No matter how well you care for your asphalt driveway over the years, since we live in a cold-weather climate, annual freeze-thaw cycles are going to take their toll. Add to that the weight of vehicles driving over the asphalt daily, and your driveway is bound to show signs of wear and aging unless you keep it properly maintained.

Depending on the extent of the problem, there are different repair options available to breathe new life into your worn or damaged driveway. Your job is to get the information you need to choose the appropriate fix.

Sealcoating to Fill Small Cracks

Minor damage that shows up as hairline cracks across the surface of an asphalt driveway is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix. Emulsified asphalt or coal-tar sealants bond with the asphalt underneath. Sealcoating holds the asphalt together and helps protect your driveway by keeping water from seeping below the surface and expanding cracks.

Besides giving your asphalt driveway a cosmetic facelift, regular maintenance can prevent cracks from spreading. Asphalt seal coating repels water and slows fading and oxidation damage from the sun. The sun's rays can dry out the asphalt binders and make the paving brittle and less flexible.

Patching to Fill Large Cracks and Holes

Holes and wide cracks that run deep require patching material before applying a sealer. If you're looking to extend the life of your asphalt driveway, consider hiring an asphalt paving contractor.

Proper preparation of cracks and potholes before filling them with an asphalt repair material can delay the need to resurface or replace the driveway. But it may not be a task that you have the know-how or equipment to do.

Patchwork requires removing damaged asphalt and other debris from cracks and holes. A paving contractor may need to cut around a hole to firm up the edges before adding gravel to act as a base for the asphalt filler. As a final step, both the base and repair material must be tamped down.

Keep in mind that although patching may be a more affordable solution at the time, it's only a temporary fix. New cracks and holes can develop, or former damage may eventually reappear if water seeps in between the old asphalt and patching material.

Resurfacing to Create a New Appearance

As your driveway gets older, it can reach the point when it needs more than patching and seal coating. Eroding soil, drought, and periods of heavy rainfall can cause the ground underneath the driveway to shift, causing cracks. Water can also seep down into the driveway's foundation, washing away the gravel, creating dips in the asphalt pavement.

If affordability is a concern, resurfacing your driveway can save you money. However, the foundation must still be in good condition for a paving contractor to scrape off the top layer and resurface it with a fresh coat of asphalt. Resurfacing covers cracks that won't return for a while and costs less than completely replacing the driveway.

The actual cost of driveway resurfacing varies by location and the condition of your existing asphalt drive. But on average, the cost for a new topcoat is a few dollars per square foot.

Replacing to Guarantee Stability and Support

Although replacing an asphalt driveway is more expensive than resurfacing it, you may have no choice if the surface is crumbling or the foundation base underneath is failing. You may also need to replace the driveway if there is a drainage problem and your drive doesn't stand on well-drained soil.

The length and width of the driveway affect the cost. Although replacing your driveway is a significant investment, a high-quality asphalt surface that you keep well-maintained can last for decades.

If you decide to replace your driveway, you'll pay the contractor an added cost to remove and haul away the existing driveway. Some contractors also have a minimum charge for smaller driveways since they need to use the same equipment on the job as they would to install a larger driveway.

Contact Plehal Blacktoppingfor answers to questions you may have about how to repair your asphalt driveway. Our team can assess the condition of your driveway and help you make the choice that's right for your situation.