Installing a new driveway is like putting your hard-earned money in an investment. While it may not literally generate profits for you, your newly paved driveway should be able to serve you for years. For it to withstand that long, you have to understand what really goes into your driveway including what materials would best suit your needs, and finding the right person for the job. The last thing you would want is having to deal with major repairs or worse, a complete replacement in a few years time.

Asphalt is one of the most popular options for driveways because it is cheaper and easier to repair compared to others like concrete. An asphalt driveway done with high-grade materials and following the standard procedures for a durable and top quality work should be able to last you for about 15 to 35 years. But of course, for your driveway to last longer, you as the homeowner is expected to do your part in maintaining it in good condition. Know that no matter how well your paving contractor has installed your asphalt driveway, without proper care and maintenance, you can take years off your driveway.

To better understand if asphalt is a good match for your driveway needs and if you should opt to do it yourself, you have to know the composition of asphalt, how it’s installed and how it wears out through the years.

What is Asphalt?

Asphalt is also known as “bitumen”. It is often used interchangeably to distinguish the refined product which is “asphalt” and the organic form that is “bitumen”. Asphalt is actually a derivative of petroleum, it’s a thick, black and highly viscous liquid that binds aggregates and is usually used for road constructions. In truth, the same aggregates which are sand, stone, and gravel are used for both an asphalt and a cement driveway. The difference is in the type of binding substance that is used to glue the aggregates together.

Factors To Consider:

#1 Your Driveway’s Dimensions

What are the dimensions of your driveway? How much area should you cover? You should be able to plan out and identify the area you’re looking to pave because this will also determine how much you’re going to shell out.

#2 Driveway Layout

Knowing your driveway layout is important. You have to carefully consider how it’s going to look like not just because of its curb appeal, but ideally, you wouldn’t want your driveway to interfere with your drainage system. Another reason why you should map it out first is accessibility. Make sure there’s enough access to the garage and adequate space for large vehicles to come in. Lastly, look out for nearby trees because growing roots could cause cracks and destabilize your driveway from underneath.

#3 Your Budget

Whether we admit it or not, your budget plays a significant part in choosing your driveway. The key to making that decision is in determining what your needs are and matching it to the type of material that would meet both those needs and your budget. However, don’t settle for pavers that offer way less than the average market price because most often than not, it’s a trade-off. They are either inexperienced or they have substandard materials.

Frankly, it’s also not advisable to do it on your own especially if you are inexperienced, as there are a lot of considerations that go into paving a driveway. You might think you would be saving a lot of dollars, but it might just cost you more time and money in the long run.

#4 Maintenance

The type of maintenance necessary for each kind of driveway varies. Asphalt driveways have the lowest maintenance costs and they’re also the easiest to repair. However, it would require you to apply regular sealcoating maintenance every 2-3 years. On the other hand, other types of driveways don’t need regular sealcoating every now and then, but repairs are immensely difficult to do such as in a cement driveway. In addition to that, they’re also more expensive to install.

#5 Climate

Another factor to consider is varying temperatures. Your locale’s climate has a massive effect on your driveway.  Certain materials don’t react well when exposed to extreme weather conditions. For instance, the most common cause of cracks in asphalt is the freeze and thaw cycle during the summer and winter seasons. Hence, be sure to pick a material that is versatile and can better withstand the type of climate that you have in your area.

The Paving Process

If you are opting to use asphalt for your driveway, be sure to vet the contractor and the asphalt supplier. Check how long the asphalt supplier has been in the business and try to read and look for reviews so you have an idea. You need to vet the supplier and see if they have been consistently producing excellent quality products because a disproportionate mix of aggregates and asphalt meant a poor quality material. Excessive aggregates with not enough bitumen are cheaper to produce but are less durable and more vulnerable to cracks.

The second thing that you should take into account is the expertise of the paving installer. If you are installing a new driveway, be sure to rake the area of soil and excess debris. Your contractor should also be able to consider your drainage before paving your driveway because if they haven’t, water will pool onto the problem areas and it will seep through the pavement causing cracks and sinkholes. Consequently, your paving contractor must be able to form a solid foundation for your base. The National Asphalt Pavement Association suggests laying 6 inches of compacted aggregates for a stronger and more stabilized base followed by a 5 – 6 inches of full-depth asphalt. Once hot asphalt has been poured over the base, a heavy roller that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars will press and compact the asphalt.

The installation process doesn’t end after pouring the asphalt. Without ample curing time, everything that has been done so far will go to waste. Typically, you have to wait for about 48-72 hours for the asphalt to set in and dry before driving, parking or walking on the surface.

Finally, take note that you can’t seal your driveway right after installation. The rule of thumb is to wait for at least 6-12 months before applying its first sealcoat. From there, you will have to reapply the sealant regularly for every 2-3 years.

Driveway paving requires specialized equipment that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and is not a DIY project. It’s not possible without the right equipment and requires experience and expertise. You may be able to sealcoat it yourself, but it’s harder than it looks so it would be best to leave that work to professionals. Now, if you are looking for an installation, replacement, or repair, reach out to Driveway repair Hanover VA to get free quotes.

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