Restorative Maintenance of Asphalt Pavement: Methods Used to Patch Potholes

Pavement potholes are one of the most common issues that homeowners encounter today. When not taken care of properly, asphalt pavements can develop potholes. Asphalt potholes are voids formed where segments of the pavement have become disintegrated. The presence of potholes undermines safe travel by people and will lead to premature deterioration of the asphalt pavement. Therefore, potholes should be fixed as early as possible.

Here are two primary methods used to patch up asphalt potholes:


Dig-outs require the removal and replacement of segments of failed pavement. The surface materials in these segments become defective as a result of pavement disintegration. Some of the underlying material around the defective area may require complete removal. Start by marking the boundaries of the affected areas. Using a pavement saw, cut the edges of each patch segment with lines that move straight up and down (these lines will provide a good reference line for compaction later on).

With a sharp chisel and a small demolition hammer, break the material in the affected areas. You can scoop the material from the holes using a small trowel. Once the holes are clean of any loose and unbonded debris, pour the patching products directly into the holes, levelling and compacting them using your trowel. 

Surfacing materials, such as gravel base and patching material (asphalt mix), must always be replaced in the same depths as the original design. An asphalt tack coat should be applied along the edges of the potholes to ensure a strong bond and tight seal between old and new asphalt materials.


Overlays involve the application of asphalt patching products over large sections of the pavement surface that have suffered significant distortion. As is the case with dig-outs, all loose or broken asphalt is removed and replaced. Any deep ruts, pitting, depressions, or ravelling are repaired well in advance as to provide the overlay with a level and compact platform for the new pavement. This is essential to prolonged pavement life.

Once the defective area is covered with an overlay of an appropriate patching material, it is sealed and stabilised. Like with dig-outs, all potholes should be tacked prior to patching to create a strong bond and moderate the risk of ravelling in thin areas.

Regardless of the method used, all asphalt potholes should be dealt with early on to prevent extensive damage that may require complete pavement resurfacing. If you're not up to the task yourself, consider hiring a pothole repair specialist to do the job.