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Asphalt Paving your Driveway

Installation of a New Driveway

     Asphalt paving is getting to be the preferred choice when it comes to ones driveway material. This is because of the various properties of asphalt that make it excellent as a pavement material. Asphalt is the dark, almost black material also used on most new roads nowadays. What is known as Hot-mix asphalt paving is a combination of asphalt, stone and sand, all mixed up together and liquified at a searing 300 degrees Fahrenheit to keep them fluid and easy to apply. Once it cools down, it actually hardens. That is why it sets more easily than concrete, which needs to dry before setting.

   Asphalt is more affordable than concrete, and at the same time more flexible and durable, and therefore less prone to damage and cracking. It's especially suited to cooler climates, and isn't that much damaged by ice melt, as well as rock salt. Asphalt maintenance is also relatively easy and infrequent.

   If you have been wanting to fix your old driveway and replace it with something new, then asphalt paving is probably the best bet for you. Read more on some tips to have asphalt paving installed on your driveway.


Determine the Foundation of your Asphalt Paving

Before you have asphalt paving installed, it is best to check your current driveway and see what you can work with from there. Is it in good condition? Are there any cracks on the surface? If you have such a driveway, then you have an option of pouring asphalt directly over this. It is definitely the easier solution and there is no dig to dig and prepare the foundation. However, you do need to consider if adding a 2-3 inches deep layer of asphalt to your existing driveway is going to be too high for your existing garage and everything else surrounding it. Most of the time, if you do choose this option, you will have to remove the fence and reinstall it after to adjust to the new height.

Most people prefer to remove the driveway, dig a bit into the soil, and apply an aggregate base of stones over the soil before applying the asphalt paving. Usually the aggregate base is 4-6 inches deep. This is used to provide a steadier, more stable surface for the asphalt. Rather than just adding asphalt to the soil, it also provides a base where run-off water can flow freely underneath the asphalt instead of running into it and over it.


Wait for the Right Conditions to Occur

   Because the asphalt is very sensitive to the moisture as well as temperature, you need to wait for the right weather conditions before proceeding to lay it out on your driveway. If you want more time to apply and set the asphalt paving, then it's better to choose a day that is warmer, because the asphalt will not readily harden in warmer conditions. This gives you more time to plan and execute your paving. You can apply asphalt in temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but for best results, days with a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher are optimal.

You don't want the day to be too humid as well. Moisture may seep into the asphalt and prevent it from setting easily, and may lead to delays and prolonged periods of waiting and setting. We not only need good weather the day the asphalt is installed but also for at least 1-2 days after as well, this will insure a perfect set.

Apply the Asphalt Paving

   Now, once everything's all ready, it's time to lay the asphalt to the ground from the hot mixer. Now, since asphalt sets upon cooling down, it must actually be applied quickly before it even sets. You will have to stay on your feet and make sure everything is fine before it actually sets. Usually the asphalt layer is about 3 inches thick.

Asphalt maintenance is easy as long as you do it as a preventative measure your Asphalt will last long past its life expectancy. But if you don't maintain a seal-coat covering, make sure you do as soon as damage starts, to prevent the spread of damage over the rest of the asphalt. You can periodically apply a driveway sealant layer to the top of the asphalt. This will protect your beautiful new asphalt from the damaging UV rays and heat stress from our Sun. Also, check your driveway occasionally for cracking & as soon as you notice any cracks developing, get a sealer application at once to prevent it from getting larger.

Choosing Your Asphalt Contractor

   The installation of asphalt pavement is a job reserved only for professional companies. However, you can't just go to any installer or asphalt contractor. It is important to know which companies are the right ones and which are the more dubious of contractors. One way, is to get multiple quotes for the paving job. This can give you a glimpse into the differences & nuances of the different companies. And it's not all about the cost!! .If you have contractors asking how much the other companies quoted you, then they are clearly not using a formula to figure out cost & materials for the quoted price and just trying to compete. This can end badly! If a company quotes you a cheaper price just to compete with another company's quote, this cost savings will have to be taken somewhere, the contractor will not operate at a loss. So, maybe you will get sub-par asphalt, or wrong aggregate (stones that are too big or too round) and definitely cheaper labor, which results in poor workmanship, installation errors & project delays.

