By James Fitzgerald | Updated Oct 27, 2021 11:17 AM
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A cracked driveway may be unsightly, but it can also lead to more extensive damage if left untreated. They allow moisture to seep into the asphalt, which can erode the base of your driveway and cause the cracks to widen as the water freezes and thaws. These cracks can also accumulate dirt, debris, and weeds may grow within them.
Sealing all the cracks soon after they appear is one of the best things you can do to extend the longevity of your asphalt driveway. Fortunately, there are products on the market that allow you to seal asphalt cracks without having to hire a contractor.
Read on to learn about the key characteristics to consider while shopping, and discover some of the best asphalt driveway crack filler options available.
Since cracks come in many shapes and sizes, it’s important to select a product that’s formulated for the type of cracks most prevalent on your driveway. The following key characteristics can help you choose the best asphalt driveway crack filler for your specific situation.
Most asphalt crack fillers are made primarily with asphalt, coal tar, acrylic, and epoxy. Of these, asphalt and coal tar are the most common base ingredients.
Along with the primary base ingredient, crack fillers often include compounds like sand, latex, and other additives. Sand is added for surface traction to prevent people from slipping or car tires from skidding.
Latex and similar additives are added to a sealer to help it bond to the asphalt, extend its longevity, reduce drying time, and make the finished seal more solvent resistant. Some additives also give the asphalt a darker and more aesthetic appearance.
Most crack filler formulas can patch hairline cracks to larger cracks up to 1/2 inch wide, depending on the formula and application process used. If you’re trying to fill several fine surface cracks, it’s best to apply a sealer over the entire affected surface of your driveway.
For larger cracks between 1/4 and 1/2 inches, the flexibility and elasticity of the formula you use is important. Since asphalt expands and contracts with outdoor temperature fluctuations, the crack filler should be capable of accommodating the natural movements of the asphalt.
The inherent flexibility of epoxy and acrylic is one of the reasons they tend to have a longer lifespan than other crack filler types, but asphalt repair formulas also expand and contract nicely.
Although you can fix fairly large, surface-level cracks with filler formulas, there is one type of cracking that shouldn’t be filled: crocodile cracks. Crocodile cracking, also called alligator cracking, has a distinct appearance that looks like the scales on a reptile and indicates a failure of the subbase that requires a more extensive repair by a professional. Filling over crocodile cracking is only a temporary cosmetic solution and will not inhibit further damage to your driveway.
A crack filler can be applied in a few different ways depending on the type, purpose, and consistency of the formula you’re using. Sealer formulas used to fill hairline cracks can be spread with a paint roller, sprayer, broom, or squeegee to evenly spread the formula over the affected area.
Filler formulas used for larger cracks are often applied with a trowel or caulking gun, depending on whether the formulas come in a can or caulking tube. Caulking guns will generally be cleaner and look better than spreading the material with a trowel since the caulking gun allows for greater precision.
Filler ropes can also be used on larger cracks by firmly pressing the rope into the crack and then applying a blowtorch to melt the formula so it can fill the crack and blend with the rest of your driveway. Regardless of the type of crack filler you use, follow the application instructions recommended by the manufacturer.
Some prep work is recommended before using most fillers, which usually involves cleaning up crumbling bits of debris with a brush and widening any cracks smaller than 1/8 inch wide with a hammer and chisel. Most filler and sealer manufacturers specify suitable temperature and weather conditions for applying the product.
Most recommend late spring and early fall applications, or whenever the temperature is consistently between 50 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures that are either too high or too low can inhibit the sealer’s adherence to the asphalt and may cause the finished product to peel and separate. There should be no rain expected for up to 48 hours after application, which can prevent the seal from drying fully and evenly.
The time it takes for a filler or sealer to dry will depend on the formula used and the weather conditions. Product manufacturers state how long you should allow their product to dry. In general, the sealed surface will be dry to the touch and can be walked on after 2 to 4 hours, and can be driven over after 24 to 48 hours.
