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Blog » Asphalt Driveways: Everything You Should Know

Asphalt Driveways: Everything You Should Know

How to Maintain Your Asphalt Driveway

Asphalt is one of the most durable and cost-effective driveway materials on the market today. It’s incredibly important to properly maintain your driveway to extend its life and keep it in quality shape. Asphalt can overcome temperature, climate, weather, and other external conditions. However, over time you’ll likely notice regular wear and tear. There are many issues homeowners can experience with an asphalt driveway, such as:

  • Block Cracking
  • Edge Cracking
  • Alligator Cracking
  • Grass Growing
  • Raveling
  • Potholes
  • Oil Spots
  • Fading

Performing regular maintenance on your asphalt driveway will help homeowners ensure its longevity and durability for years to come. If you experience issues with your driveway and are unsure of how to make a fix, it’s encouraged to contact a professional to provide guidance and options for the problems you’re experiencing.

Driveway Care

When you initially get your asphalt driveway installed, the first fourteen days are vital to its overall success. During this time, it’s encouraged to limit driveway traffic, whether by foot or car, as both can cause damage to the new surface. Because of asphalt’s oil-based consistency, the curing time is extensive compared to other driveway materials. Homeowners are encouraged to take necessary precautions to ensure their driveway cures appropriately and is maintained to allow for optimal performance.

Visual Inspections

Homeowners are encouraged to conduct visual inspections of their asphalt driveways every winter and summer to ensure all cracks and other discrepancies are accounted for and fixed accordingly. Catching problems with your driveway early on will save you from costly fixes and prolong the overall life of the material. While asphalt is a cost-effective material, it’s incredibly important to care for it properly.

Crack Repair

If you notice any cracks occurring in your driveway, it’s essential to address them immediately. Cracking occurs due to movement under the surface of your driveway and excess water. The structural integrity of your asphalt driveway can be weakened, leading to much more significant issues over time. Any cracks that you discover should be adequately cared for by cleaning, filling, and sealing with a high-quality asphalt seal coat.

Gasoline and Oil Spill Prevention

Asphalt is an oil-based material meaning any gasoline or oil spills will dissolve the surface of your asphalt driveway and, if not correctly cared for, will deteriorate your driveway over time. It’s encouraged to prevent spills from occurring as best as you can, but if one occurs, use absorbent materials to quickly and thoroughly clean up the spills. Additionally, avoid using salt or other deicing chemicals as these will damage the surface of your asphalt driveway.

How to Know When to Replace Your Asphalt Driveway

A typical asphalt driveway can last around 10 to 15 years after initial installation. Over time your driveway will experience normal wear and tear, meaning cracks may form, discoloring from the sun’s UV rays is likely, and pitting may occur from the elements. It’s encouraged to keep an eye out for any signs of damage as it may mean it’s time to replace your asphalt driveway.

Raveling

Your asphalt driveway is made of both binder and aggregate. Over time aggregate can become separated from its binding material because of inclement weather and normal wear and tear. Raveling is likely occurring on your driveway if you notice loose gravel or pitting. It’s encouraged to treat raveling immediately to avoid further damage from occurring to your driveway. Raveling that isn’t addressed can impact your driveway’s structural integrity and lead to more significant issues.

Standing Water

It’s incredibly important to watch for pooling water on your driveway as well as the rest of your property. Pooling water usually means that there are issues with your drainage system. If your driveway has been correctly designed and installed, it will have a natural slope to promote proper water runoff. It’s incredibly important to address any pooling water right away as it can seep under the top layer of your driveway as well as enter any cracks that may be occurring. Fluctuating temperatures cause water to freeze, meaning it will expand and contract, thus causing issues in the foundation of your driveway and potentially your home.

Alligator Cracks

If you begin to see overlapping cracks with a reptilian appearance, you’re likely experiencing “alligator cracks.” Alligator cracks can turn into a much larger problem quickly because if left untreated, they will divide the pavement entirely. Usually, the formation of alligator cracks is a sign of the subbase underneath your asphalt driveway, not having enough support. It may be time to start fresh with a new driveway, subbase, and top coat if you notice alligator cracks taking over your driveway.

Large Cracks

Significant horizontal and longitudinal cracks in your driveway can be a sign of major issues coming your way. Longitudinal cracks are a sign that alligator cracks may form in the future, and multiple cracks allow a higher volume of water to enter your asphalt driveway, meaning the damage will only worsen over time. Right when you begin noticing cracking occurring, it’s encouraged to contact a knowledgeable professional to assist you with any maintenance needs.

Missing Pieces

Both large and alligator cracks can cause pieces of your driveway to physically break off, leaving you with potholes ranging in size on your driveway. Potholes can be damaging to vehicles, household members, and visitors, so it’s vital to address any issues early on. For small potholes, cold-mix asphalt can be used to make repairs on your own. However, contacting a professional is highly recommended as they will be able to identify the scale of damage and provide you with appropriate replacement and maintenance options.

