Don't ignore a pothole in your asphalt driveway, even if it is relatively small or in an area that doesn't affect your normal use. Once a pothole forms it will likely just get bigger. This is because water gets into the asphalt pavement, where it then freezes and expands during the winter. This leads to more crumbling and a larger problem that can spread over the entire driveway. The following guide can help you decide which repair option is best for you.
Option #1: The Patch Approach
This can be a DIY or a professional job, depending on your budget and preferences. For a DIY job, look for an asphalt patching compound at your local hardware store. It comes bagged and ready to use. You also need a tamping tool, which has a plate attached to a long pole. You will need to start by cleaning all loose debris out of the pothole. Next, pour the compound into the hole until it is slightly overfilled. Now, start tamping with your tamping tool. You can add more asphalt as needed until you have a densely filled hole and a level surface. The asphalt will need to cure for at least 24 hours, or for the length of time recommended on the bag.
Professional patching is done using a similar method, except they can cut out a square around the hole. This ensures that any crumbling or damaged asphalt is removed. For example, cracks inside the asphalt may have already absorbed water, which may open into new potholes later. By cutting out around the area, these water-damaged areas are also removed. The hole is then patched with a patching compound. Once the patch full cures, the company will return and sealcoat the area.
Option #2: Resurfacing
This option typically requires professional contractors (such as those from Asphalt Resurfacing by Bulldog Paving), but the finished product is much more attractive. Patches on asphalt, as detailed above, are always visible. You can avoid this by resurfacing the asphalt. The contractors first come in and fill any potholes or cracks. They then apply a fresh layer of asphalt over the first. This not only ensures that the color of the driveway is consistent, it also fixes any hairline cracks that were too narrow for patching. This new layer is allowed to fully cure and then it is sealcoated to protect it from weathering. The result is a new-looking drive at a fraction of the cost of full replacement.