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The Complete Guide to Installing a New Asphalt Driveway the Right Way

Installing a new asphalt driveway is a significant investment that can drastically improve your home’s curb appeal while providing a durable, low-maintenance surface for years to come. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about asphalt driveway installation, from material choices to costs and the overall process. By the end, you’ll be ready to pave the way for enhancing your property’s value and appearance.

Asphalt Driveway Installation Guide

Why Choose Asphalt for Your Driveway?

Asphalt is one of the most popular driveway materials for good reason. It offers several compelling advantages over alternatives like concrete or pavers:

– Cost-Effective – Asphalt driveways are generally more affordable to install compared to concrete, brick, or stone.
– Smooth Surface – The smooth black surface has good traction and is suitable for vehicle traffic.
– Quick Installation – An asphalt driveway can typically be installed in just a couple of days by professional crews.
– Flexibility – Asphalt can slightly flex and shift without cracking, unlike rigid concrete.
– Repair-Friendly – Damages like cracks and potholes can be patched relatively easily on an asphalt surface.

While asphalt requires some routine maintenance like sealcoating every few years, it makes an excellent choice for most homeowners looking for an attractive, long-lasting driveway.

Asphalt vs. Concrete Driveway : Which is Better?

The battle between asphalt and concrete driveways has raged for decades. Both materials have unique pros and cons to consider:

Asphalt Driveways
– Lower initial installation costs
– Faster installation time (1-2 days typically)
– Flexible and less prone to cracking
– Repairs are easier and more affordable
– Rougher surface texture can be slippery

Concrete Driveways  
– Extremely durable and long lifespan (30+ years)
– Smoother surface and traction
– Higher installation costs upfront
– Longer installation time (5-10 days)
– Rigid surface prone to cracking over time
– Color options like stamped concrete

For most residential driveways, the affordability and ease of asphalt make it the more popular choice. But concrete may be preferable for larger projects or those wanting customized colors and patterns.

Understanding Driveway Materials and Costs 

Before installing an asphalt driveway, it’s important to understand the materials involved and their associated costs:

Hot Mix Asphalt – This is the standard dense-graded liquid asphalt combined with crushed stone aggregate. It costs around $3-$5 per square foot installed for residential driveways.

Porous Asphalt – An alternative that allows water drainage, reducing runoff. Costs a bit more at $4-$7 per square foot.

Recycled Asphalt – Reusing existing asphalt is a cost-effective and eco-friendly option around $2-$4 per square foot.

The total driveway installation cost depends on the material, size of the area, site preparation work needed, and any extras like custom borders or finishes. Most homeowners can expect to pay $5,000-$15,000 for a standard asphalt residential driveway.

Driveway Installation Timeline : What to Expect

Once you’ve chosen your asphalt materials and settled on a budget, it’s helpful to know what the typical installation timeline looks like:

1-2 Days: Demolition and removal of existing surfaces
1-2 Days: Grading and slope preparation 
1 Day: Installation of gravel base layers
1-2 Days: Laying and compacting the hot asphalt 
7+ Days: Allowing full curing before regular use

In total, most basic driveway installations take 5-10 working days from start to finish when done by an experienced asphalt paving contractor. More complex jobs involving drainage, custom borders, etc. may take longer.

Hiring the Right Asphalt Paving Contractor 

Unless you have significant experience with asphalt installation, hiring a qualified paving contractor is highly recommended for this type of specialized job. When evaluating potential contractors, consider:

– Total years of experience with hot mix asphalt paving
– Portfolio of completed residential driveway work
– Positive customer reviews and ratings
– Proper licensing, bonding, and insurance
– Transparent pricing quotes with material/labor costs
– Project timeline and work process explanations

Get at least 3 different estimates from contractors, comparing crew experience levels and warranties offered along with pricing. The lowest bid isn’t always the best – look for fair pricing from an established pro with a proven track record.

Site Preparation : Demolition, Grading, and Drainage

Before any new asphalt can be laid, the existing driveway area must be properly prepared through demolition, removal, grading, and ensuring proper drainage:

Demolition & Removal – Any old asphalt, concrete, or surface materials need to be completely broken up and removed from the site.

Grading & Sloping – The driveway area is precisely graded and sloped for proper water drainage away from your home.  

Drainage Systems – If needed, drainage pipes, culverts, or catch basins are installed to manage excess surface runoff.  

Once the subgrade soil is compacted, a gravel base of 4-8 inches will be installed before the hot asphalt layer goes down. Proper site prep is crucial for driveway longevity.

The Asphalt Driveway Installation Process Step-by-Step

With the area prepped, the asphalt installation can begin following these typical steps:

1) A tack coat is applied over the gravel base to help the asphalt layers bond.
2) Hot mix asphalt is delivered to the site from a nearby batching plant.  
3) A paving machine is used to lay down and spread the asphalt mix in uniform rows.
4) Roller machines compact the hot asphalt to the proper density and thickness.
5) The contractor’s crew uses hand tools to dress up edges and any details.
6) A tack coat may be applied between lifts if a second layer is needed.

The thickness of the new asphalt layer(s) can range from 2-4 inches for residential driveways, with 2-3 inches being most common. More depth equals more load-bearing strength.

DIY Asphalt Driveway Installation : Is It Possible?

While most homeowners opt to hire professional paving contractors, some ambitious DIYers may be considering tackling an asphalt driveway installation themselves. This is possible for small driveway areas, but inadvisable for most:

– Asphalt must be properly heated, mixed, delivered quickly and paved/compacted at precise temperatures for best results
– You’ll need specialty equipment like a paver machine, roller, and plate compactors which can be expensive to rent
– Getting the grading, base prep, and drainage right is crucial for longevity
– Cold joints where new meets old asphalt can cause cracking and separation over time   

Unless you have past experience with this type of work, DIY asphalt installation is extremely challenging and prone to costly mistakes. Most experts recommend hiring a qualified paving contractor who does this work every day.

Caring for Your New Asphalt Driveway

To get the longest lifespan possible from your new asphalt surface (typically 15-30 years), some routine maintenance is required:

  • Wait 1-2 months before parking on the new driveway to allow full curing
    – Have any cracks or holes sealed/filled as soon as they appear
    – Apply a sealcoating every 2-4 years to protect against UV damage
    – Avoid gas/oil spills which can

 

FAQs

Q: What is involved in the installation of an asphalt driveway?

A: Installing an asphalt driveway involves steps such as demolition and removal of the old driveway, grading and sloping the area, and then paving with the new asphalt surface.

Q: How thick should the asphalt be for a residential driveway?

A: The recommended thickness of the asphalt for a residential driveway is typically around 2 inches.

Q: How long does an asphalt driveway installation project usually take?

A: The duration of an asphalt driveway installation project depends on various factors, but it usually takes a few days to complete.

Q: Can I install a new asphalt driveway myself as a DIY project?

A: While it is possible to do a DIY asphalt driveway project, it is recommended to hire a professional driveway contractor for optimal results.

Q: What are the costs associated with installing a new asphalt driveway?

A: The cost of an asphalt driveway installation varies based on factors like the size of the driveway, type of asphalt used, and any additional features you may want.

Q: How long can an asphalt driveway last?

A: With proper maintenance, an asphalt driveway can last up to 20-30 years, making it a long-lasting driveway surface option.

Q: What are some considerations when it comes to choosing the type of asphalt for my driveway?

A: Factors to consider when choosing the type of asphalt include the weight of the asphalt, the thickness needed for your driveway, and the overall cost of the asphalt material.

Residential Paving

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