Prepping Your Asphalt Driveway for Winter

Your driveway is one of the first things guests and passersby see when visiting your property, so it’s incredibly important to take care of it all year round. Freezing temperatures, ice, and winter weather can take a toll on asphalt over time. Taking proper precautions and preventative measures such as winterizing will ensure that your driveway is looking tip-top in both the warm and cold months. It’s encouraged to monitor your driveway for any cracks or potholes continually, regularly clean it, and limit the use of salt and other deicing chemicals.

Sealcoating Guide

In preparation for winter, applying a sealant is the best way to protect your asphalt driveway from freezing temperatures and winter storms. A sealant will act as a barrier by bonding to your driveway and preventing any melting snow or ice from penetrating the asphalt material. While it’s encouraged to call a professional to make sure the sealing process is completed correctly, many homeowners seal asphalt driveways themselves. If you choose to take this route, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Utilize a no-mix asphalt sealer
  • Clean off your driveway thoroughly before application
  • Trim trees and greenery that may have grown over your driveway
  • Tape off any surfaces you don’t want sealant to reach

The application process is relatively simple, and it’s recommended you start at your garage and move down while pouring the sealer from one side of the asphalt to the other. A driveway squeegee can be used to ensure a thin layer of sealer is spread down your driveway. After the initial layer is applied, another layer should be applied perpendicular to the first, so the two layers overlap.

Edging Your Asphalt Driveway: The Do’s and Don’ts

Edging is the process of protecting and securing the edges of your driveway, so cracks and other damage are less likely to occur. When your asphalt driveway is installed, it isn’t built into the foundation of your yard like other materials. An asphalt driveway is made with grading on the edges to help transfer stress from vehicles and other objects to the ground underneath; the grading is incorporated into the design to help prolong the life of your driveway. Many homeowners choose to add unique elements to disguise the edging and add to the curb appeal.

Importance of Edging

Edging is extremely important when it comes to your asphalt driveway as it protects the edges from getting damaged or cracked from vehicle and foot traffic. While it may not seem like this would occur, over time, as your asphalt driveway ages, the weight of vehicles and other objects can cause cracking to begin. Edging is also an excellent way to add some character to your property through landscaping stone or greenery.

Driveway Borders

Homeowners can create a border along their driveway with greenery, stone, or Belgian block to protect the edges of your asphalt driveway. Each of these options provides protection and adds to the curb appeal of your home. Additionally, visitors and passersby will be less likely to damage your property by cars entering the grass or causing damage to your landscaping. Driveway borders are beneficial in the winter months, too, as they make the edges of your driveway visible.

Edging Restraints

Permaloc asphalt edge tools can be utilized to create an edging around your driveway that is aesthetically appealing and clean. This tool is a flexible, L-shaped aluminum restraint that can be placed to ensure homeowners get a consistent edge on their asphalt driveway. The installation is very quick, easy, and comes with a multitude of benefits for property owners:

  • Extends the life of your asphalt driveway by keeping the edges strong
  • Offers uniformity throughout your driveway
  • Works efficiently with all asphalt types
  • Qualifies for LEED points

Recycling Your Asphalt Driveway

Many homeowners choose asphalt due to its fast installation capabilities, durability, and resilience to the elements. What many are not aware of is the functionality of asphalt through it’s recycling process. Homeowners can reduce their environmental footprint by choosing asphalt for their driveway material and increasing their property value as many buyers in today’s market are drawn to asphalt driveways.

Recycling Process

Asphalt is created from a mix of aggregates and cement. The aggregates found in asphalt include sand, gravel, crushed rocks, and sometimes rubber tires or iron and steel byproducts. When an asphalt driveway is removed, it’s taken to a recycling plant to be rushed, filtered, and separated in groupings of aggregates and bindings. Once each element is recycled correctly, they are remixed to form a recycled asphalt material. This process allows recycling plants to create precise mixes of asphalt, so the new material is made with specific properties in mind.

Benefits

Recycling asphalt comes with many benefits for recycling plants, the environment, and for homeowners. The asphalt recycling process allows recycling plants to create new material with specific characteristics, such as how stiff the mixture is and levels of aggregates and binders. Recycling plants also have control over the material’s flexibility, durability, and application process. With recycled asphalt, homeowners will receive a long-lasting material that is less likely to crack. Additionally, recycling asphalt allows for lower waste volumes, reduced emissions, and more space in landfills due to binders and aggregates being reused.

Maintenance

Whether your asphalt driveway is entirely new or made of reclaimed asphalt, it’s incredibly important to keep your driveway clean. Remove any debris with a broom or vacuum to ensure it doesn’t settle into the asphalt. It’s encouraged to apply a sealant every five years as it creates a barrier between the surface of your asphalt driveway for water and debris. The sealant will also make your asphalt driveway more durable and help prevent cracks from forming over time. In the colder months, homeowners should also monitor any built-up snow and ice as excess can cause cracks and wear to the surface of your driveway.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the proper care and maintenance for your asphalt driveway is incredibly essential. Homeowners can extend the life of their driveway by performing regular maintenance and taking adequate preventative measures. If you’re unsure of practiced preventative measures or where to start with maintenance if you find cracking or other deterioration, it’s encouraged to contact a professional to assist you further. Asphalt is a cost-effective driveway material that can last for an impressive length of time if properly cared for.

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