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Asphalt Patching: The Ultimate Guide to Asphalt Driveway Patching

Asphalt Patching: The Ultimate Guide to Asphalt Driveway Patching

Dexter Alincastre |

Asphalt Patching: The Ultimate Guide to Asphalt Driveway Patching

There are few things worse than watching your formerly smooth asphalt driveway devolve into one with potholes in some of the most crucial places. Not only does this make the surface hazardous to drive on, as hitting one of those potholes too hard can lead to damage to your car’s suspension and tires, but it also means that your driveway is in need of repair. 

What causes these potholes? How do you repair them? We’ll answer both of those questions and more here. 

How Do Potholes Form?

You can prepare the ground under your driveway as much as possible before pouring that first layer of asphalt, but nothing can really stop Mother Nature from doing what she does best: cause chaos. When water gets into the layers of ground under your asphalt, everything can move when you least want it to. Add in the fact that the ground tends to contract in the winter and expand in the summer, simply due to moisture in the air, and you end up with asphalt on top of a moving surface. 

Over time, these movements weaken the asphalt in certain spots. First it's the topcoat, then the asphalt binder that degrage. When cars and trucks drive over it, they weaken further, and the asphalt begins to crack and tear. As this process continues, the asphalt will give way in those areas, crumbling and leaving holes in the surface. These are called potholes, and asphalt patching is required to prevent further damage to vehicles, as well as degradation of your asphalt driveway. 

Different Types of Asphalt Patching Materials: Cold Asphalt Filler vs. Hot Asphalt Filler

Asphalt patching the potholes in your asphalt driveway requires the use of one of two different asphalt crack filler materials. The options are cold asphalt filler and hot asphalt filler. Both can fill potholes, although it’s important to understand their differences so that you choose the correct one for the issues with your asphalt driveway.

Cold Asphalt Filler Asphalt Mix

Cold asphalt filler, also known as cold patch asphalt, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a type of asphalt patching material that isn’t heated. Instead, it’s a material that looks like asphalt, as it consists of the same materials, including small pieces of gravel, which are placed from the packaging into the pothole. The asphalt patching filler is then tamped down to make the surface as smooth as possible.

Although cold asphalt patching filler is quick and easy to use, it isn’t designed to last for a long time. This type of asphalt patching is considered a quick fix and is mainly applied when the seasons aren’t conducive to a more complex method of repair.

However, with new innovations in the asphalt patching industry, cold asphalt patching products now last much longer and can be applied under any type of weather.

Hot Asphalt Filler

On the other hand, hot asphalt filler is exactly as it sounds. The material, which is incredibly similar to standard asphalt, is applied to the pothole when it’s hot, and then heavy machinery compacts it to the surface, ensuring that it stays in place. This method requires an asphalt melter applicator machine

The Saw Cut Method 

The first is called the saw cut method. This method consists of using saws to cut around the pothole, making the area that needs to be repaired larger. Although it sounds counterintuitive, it works well, because the crumbling, uneven edges of the pothole are removed, making the final repair much smoother. Once the old asphalt is removed in that area, the hot filler is applied and then tamped down via a machine, holding it in place.

Cold Milling

The other common method of pothole repair is called milling. This technique involves removing the outer surface of the asphalt around the pothole and even the entire driveway, going down to the underlayers of asphalt that are undamaged. Then, a new layer of asphalt is applied, up to the required depth. As a result, the entire new surface is smooth and unblemished, and no one will be able to tell that there was once a pothole there. This method is great if there are multiple potholes that need to be repaired, although it is a bit more labor intensive than the saw cut method. 

Either way, hot asphalt filler lasts a lot longer than its cold counterpart, ensuring that you have a nice drivable surface for years to come, or at least until the next potholes form. All of this depends on your climate, of course. 

Which one to Pick? Hot or Cold Patching Materials

Although cold asphalt patch has become easier to use and longer lasting, hot pour asphalt is still the better and long lasting option. It comes down to this, do you want to do it yourself and save money? Or have a professional do it? There’s no right or wrong answer here, it comes down to what fits your budget and overall needs.

If you’re a contractor or looking to start your own asphalt business, here’s what you’ll need.

Pothole Patching Tools Needed for Professional Asphalt Maintenance Businesses and Contractors

Patching asphalt is often done by professionals who have all of the tools and supplies that they need in order to complete the job. These include:

  • Asphalt Saw – Despite the fact that you’re working with asphalt, you could also use a concrete saw to repair the pothole. The tool needs to be sharp enough to fine the edges of the pothole.

