Asphalt is a material that is often used in the fabrication of many driveways. While it is recommended that an asphalt driveway be installed by experienced professionals, some handymen may choose to do the installation themselves either to cut down on costs or simply for the pure enjoyment of installing a driveway. Regardless of who will be doing the installation, there are several steps and tips that should be followed to ensure that the driveway is installed properly. A well-constructed asphalt driveway will require little in the way of maintenance throughout its life.
Before installing an asphalt driveway there are some preparations that need to be completed. If an existing driveway is in place, it needs to be broken up and removed. Organic materials such as grass and roots also should be removed. Before any digging takes place, you should make sure that no pipes or electrical lines will be disturbed. YouRepair.com recommends that the work area be clearly defined using rebar stakes and lines of string.
AskTheBuilder.com recommends that the ground be excavated to a depth of 8 to 10 inches to receive the gravel bed. The gravel should be leveled, resulting in a flat surface that should be slightly sloped away from the home to allow for proper water runoff.
A typical asphalt driveway usually has a 10- to 30-year life expectancy. A properly installed, well-maintained asphalt driveway can last for even longer. A proper foundation is absolutely essential for any asphalt driveway. Asphalt driveways that have been paved over a bad or weak foundation will tend to crack, warp and sink much more often than they should. The base of any good driveway is made up of gravel. AskTheBuilder.com recommends that 8 to 10 inches of well-compacted crushed gravel be placed over soil to create a good foundation for an asphalt driveway.
Hot, loose asphalt will usually arrive at the installation site on a truck. The asphalt will be deposited in small amounts on the driveway site which will be shoveled and raked into the form of the driveway. When a border and the proper height of the driveway has been established, the center will be filled in using shovels and rakes. Hand tampers should be used to compact the loose asphalt followed by a steam roller. The steam roller will make several passes over areas to ensure uniform thickness. According to YouRepair.com, usually these steps are followed for one-half of the driveway and repeated for the other to ensure that the asphalt does not get too cool in places waiting to be rolled.
After the asphalt driveway has been paved, a seal coating should be applied to the surface of the driveway. There are several benefits associated with seal coating an asphalt driveway. However, consumers should wait for at least 90 days before applying the sealant to give the surface time to cure and harden.
Asphalt is oil-based and elastic. According to DrivewayTips.com, as an asphalt surface ages, it becomes brittle, loses its elasticity and becomes more prone to cracking. Applying seal coatings to an asphalt surface every three years or so helps it maintain its elastic properties. Not only do seal coatings help maintain elasticity, they help keep the surface from absorbing water and ice which can cause an asphalt surface to crack.
- Photo Credit Asphalt 2 image by Fenvarien from Fotolia.com
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