Asphalt Damage: Should You Repair, Resurface, Or Replace?

Asphalt driveways can last a long time, but they will need periodic repairs and maintenance. If your drive is looking a little worse for wear, you must decide whether to repair, resurface, or replace it.


Repair is the lowest cost option if it is used properly. The key to successful repairs is performing inspections of your driveway often and having all small damage repaired promptly. The types of damage best suited to repair include small cracks, developing potholes, and standing water.

There are two main options when it comes to repairing cracks and holes — hot patch or cold patch. Hot patch is the best choice because the asphalt is heated so that the patch bonds completely. Cold patch is the option available to the DIYer. The product doesn't bond as well and it will crumble away eventually. For small cracks, there is a third option, a flexible asphalt crack filler that can be applied professionally or on your own.

Standing water is a symptom of a drainage problem and it will eventually lead to cracks or potholes. If you notice standing water, you need an asphalt service to repair your driveway drainage system.


Resurfacing can breathe new life into a fading asphalt drive that has quite a bit of damage, as long as the base is still in good condition. Common reasons to resurface include loosening surface aggregate and the extensive formation of cracks or potholes. Cosmetic issues are also a good reason to resurface. As long as the base is in good condition, a driveway can be successfully resurfaced so it looks like new.

Sealcoating isn't true resurfacing, but it can serve a similar purpose. A thin layer of asphalt and sealer is applied over your existing drive. The sealcoat can even out the appearance of repairs and stains, although it won't cover them completely. More importantly, sealcoating protects your driveway against weathering, moisture, and future stains. Sealcoating should be done every few years.

A full resurface involves repairing any surface damage first. Then, a fresh layer of asphalt, usually 1 to 3 inches thick, is applied over the top of the existing driveway. Sometimes the old drive is partially ground down before the new layer is applied. You have all the benefits of a new driveway without the expense of removing the old one and building a new base.


Replacement is the most time consuming and costly options. The good news is that an asphalt driveway can last decades before you even need to consider this option.

Asphalt drives typically require full replacement only if the base has suffered damage. If the driveway is sinking or heaving or if cracks or holes penetrate into the base material, then replacement may be the only effective option.

Contact an asphalt paving service, such as Phend & Brown, in your area for more help.