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How to Level Blacktop

By Becky Lower ; Updated September 21, 2017
A bed of sealed asphalt is the final step in reparing a driveway.
Long, Winding Driveway to Farm image by steverts from Fotolia.com

A beautifully blacktopped finish is the icing on the cake of a good driveway foundation. If your current driveway is anything but beautiful you can do basic repairs, such as filling in cracks and leveling out depressions. If your driveway heaves or tilts during cold weather, you may need to rip it out and begin again,using a 6 to 8 inch bed of gravel. Unstable soil can be tamed with a geo-textile fabric to hold the ground in place underneath your driveway bed.


Dig out any loose chunks of asphalt with a masonry chisel. Sweep away all debris with a bristle broom. Clean off dust with a garden hose and water.

Pour a commercial driveway cleanser on the drive and spread it with a broom following manufacturer's instructions. Rinse thoroughly using a garden hose with a pressure nozzle.

Fill in any cracks with sand to 1/2 inch beneath the driveway surface. Use a shovel to pack it into the crack and tamp it down.

Clean out and fill pot holes to 4 inches from the top of the surface with gravel. Use a shovel to fill the hole, tamping the gravel down as you fill. Use the shovel or a masonry chisel to carve out a ledge under the hole so the patching compound will better adhere to the blacktop that is already in place.

Make certain there is no standing water in low spots. Squeegee out any standing water. Low areas should be no deeper than 1 inch. If the area is deeper than 1 inch treat it like a pot hole, following the instructions in Step 4.

Repair the Driveway

Prime any areas to be resurfaced with an emulsified liquid asphalt. Apply the emulsifier with a brush or a broom. This assures that the patch asphalt will properly adhere to the surface.

Fill cracks with crack filler, spreading it into the crack with a caulking gun.

Fill pot holes and low spots by troweling or shoveling asphalt cold-patch into the depressions. Cut into the cold-patch with the blade of a shovel several times during the patching to eliminate air pockets.

Add cold-patch in 2-inch increments, tamping it down and eliminating air pockets each time. Use the end of a 2-by-4 board to tamp the asphalt down. Fill until the area is slightly rounded over the driveway.

Place a board over the filled area and run a car over it several times to firmly tamp down the area. Add more cold-patch as needed until the surface is even with the rest of the driveway.

Allow the driveway to cure for 12 to 36 hours before driving on it.

Seal-Coat the Driveway

Wait 2 to 5 days after making repairs before seal-coating the entire driveway. Clean the driveway with a commercial driveway cleaner and rinse thoroughly.

Stir the sealer and apply a small amount at a time, no more than three feet square, using the combination broom/squeegee. Don't spread the sealer too thin. Lay down a coat that is about 1/4 inch thick.

Add sand to the sealer or sprinkle it on top of the seal coat while it's still wet for greater traction if your driveway is on a hill.

Allow the sealer to cure for 24 hours before driving on the blacktop.


Things You Will Need

  • Masonry chisel
  • Bristle broom
  • Garden hose with pressure nozzle
  • Commercial driveway cleaner
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Shovel
  • Combination broom/squeegee
  • Emulsified asphalt liquid
  • Asphalt crack filler
  • Caulking gun
  • Cold-patch asphalt
  • Trowel
  • Standard 2-by-4 board
  • Asphalt seal coat


  • Always wear protective gear when working with asphalt. Proper eye and hand protection and a mask to avoid inhaling fumes is recommended.

About the Author


Becky Lower began writing professionally in 2004. Her work has appeared in "elan" magazine, a northern Virginia publication, "Good Old Days" magazine, the "BGSU Alumni" magazine and on the website thenovelette.com. Lower has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Bowling Green State University.