Paving? Sealcoating? What am I doing?
September 5, 2008 10:29 AM   Subscribe

What do I need to know about fixing up (repaving, sealcoating, I have no idea) my driveway?

I have a 15 foot wide by 50 foot long driveway that has seen better days. It was paved when I bought the house, but has since developed some cracks across it (through which some weeds have sprouted, and the surface itself is missing a few pieces. Not sure how best to describe this, but it's almost like there's little flakes on the very top of the driveway, some of which are missing - looks almost like this.

I plan on calling a number of local contractors to get quotes, but is there anything I need to know before doing so? I don't want to sound like a dope on the phone and get taken for a ride, and I want to make sure I only ask for what I need. As a side note, is it possible for someone who's not particularly handy to fix this himself, or is it not worth the effort, and should I just go with a pro?

posted by um_maverick to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ack, I meant to add this, but if weather and climate matters for any parts of this question, I'm near Boston.
posted by um_maverick at 10:31 AM on September 5, 2008

You can do this yourself, if you don't mind the texture of your driveway being less than Hubble-smooth.

Go down to your local hardware store and purchase some...
+ 'driveway retopper', 'blacktop', 'resurfacer', whatever. It'll come in a large 16 gallon bucket (or bigger) and be heavier than !)(@$)@(
+ A 'rough surface' paint roller roll ($4)
+ Roller handle + cheap-o extension pole ($5-$10) if you don't have them.

Bring these back home. Put on old shoes that you don't care about. MOVE CAR OUT OF GARAGE ONTO STREET. DO THIS NOW OR YOU WILL BE STUCK IN YOUR GARAGE FOR 24-72 hours.

Put bucket on driveway - DO NOT OPEN YET. Kick bucket over so it lies on its side. Roll bucket (using feet) around and around until you are confident that the insides are mixed. Do this twice as long as you think you'll need to.

Stand bucket up.

Consider driveway topology before starting. If you start in a certain corner, will you be blocked off from something?

Open bucket, pout out some directly onto driveway. Use roller to 'paint' your driveway with it. Start in a corner. Lay it on nice and thick.

Repeat until driveway is finished.

Throw away shoes. :) Do not track them into the house or your wife will kill you.
posted by unixrat at 11:28 AM on September 5, 2008 [5 favorites]

Simply sealing the driveway is much more of a maintenance thing than a repair thing. It sounds like his problems are beyond what a coat or two of sealant can do. I would definitely contact a driveway paving company about it, or wait for more advice in this thread.

Now, sealing it as unixrat is describing IS something you will want to get in the habit of doing after you get the whole thing patched up. It definitely helps extend the life of the pavement, even if it's kind of a hassle. There are companies that will do it for you, if you don't want to get your hands (feet) dirty.
posted by prozach1576 at 11:54 AM on September 5, 2008

You can do as unixrat suggests assuming that the picture is a pretty accurate view of your driveway. I would rent a power washer and use that to remove all the loose sealant that there is before sealing it. Also if there are sections that have turned to gravel or become seriously loose, chip those out and fill with cold patch, then tamp before sealing.
posted by JJ86 at 12:22 PM on September 5, 2008

I've done this several times in the past. I've always used the two sided brush / squeegee that the hardware store will have conveniently placed next to the buckets of black goo. Use the brush to do the initial spread and the squeegee side to get a nice smooth finish.
posted by COD at 12:35 PM on September 5, 2008

It looks like you need more than sealcoating, but less than full tearout down to the gravel.

You should ask contractors for their opinion. While they theoretically have a reason to overestimate the job, they also want to be the low bidder.

And you should find those contractors through references, not through the phone book. Easiest way is to drive around your neighborhood, find the newest-looking driveway, and knock on the door. Some of those will have just applied a sealcoat, but when you find one who had more substantial work done, find out who did the job and what they though of them.

I get questions like this all the time and I'm happy to answer them, as are most people, I think.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:16 PM on September 5, 2008

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