How to Apply Cold Patch Asphalt

Written by arthur barnhouse
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How to Apply Cold Patch Asphalt
You don't need a professional road crew to fix your potholes. (pothole repair image by Greg Pickens from

Potholes, cracks and depressions will eventually form in any asphalt surface, whether it's a car park, a main road or your driveway. This is usually due to the prolonged effects of weather. Rain or melted snow enters small faults in the surface, then freezes. As the liquid freezes, it expands and breaks the asphalt apart. Eventually, you're left with holes and cracks in need of repair. Instead of spending your money hiring professional contractors, you can do the job yourself. All that's needed are some basic tools and quality cold patch.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Wire brush
  • Metal tamper, or 5- to 6-foot piece of 4-by-4 or 2-by-8 lumber
  • Crushed gravel (for deep holes)
  • Driveway coating (emulsified liquid asphalt)
  • Paintbrush
  • Masonry trowel

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  1. 1

    Examine the pothole you plan on fixing. If the inside of the hole is uneven, use a hammer and chisel to knock away the uneven edges and create a straight, vertical wall. Try to expand it so the bottom of the hole is the same size as the top.

  2. 2

    Clean the area on which you plan to apply the cold patch asphalt. Remove any dust, dirt or grease. Use a wire brush to remove any loose debris. The area must be clean for the cold patch to adhere properly.

  3. 3

    Add crushed gravel if the hole is more than 3 to 4 inches deep. The actual cold patch shouldn't be much more than 2 inches thick. Tamp the gravel down into the hole using a metal tamper or a 5- to 6-foot piece of lumber, approximately 4-by-4 or 2-by-8 inches. If necessary, add more gravel and tamp again.

  4. 4

    Prep the area with some driveway coating, also known as emulsified liquid asphalt. Use a paintbrush to apply the coating. This will prime the surface and help the cold patch adhere.

  5. 5

    Use a masonry trowel to add the cold patch asphalt to the hole. Fill the hole to the top and then some, creating a mound.

  6. 6

    Tamp the cold patch with your metal tamper or piece of lumber. Continue tamping until the patch feels solid. If the tamping has caused any low areas, add more cold patch and tamp again. Continue until the patch feels completely solid and is level with the surrounding area.

  7. 7

    Allow the patch to cure for at least 12 hours. During this time you should not drive on the surface. Then wait an additional two to five days before sealing the patch with driveway coating or sealant.

Tips and warnings

  • Read the label on the cold patch container before using it. Some brands will include specific instructions for proper application. For example, some cold patches require thorough stirring before use.
  • You may fill any cracks or depressions using the same techniques. Simply make sure the area is clean before applying the cold patch.
  • Seal your entire driveway to prevent future cracks or holes in the asphalt. Before sealing, fix all faults with cold patch. Wait the necessary amount of time, then apply the sealant using a long-handled roller or brush specifically designed for the task.

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