   If you are an honest contractor you won't care what the other companies quoted, because you know exactly how much it costs you per square foot to do the work, even with the variables in each property, this can easily be calculated with measurements. When your margins are slim, you're giving the customer the best price all the time, no matter what. You don't give discounts or have room to haggle. These are all ethical values we hold dear at True Paving Inc. Rochester is our home, so all of our customers are in our neighborhoods. Plus, you get what you pay for in most instances and you can be sure that True Paving always uses the finest possible grade of newly run hot-mix asphalt, mixed right here in Rochester, NY. The freshest possible mix will allow us to set it and grade it perfectly for your new driveway. We offer a 2-Year warranty to make sure there are no defects in the mix or install. Just another way we make sure our customers are happy!! :)

      Asphalt paving is the ultimate in all-weather driveway materials. As seasonal weather temperatures fluctuate between hot and cold extremes, conventional concrete driveways tend to crack. Add in freezing and thawing ice conditions to the mix and concrete driveways just can't stand up to the punishment from Mother Nature. Typical asphalt driveways that are correctly installed from a professional paving contractor will last for 30+ years with very little maintenance needed.

      Hot mix asphalt paving is also known as driveway paving is the typical paving style used in driveways and roadways. Small pea sized aggregates are carefully mixed with a hot liquid asphalt cement at a nearby asphalt plant. This mix is then delivered hot to the jobsite in dump trucks and pressed while it is still hot to create a defining bond.

      But before any paving begins, the site must first be prepared. Your asphalt contractor will use heavy grading equipment to scrape away layers of subsoil down several inches below the finished driveway surface. A backfill of crusher run limestone or gravel is then added to the base of the driveway as a substrate & aggregate to allow water run-off below the final driveway pavement. A heavy roller is then used to flatten the limestone or gravel to the desired thickness and depth. Rolled to compaction as we like to call it!

At this point layers of hot mix asphalt are applied for basic driveways. Usually, asphalt plants run the hot mix according to weight, Lbs per cubic foot, or thickness. Base is the thickest, binder is the mid-weight, fine-top is the lightest. The best application of asphalt paving will come with those layered according to weight, heaviest at the bottom and rolled to compaction with the heavy roller. Your asphalt contractor will have  all this prepared in a quote before the project begins.

      Because asphalt contractors are usually very busy with all of their equipment on each job, a good plan is to set up your paving project weeks in advance of your planned finish date to ensure your paving project will be done on time. Also, be aware that most municipalities require the asphalt company to get a permit to complete the work on your driveway and this may require you to have your property survey map available and could take up to 1-2 weeks for approval.

      During your estimate with driveway paving contractors, if you are looking to make changes in size or shape of your driveway it's best to have them walk through the actual job with you. If your not available or to be prepared ahead of time painting temporary lines with spray paint is a great way to show prospective paving contractors exactly what you're looking for and where you want your driveway to be.

As the contractor walks the job with you, it's also a good idea to discuss any issues you may have with drainage or water runoff and what they plan on doing about it. You may need to install drainage before you begin paving your driveway. Municipal water drainage and roadside pipe issues should also be addressed during the paving contractors estimate.

      Prospective paving contractors should provide you with a detailed written estimate of driveway length, width and depth of each layer. Quotes on price should never change once the work had begun, unless you the customer are making changes. 

  As with hiring any contractor, make certain they are properly licensed, bonded and insured before receiving any estimates. We are licensed, bonded & insured to do the driveway paving services we provide and will obtain any permit required for the work before starting. We want you to be sure that True Paving is the right paving contractor for you, we will leave you with a smooth-running driveway paving project you'll love for years to come.

The new driveway process

     Your driveway is like a welcome mat for your friends and visitors. Most driveways are perpendicular to the street and on the same level but others may be curved and have a steep grade to them. It's the raised type of driveways that are the most noticeable and can look like a Yellow brick Road to your home. On the flip side, faded and broken concrete, bricks or paving stones can make the rest of your home look-tired no matter how new the building looks.

When looking for a new driveway surface asphalt pavement is a great way to go on many levels. First, it is less costly than concrete and paving stones. Even with the high price of oil asphalt paving is a cheaper option and, as well, the job is done quicker and without forms and hours of costly labor. Paving contractors are specialized for roads and driveways and are able to create a perfect pad for your driveway quickly.


