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Call the Contractor: When DIY Asphalt Repair Isn't the Answer

The size, scope, difficulty, time frame, and budget of an asphalt repair are all factors to weigh when determining whether to hire a contractor—with a greater complexity typically the threshold.

Judson Burdon
Posted by Judson Burdon on January 15

In asphalt maintenance, anybody can complete simple repairs. DIYers can fill cracks, clean surfaces, sealcoat small properties, and line stripe parking spaces like a professional

Larger, more difficult projects require an expert’s touch—so it might be in your best interest to call a contractor. 

How do you determine this? Your process shouldn't change from a typical audit: Assess the surface, come up with solutions, and ask the right questions. 

Consider these scenarios.

When to Call the Contractor

The scope of the project determines whether or not you should call a contractor. Take asphalt patching, for instance. If the area in need of repair is larger than 100 square feet (10 feet by 10 feet), it’s better to have professionals fix it: They’re trained to work with hot asphalt and have the expensive equipment to do so.

Another factor is time. Anyone can sealcoat asphalt, even large lots. With a good team, you can spray five pallets of sealer—which cover roughly 20,000 square feet of asphalt each—without issue. But a project of that size isn’t a one-day job, nor is it easy.

That’s a good threshold to consider: If you’re sealcoating at least 100,000 square feet of asphalt and have a firm deadline, start getting quotes from contractors and weigh your options.

The same is true of line striping. Lots with more than 150 parking stalls require more robust machines. If you have the time and dedication to complete that project, go for it. If not, pick up the phone.

Know that getting quotes doesn’t tie you to anyone.

Give us a call, and we can help determine if you need a contractor. If not, we can help you set up a plan to complete your asphalt maintenance on your own time.

Questions to Ask the Contractor

When hiring a contractor, you want to make an educated decision that fits your budget and ensures the long-term health of your asphalt surface. The conversation should be about more than price; a cheap job may be only a temporary fix that leads to a more expensive one.

Ask these questions based on the type of asphalt repair you need:

Patching

Question: What’s the grade of asphalt you’re applying?
Keep in mind: You’re looking for MB5, which is valued for its flexibility.

Sealcoating

Question: What kind of sealer do you use? Coal tar? Asphalt emulsion?
Keep in mind: Coal tar is going to outperform asphalt emulsion, but coal tar is banned in Minnesota, Washington, and Maine (effective 2024), in addition to individual districts around the country. Ask if it’s legal where you are.

Question: How diluted is your sealer?
Keep in mind: Any sealer that is more than 30 percent diluted is watered down.

Line Striping

Question: Are you using oil- or water-based paint?
Keep in mind: Oil-based paint lasts longer, but regardless of what the contractor uses, it’s good practice to return to line striping every few years.


You should also ask general questions about preparation, cleanup, insurance, and in particular, guarantees. Most contractors will guarantee their work for one year, at which point you should conduct an asphalt assessment, anyway.

At the very least, asking the right questions puts you on a more level field with contractors. You’ll understand the work they do, while establishing your own knowledge about asphalt maintenance. They may be more keen to work with you.

Topics: Asphalt Maintenance

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