Installing an asphalt driveway

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    Driveways can be made of many different types of material and the selection you choose will vary on your need and the amount you are willing to pay.

    Asphalt driveways are the standard for most people and provide a mixture of moderate cost and somewhat low maintenance. Other choices may be Crushed Stone which is low-cost, Concrete which is expensive and may tend to deteriorate in winter climates or Brick and Stone pavers which are the most expensive and also require high maintenance.

    Since most home buyers are in the moderate expense range they require a material that is both low-cost and maintenance free. Asphalt provides that however this is not to say it is totally maintenance free. Emulsion based sealers are the best friend to asphalt driveways and will extend the life of your driveway by many years. They work best when applied in the late summer to early fall and will seal out the harshness of winter salts and ice damage.

    Next we will step through the basic instillation of an asphalt driveway and explain some of the things you should look for in a good job.

    Recycled materials are used to their fullest in Asphalt Driveway and road repair. Concrete materials from old structures make a great bed material once they are crushed to proper size. New materials are also added to the mix to provide the proper base that is made up of Large, Medium and small aggregate and also stone dust that will provide a sturdy compactable base.

    First prepare the area by removing all organic materials that will brake-down in years to come. This means all topsoil, grass, roots and you will also want to make sure there are no construction materials buried like Lumber scraps or pvc pipes. If you don’t take the time to do this now it will show up in the years to come as depressions, cracks and general deterioration.

    Next you can see how a bed of Stone and Crushed Concrete is applied to the area where the driveway will be laid. First the Area is defined with rebar stakes and string lines.

    The load of Bedding Material is leveled to provide a flat surface that can be sloped slightly away from the home or yard to provide drainage into the street.

    Once the bed is level and to a proper minimum depth of 4 Inches a compactor and in this case a small steam roller is used to compact the material so there are no voids.

    As you can see the use of a mixture of sizes of aggregate along with the stone dust makes the surface flat and hard and approaches the look of concrete. Compacting the stone is very important to reduce settling over the life of the driveway.

    Asphalt is purchased at a local mix plant and arrives HOT and under a tarp in the stake truck.

    A small amount is dumped about 3/4’s the way back on the bed so it can be hand shoveled and raked into the shape of the driveway.

    Once the border and height is established by hand shoveling you can begin to fill in the center.

    A hand tamper is used to compact the hot asphalt into the sides and along the very edges of the driveway. Notice that the edge is stamped on an angle so that we will be able to place top soil along the border and grass will grow right to the edge of the driveway.

    Finally the steam roller comes in and finishes the job. Again this takes many passes at minimum 5 or 6 passes over each area to compress the asphalt and provide a hard surface.

    We move to the other side of the driveway and repeat the process. You may be thinking wouldn’t it be just as easy to do both sides at the same time? Actually no, If you have a small crew of workers it is best to do one section at a time so that the Asphalt won’t cool before it is compacted.

    Once both sides are level a small amount of asphalt is shoveled at the seam of the two sides to hide it in the final roll. The roller covers the entire surface now and the seam disappears. It is best to hold back a small portion of material for seaming and leveling.

    Now that the job is done you should wait 2-3 days before you drive on it. This will allow the driveway to cool slowly. Don’t use water on your driveway during this time to force the cooling time as it will result in a poor adhesion properties through out the thickness of the asphalt. If it rains later that day don’t worry it will still be alright. However, like concrete its something you don’t want to have installed during rain.

    Well that about covers the install procedure for an asphalt driveway. 

     If you already have a driveway you can have it resurfaces with to level low spots or if you have your driveway replaced you can keep the stone you have and just top it off to level it out.

    So, remember don’t accept a second rate job make sure that you have at least 4 inches of Stone Bedding and 4 inches of Asphalt. And remember to seal your driveway every year in the fall on a warm day so it won’t suffer from the abuse of winter.

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