The Asphalt Process-

In basic terms, asphalt paving is also termed asphalt concrete because, like concrete, it is an aggregate held together by a binding agent. In the concrete process it is Portland cement that is the adhesive and in paving it is bitumen, or asphalt cement, that glues everything together.

Hot mix asphalt pavement is a mixture of gravel, crushed rock and sand mixed with liquid asphalt, a heavy by-product of the petroleum refining process. The oil is heated, mixed with the aggregate stones and then sold by the ton by the asphalt plant.

It is then purchased & delivered by truck to the work site and dumped into a spreader that actually puts the asphalt down in a wide, continuous strip or dumped onto the area & raked/brushed out by hand. Then a mechanized roller compacts the pavement, pressing it into the base of crushed rock.

To give the surface a long life a driveway sealer should be applied yearly. This seal coating prevents the aggregate from breaking down.


The Base-

As with any building process there has to be a firm foundation beneath an asphalt surface. For a driveway paving contractors will dig down approx. 4”-6” to remove clays, soils, old pavement and concrete. In some cases the old surface can make a good base for a resurface, but that is another article, most times it should be removed. Then a crushed rock base is put down (depth is depending on the use of the driveway/road /parking lot). A good base will also prevent the surface from cracking or sinking in spots. In addition, the crushed rock should be slightly wider than the blacktop to account for drainage. It also prevents the edges of the pavement from breaking and cracking if a tire goes too far over to the edge.

Paving contractors will also check the grade (level) to make sure that the drainage is running away from the home or off the sides into the grass/yard. This is called adjusting the pitch of the asphalt.  In the event of a steep downward sloping driveway, some customers will choose to hire a contractor to install a drainage channel at the garage lip to allow for a drainage pipe to steer water away.  The lowest portion of the install has the crushed rock/aggregate stones that will provide an advantage for drainage while the top will be pressed into the asphalt surface and become part of the aggregate.


The Pavement-

Like concrete, Asphalt is premixed at an Asphalt plant. Asphalt plants will offer 3 different weights of Hot Mix Asphalt. By weight we are referring to the density or pounds per Cubic Foot. Your local Asphalt plant will have the exact weight numbers for each of the 3 mixes as they can vary slightly. The Heaviest is called the BASE, this is the thickest hot Asphalt mix as it has the larger rocks in the mix & is the heavy-duty layer of the 3. Then the most widely used is the BINDER Asphalt, middle of the road mix of rocks that are diverse in sizes. Finally, we have the FINE TOP Asphalt, this has the smallest rocks and less sand, to give you the smoothest surface.

 Many people like a smooth surface and will elect to go for the FINE TOP, this is a great choice for residential driveways & sport courts. However, as nice as this looks it does not stand up well to heavy traffic and large vehicles. This is why the paving contractor will put down two layers in the event that the driveway, road or parking lot will host heavy traffic or large vehicles. Using a BASE/BINDER combination will be the strongest, or a BIN

DER/FINE TOP combo will give you added strength without sacrificing the aesthetic of the smooth blacktop surface.


Finding A Contractor-

Good and Bad: Like many other contracting businesses there are good and bad paving contractors. For good contractors a homeowner should check with the local building supply places and also see who is doing paving in the area. The best advice is to find out what you need and how the asphalt process is done in your area. Then you will know what you need for your own paving project.

Ask Other Homeowners: Every summer hundreds of homeowners get new driveways. Drive around and see who has had the work done and interview them. In this way you can come up with 2-3 contractors whom you can call for quotes to do your own job.

Around the Block: Sometimes a paving company could be working in your area and easily shift their gear to your yard. Equipment is expensive to move & hauling in extra materials can usually be done on the same trip to save both time & gas $. So, having multiple jobs in one area, at the same time cuts down on their expenses. Having your neighbors do their paving at the same time can lead to a cost savings for both of you!

what causes asphalt cracking?


What Causes Asphalt Cracking?


Three Main Causes:

Cracking is most often the fault of one of these three common culprits:

Moisture - powerful and persistent, water begins to break down a paved driveway almost immediately. Moisture washes away the gravel and sand base of an asphalt drive, causing the surface layer to shift and break, resulting in cracks of varying sizes. Water also attacks from the top, finding its way into crevices, creases and dents and exerting pressure from above. The weight and movement of rain water and snow will wear at the paved surface over time.


