Asphalt is a popular choice for driveways due to its durability and affordability. It provides an attractive finish that can last for many years if chosen and installed correctly. However, selecting the right type of asphalt for a new driveway can be a challenge. This article will discuss how to choose the best asphalt for a new driveway, taking into account factors such as climate, budget, and aesthetic considerations.
Types Of Asphalt
There are several types of asphalt available, with each type having its own benefits and drawbacks. It’s important to weigh up these options carefully when selecting the best asphalt for your new driveway.
The two main types of asphalt used for driveways are hot mix asphalt (HMA) and cold mix asphalt (CMA). Hot mix asphalt is created by heating aggregate, bitumen, and other materials at high temperatures before mixing them together. This produces an even mixture that can be spread over the base layer of gravel or stone.
HMA is more durable than CMA but it takes longer to install, as it must cool before it can be driven on. Cold mix asphalt is created by combining aggregate with bitumen emulsion in a mixer before placing it onto the base layer. The advantage of this type of asphalt is that it can be applied without heat, meaning it can be used in colder climates where HMA may not set correctly. CMA cures faster than hot mix asphalt so you don’t have to wait as long before driving on it.
When selecting the best asphalt for your driveway, it is important to consider the available grades. Asphalt is usually graded by its viscosity, which determines how easily it can be spread and compacted. Generally, higher viscosity grades offer improved durability and resistance to wear and tear. Lower viscosity grades are easier to install but may not provide long-term protection.
The most commonly used grade for driveways is 30/40, which offers a good balance between performance and cost. This grade contains more bitumen than lower grades and provides a strong base layer that will stand up well to heavy traffic and weathering over time. If your budget allows, you may wish to consider higher-grade asphalt such as 50/70 or 60/90, which offer superior protection but come with a higher price tag. It’s also worth noting that some areas may require specialized asphalt mixes designed for their specific climate or soil conditions.
Factors To Consider
When selecting the best asphalt for your driveway, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, you should identify the type of traffic that will be using the driveway on a regular basis. Heavy vehicles, such as trucks or buses, will require a higher grade of asphalt with greater durability and compaction strength than lighter traffic.
Secondly, it’s important to consider environmental factors such as temperature and rainfall levels in order to select an appropriate mix that won’t crack or break down under extreme conditions. Finally, it’s essential to determine what kind of look you want for your driveway – some grades can be colored or patterned to give a unique finish.
It’s also wise to think ahead when choosing an asphalt grade; while lower-grade mixes tend to be cheaper initially, they may not provide the same level of protection over time as more durable options.
Preparation And Installation Process
Once you have identified the grade of asphalt most suitable for your driveway, it’s time to begin the preparation and installation process. The first step is to ensure the area is clear of debris and vegetation. Once this has been done, a layer of gravel should be spread over the ground and compacted to provide a stable base for the asphalt. After this, a hot mix asphalt should be laid in two separate layers, with a roller machine used to compact each layer before adding the next. This process can be difficult, so it is advisable to hire an experienced contractor who knows how to properly prepare and install asphalt according to local regulations.
When all the materials have been laid and compacted, the driveway must be sealed with an appropriate sealant. Sealing helps protect against water damage by filling any small cracks that may form over time due to temperature changes or heavy traffic. It also ensures that your driveway looks its best for years to come.
Cost And Budgeting
The type of asphalt selected will have an impact on the overall cost. Hot mix asphalt is typically more expensive than cold mix asphalt, but has a longer lifespan and is less prone to cracking or damage from water. The size of the driveway will also play an important role in its cost. Larger driveways require more materials and labor, making them more expensive to install than smaller ones.
Hiring a professional contractor can add significantly to the total cost of installation as they will be responsible for ensuring that everything is installed correctly. However, if done properly, this expense can be offset by the fact that a quality installation job should minimize future maintenance costs and extend the life of your driveway.
Maintenance And Upkeep
It’s important to remember that the maintenance and upkeep of an asphalt driveway are just as important as its installation. While asphalt is known for its durability and low maintenance needs, neglecting regular maintenance can still lead to premature damage and costly repairs. Proper maintenance typically includes sealing the driveway every few years, repairing any cracks or potholes that may occur, and using a broom or leaf blower to remove leaves, dirt, and other debris.
In addition to these routine maintenance tasks, it’s also recommended that homeowners inspect their driveways regularly for signs of wear-and-tear such as cracking or crumbling edges. Catching any problems early on can help reduce repair costs and extend the life of your driveways. With proper care and attention, an asphalt driveway should provide years of reliable service without requiring significant additional investment in repairs or replacement.
The installation of an asphalt driveway is a major investment and should not be taken lightly. As such, it’s recommended that homeowners take the time to research their options and find a contractor with the experience, expertise, and reputation needed to ensure quality results. When researching, homeowners should look for contractors with proper licensing and insurance, positive customer reviews, and a portfolio of previous work. It’s also important to ask for references from past clients to ensure that the contractor has satisfied customers with their work in the past.
In addition to finding a reputable contractor for installation, homeowners may also want to consider professional services for maintenance tasks such as sealing or crack filling. Professional maintenance services can help extend the life of an asphalt driveway by keeping it looking its best while ensuring any potential problems are caught early on before they become costly repairs down the road. Investing in professional services can save homeowners both time and money in the long run while providing peace of mind knowing that their investment is well protected.
The choice of asphalt for a new driveway is an important decision with far-reaching consequences. It is important to consider all the factors involved, such as available grades, preparation and installation process, cost and budgeting, maintenance and upkeep requirements, and professional services before making a final selection.