How to Resurface Your Asphalt or Blacktop Driveway

by Mark Soto
A fresh blacktop resealing job just finished on this asphalt driveway in a suburban residential

Resurfacing an Asphalt Driveway at a Glance

  • Tools & Materials: Vinegar, leaf blower, crack filler, scrub brush, putty knife, drill with mixer tool, resurfacer material
  • Step 1: Clean driveway
  • Step 2: Fill cracks
  • Step 3: Blend resurfacer solution
  • Step 4: Apply resurfacer
  • Step 5: Let material dry

If your driveway is in a deteriorated state with cracks or holes in multiple areas, it might be time to resurface it. Resurfacing an asphalt driveway is something you can do on your own with the right products and tools. If you don’t think you’re up for the challenge, you can always hire a professional to do it for you. But no matter which option you go with, it’s important to know that the longer you wait, the worse the driveway can get, especially in cold weather.

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If you plan on doing this project yourself, you’ll need to know a few things before you start. You ideally want a partner to help you so the end result comes out looking smooth. You’ll also want to pick a day when you know the weather will be dry for at least 24 hours since that is the minimum amount of time needed to let resurfacer cure.

Got all that? Next, follow this asphalt resurfacing guide.

Can You Put New Asphalt Over Old Asphalt?

The process of applying new asphalt over old asphalt is called “asphalt overlay” or “resurfacing.” As long as the current asphalt still has structural integrity, it can be used as the base for the new one. All cracks are repaired and holes are filled before adding the new layer. While you can certainly remove the old layer before adding the new layer, it’s much more expensive to do and is usually only done when the old asphalt surface has a weakened structure.

How Often Do You Need to Resurface an Asphalt Driveway?

On average, you will want to resurface your driveway every three to five years. If you live in an area that sees constant temperature changes, you might want to do this more often. Continuous freeze-thaw cycles are the leading cause of cracks in many different materials, including asphalt. As multiple slim cracks start to appear on the surface after a couple of years, it severely impacts the look of your driveway. More significant effects caused by weather and constant use are potholes, bumps and an uneven surface.

How Much Does It Cost to Resurface an Asphalt Driveway?

On average, resurfacing an asphalt driveway can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on the size of the driveway. In terms of square footage, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2 to $5 per square foot.

Resurfacing Vs. Sealcoating: What’s the Difference?

Although commonly confused with each other, there are notable differences between resurfacing and sealcoating. Resurfacing, as explained above, involves adding a new layer of asphalt over the current layer. This helps cover up any noticeable cracks and potholes. On the other hand, sealcoating involves applying a protective coating to an existing asphalt layer which protects it against the natural elements and gives it a fresh new color. Unlike resurfacing, it doesn’t fix cracks and holes.

You can apply sealcoating a couple of months after resurfacing. It’s a worthwhile project to help asphalt last longer and keep your driveway looking nice. While you should resurface a driveway every three to five years, sealcoating should be done more often, like every one to three years.

5 Steps to Resurface an Asphalt Driveway

What Tools and Materials Do I Need?

To resurface a driveway, you will need vinegar, a leaf blower, crack filler, scrub brush, putty knife, drill with mixer tool and the new resurfacer material.

Step 1: Clean the Driveway

Before you add any new material, you first need to prepare the driveway. This involves cleaning up any dirt, debris and removing weeds and algae. To make things easier, start by eliminating weeds using vinegar or boiling water. After you kill the weeds, use a broom or leaf blower to blow away any debris that’s between the cracks and surface of the driveway.

To kill algae, mix bleach with water, then apply it to the algae with a scrub brush and scrub lightly. Let the solution work on the algae and then wash it away using a garden hose. Wash the cracks as well to remove any remaining material in them. If you want, you can wash the driveway with a pressure washer to get it as clean as possible for the sealant.

Step 2: Fill the Cracks

Once you’ve cleaned the surface, it’s time to fill the cracks. If you have a thin crack, you can simply fill it up with a crack filler. Starting at the top, slowly pour the crack filler downwards and ensure it fills the entire area. Ideally, you will want to have some overflow. After that’s done, use a putty knife to flatten the material and spread it across the surface.

Use a trowel-grade crack filler for large cracks or areas that have eroded and now have holes in them. You can use another putty knife to take out the trowel-grade crack filler and apply it to the areas to avoid messes. Then use a finishing trowel to flatten it down and level it with the existing asphalt surface. For large cracks around an inch wide, once again follow the same procedure and ensure it covers the entire area with some overflow.

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Step 3: Blend Resurfacer Solution

Now it’s time to apply your resurfacer solution. Before adding it to the driveway, you need to mix it in the bucket rigorously. There are two ways to do this. You can either do it by hand and use a wooden stick — but that can be tiring. Or, you can use a drill with a paddle mixer tool attached to it.

Step 4: Apply Resurfacer

You should start by applying the resurfacer solution on the edges. You can use a thick paintbrush to get it from the bucket and then apply it to the ground. When applying it on the edges, try to keep things neat and avoid using it on anything but the driveway.

Once the edges have been covered, you can start to apply resurfacer on the entire driveway. Things are much easier if you have a partner with you. Start by having your partner pour the resurfacer from the bucket on the driveway. While your partner does that, use a large driveway squeegee — which is specifically made for applying sealer — to spread the resurfacer evenly, as shown here.

You should move in a back and forth pattern, edge to edge. When you get to the end of each edge, turn the squeegee in a half-circle form, then turn around and reposition the squeegee to continue towards the other edge again.

Step 5: Let the Material Dry

After the resurfacer material has been applied to the entire driveway, it’s time to let it dry and cure. Usually, you will need to let it sit for 24 hours before you can start driving over it again. For the best results and to avoid any possible unfortunate circumstances, it’s best to let it cure for 48 hours.