Sun- another powerful force of nature, the sun beats down on asphalt, creating heat and breaking down the substances contained in this aggregate material. Sunshine dries up the surface, and although too much moisture causes asphalt to wear down and crack, not enough moisture creates similar results. As the components of asphalt break apart under the heat of the sun, cracking results from normal conditions, such as a parked car, basketball net or even foot traffic.


Ground Movements- the ground constantly shifts due to seasonal conditions such as frost and thaw. Disasters like earthquakes and major storms also cause the earth to shift, but it is the annual ground movements that have a greater effect overall. Asphalt driveways are installed on a bed of gravel spread across graded earth. When that earth moves, the gravel naturally moves and puts force on the asphalt, often resulting in cracks and/or potholes.


What About Crocodile Cracking?


Crocodile cracking or alligator cracking is a common problem in driveways and paved areas. According to web sources, the main cause of crocodile cracks is traffic loading, making it more an issue in parking lots and roadways. Keeping your vehicles in the garage helps to reduce the risk of this problem. It is also wise to routinely move heavier vehicles and equipment (such as trailers and RVs), distributing the load to avoid major cracks.

Sealing may protect your paved driveway from this issue. Maintain good drainage and direct run off away from your driveway to maintain a stable base. Strong base layers create a more durable paved surface, even when that surface is subjected to heavy traffic loads.

Flexibility and Durability

As the National Asphalt Paving Association (NAPA) states, hot mix asphalt is designed to be flexible and withstand the pressures of a four-season climate. Concrete and premade paving stones are rigid, while the make up of hot mix asphalt allows a certain amount of give. As noted above, major ground movements will result in cracking, as will gradual, yet noticeable changes to grading of your property. But local hot mix asphalt plants will produce a mixture made to withstand the regional climate, including the shifts associated with frost and thaw.

For more information on the components included in hot mix asphalt and the importance of using a quality mix, click here.

The Age Factor

Cracks most often occur on older asphalt driveways. This can be attributed to the causes mentioned above & more exposure to the sun, greater amounts of moisture and consistent ground movements will take a toll. But aged asphalt is also less able to withstand the pressures of gravity, and it's difficult to protect your paved driveway against that factor.

New asphalt dries hard, but retains a certain amount of flexibility. As the material ages, that flexibility decreases and asphalt becomes more rigid. Gravity then takes a toll, exerting pressure on the entire surface and resulting in cracking. This often happens along the edges of your paved driveway, but can also occur in the middle sections.

Even tiny cracking presents a problem for your driveway. Moisture enters the smallest crevices, pushing down through the material and washing away the base layer, resulting in less support and greater cracking. Once a small crack appears, larger cracks will follow, especially on older driveways.

Maintenance Tips

Asphalt driveways tend to have a lifespan of fifteen to twenty years, depending on your climate, the quality of the hot mix and installation. Maintenance is also a factor. Paved driveways tend to be low maintenance, but with a few simple tasks and a keen eye for problems, your paved drive can last long past the life expectancy of the average driveway.

Tend to cracks as soon as possible. Crack sealants work well for small cracking, and those tiny fissures can soon lead to large gaps when left unattended. Experts recommend using asphalt crack repair products on single cracks; this approach will not work on crocodile cracking. Look for products made to withstand sun and moisture, and follow the directions with care.

Asphalt contractors will not usually patch repair a driveway, as that would only be a temporary solution & cause uneven seams. Parking lots or roads are more receptive to patch repairs, as they are a more heavy-duty install to begin with, but residentially you would want a resurface if possible & a new install if not. Because the issues that caused the initial cracking are often still present after the repairs are completed. Replacing the entire driveway, is often the most straightforward and economical way to approach major crack repair.

Driveway sealants will help to protect your paved drive from the effects of sun and rain. They add a protective layer to the top of the Asphalt surface and are recommended for any new asphalt installed. Make sure to inquire about the sealants water ratio or content. The less water used to mix down the sealant used for seal-coating, the longer that layer will protect against the harmful UV rays and heat from the Sun, some sealants used are so watered down you will need to reapply every year. Others who use straight sealant will be covered for 2-3 years at least.

Asphalt paving provides excellent value for any home. Inexpensive and attractive, this product creates a safe surface for foot and vehicle traffic, improves your property value and reduces maintenance overall. Various sources cause cracks in asphalt paving, and only a few are avoidable. Optimize the value of your property by taking good care of your paved driveway to prevent cracking or attend to it as soon as possible.