

  • Rachel Lannister July 26 at 5:50 pm

    In the article you wrote that if you have cracks in your asphalt, you simply need patching done and not necessarily a complete repaving. I noticed a couple spots in my driveway that have become cracked and loose and I was wondering what I should do. I'll have to find a service that could quickly come and fill these spots in, so that I can enjoy a smooth drive as I pull in and out.

  • Thomas Pindall July 31 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you for the tips on when it should be time to repair or repave old asphalt and what sort of things to look for when making this decision. I never took into account the fact that asphalt crumbling could potentially cause the road to become narrowed. By finding any faults within the asphalt the client can make a decision on whether the road needs to be repaired or replaced entirely.

  • My wife and I have an asphalt driveway, and we've been wondering about getting some sealcoating done. I'm glad that you talked about crack filler, and how you don't want to have cracks in the blacktop. I want our driveway to be able to last as long as it can, so if we can get some crack filler and some sealcoating done to protect it, I think that we'd be set for another few years! Thanks for your article!

  • I like how you mentioned that asphalt doesn't have to be replaced because of a pothole. I like to play basketball and have a backyard asphalt court. I thought I would have to replace it but didn't have enough money. Now it looks like I can repair the court instead and keep playing basketball.

  • It really helped when you mentioned how you should consider repaving your asphalt if itis older than 30 years. I can understand that taking the time to learn how long your asphalt is supposed to last can help you decide when to maintain it or replace it. My brother was talking about how he needed to find a professional to help him resurface his asphalt, so I'll share your page with him for more tips.

  • Alexandria Martinez October 16 at 8:21 pm

    After moving into our new home, my fiance and I noticed that our driveway is not looking its best. We are thinking about getting a driveway repair but want to make sure this is the right option. Reading that age has a lot to do with getting it replaced or simply repaired is helpful since it is fairly young.

  • After a bit of flooding in our area, I notice that the asphalt in our driveway has cracked in a few places. I wanted to know if it would be better to repave the whole thing. I suppose having a repair man over to assess the damage would be a wise choice as well. Thanks for the great tips!

  • Hannah Schroeder October 23 at 5:02 pm

    I'm glad you said that you should repave the asphalt if your parking area has a lot of potholes. We have a paved driveway with several holes, and my husband wants to use patches on all of them. Since there's so many, it might be a better idea to get an asphalting company to repair the damage instead of just patching it up.

  • Ashley Turns October 26 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks for letting us know that if all we have are some cracks in our asphalt, it will be very easy to repair it by getting some filler. The store I work in has been wondering if they should have a service replace or repair the asphalt in our parking lot since it has a lot of cracks in it. I'll be sure to tell my boss that she should hire a service to do the latter since it will be easy to fix with some simple filler.

  • Harper Campbell November 15 at 3:46 pm

    It's good to learn when it comes to fixing cracks in asphalt that the process is simple. I am glad that you mentioned we need to be to try a crack filler to help get things taken care of. This is something we will have to keep in mind to make sure things are handled properly.

  • Braden Bills November 17 at 9:39 am

    My asphalt driveway developed a pothole, and I'm not sure what to do. It makes sense that I would want to have a professional patch it for me! That way I don't have to worry about it getting worse.

  • Persephone de Vito December 5 at 2:12 am

    I agree with you that most people think that potholes in the asphalt mean that it's already time to replace it because I'm one of those people. That's the reason why I appreciated it when you said that as long as the foundation is still present, the asphalt paving can still be repaired. My husband went out last night and noticed large holes in the asphalt driveway. Knowing that it can still be repaired, I think it might be a good idea to call professionals for this. Thanks!

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