Asphalt Driveway Cracking? 9 FAQ to Save Your Driveway & a Pair of Shoes

a two-level home with a new asphalt driveway

Your driveway is crumbling. Little blades of grass are peaking through, and every time your tires move, you hear a gravel-like crunch.

It’s way past time you gave your driveway some attention. 

But what are the things you need to know about asphalt paving? We reached out to Scott Greenberg, owner of Kaplan Paving Services in Ingleside, Illinois. Scott has been in the paving business since 2007 and answered your frequently asked questions about asphalt driveways! 

Why should a homeowner choose asphalt for their driveaway? 

A recent repaved driveway has no cracks in it
Don’t let your driveway crumble.

With so many choices for a driveway – concrete, brick, gravel, cobblestone, and more – homeowners should opt for the driveway that does best in their climate.  

“Asphalt is a better product than concrete in the Midwest,” says Scott. “It’s more flexible with the freeze-thaw cycles, which shift pavements around.”

Maintenance is another factor homeowners should take into account when choosing their driveway material as asphalt may prove cost-effective over a concrete driveway. 

“When the pavement surfaces crack and they will crack because of the climate,” adds Scott, “asphalt is easier to fix than concrete.”

So if driveways crack, is there anything homeowners can do to minimize cracking?

a crack in an asphalt driveway
Your driveway will eventually crack.

“The best thing a homeowner can do is install a high-quality driveway with the base prepared properly,” says Scott. 

However, many factors contribute to cracking in an asphalt driveway, such as fault lines, the driveway’s layout, and of course, water.  

“Water is your enemy,” says Scott. “The minute water starts getting into those cracks, whether it’s rain or snow – it’s going to enter the subbase. It’s going to start deteriorating the subbase, and that’s going to create catastrophic long-term problems to your driveway.”

Make sure to take care of “micro cracks” by sealing your driveway. This process fills in tiny cracks and prevents them from growing. 

Can a homeowner fix the cracks themselves, or should they call a professional?

Homeowners can buy crack filler or asphalt sealcoat at their local home improvement store and try to repair cracks themselves. Unfortunately, many homeowners won’t receive the desired results.

“By the time they ruin a good pair of shoes and waste time going to the store and the aggravation to do it – it would have been easier to have a professional do it,” says Scott. “It ends up being much less money, to be honest with you, but they may not realize it when they start the project.”

How about stains in asphalt?

“A part of our seal coating process, we do try to remove those oil stains and then seal over it,” says Scott. “It’s not a perfect process, but we do a pretty good job of wire brushing existing stains and removing them.”

While stains can damage your curb appeal, they may also harm the asphalt pavement. 

“Fuel, especially diesel fuel, will do damage to pavement surfaces and prematurely wear that pavement down,” says Scott.  

How often should homeowners reseal their asphalt driveways? 

a professional resealing an asphalt driveway with a broom
Start a maintenance plan for your asphalt driveway.

Scott recommends first resealing your driveway nine to 12 month after a new asphalt driveway installation, but is it worth sealing a driveway, especially so soon after installation?

“If you do it early after the installation, your driveway is going to last longer,” says Scott. 

Afterwards, homeowners may want to start an asphalt driveway maintenance program of sealcoating it every couple of years.

How long does it take to sealcoat a driveway?

“Seal coating is not a long process. You could probably clean, prep, and seal coat an average size driveway in under an hour.”

When should homeowners look for an asphalt driveway replacement? 

new asphalt installed on a driveway
Most homeowners choose a three- or four-inch driveway.

When the base materials begin to show – also known as “exposed aggregate” – or there are missing pieces of driveway, a homeowner will need to take action. Even small holes will require a driveway patch repair.  

“Whether it’s a cold patch or something else – you’ll want to avoid the water going in there,” says Scott. 

That will help to extend the life of the driveway. Unfortunately, if you see substantial wear from car tires over time, “that’s an indication that you might have a subbase that’s failing,” says Scott.  

At that time, homeowners may want to explore options for installing a new driveway with asphalt paving.

How long does it take to install a new asphalt driveway?

“That’s a multiple-day project,” says Scott. “If it’s an average size driveway, you probably can remove it in a few hours.”

All that is contingent on the municipality and city inspection, “so we never pour the asphalt the same day we prep.”

Pouring asphalt is always a two-day process, but there could be multiple days in between.

“It’s a project you undertake every 12 to 15 years, so if you have to do without a driveway for a 10-day period, it’s a minor inconvenience to get it correct,” says Scott. 

What do homeowners need to know when choosing a paving contractor?

an asphalt professional smoothing asphalt on a driveway
Choose a reputable contractor.

“You have to pick a reputable contractor who’s been around for years and has significant digital profits in terms of positive reviews,” says Scott. 

A contractor should also be fully licensed and bonded. 

“We provide you with a certificate of insurance and show you the business licenses,” says Scott. Kaplan Paving also posts their accreditation with the Better Business Bureau and Unilock on their website. 

Scott warns homeowners about contractors who say they are in the neighborhood and have “extra asphalt.” 

“That is to scam the consumer to put down much less,” says Scott. “Most consumers opt for either a two- or three-inch driveway, and the material is the most expensive portion of the project.”

If the contractor skimps on a half inch or an inch, the homeowner won’t know for the first year or two.

“They’re certainly going to know within three or four years when that driveway fails prematurely,” says Scott. “As long as the homeowners do their due diligence and talk to multiple companies, they should be okay.”

In addition to providing documentation and other services, Kaplan Paving routinely reviews quotes to help homeowners choose the right contractor. 

“We’re always happy to review anyone’s quote and point out where it might not be apples to apples,” says Scott. “We will do that free of charge.”

Expert tips at your fingertips

two cell phones in front of an affluent blue home with the vipHomeLink dashboard up on the screen
Download vipHomeLink today!

Here at vipHomeLink, we know how difficult it is to take care of your home. That’s why we help to simplify homeownership through our home management app. vipHomeLink provides homeowners with personalized reminders for home tasks, tailored recommendations for home improvement, and tips from experts in the field. From replacing your appliances to vacuuming your dryer vent, we’ve got you covered.

Download the vipHomeLink app today from Google Play or the App Store.

Latest vipPosts


Valuable Homeowner Content
Delivered to Your Mailbox