Driveway paving can be a complicated process, which may be tempting to just leave to any professionals that seem to produce good results. While you may get a driveway this way that appears to be good quality, you won’t know for sure without the proper knowledge of what goes into making a paving job great. A driveway might initially appear to be good quality, but start to show signs of wear and weathering a few years later. Properly paved and maintained driveways should last you as long as 20 years, rather than just a few.
This is why arming yourself with the right information is essential to ensuring your driveway gets the attention and care it deserves. Here are a few things you should be aware of when having your driveway professionally paved.
When Is The Right Time To Have My Driveway Paved?
Starting from the very beginning, it is often recommended for newly built homes to hold off on paving their driveways right away. While it may not be as aesthetically pleasing to have an unpaved driveway in the beginning, professionals suggest that it can take as long as two years for a driveway or walkway to settle and establish their grade. Many new builders pave immediately in the hopes of selling their homes faster, but those walkways will crack and decay as their base settles out from underneath them. Patience is key for new homeowners, and a pristine new paving job is well worth the wait, for time and money.
Alright, so you have either waited two years or your home is already more than two years old. Timing is everything when it comes to finally choosing the day to pave your driveway. Optimal paving weather consists of a dry and warm day. If the driveway is overly wet, the asphalt may not set correctly, or the gravel base might wash away before it has a chance to set. An overly hot day will also risk asphalt bonding poorly to its base, and too cold means the asphalt might not cure, meaning cracks and damage almost immediately. Good planning will allow your driveway the best chance of setting properly, which leads into the next point.
What Your Driveway Needs In The Planning Stages
Before even beginning your paving job, check and see if you need a building permit to complete your job, which may require some paperwork and a small application fee. Then, determine exactly where your property lines are. On some occasions, an old driveway could extend beyond the limits of your plot, and you should identify where these markers lie to ensure you are staying firmly on your property. Your contractor should also ensure any utility lines or pipes under the driveway surface are either safeguarded or moved to prevent damage, and choose a location away from large root systems from bushes or trees to avoid lifting and cracking.
Done properly, a good paving job will hold up well to anything that gets thrown at it. A proper base for an asphalt driveway requires at least six inches of gravel to be effective, and the asphalt on top should be compacted to at least two inches when all is said and done. To prevent weeds and other plant life from worming their way up and destroying your driveway, soil sterilizer can be used, and crushed limestone makes for the ideal base to prevent unwanted growth the longest. With all this consideration for height and materials, you may need to excavate or fill to accommodate being level with other pieces of landscaping, ensuring a clean and smooth transition that doesn’t ruin the overall aesthetic.
The entirety of an original driveway should be removed before a new one is installed. Did your old driveway have drainage issues? The proper slope of your driveway should be approximately 18 inches of fall for every 100 feet of length away from the home to allow for proper drainage all year round, avoiding potential damage to your home’s foundation. Underdrains are usually unnecessary, but can be used if special circumstances require them.
With proper planning and the right materials, a driveway should get off to the right start and stay smooth and clean for years to come.
Choose The Right Materials
Not all asphalt is the same! There isn’t just one formula, which is a one-mix-fits-all solution. The right mix can depend on the type of traffic the asphalt is receiving, the amount of weight the asphalt has to bear (ie: the required material strength), and the weather conditions it would have to stand up to. For example, the type of mix required for the relatively warm conditions found in Windsor, ON, is vastly different when compared to the much colder climate of Lynn Lake, MB.
What About Sealing?
Sealing is always recommended for any driveway, but should not be completed immediately. Your asphalt needs the proper time to cure before the sealant goes on; otherwise, you will be locking in oils, which allow the asphalt to be flexible when applied. This means that your driveway will be softer and vulnerable to impressions from heavy objects.
As a result, it is generally suggested to seal your driveway at least three months after paving, and it’s not unusual to wait six to nine months. If your driveway was installed in the fall, the first winter will likely not affect your new driveway greatly, as these oils keep your driveway relatively elastic and far less prone to cracking and breaking. Small cracks and holes are considered normal over this period, and can be easily repaired with a standard driveway filler kit. The best weather for a seal coat is a warm, dry summer day, usually towards the evening.
Find A Reputable Contractor
All of this knowledge is of no use to you unless you can find a contractor who understands and will complete your work in the way you wish for it to be done. Always sit down with the contractor and draw up a quote to ensure you know exactly what work will be performed. The hired contractor must be comfortable with every aspect of the job, including any necessary excavation, obtaining the right materials and asphalt, and laying all materials with the appropriate thickness.
Don’t just pick the first contractor you see, check their online reviews and ask for references who can back up their work. You should be comfortable paying a little bit more for a company who does good quality work and backs it up with a solid warranty.
With the proper knowledge, planning, and the right contractor for the job, your home will gain a valuable investment that should last you for years to come.
Leticia Nalukwata, is a creative powerhouse behind entrepreneurs and small businesses helping them communicate their services to discover their brand voice through copy-editing and content creation. When she’s not working, you can find her at your nearest coffee-shop indulging in a latte macchiato.