  • A Mix of Sand and Gravel – Even professionals need to put more than just their asphalt patch filler in the hole. Sand and gravel are used to ensure that the base of the asphalt is solid and in good condition.

  • A Shovel – You’ll not only need a shovel to remove the remnants of asphalt from the pothole before you can fill it, but also dole out the sand and gravel mixture.

  • Asphalt Crack Melter and Applicator - We carry plenty of melters and applicators, but the RynoWorx RY10MAand the RY10MA-V3 are the best on the market.

  • Hot Asphalt Filler – We recommend only the best, Deery hot mix asphalt filler, one of our top rated proprietary patching mixes.

  • Tamper or Vibrating Plate – Often, a vibratory plate compactor is used to ensure that the asphalt completely the pothole and its surrounding area, and it also keeps the filler in place by tamping it down. A standard tamper can also be used in order to ensure that the filler does its job.

Now that you know which tools and supplies contractors need in order to repair an asphalt pothole, it’s time to discuss the rest of the process.

  1. Cut Around and Remove Debris from the Pothole – Despite its name, a pothole is not a perfect hole in your asphalt. It’s usually filled with crumbling bits of asphalt. Use the asphalt saw to cut around the area of the pothole, making the edges smooth, then remove all of the debris.

  2. Fill With Sand and Gravel – You’ll need at least an inch of space at the top of the pothole for the hot asphalt filler. The rest of the hole can be filled with sand and gravel. Tamp down the loose material, and then add more if needed.

  3. Fill with Hot Asphalt Filler – Pour the hot asphalt filler over the pothole until it’s filled up to the surface. 

  4. Tamp Down the Asphalt Filler – Finally, the asphalt filler needs to be tamped down and securely adhered to the asphalt around it. A vibrating plate is used to do this, although other types of machinery will do the job as well. 

  5. Finalize the Surface – Once the filler has cooled and cured, add a layer of asphalt sealcoating over the surface of the driveway and get ready to paint any necessary lines after the sealcoating itself has cured. 

And if you’re looking to save money, the DIY option is always a good one. Here’s how it works…

How to DIY Patch Asphalt 

Of course, there’s always the DIY method of asphalt repair. This process requires the use of cold asphalt filler instead of the hot variety. It’s much easier for a DIYer to manage, as it is less dangerous than hot asphalt filler that needs to be applied at a very high temperature.

The process for DIY patching is similar to that of the professionals. It all starts with removing the remaining bits of crumbled asphalt surface on the existing pavement with a hammer and chisel, or even a long screwdriver. Once the pothole is cleaned out, it’s time to apply the cold asphalt filler. Fill the hole left after the debris is removed with the cold asphalt patch, and then use a hand tamp to tamp it down and into place. Add more, if necessary, in order to fill the hole.

After the filler is applied and has a chance to solidify, use a brush and roller to apply a later of asphalt sealcoat. 

Pothole Patching Tools needed for DIYers 

If you need the supplies required for fixing a pothole in your asphalt yourself, there are useful tool kits available. You’ll also need the following:

  • Hammer & Chisel – To remove the debris in the pothole.

  • Shovel – To apply the cold asphalt filler or patch.

  • Cold Asphalt Patch – To repair the pothole quickly and easily.

  • Hand Tamp – To press the cold asphalt patch into place.

  • Brush and Roller – To apply a layer of asphalt sealcoating. 


Now that you know why potholes form, as well as what’s required for both professionals and DIYers to fill them, you’re one step ahead of the game. With two different filler options available: hot asphalt filler, which is best for professional use, and cold asphalt filler, which a DIYer can handle with ease, you have no excuse for your asphalt driveway to be filled with potholes. After all, the sooner you fill those potholes, the better. 

If you have any questions about asphalt patching techniques, hot or cold asphalt mix, etc. give us a call at (888) 320-9855!


Founder / Senior Contributor

Kevin King, founder of Asphalt Industrial, brings years of expertise in asphalt maintenance. Having assisted thousands with selecting the right asphalt maintenance products for business growth and DIYers alike, Kevin shares his wealth of knowledge as a frequent contributor to industry discussions and guides. In his free time, Kevin enjoys camping, fishing, riding motorcycles, and hanging out with his dog, Panzer. Despite his busy schedule, he still finds time to contribute to the Asphalt Industrial blog!

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