If you want to minimize drying time, apply the crack filler during the heat of the summer or consider using a heat gun or blowtorch for supplemental heat. Fast-drying fillers are also available, containing a special gel that can reduce drying time to approximately 1 hour.
While you typically pay a premium for this additional feature, fast-dry formulas are especially valuable in high-traffic areas that can’t be blocked off for long periods of time.
Filler formulas have varying weather resistance ratings and different tolerances for hot and cold climates. All types of crack sealers and fillers are designed to resist moisture, but only after they have properly dried. Exposure to rain or high humidity before drying could hinder proper adhesion to the asphalt and could give an uneven blotchy appearance if different sections dry at different rates.
Although all types will be resilient to moisture once dry, not all crack fillers are equally resilient against UV exposure. Epoxy and acrylic formulas typically have the highest UV-resistance qualities, which is one of the reasons they tend to last the longest and are the most expensive. These fillers are more flexible than asphalt and coal, which helps them accommodate the expansion and contraction of significant temperature variations.
As a general rule, an asphalt driveway should be completely resealed every 3 years, but your driveway may need to be maintenanced more or less often depending on the formula that you use. Just as different types of formulas have varying weather-resistance ratings, they also vary in lifespan.
Asphalt and coal tar sealers can last between 1 to 5 years, acrylic sealers usually last 3 and 5 years, and epoxy sealers can last 5 to 10 years. Along with those guidelines, a sealer’s longevity varies across manufacturers and will be influenced by weather conditions and traffic exposure.
Now that you know more about asphalt driveway crack fillers, it’s time to start shopping. These recommendations are among the best asphalt crack fillers in their respective categories for repairing different types and sizes of cracks.
For an easy and permanent solution to driveway repair, Crack-Stix offers 125 feet of commercial-grade asphalt filler rope. Originally formulated for use on highways, pressing this 1/2-inch rope into cracks between 1/4 and 1/2 inches wide will permanently seal them. The asphalt-based compound expands and contracts with the existing asphalt, and doesn’t emit any harmful VOCs.
Note that this filler rope requires a blowtorch to melt and spread the material in the cracks, and it may be too large for cracks smaller than 1/4 inch wide. Crack-Stix may also require a little more prep work than other options, including the possible need to backfill deeper cracks with sand or other filler material.
For sealing multiple cracks over a large section of your driveway, the 4.75-gallon pail of Latex-ite’s asphalt-based sealant can cover up to 400 square feet. It’s applied with a squeegee or broom, and provides a smooth cover and seal over your driveway’s hairline fractures. It also incorporates sand into the formula for a skid-free, high-traction surface.
Once you’re finished applying the crack filler, cleanup is done with soap and warm water. This formula is mainly designed for hairline cracks, so it may not be ideal for cracks larger than 1/8 inch wide. Two coats of this sealer can add a protective membrane to your driveway that lasts 3 to 5 years.
For a resilient seal at an affordable price, Red Devil’s acrylic asphalt crack filler is hard to beat. It comes in a tube that’s easily applied with a caulking gun and cleaned up with water. The Red Devil filler leaves a clean-looking, smooth finish in cracks as large as 1/2 inch wide.
Although a single tube will only seal a handful of cracks, it’s an effective and inexpensive solution for small-scale problems. Since it’s an acrylic formula, the filler is highly flexible and weather resistant. It lasts longer than asphalt or coal tar formulas and doesn’t emit any harmful VOCs.
QPR’s asphalt patch is different from other asphalt fillers, as it’s not a liquid formula. The filler consists of dry aggregate material that emits no VOCs and has 0 percent water runoff toxicity, establishing it as one of the most eco-friendly asphalt fillers available. This patch can be applied during any weather conditions, and can also be used to fill potholes that are filled with water.
To apply, spread the aggregate in the area that needs patching, then compact it with a tamper, board, or even your car. Allow the binding agent to do its work in creating a permanent and weather-resistant seal.
