[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you’re a homeowner and you need a new driveway for your property, or if you’re having a new home built, you typically need to choose between concrete and asphalt. While concrete is very durable, so is asphalt, but you might still be wondering how long an asphalt driveway lasts, especially when compared to other paving materials.
An asphalt driveway can last between 10 and 35 years, depending on the asphalt itself, the quality of the installation, your local climate, and how well you care for the material over the years!
While asphalt is very durable and offers many benefits versus concrete, it is not indestructible. A homeowner needs to understand how to care for that asphalt properly in order to ensure their driveway lasts as long as possible.
Understanding the composition of asphalt itself, and how asphalt driveways are installed, can help you better understand how to care for an asphalt driveway properly. This can also help you understand why some asphalt driveways might need replacing sooner than others, no matter how well you maintain the material. It might also be good to consider the advantages of asphalt over concrete, if you’re still trying to decide the best choice of paving for your property.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1947″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]
Asphalt concrete, also called bitumen, is made from a petroleum derivative. This substance, when extracted and refined, is very thick and sticky, almost like tar.
This bitumen is mixed with aggregates, including stone, sand, and gravel, to make the actual asphalt material that is used for paving. The tarry texture of bitumen keeps these aggregates “stuck together,” while the stone and gravel are what give the material its bumpy texture and strength.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]An asphalt surface, such as a driveway, starts with a heavier aggregate, usually a thick stone, that is spread over the area to be paved. Hot asphalt is then poured over this aggregate, and pressed into it with a heavy roller.
This pressing process causes the top layer of soft asphalt to bind to the aggregate under it. As this upper layer of asphalt cools, it becomes solid, and is ready for use.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]
As said, the longevity or expected lifespan of an asphalt driveway depends on its composition and installation, the average climate in your area, and how you care for the material itself. Consider a few details about each of these factors, so you can determine the best type of asphalt to buy, and also ensure you care for your home’s driveway properly.
First, when discussing your options with your contractors, note the manufacturer of the asphalt material itself. This is because[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1968″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]not all asphalt is alike, but batches are made individually at a processing plant. Only choose asphalt from a supplier that
produces asphalt consistently, so you know they’ll provide high-quality material that is strong and durable. Too much aggregate and not enough bitumen in a mixture, for example, might be very cheap to produce, but might also allow cracks or sinkholes to quickly form.
Next, it’s vital to understand that proper installation of the asphalt is needed for a durable driveway. Your driveway should be graded so that rainwater and snow easily run off the surface of the asphalt, rather than settling or pooling, either under or on top of the asphalt itself.
The area to be paved also needs to be raked in order to remove excessive dirt and debris, and the foundation aggregate should be compacted, to reduce the risk of the asphalt shifting out of place and then cracking. If you’re not sure of how to prepare your driveway for paving, rely on a professional installer rather than thinking you can pour asphalt yourself.
Your area’s climate will affect the longevity of an asphalt driveway, as water seeping into asphalt can cause the material to soften and break down. In turn, asphalt poured in a tropical area or an area with heavy rainfall may not last as long as asphalt in other areas.
Extreme heat can cause asphalt to crack, which can then allow water to seep into the material, causing even more damage. Sealing of the asphalt more often than usual can then help to protect it from damage caused by extreme climates.
Note, too, that oily substances tend to break down the petroleum material that makes up the bitumen in asphalt. Cars and trucks that drip motor oil and other such fluids are a major cause of damage to residential asphalt driveways, and will mean having to repair or repave those driveways sooner rather than later.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Now that you know a little bit about how asphalt is made, and about what affects its overall lifespan, note a few tips on how to protect an asphalt driveway on your property:
One of the most important tips to remember when it comes to protecting an asphalt driveway is to have it seal-coated on a regular basis, usually every few years, or as often as recommended by your driveway installer. This seal coating will help to protect the top layer of asphalt from water damage, swirl marks, nicks and scrapes, form excessive heat, and from exposure to oils and other fluids that damage asphalt itself.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1944″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]
If you’re still not sure if an asphalt driveway is the best choice for your property, note a few advantages this material offers over concrete in particular:
Asphalt is also typically more affordable than concrete, and this is an important consideration, not just for the installation of your new driveway, but for its maintenance over the years. When an asphalt driveway is so badly damaged that it needs to be replaced, you can typically have a fresh layer of material poured over the current layer.
Severely damaged concrete driveways, however, often need to be ripped up and removed, with a new driveway poured altogether. When you choose asphalt over concrete, your installation costs are then lower, as are your long-term maintenance and repair costs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]
If you’re now convinced that asphalt is the right choice over a concrete driveway for your property, note a few considerations about what makes a good asphalt driveway. You can then more easily discuss your options with your contractor, and ensure your new driveways lasts for many years to come.
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The thickness of your home’s asphalt driveway will also affect its overall durability and longevity. Many residential driveways include a layer of asphalt that is about four inches thick, and this can be sufficient for supporting passenger vehicles and lightweight trucks. If you drive a heavier vehicle or will be parking a trailer on the driveway, however, opt for something even thicker; five to six inches is good for heavier vehicles, campers, and trailers.
For maximum strength, you might have your contractor put down a thicker layer of compacted aggregate for the foundation; six to eight inches of heavy stone will create a very durable base for the top layer of asphalt, and will ensure the driveway doesn’t sink or buckle even under the weight of a heavy-duty truck or trailer. This might be a more costly option for installation, but it can also mean a more durable asphalt driveway that lasts for many years to come.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]