Asphalt Repairs in Cold Weather

The Do’s and Don’ts of Winter Asphalt Repairs


Many people are under the impression that damaged asphalt can only be repaired when it is warm outside.  While there are some repairs that are better put off until spring, there are many other repairs that can be completed in cold weather with no problems whatsoever.  With the right equipment and expertise, repairs made in cold weather will produce the same quality solutions as summer repairs.


Asphalt Repairs That Will Not Work in Cold Weather

For some asphalt repairs, when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, it’s better to wait until the temperature rises before trying to fix them.  This group of repairs includes any surface repair that relies on primer as a bonding agent and calls for less than 2 inches of new asphalt to be installed.  Primer, which is a liquid form of asphalt, is used like glue to hold the new asphalt to the existing asphalt.  In warm weather, primer tacks up and gets really sticky.  This is how it bonds the asphalt together.  However, in cold weather, the primer won’t tack up, giving the new asphalt nothing to bond to.  The resulting consequence is the unraveling, or the peeling up, of the new asphalt from the old asphalt.  Putting down 2 inches or more of hot asphalt (around 300 degrees) will ensure the repair heats up enough for proper bonding to occur with the original asphalt.  The types of repairs that fall into this category include:

  • Skin Patches – Skin patches are thin layers of asphalt placed over damaged areas. In the picture below, you will see that only a thin layer of asphalt can be used in order to maintain proper drainage and prevent a mini speed bump from forming in the middle of the pavement. In order for this thin layer of asphalt to bond to the existing asphalt, a layer of primer must be put down first. In super cold weather, the primer will not tack up, which could result in premature failure of the patch.

Skin Patch

  • Speed Bumps – Speed bumps are raised areas of asphalt that are used to slow down drivers in certain areas. When speed bumps are constructed, a layer of primer is put down on a pre-constructed parking lot or road. New asphalt is placed on top and shaped into whichever type of speed bump is desired. While the middle section of the speed bump will typically be higher than 2 inches, the edges will not. This means the edges may not bond properly, causing problems later.

Speed Bump

  • Thin Overlays – Thin overlays are just big skin patches.  When there is a larger area of damaged asphalt that doesn’t need to be excavated (dug out and removed) then a thin layer of asphalt is applied over the top of the damaged area.  Thin overlays can occur on driveways, parking lots, roads or pathways.  The maximum amount of asphalt put down on a thin overlay is less than 2 inches.  Also, since you are adding new asphalt on top of old asphalt, primer is needed to bond the two layers together.  In winter, the new layer of asphalt is not thick enough to sufficiently heat up the primer.


Asphalt Repairs That Will TOTALLY Work in Cold Weather

When the temperatures drop, there are still many different types of asphalt repairs that can be made that will last for as long as warm weather repairs.  This group of repairs includes anything calling for 2 inches or more of new asphalt.  This depth allows you to install multiple layers of new asphalt, creating a thermal break between the existing cold surface of the damaged area and the final surface repair.  The deeper the repair, the better the job will turn out.  The types of repairs that can be made in frigid weather include:

  • Potholes – Potholes are depressions (or holes) that occur in a paved surface.  If the pothole is at least 2 inches deep, then there is no problem fixing it in cold weather.  First, the pothole is filled with a compacted base layer of asphalt.  Then, the pothole is topped off with a final layer of asphalt.  The first layer warms up the surface of the pothole allowing for perfect bonding and a great finish when the second layer is installed.

Pesky Pothole

  • Curbs – Curbs are a form of asphalt edging that can be installed on any paved surface. When installing or repairing asphalt curbs, primer is required to bond the curb to the existing paved surface. Since pretty much all curbs are over 2 inches tall, there is enough hot asphalt being put down to sufficiently heat the surface underneath and create the proper bond.

Asphalt Curb

  • Excavated Patches – Excavated patches are areas where the existing paved surface is cut and removed and then filled back in with multiple layers of compacted asphalt. These repairs can be done is cold weather because primer is not needed. In excavated patches, all of the existing asphalt is removed, leaving just the base rock layer. Therefore, no primer is needed because there is no old asphalt to bond to. Also, the amount excavated is usually over 2 inches deep, ensuring enough hot asphalt will be added to raise the temperature and guarantee the patch looks amazing.

Excavated Patch - After Excavation

Excavated Patch - Finished

  • Utility Repairs – Utility repairs are areas where a utility company has come in, cut and removed a portion of a paved surface in order to install something underneath. These are perfect repairs to fix in the winter. Again, no primer is needed because all of the older asphalt is removed to get to the ground underneath and the depth of these repairs is always sufficient to ensure proper installation.

Utility Repair

 Asphalt Ninjas Rock at Completing Cold Weather Asphalt Repairs

When it is super cold outside, the temperature of the asphalt being installed is the most important factor.  The hotter the asphalt, the better the final product will perform.  Asphalt Ninjas has a fleet of specialized vehicles equipped with heating sources that keep their asphalt as hot as it was when it was made.  Our Ninjas are able to drive around with a load of asphalt all day and it will not lose any heat. Every time they pull asphalt out of the back of the truck it will be the perfect temperature for making a strong and durable repair.  Every.  Single.  Time.

The final factor in asphalt repair success is the company who actually does the job.  If not done properly, the repairs will unravel and fail, leading to a loss in time and money.  Asphalt Ninjas are professionals when it comes to asphalt repairs…including winter asphalt repairs.  Our Ninjas are highly trained and know exactly how to complete each repair to ensure the maximum success rate.  The longer your repair remains intact, the larger your return on investment.  Asphalt Ninjas guarantees every job and provides a 1-year warranty with each repair.

So, you don’t have to wait until spring to fix your pesky asphalt problems.  All you have to do is contact Asphalt Ninjas and, as long as the repair follows the guidelines listed above, the Ninjas will take care of it for you.  Don’t let the cold weather this winter get in your way; get your professional asphalt repair done today!