The True Costs of Cold and Hot Asphalt Patching (2020)

The calendar might not say it, but winter blew another blast of cold and snow across the Western portion of the country this week. From the Eastern side of things, temperatures are still warm and conducive to repairing asphalt driveways and parking lots.

Depending on how long the warm weather holds, you may still have time for your contractor to use the hot asphalt patching method for your repairs. Once temperatures drop, most contractors switch over to using a cold asphalt patch.

The focus of this post is unraveling the differences between these two asphalt patching methods. We’ll also briefly discuss the cost—it’s not only about money.

Before we get into comparisons and dollar amounts, let’s take a minute and talk about asphalt patching, in general.

Who Needs a Patch?

 Whether you own a home or a business, if you have an asphalt driveway, one day, you’ll need an asphalt repair. It’s inevitable no matter how careful you are to repair cracks early, remove snow often, and not use rock salt for de-icing.

You should get about 5-7 years of use from your asphalt parking lot before it needs repairs. Several factors impact those numbers, including the quality of the initial installation and your attention to maintenance.

Asphalt eventually breaks down. If you ignore the minor breakdowns long enough, you’ll experience what the industry calls fatigue and failure

When you notice potholes or cavities in your driveway or parking lot, it’s time to have your paving company come out and evaluate the damage.

Depending on the time of year, and specifically, the temperature and weather forecast for the next several days, your contractor will likely recommend either a hot or cold asphalt patch.

How Does Asphalt Patching Help My Situation?

If you have minimally damaged areas on your driveway or lot, an asphalt patch can provide a temporary solution. The keyword here is transient.

Contractors usually suggest patching when you indicate a need for keeping costs to a minimum. Or, when you need a quick fix, knowing in the future, you’ll need a more long-term solution.

Patching is more cost-effective than a full resurfacing. Further, it’s a great repair method when you only have a small area of cracking or several small potholes. When we say cost-effective, we’re still talking short-term—the better long-term repair option, especially for large areas of damaged asphalt, is a full surface repair.

Next, we’ll address the differences between the two most recommended patching solutions: hot and cold asphalt patching.

Using a Cold Asphalt Patch

Think of a cold asphalt patch like a bandage. It’s a quick fix (compared to a hot patch) and one you can probably do yourself if you only have a small area in need of repair.

While it’s less complicated to apply than the hot patch, it’s also less effective over the long haul.

If you choose the DIY route, expect to pay around $10-20 for a 50 lb — bag of pre-mixed cold patch material. There’s also a water-activated product you can buy for about $40. Don’t forget the tools—rake, shovel, and tamper.

Again, this is a temporary, quick fix, often used during the colder months. Cold-patched potholes come back. The cold patch mix has two faults:

It doesn’t seal tight enough to ward off future water seepage.

It’s not made to withstand the pressure from heavy traffic.

While it’s a cost-effective temporary fix, you’ll spend more money in the long-run if you keep applying it as a bandage. You’ll also spend a little more if you have your paving company take care of the cold patch repair for you. The upside to spending the money is you know the professionals know the territory and guarantee their work.

The price for a professional cold patch asphalt repair depends mainly on the size and number of the potholes. Expect to pay around $2 to $4 per square foot.

The Hot Fix for Potholes

In terms of sustainability, and overall cost-effectiveness, hot patch asphalt patching is the best choice for pothole repair. If you choose the hot patch repair, you’ll need a professional paving contractor.

Applying hot mix asphalt isn’t a job for the DIY aficionado. It’s called hot asphalt filler for a reason—it’s heated to about 400 degrees. You also need special equipment and someone who has experience working with hot asphalt.

Paving contractors usually charge between $100 to $500 to repair potholes using the hot patch method. It’s the best choice because it’s a permanent fix, and you’ll spend less over the long-term.

Can I Use Hot Asphalt Patching During Winter?

There’s a reason why paving contractors get crazy busy during late spring and summer. Those seasons are the best for laying asphalt and making asphalt repairs.

That doesn’t mean you can’t schedule asphalt repairs when it’s cold, but using the hot patch is more challenging. Winter is when more people take advantage of a cold patch repair.

For the hot patch material to compact and set correctly, it needs to maintain an internal temperature of between 175 and 275. Cold weather can affect the stability of the material and shorten the installation time.

The hot patch material has a sweet spot for outside air temperature—it’s around 70 degrees. The combination of cold temperatures and snow and ice makes winter a less than ideal time for using this repair method.

Keep in mind, we didn’t say impossible, but it’s not ideal.

Need to Schedule an Asphalt Patch Project?

Thanks for hanging out with us and learning which asphalt repair methods work best. 

Both the cold patch and hot asphalt patching methods work and have their place when it comes to pothole repairs. As we’ve shown you, they are different in both the way they work and the associated costs.

If you have more questions about which is best for your repair needs, or you’re ready to schedule asphalt repairs, contact us today. We’ll get you on the schedule as soon as possible.

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