Parking Lot Pros, concrete and asphalt paving experts out of Dallas, Texas, say that, whether concrete or asphalt, potholes are something that will always need to be dealt with eventually. Pothole repair is one of the eternal tasks of road maintenance and civil engineering, and there are in fact various ways of dealing with them. Which of these methods you choose depends upon the extent of the pothole repair project and, naturally, your budget. A municipal road maintenance authority will go about the job in quite a different way than a private resident fixing the potholes in their driveway would.
How Potholes Form
Before getting on to the various methods of pothole repair, it is worth discussing just how potholes form as this is necessary for understanding how to both repair them and prevent them from forming in the future.
A pothole always starts life as a simple crack in an asphalt or concrete pavement. The crack then widens and deteriorates until it is wide enough to cause the surrounding material to fall into the cavity and create a pothole. This occurs on account of two distinct processes, both related to how cracks can collect water.
The first is the freeze-thaw cycle, which is when water collects in a crack and freezes. As it freezes, the water expands and thus widens the crack. The new crack can then collect even more water than before and repeat the process, each time more severely.
The other process involves water penetrating through the crack and reaching the sub-base of the pavement. When this happens, the structural integrity of these lower layers is weakened, and a pothole can be formed by the overlaying material falling in to new spaces opened underneath. Et voila – you have your pothole.
Pothole Repair Tips and Methods
So, what can you do about? The first thing to stress is that continued maintenance is essential if potholes are not going to become too severe. Simple things like shoveling away snow before it forms ice or deicing before cracks appear can go a long way. Nevertheless, if a pothole has already formed, here is what you can do about it:
Throw and Go
This is the quickest, least costly, and least effective method. It involves filling a pothole space with cold mix asphalt or cement and then compressing it down, sometimes even just by driving a car tire over it.
Use a High-Performance Mix
The application method of a high-performance asphalt mix is the same as throw and go; however, this material itself is something special. High-performance mix is designed not just to fill the pothole, but to adhere to the surrounding pavement as well, meaning the pothole will not open again as quickly.
Remove and Replace
This method is more expensive and labor intensive, but it is a much better long-term solution. It is normally the method used for larger scale road maintenance. An area around the potholes (which usually congregate around areas of substructural weakness) is demarcated. This area extends out to structurally sound parts of the pavement, not just the damaged areas. Via milling or saw cutting, the entire pavement within this area is removed, the area is excavated right down to a level of undamaged and stable grade and then the whole paving process is applied as if being done for the first time.
As you can tell, it will probably be obvious which method is best for the job you are faced with. So much depends upon the scale of the operation and your budget. Nevertheless, it is important to know all the available options.