Whether you shop online or in a big box hardware store, the choices for pothole repair products largely fall into two categories: hot mix and cold mix. In actuality, there are several additional features of those blacktop pothole-fixing compounds, which can make a difference in both how easy they are to use and their effectiveness at providing a long-term fix.
We break that down here as follows:
Generally considered to be the most effective type of pothole repair methods, the use of a hot mix necessarily implies the need for some kind of equipment to achieve the proper temperature. This is because the asphaltic mix is formulated to work only when heated – and to set when cooled.
Commercial operators have the equipment for doing this. And believe it or not, the home driveway DIY person can do this in their kitchen. For example, as long as your microwave oven is large enough for a 3.5-gallon pail it will work. The question is: do all other users of the kitchen agree to heating a petroleum-based product in the same microwave where a meal might be warmed up an hour or two later? Not recommended are kitchen ovens, probably because the fumes from slower heating would permeate the whole house.
That said, simply having a hot mix pothole repair product does not guarantee success if the pothole is not properly prepared in advance. The hole should be free of loose debris and, better, completely dry. Some formulations require using a tack coat to the existing (solid) pavement before placing and compacting the hot mix into the hole.
It’s true that the traditionally easiest – and in most circumstances the least effective – method for filling potholes is a cold mix. Road maintenance crews in northern climates almost always have to use a cold mix by default in winter conditions because hot mix plants are closed, and many do not have mobile hot-mix equipment capable of standing up to January weather – the time when potholes are most abundant.
The method for using cold-mix asphalt repair products is known as “throw-and-go,” also referred to as “throw-roll-and-go” when heavy roller equipment or heavy truck wheels are used to compact it. The point is that compaction makes it a bit more permanent. The downside to most cold mix products is a second, more permanent repair of the pothole is most often required months later, when the hot mix asphalt is available.
Driveways and highways repaired with EZ Street Premium Cold Asphalt have a distinct advantage in that the repair is permanent – even in January-in-Minnesota conditions. A proprietary formula in the bitumen enables a solid, permanent bond with surrounding pavement with just a minimal amount of compaction.
Not all pavement problems are potholes – yet. The birth of a pothole often begins with a crack in the pavement that has the unfortunate effect of allowing in moisture. That undermines the blacktop, eventually creating a bone fide, damage-the-tire-rims pothole. The astute approach to preventive maintenance is to use a crack and joint filler product. For residential work the homeowner can apply it with simple tools, similar to how one applies caulk in and around doors and windows. Professional road crews have spray and injection tools for filling cracks on a larger scale.