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Cutting Asphalt: The Why and The How

If you are undergoing a paving project that requires blacktop excavation, it's important to understand the specifics of how to cut through blacktop.

Judson Burdon
Posted by Judson Burdon on March 01


If you are undergoing a paving project that requires blacktop excavation, it's important to understand the specifics of how to cut through blacktop.

Blades for Cutting Pavement

Cutting asphalt requires a unique blade that is different than one you would use to cut other surfaces such as concrete, marble, or granite. Because asphalt is softer, it requires a diamond blade with a hard bond. Other soft-bonded blades are not effective on asphalt pavement cutting. 

With a diamond asphalt cutting blade, the exposed edge is worn away as it cuts through the asphalt. Wear on the blade exposes a new layer of grit, resulting in unabated cutting. Hard blades release grit easily while cutting asphalt. Asphalt cutting blades come in both wet and dry varieties. A dry blade has a softer bond than a wet asphalt cutting blade. Wet blades require water to cool and lubricate a cut while pavement cutting.


Why is it Necessary?

Cutting asphalt is always necessary for asphalt replacement and frequently required for asphalt repairs that involve cutting away deteriorating pieces of asphalt to fill potholes. When cutting asphalt to complete a repair job, you'll need to have the appropriate pavement cutting tool, as well as the materials and equipment to fill cracks and asphalt equipment for repairing potholes.

Steps for Cutting Asphalt

How to cut asphalt is just a matter of understanding the three basic steps, and using an asphalt and concrete saw. Whether you are fixing a pothole or removing a damaged section, the steps for cutting asphalt are as follows.

Step #1: Sweep

Safety first, so sweep the area you will be working clear of all debris, so your saw won't catch on pebbles and rocks.


Step #2: Mark Your Cutting Lines

You will need to cut where the pavement is still in good shape. In other words, don't just cut out the damaged area; take it a bit wider so you've got good solid edges. Be sure to square up edges, as this makes for a better and longer-lasting repair than a round patch. Mark with a chalk line, and then dent the chalk line with an old screwdriver and a hammer to give the blade a path when you are cutting asphalt.


Step #3: Making The Cuts

Set your blade depth to the thickness of the paving (check by digging at the edge of the pavement to see how deep it is). Make your first straight cut, stop, and lift the blade to the next position for your next straight cut. Knowing how to cut asphalt means you know never to turn the saw while the blade is running, or you'll break the blade. Now you're all set to remove the damaged section and patch.

Cable Tip: If you're just cutting to run a cable, one straight cut path is all you need. Mark, cut, lay the cable, and crack fill.

While it's important to know how to cut through blacktop, it's just as important to learn the techniques to properly maintain and repair remaining asphalt to prevent damage and decay that ultimately results in the need for asphalt replacement.

Proper Asphalt Maintenance

Asphalt pavement is relatively easy to keep in good condition for many years without the need for blacktop excavation. By simply filling surface cracks as they appear and sealcoating every two to three years, you can prevent the damage that would deteriorate your asphalt to the point that removing the blacktop and replacing it was necessary. Maintain your asphalt so it won't deteriorate to the point of needing replacement.

Frequently, cracking is what ultimately leads to blacktop excavation. When cracks occur because of a poor foundation, removing blacktop and repaving may be the best option. However, earth movement, heavy vehicles, tree roots, and the toll of weather extremes are more likely to be the causes of asphalt cracks. Utilizing the right asphalt crack repair products is essential to stopping cracks from becoming larger and spreading.


Fix Cracks

At Asphalt Kingdom, we recommend the use of Elasta-Fill Cold Pour Asphalt Crack Filler because of its durability and ability to dry quickly. Once you've cleaned cracks of debris and vegetation, the easy-to-use filler can be poured directly into fissures and cracks to keep them growing.



By applying a sealcoat to your asphalt every two to three years, you can minimize the necessity for blacktop excavation and replacement. We highly recommend the use of coal tar asphalt sealer because of its unique asphalt rejuvenation capabilities. This professional-grade sealer is also environmentally-friendly and prevents water and other liquids from deteriorating the surface of your blacktop pavement.


Repairing Potholes

Pothole patching is key to saving your pavement.To repair or "patch" potholes, begin by marking the area to be patched. This area should extend at least one foot outside the hole. Cut asphalt to create a square-edge hole. This will create sound material to provide restraint against movement of the patch. Do not use a jack hammer in a rocking fashion to remove asphalt which can weaken the bituminous surrounding the pothole. Instead, use an asphalt cutting blade for the best results when cutting asphalt.

The area that will be patched then needs to be cleaned of debris. If the area is wet, it should be blotted dry before patching. Next, begin filling the hole with asphalt material, placing the mix against the edges first. Finally level and spread with an aluminum paving rake. Do not over-rake which can lead to coarse material rising to the surface.

If you are an asphalt repair contractor or you're responsible for large expanses of asphalt, you may want to consider an asphalt hot box which can hold hot asphalt for patch work for up to 14 hours. This versatile asphalt box can be used all year-round, even in the winter, to heat asphalt for patching. Asphalt Kingdom offers a 4-ton hot asphalt box with a two year warranty for less than $6,000 with delivery direct to your door.

Asphalt Experts

At Asphalt Kingdom, we specialize in both crack repair and sealcoat products and provide quick shipping directly to your home or place of business. Need to learn more about how to cut through blacktop or how to properly maintain your asphalt? Give us a call at 1-866-399-5562. We'll be more than happy to answer all of your questions and provide you with expert tips on how to best care for your asphalt.

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