Asphalt is a low maintenance, resilient and durable surface material that can last for many years if the proper steps are taken throughout the construction process. If you don’t have experience in asphalt, it is highly recommended that you find a reputable asphalt contractor to help you through the process. You can research local contractors by getting references and referrals from other homeowners, family, or friends. Once you have identified a few, have an interview process so that you can gauge your comfort level various contractors. This should allow the process to be “smooth paving.”
The first step is to remove the existing material in the driveway, then grade and compact the driveway soil base with a minimum of a 3000-pound roller. Prior to doing any excavation, contact your local utility protection company to identify any buried utility lines, and look above for any overhead utilities that may prevent safe work from being performed.
A long lasting and durable asphalt driveway provides enough slope for water to drain off. Water shouldn’t ever pool in the driveway or next to the driveway, where it will weaken the soil and base below. If the area is flat, you will want to crown the center to allow water to drain off both sides. You can test the drainage by spraying water from a hose on the base to ensure the water drains where you planned it to drain.
The foundation to a good and long lasting driveway is the underlying granular base. It both provides a stable surface for the asphalt and prevents moisture from penetrating the base, thus protecting against winter damage. The base will be made of crushed aggregate materials (1.5-inch top size to dust, commonly called #304 limestone) that lock together when compacted. In the winter months the freeze thaw cycle can potentially “heave” your asphalt if proper steps in the construction process are not taken. This material shall be placed at approximately 6 to 8 inches deep and compacted with a vibratory roller. A new aggregate base should sit for about a week so that natural settling will occur if proper equipment to compact is not available.
Applying the asphalt itself should be undertaken with care, because asphalt is heated to about 300 degrees. Wear gloves and leather boots to protect yourself. Use a paving machine to distribute between 3 and 4 inches of hot asphalt. Then the contractor will take a heavy rolling device and compact the base and the asphalt itself. For the asphalt, the roller needs to weigh at least a ton, because vibration causes the material to compact from the bottom up and produce a strong foundation. Once the asphalt is compacted, the edges are then raked, tamped and formed to 45-degree angles.
Weather plays an important role in all aspects of asphalt installation. The thicker the asphalt is, the lower the air temperature should be to allow the asphalt to cool. The paving area should be dry prior to placing asphalt materials. Asphalt will cure for months after the initial installation. After 9 months, it is recommended to seal your driveway. Do the same every 3 years after initial sealing.
For an accurate estimate of the amount of asphalt needed for your project, please visit our calculators page.