Insight on Installing & Maintaining Your New Asphalt Driveway

Paving your driveway gives you a durable surface on which to drive and park your vehicles, and improves the look and value of your home. When you have decided to pave an asphalt driveway from the road to your home, its installation and yearly maintenance will determine its durability and longevity. Here are some tips to install a durable and long-lasting paved driveway and to keep it maintained for years after. 

Install a Durable Base and Surface

The first step to installing a new asphalt driveway is to inspect and prepare the soil on the site where it will lay. If you are completing this part of the installation or are having a paving company do it, it is recommended to check the type of soil on the site to determine its drain-ability. The drainage of the base soil under your new asphalt driveway will help create a sturdy base as it allows moisture to drain from the base. A base which traps in moisture can cause the asphalt to shift and during freezing temperatures can cause the asphalt to crack and heave.

Check the soil to see if it contains clay or is more sandy. You can do this by taking a handful of soil and compressing it in your fist. When you release the soil, does it stay clumped together or crumble apart? If the soil stays clumped together, your soil is clay-like and will drain poorly, so you will need to install eight inches of gravel under the asphalt. If the clump of soil crumbles apart it contains more sandy soil, which is more prone for proper drainage and you will only need a four-inch layer of base gravel.

Make sure the gravel you or the asphalt company installs is angular gravel and not rounded gravel. Angular, or crushed gravel with its jagged edges will grip at one another when the gravel is compacted together, creating a more durable and interlocking layer that is strong but can still provide flexibility for the asphalt.

Use a roller compactor to compress the gravel together. Form and build up the edges of the gravel at a 45-degree angle, compacting them together with a hand tamp. Some asphalt companies and professionals recommend to allow the base gravel layer to sit for several days up to a week, allowing the layer time to settle after it has been compacted. Following this rule can help make your base more durable.

Next, pour the layer of asphalt aggregate over the top of the gravel base. For residential driveways that will be used by personal vehicles and trucks, you will only need a two to three inch layer of asphalt. The asphalt layer will create a flexible surface over the compacted gravel, allowing your driveway to expand and contract in all types of weather.

Maintain Your Asphalt

Once your asphalt has been installed, you will need to take care of it and maintain it properly for it to last its full lifetime. One of the best preventative maintenance you can do to your asphalt driveway is to seal coat it every few years.

How often you apply a seal coat layer depends on the climate you live in and the weather your asphalt is subjected to and how the surface of your asphalt wears over time. Experts recommend to seal coat your asphalt approximately every three years. Watch the surface of your asphalt for signs of aging, such as cracks, and a graying of your once-black asphalt.

A seal coat layer is a liquid tar emulsion that you or a professional contractor can spread over the top of your asphalt. This layer adds a new waterproof barrier to your asphalt, and adds moisture to your asphalt that has become oxidized, dried out, and cracked from the sun's ultraviolet rays, weather, and traffic.

But before you apply a seal coat, you should prepare and clean the asphalt. Remove any vegetation growth with a shovel or trowel, sweep and remove gravel, dirt, and chunks of loose asphalt, fill cracks with an asphalt filler, and clean its surface with an asphalt cleaner and a power washer to remove any oils and debris that can prevent the seal coat from properly adhering.

Use these tips to help you install and maintain your new asphalt driveway. For more information or assistance, contact services like Arrow Blacktop & Masonry Inc.