Pothole Repair


Reliable Paving is the premier all-service asphalt paving company in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. We are extremely knowledgeable about potholes and their repairs at reliable, and we are happy to give you the full rundown on what causes them and what you can do about it.

How are potholes formed?

Water is the main guilty party

In order to understand how best to treat the disease and not the symptom, you need to know the root cause. Water is essentially the culprit. The main way that potholes form is the infiltration of water (albeit other liquids an do so to) into the asphalt. Water is the most common, but solutions like oil and other liquids from cars also cause serious damage to roads and parking lots.

Asphalt’s composition makes it susceptible to time and water

In order to understand how liquids damage asphalt, it’s important to understand what it’s made of. Asphalt is composed primarily (roughly 95%) of aggregate. Aggregate is small rocks, stones, and the little bits of hard things that give it body. The other 5% or so is called binder. The binder is made of tar and various petroleum products. The binder is essentially the glue that holds the asphalt together. Over time, the binder can wear away/break. This happens naturally as heavy vehicles roll over the asphalt, causing compression and decompression. Combine this with the natural expansion and contraction thanks to changes in weather, and tiny cracks form between the binder and aggregate. These minuscule cracks let in water. 

Once a little water gets in, the cycle gets worse

Once water gets in, it’s the beginning of the end for asphalt. Water gets into tiny cracks, and then begins expanding/contracting as weather changes. Even if you don’t live in a place with a freeze/thaw cycle, water still expands when the temperature changes, say from day to night, or season to season. The expanding water makes the cracks bigger. As the cracks get bigger, more water can get in the asphalt, and the cycle continues and causes more damage. 

Eventually, the cracks can make it to the deeper parts of the asphalt, the base, or even underneath the asphalt. Water throughout the pavement causes even more expansion and contraction. As heavy vehicles move over this water-damaged paving, they put enough pressure on it to wipe out and crush big chunks of the asphalt. Thus, potholes are formed.

Why is it important to treat potholes early?

If you see pavement damage, it means water is already in your asphalt. So why bother treating it immediately? Why not just wait until it is seriously damaged and replace it? Well there are quite a few reasons that it’s important to nip this problem in the bud.

  • Potholes are dangerous to people, cars, bicycles, motorbikes, and pretty much traveling on pavement.
  • Potholes can spread out. A small pothole patch now can help you avoid, or at least postpone, a massive pavement repair later on. Big repairs cost a lot of time and money, so save both by taking care of your asphalt in the present.


The different kinds of pothole repair

Fortunately, when it comes to fixing pavement damage, we are experts. We can advise you on – and perform – the best repairs available. Remember, the best way to fix ALL potholes is to clean them of debris, and then cut the pavement into square, clean holes before filling them first. These methods are for pothole repair primarily, if you are looking for ways to replace large swathes of asphalt, or lay new pavement, we can help you here.

Throw and go/throw and roll

These repair methods are the cheapest and easiest. The steps to throw and roll are simple: fill the pothole with your mix until it is slightly overfull, then pat it down with a tamper, a shovel, or roll over it with a heavy truck/tractor/bulldozer. That’s it. And that’s the more difficult one.

The other method, throw and go, is the exact same except the compaction is left to traffic, not done by a professional. As you can imagine, the failure rate is pretty high.

You’ve probably seen holes full of mix repaired this way before. Its cheap, easy, and works as a temporary solution that needs to be fixed fast.

This technique can be improved with edge sealing – where you seal the edges of the filled in pothole with an asphalt glue. This helps prevent water getting between the new asphalt filling and the original paving.

When to use this method

Use the throw and roll method when you absolutely need a quick fix, and it doesn’t matter if it degrades/fails after a small amount of time.

Semi-permanent repair

This method involves cleaning out the hole, cutting the edges wider (out to healthy pavement),  and making the hole a clean cut square. Afterwards, you can fill in the pothole with your mix, and then compact it with a vibratory plate or roller. 

When to use this method

Use this method when you have the time and resources for a more permanent asphalt solution. Also, it is good for individual potholes. If massive parts of the pavement have damage, you may need another strategy.

Spray-injection repair

This method is similar to semi-permanent repair, but requires special tools. Using a high-pressure spray gun, debris and loose rock is blown out of the pothole. Next, the bottom of the pothole is sprayed with binder, layer by layer the hole is filled with aggregate. Thanks to the applied layering, it is not necessary to compact the asphalt after.

When to use this method

Use this method when you want a more permanent solution, and have the tools available to perform it. Because the asphalt does not need to be cut beforehand, it takes slightly less time than the semi-permanent repair.

Cold-mix repair

This method’s beauty lies in its ease and simplicity. After cleaning out and cutting the hole, cold mix is applied layer by layer. It can be compacted down after each layer – by hand if necessary. After it has set, it is safe to drive on. 

When to use this method

Use cold-mix repair when the repairs are relatively minor, such as small cracks. Another benefit is that it can be applied when the outside temperature is too cold for hot or normal asphalt to be applied.

Infrared pothole repair

After cleaning the area to be fixed, an infrared panel is places just above it. It heats the existing asphalt binder and aggregate to a soft mix, and the area is raked to remove damaged asphalt around the hole. Rejuvenator (bonding oils) is added to the area, and then hot asphalt is added, and then everything is compacted.

When to use this method

This method is also similar to semi-permanent, or spray-injection repair. However, it is also useful when the weather is too cold for the other types of repair, as the infrared provides all the heat necessary.

Full-depth hole replacement

Full-depth replacement works by completely removing the pothole and putting in new pavement. The old pavement above and around the pothole is completely removed. Next is is pulverized and mixed with water, cement, and more recycled asphalt. Next is is laid and compacted to be used as the base for a new paved surface. This way ensures that even deep potholes are fixed.

When to use this method

Use full-depth replacement when you have the time and resources to completely fix a pothole permanently. It should also be used when the damage is too severe for a patching or crack sealing job. This method costs the most time and money, so make sure the investment is right for you.

Don’t wait to fix your potholes

If you have any paving or asphalt related needs, get in contact with us today, and we will be happy to help. Our services include various types of asphalt repair to seal coating, ADA compliance, asphalt paving, and concrete repair in the DFW area. If you want something paved right, choose the paving contractors who are the most reliable.