A quality asphalt driveway is aesthetically pleasing, strong, and durable, easily lasting two decades or more. However, the driveway must be properly designed, constructed, and maintained to achieve this lifespan. Here are the essential elements of a quality asphalt driveway.
Site Prep and Foundation
The site of your future driveway must be prepared to accept the weight of the asphalt and the vehicles that will park on it. In many locations, the top layers of soil consist of soft dirt or soggy clay, neither of which is adequate to support a driveway. Instead, your asphalt contractor should remove the soft top layers of soil and replace them with a strong foundation of large rocks.
Proper drainage is essential for a quality asphalt driveway. If water is able to pool or pond, it will gradually weaken the asphalt, penetrating the inner layers and leading to large cracks and even potholes. A slope, also known as a “fall,” of at least 2% is required. In addition, a good gravel base will allow water to drain from within the layers of asphalt.
Although contractor opinions on the “best mix” vary, driveways are particularly susceptible to brittleness, so a strong, interlocking aggregate with more binder and fewer voids than a highway mix is often recommended. A finer grading is more impervious to water and provides a more elegant appearance, while a rockier grading is better for driveways that will regularly support heavy loads.
A good asphalt contractor never cuts corners. Tamping and compacting is essential, especially along the joints and edges. Opinions vary on whether a tack coat is required, but many experts feel that it is a good idea. A tack coat is a very thin layer of asphalt placed between the main layers to promote bonding.
Even the best paving job can be compromised if you neglect maintenance. Seal coating is an extremely easy way to help prevent gas, oil, water, and chemicals from penetrating your driveway. It can also help protect against oxidation and fading from the sun’s UV rays. A seal coat typically lasts at least three years, though it should be inspected annually.
Crack sealing is one of the best ways to protect your asphalt driveway. Small cracks are easy to patch, but left untreated, they can turn into large cracks and potholes, and eventually cause asphalt failure. Inspect your driveway annually, preferably in the spring, and patch any damaged areas as soon as possible.
Asphalt driveways are not inherently difficult to install, but getting them right is both an art and a science. Choose an experienced, trustworthy asphalt contractor who will take the time to do the job right, and then have that person inspect your driveway annually and fix any damage right away.
Ready to Get Started?
Are you ready to start your next asphalt project with a team you can count on to do the job right, on time, and on budget? Contact Topwest Asphalt today at 1-800-ASPHALT to discuss your project and schedule an estimate.