Although it’s environmentally sustainable, the QPR patch is not suitable for sealing your entire driveway or filling small cracks, and is best for large asphalt cracks and potholes usually found in heavy vehicle traffic areas.
If you have cracks to fill but need to minimize the drying time as much as possible, Gardner’s blacktop sealer can get a high-traffic driveway vehicle ready in hours instead of days. This sealer uses a special formula with fast-drying gel that not only dries quickly but also emits few VOCs and is UV and chemical resistant.
The water-based formula is easy to apply with a roller, mop, or squeegee and is dry enough to walk on in 1 hour. One 4.75-gallon bucket can cover up to 350 square feet and is often enough for two fast drying coats. Like many other sealers, it’s ideally suited for smaller hairline cracks and may not adequately fill and seal cracks exceeding 1/8 inch wide.
For deep asphalt cracks up to 1/2 inch wide, Latex-ite’s Pli-Stix filler rope offers a permanent seal that’s flexible and waterproof. This Pli-Stix consists of a 1/2 inch wide asphalt rope that is pressed into cracks, then melted to create a self-leveling and permanent seal.
This contractor-grade product provides a quick, easy, and affordable solution to driveway cracks without the hassle and mess of a whole driveway sealcoat (provided you have a heat gun or blowtorch). You may need to backfill deep cracks before pressing in this rope. After heat treatment, the affected area is ready for foot traffic in about 20 minutes.
Selected for its versatility, permanent seal, and long-lasting lifespan, the Crack-Stix option is our first pick for the best asphalt crack fillers. Made for asphalt repair and concrete filling, this option comes with no VOCs for short to medium-length driveways as it covers 125 square feet of driveway.
Alternatively, the Latex-ite pick is made for those with long driveways or parking lots as it provides over 400 square feet of coverage with an affordable price point. With sand incorporated in the formula, this mixture provides traction, comes coal and tar-free, and requires little clean-up after use.
The right asphalt driveway crack filler can provide your home with more curb appeal and prevent potholes and weeds. Selections for the best asphalt crack fillers depended upon their ease of application, durability, formula, and compatibility with crack size and driveway type.
Many of the above picks are made with ease of application in mind with little pre or post-care needed. Though some do require tougher applications and aftercare, each is made to be permanent and weather-resistant after drying. Some picks are also fast-drying in a matter of hours to 2 days.
Select above picks are also made with no VOCs emitted and no coal and tar mixed into their formulas. For added convenience, the above top picks offer a selection of fillers made to fill ⅛ to ½-inch cracks on asphalt, concrete, and other blacktop surfaces.
The idea of filling asphalt cracks or sealing your own driveway may seem overwhelming and a little intimidating, so it’s natural to have questions. Reference these answers to give you peace of mind before sealing or filling your driveway cracks.
Crack sealing involves covering your entire driveway with a protective coating of sealant, whereas crack filling involves covering and sealing individual cracks in the asphalt. Crack sealing is more expensive and effective for sealing a large area riddled with hairline cracks, while filling asphalt cracks is more affordable and ideally suited for filling large crevices.
Sealing cracks will prevent moisture accumulation. When water in a crack expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, it can further deteriorate the asphalt.
You can use epoxy sealants and caulks to both seal and fill driveway cracks, and caulking can be used to fill isolated driveway cracks.
The amount of filler you need will depend on the specific formula you choose and whether you want all-around driveway repair or just filling in individual cracks. Manufacturers indicate how much square feet their fillers will cover. However, it’s often recommended to purchase a little more than you think is necessary to avoid running out of filler mid-project, giving the seal an uneven appearance.
Most asphalt crack fillers don’t require preheating, but the surface temperature of your driveway should be warm enough for proper adhesion, drying, and curing. Filler ropes need to be heated and melted with a blowtorch after they’re pressed into the crack.
Crack fillers and sealers can last between 1 and 10 years, with the average lifespan being between 3 and 5 years.
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