To somebody who has not done this type of work before, the thought of repairing potholes can be a daunting prospect. But do not be put off, below you will find a comprehensive article outlining all you need to know about the process of repair potholes and it is actually very straightforward.

On our website you will also find very informative, easy to follow video guides, plus all the materials you need to repair your potholes. If you need further advice, we are always pleased to help.

The best technique for repairing potholes

There is plenty of demand for pothole repairs in the UK, especially over the winter months as frost expansion causes brittle tarmac to crack up and break down. Furthermore, repairing potholes in tarmac surfaces such as roads, driveways and sports grounds is something that also best done early to avoid longer term damage.

Potholes appearing in tarmac are generally either because of degradation due to the age and condition of the surface or dissolving of the ‘binder caused by a spillage of a contaminating fluid. As an oil based product, the ‘binder’ or ‘glue’ that holds tarmac together is mixed from either heavy tar or bitumen. Unfortunately, due to its composition, this means that tarmac can easily be attacked and breakdown if it is exposed to a number of everyday materials.

Pothole repairs made easy

Repairing potholes in tarmac is not as daunting as it sounds and by following a few simple steps, it can be done quite easily. Most people think pothole repairs need to be carried out by a professional but it is quite easy and can usually be done in a few hours.

The majority of vehicle engine oils, petrol, diesel, brake fluid and even paraffin or turps will quickly start to dissolve the binder or glue within the tarmac and cause pitting or holes to rapidly start to appear. If this type of spillage occurs there is no technique or material available to bind the material back together. Once a spillage has occurred, It is not always easy to isolate and restrict the spread of the contaminating fluid. If the flow of liquid continues to spread and seep through the material more widespread damage will inevitably follow. After only a few days a small spillage of petrol or other related fluid will quickly ‘eat’ its way through tarmac leaving the surface very soft. At this point, even a screwdriver or shoe heel pushed into the surface with just a minimal amount of force will very easily ‘melt’ into the surface.

Tools for repairing potholes

Once this type of damage has occurred, pothole repairs are essential to avoid a greater proportion of the surface becoming affected. The best technique for repairing potholes is relatively simple and only requires some basic tools. Ideally, you will have at your disposal and angle grinder or floor saw, if not a hammer and bolster with suffice. When the repair process is undertaken our advice would be always cut back at least 100m from the contaminated area neatly creating a rectangle or square.

After the damaged area has been cut away, remove all the associated material and try to create a clean area to a depth of between 50-70mm. Remember when repairing potholes the greater the depth of tarmac replaced, the stronger and more stable the pothole repairs will be. To backfill the hole you will now require some material commonly referred to as ‘cold lay repair tarmac’. This is a relatively inexpensive and effective material that is available from many suppliers in various size bags and containers.

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long-term solution for repairing potholes

Pothole repairs can be carried out on any dry day, virtually all the year round. If you are looking to carry out the work in colder temperatures, warming up the tarmac repair material slightly before use to make it more pliable beneficial would be advisable. This can be simply be done by utilising a hair dryer or similar appliance or just bringing the product inside a warm home prior to use. If none of these options are available for repairing potholes there is another way. All you have to do is place the material when still in its container or bag on the bonnet of a vehicle with the engine running for a few minutes and warm through slightly. It’s best not to attempt repairing potholes in tarmac until the material is soft and pliable so it can be shaped and compacted easily.

If available, before backfilling the hole with cold lay tarmac ideally prime the vertical edges with the cold pour, this is a sticky water-based emulsion that will help bond the new tarmac repair to the older existing material. Now backfill the hole to about 3/4 depth and consolidate to the maximum degree. For a professional contractor this consolidation might well be with a vibration plate, but for a DIY person, a heavy club hammer combined with a block of wood is more than adequate. A little tip when repairing potholes, if you use the club hammer and timber approach, make your block of wood damp with water, this will stop the tarmac sticking to block as it is hammered into place. Once this initial amount of product has been totally consolidated immediately introduce another layer. This second layer should again be energetically and vigorously consolidated until it is flush with the surrounding area.

Temperature considerations when repairing potholes in tarmac

If you are repairing potholes in very warm temperatures you might find the repaired areas remain tacky for quite a while if this is the case, simply spread a little kiln dried sand over the area to help dry it out. The approach and process of repairing potholes now mean a durable, long-term solution is in place. A final tip for pothole repairs, if you have any cold pour remaining it is always worth just ‘painting around’ the border of the repaired area, this will help minimise the risk of future water ingress.

Before carrying out any pothole repairs, always consider the fact that the damaged area cannot be repaired in such a way that is not visible. Given time the patched area will gradually become less visible but almost certainly will always be apparent. If this is a concern for you, it is recommended on the conclusion of the repair process to consider the application of a tarmac coating. Furthermore, an application of a protective coating will not only help match in the new areas to the old but also enhance the appearance of any pothole repairs and increase the durability of the surface. If you want to find out more about using tarmac paint and general tarmac restoration call us on 01268 722500.