Asphalt Paving Process: What You Need to Know

Most homeowners want their driveways to be smooth and safe for everyone who uses them, which is why asphalt paving is a popular choice. Asphalt paving can ensure that your driveway will remain durable, aesthetically pleasing, and long-lasting for many years ahead. To help you understand the installation process from start to finish, this blog post will break down everything you need to know about asphalt driveway paving. We’ll cover topics including what materials are used in the installation process, the timeline for how long it takes from start to finish and provide helpful tips for prolonging the lifespan of your new asphalt pavement so you can get the most out of your investment. Read on for all your questions answered! 

What is asphalt?

Asphalt, a versatile and widely used material, is an engineered mixture, primarily composed of sand, gravel, and crushed stone, bound together by a sticky, viscous binder called bitumen. Whether we’re driving on highways, flying down city streets, or even walking on well-paved sidewalks, asphalt provides a mostly smooth and durable surface that supports our daily movements. Its exceptional properties, including strength, flexibility, and resistance to weathering, make it an ideal choice for paving residential driveways amongst various other pavement applications especially in the New England region where we are susceptible to freeze, thaw cycles.

What does the asphalt paving process look like?

Curious to know what the pavement process entails? Here’s what you can expect during the actual paving process in just a few simple steps.

  1. Planning your asphalt driveway: Proper planning is the key to a successful paving project. Don’t rush through this step if you want your project to stand the test of time. Keep in mind that planning varies depending on the specific paving project and its unique needs. To ensure success, you’ll likely need to get approval from city or county planning offices. Trust us, it’s worth the effort!
  2. Excavation and site preparation: Before laying asphalt, it’s important to prepare the ground appropriately. Depending on what’s already there, in most instances it is best to fully excavate the existing driveway, excavate 6-8 inches of the existing subbase, grade and compact new aggravate base material working up to final grade.  If starting from scratch, clearing the land and ensuring a flat surface is essential. Additionally, the ground must be stable and compact. 
  3. Proper grading & drainage: To ensure your asphalt surface remains durable for years to come, it’s crucial to get grading and drainage right. Poor drainage can lead to hazardous pooling of rainwater and accelerated damage to your asphalt. Don’t let this ruin your investment – take the time to prepare the ground correctly.
  4. Building a strong foundation: Laying a Subbase: To ensure a durable and strong driveway, the foundation must be solid and stable to withstand erosion, wear and tear, and weather conditions. A well-cleared soil surface with a layer of aggregate stone on top makes for a suitable subbase, preventing further settling and sliding. In cases of overlay, the old asphalt driveway acts as the subbase and must be strong enough to support new layers. Your paver may perform a proof roll test to assess the subbase’s effectiveness and will use binding material to ensure the layers align securely.
  5. Laying the asphalt: Asphalt is a mostly smooth, durable aggregate made from a blend of sand, stone, and tar. The process of preparing and laying asphalt is no small feat and should only be entrusted to experts in the field. Once the material has been heated to a high temperature, it can be laid out, graded smoothly, and compacted with a heavy-duty, vibratory asphalt roller before hardening to create a beautifully finished product. In fact, the laying of the mix itself is often the quickest step of the whole process, clocking in at just one hour for small projects. By using heavy equipment, contractors can make sure everything’s leveled out perfectly to give you a picture-perfect driveway that’ll last for years to come.
  6. The final stage: Hardening: Congratulations, you’re almost done with installation! All that’s left is to wait patiently while your lot or driveway fully hardens. The good news is that you’ll be able to walk or drive on it within a few days but be careful! Thorough hardening takes about a month, so avoid any scuffs or rough use during that time.

Asphalt driveway maintenance

Although low maintenance, it’s important to care for your newly paved asphalt driveway to prevent potholes, cracks or stagnant water. Unfortunately, especially living in New England, the weather plays a role in much of the wear and tear that can occur. General upkeep can leave you with a pavement that lasts 20 years or more.

  • Inspecting your driveway: Potholes are a nuisance, but they happen. One of the best ways to prevent potholes in your driveway is by getting an annual inspection done by an experienced contractor. They will evaluate your pavement and mark the places that are in need of repair. That may include cracks, uneven areas, and places where the asphalt is starting to crumble.
  • Improve drainage systems: Water, ice, and snow are all the primary causes of potholes. Improving the drainage system around your driveway will help minimize standing water that could freeze and lead to potholes. Drainage systems can be improved in a variety of ways depending on what’s wrong with your current system. Some drainage improvements are quick and easy, while others will require the existing pavement to be dug up to install new drains below. A contractor can offer advice and provide estimates for drainage system work during your driveway inspection. There’s sure to be a repair option that fits into your budget and meets the needs of your driveway to prevent future potholes.
  • Repair cracks early: In addition to your yearly inspection, it’s important to keep a close eye on your driveway. If you see the start of a crack, schedule a service to have it repaired as soon as possible. A small crack can turn into a pothole before you know it. Prevention is so much easier than repairing a large pothole.

Asphalt paving vs. other driveway materials

Did you know that asphalt paving is the top choice for government officials and homeowners alike? Its reliability and durability make it the perfect choice for different purposes, including commercial parking lots, residential driveways, airstrips, and roadways. Plus, it’s the most commonly recycled material, with 80% of it getting recycled. Here are just a few of the benefits of choosing an asphalt driveway:

  • Asphalt paving is cost effective: Looking for an affordable and efficient paving solution? Asphalt is your answer! Not only is it cost-effective and faster to lay, but it also saves contractors valuable time. Plus, materials are inexpensive, making it a budget-friendly option for labor costs.
  • Quick installation: You’ll love how fast asphalt gets laid – it’s typically done in just 1-2 days depending on the project size. The best part: after completion, asphalt can be used in as little as 2 more days.
  • Asphalt is durable: Asphalt is incredibly durable. Not only is it flexible and weather-resistant, but it’s much less likely to crack over time ensuring a long-lasting driveway for years to come.
  • Other additional benefits:
  1. Asphalt has built-in safety features with its smooth finish, skid resistance, and reduced splashback.
  2. The black color also absorbs more of the sun’s heat, helping to melt snow faster than concrete.

Should an asphalt driveway be seal-coated?

One of the most common questions people have about asphalt driveways is whether or not to get it seal-coated and here’s our answer: Yes, The main reason for sealcoating asphalt pavement is to protect the pavement from deteriorating from the exposure of the sun and water. Another reason is to increase the surface friction it provides. With time, traffic will eventually wear down the material and layers of pavement and sealcoating is a great way to prevent cracks from forming in the first place and extends the life of your pavement.

With the proper asphalt driveway paving process, you’ll be sure to have a smooth, durable, and safe driveway that will last for years. Make sure your contractor is licensed and experienced in order to ensure a professional job that meets all local ordinances and city regulations. Investing in an asphalt driveway has the potential to improve the overall value of your property while making sure your family is safer when entering and exiting the home. Be sure to consider the tips outlined above before proceeding with any pavement project, as it’s important to both save time and money by getting it right the first time. Have more questions or would like a free estimate? Contact Lamacchia Landscape Construction at 877-856-YARD. 

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Sales Representative - Newton Area

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