Comprehensive Guide on How to Break Up Asphalt: Step-by-Step Instructions and Tips

Asphalt driveways, while durable and long-lasting, eventually need replacement. Over time, cracks, potholes, and other damages can make the asphalt unsafe and unsightly. If you’re considering replacing your asphalt driveway, doing it yourself can save you money. This guide will walk you through the process on how to break up asphalt, provide cost estimates, and offer tips for safe and efficient removal.

Why Remove Asphalt?

Asphalt wears down over time due to weather, traffic, and general wear and tear. Here are some reasons why you might need to remove your asphalt driveway:

  •  Deep Cracks: Cracks that are more than two inches deep can be a sign that the asphalt needs to be replaced.
  •  Unlevel Surface: An uneven asphalt surface can cause tripping hazards and is difficult to repair.
  •  Potholes: Large potholes can damage vehicles and are a sign that the driveway’s foundation is compromised.

Tools and Equipment Needed on Breaking Up Asphalt

Depending on the size of your project, you can remove asphalt with either hand tools or heavy machinery. Here’s a list of equipment you might need:

  •  Hand Tools: Pickaxe, digger, and a circular saw with a masonry blade.
  •  Power Tools: Jackhammer and electric chipping hammer.
  •  Heavy Machinery: Excavator and skid steer.

Hand Tools

For smaller projects, hand tools might be sufficient. A pickaxe can break up the asphalt, and a shovel can be used to remove the debris. A circular saw with a masonry blade can cut the asphalt into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Power Tools

A jackhammer or electric chipping hammer can make the job easier and faster. These tools break the asphalt into pieces, which can then be removed with a shovel.

Heavy Machinery

For larger projects, such as an entire driveway, an excavator can be very effective. An excavator with a bucket can break up and remove large sections of asphalt quickly.

how to break up asphalt using excavator

Step-by-Step Guide on How To Break Up Asphalt

Step 1: Prepare the Site

Before you start, make sure to mark any utility lines to avoid damaging them. Contact your local utility companies to mark the locations of underground lines.

Step 2: Choose the Right Equipment

Based on the size of your project, choose the appropriate tools. For small patches, hand tools or power tools may be sufficient. For larger areas, consider renting an excavator.

Step 3: Remove the Asphalt

Using Hand Tools

  1.  Start in the Most Damaged Area: Use a pickaxe to break up the asphalt.
  2.  Cut the Asphalt: Use a circular saw to cut the asphalt into smaller pieces.
  3.  Remove the Debris: Use a shovel to move the broken asphalt to a pile.

Using Power Tools

  1. Jackhammer: Use a jackhammer to break the asphalt into pieces.
  2. Electric Chipping Hammer: For stubborn areas, use an electric chipping hammer to break the asphalt.
  3. Shovel: Remove the debris with a shovel.

Using Heavy Machinery

  1. Excavator: Start in areas where the asphalt is already damaged. Use the bucket to break up and lift the asphalt.
  2. Skid Steer: Use a skid steer to move large chunks of asphalt to a pile or directly into a dumpster.

Step 4: Dispose of the Asphalt

Proper disposal is crucial. Check with your local waste management services to find out how to dispose of asphalt properly. Many areas have recycling centers that accept asphalt.

Cost of Asphalt Removal

The cost of removing old asphalt varies based on the size of the project and the tools used. On average, it costs between $1 to $3 per square foot. Here are some factors that influence the cost:

  •  Square Footage: Larger areas will cost more to remove.
  •  Ease of Access: If the area is difficult to access, it may increase the cost.
  •  Type of Equipment: Renting heavy machinery will add to the overall cost.
  •  Local Rates: Costs can vary depending on local labor rates.


Breaking up asphalt can be a challenging task, but with the right tools and knowledge, it is manageable. Whether you’re using hand tools, power tools, or heavy machinery, following a systematic approach will help ensure a successful project.

For professional assistance with asphalt removal and paving, contact C. B. Paving Inc. at (830) 222-6317. Our experienced team is ready to help with all your paving needs, ensuring a smooth and durable finish for your driveway.

Don’t delay your asphalt removal project. Contact C. B. Paving Inc. today at (830) 222-6317 for a free estimate and professional service. Let us help you transform your driveway efficiently and affordably.

Layfield Crew
Layfield Crew
August 2, 2023
It has been five years since C.B. Paving installed our quarter mile driveway. The work was outstanding, and it is holding up very well. They are very professional and friendly, and with reasonable pricing, too. Highly recommended!