If your asphalt driveway is beginning to take on the texture of a dried mud field, filled with cracks and small holes, you may be wondering whether there are any repair options short of resurfacing or repaving your entire driveway. Fortunately, a new technology enabling the almost complete recycling of asphalt may hold promise for a permanent driveway fix at any time of year. Read on to learn more about your low energy, environmentally-friendly driveway repair options.
What types of patches are typically used for asphalt?
If your asphalt driveway develops a single small hole or crack, you'll generally be able to fill it in using commercial asphalt patching available at a hardware or home supply store. This thick, gluey substance can be spread with a trowel and will dry relatively quickly, forming a nearly invisible seal.
However, these patches will not always stand up to the wear and tear of frequent use and inclement weather. If your driveway has multiple cracks or several large holes, you may be better off to arrange for a more extensive (and permanent) fix, which will generally require the services of an asphalt company. Although these companies will use a similar substance to patch your driveway as the kind you can purchase yourself, they will heat it to an ultra-hot temperature and spread and seal the asphalt with a heavy roller that ensures the patch is the same density as the surrounding asphalt. This rolling treatment will help make your patched areas as strong as -- or even stronger than -- the rest of your driveway.
A new type of composite has recently come on the market and may soon be the go-to source for homeowners and contractors alike. Called "LEAP" -- or low energy asphalt pavement -- this asphalt requires less energy to produce, less work to maintain, and is generally less expensive than equivalent asphalt patching products.
What is LEAP?
Low energy asphalt -- sometimes known as "cold mix" or foamed asphalt -- is an inexpensive recycled alternative to traditional "hot mix" asphalt. Hot mix asphalt must be mixed and spread at very high temperatures before it cools and hardens into its final form. This process burns a lot of fuel and energy, creates toxic fumes, and can contribute to much of the cost of commercial asphalt installation and repair.
However, by mixing a chemical additive with reclaimed or recycled hot mix asphalt, the asphalt company can mix and spread this substance at a lower temperature. By avoiding having to heat the asphalt to extra-hot temperatures, the company can burn less energy without compromising the final product.
Another way to create a colder mix is by "foaming" the asphalt using special equipment on-site. This foamed mixture, like the additive mix, can be spread at any temperature and requires less fuel to create than hot mix asphalt. This mixture also emits many fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and requires less venting than hot mix asphalt.
One of the primary advantages to the use of cold mix or foamed asphalt in place of hot mix asphalt is the ability to perform a seamless patch at nearly any temperature. It's very difficult to successfully install a hot mix driveway or patch in cold (or even cool) weather -- the asphalt loses heat and begins to thicken before it can even be poured. However, using cold mix asphalt allows you to patch a driveway at nearly any time of year. This can be useful during the colder months, when snow and ice seep into any small cracks in your asphalt and expand them into large ones.
For more information about the best option for repairing your driveway, talk to a local asphalt company.
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