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Questions And Answers About Asphalt Driveways

When it's time to install a new driveway at your home, you have many choices. While concrete and paving stones are common choices, don't overlook asphalt. This humble material is also quite versatile. The following can answer some of your questions about asphalt paving for your driveway.

What exactly is asphalt?

Asphalt is a stone and sand aggregate that is mixed with asphalt cement, which is a petroleum derived product. The asphalt cement is heated until it is liquid, and then the aggregate is mixed to create the asphalt. It is poured hot because as it cools, it hardens. This means that it doesn't take very long for asphalt to cure.

Does asphalt require special preparation?

Your contractor will excavate and level the driveway area. They will then build a sturdy base of sand and crushed stone. This base ensures proper compaction, so that the ground remains level, along with good drainage so water damage doesn't harm your driveway. They may also install concrete curbing along the perimeter of the driveway to provide a buffer between the driveway and your lawn.

Are there eco-friendly options?

In areas where rain fall is a precious commodity, you may want to consider porous asphalt. This material allows moisture to seep through and enter the water table instead of allowing it to pool on the asphalt to simply evaporate. Damaged asphalt can also be readily patched and repaired, which means your driveway has a long life and won't be torn into chunks and disposed of. Asphalt can also be reheated and reused, which is highly beneficial from an environmental standpoint.

Is plain black asphalt the only option?

There are asphalt dying techniques that give you greater choices in color. Gray and terracotta are common choices. Asphalt can also be stamped with a pattern to make it look like brickwork or cobblestones. Combining dyed asphalt with stamping provides the biggest visual boost to the material.

What maintenance does asphalt require?

This driveway material is relatively low maintenance. It is a good idea to have it sealed every few years. The frequency depends on how heavily you use your driveway and how much moisture your area receives. If cracks or divots appear, you will need to have the asphalt patched. Major damage can be fixed by resurfacing, which is where the contractor applies a thin layer of fresh asphalt over the entire drive. If you avoid damage to the surface – for example, don't use motorcycle kickstands on the drive and place a board under jack stands – asphalt can last for many years without any needed repairs.