What is asphalt and how is it made?

Asphalt is an engineered mixture of aggregate, consisting of stone, sand, and liquid asphalt cement, which is a petroleum product similar to tar or oil.  Various sizes of aggregate are mixed with the asphalt cement and heated at a state approved asphalt plant.  The asphalt is then delivered by truck to your driveway.  Once it has been installed and compacted, the mixture will cool and harden.

Aggregate size can further be classified as either fine-graded or dense-graded. Fine-graded mixes have more fine stone and sand sized particles than coarse-graded mixes.

#1 Dense Binder Type 7F Fine Top Asphalt

What will my new asphalt driveway look like?

Initially, the new asphalt surface will appear quite smooth, and a very dark black color. It is normal to see some of the aggregate or stone in the mix. It is normal to see some of the machine roller marks, and if a paving machine is used to install the asphalt it is normal to see part of the seam where the paver made multiple passes. Over time, due to weather and usage, the driveway will wear slightly and become a bit lighter in color, the roller marks will blend in and start to fade and the seam will become less noticeable the first time the driveway is sealed.

As years pass by, you will also begin to notice more of the aggregate showing through, and a slightly lighter, bluish-gray or tan coloration. This is all normal wear, and is to be expected. Simple maintenance, such as sealing the driveway and filling in the cracks, can be followed to keep the driveway protected and extend the life of the driveway.

What makes up a “finished” driveway?

A finished driveways consist of two (2) layers of asphalt which are installed at two different times.

The first layer of asphalt (or the Base of the driveway) to be installed is referred to as binder asphalt. As noted in the picture above, the first layer will be slightly thicker when installed and have slightly larger aggregate, consisting of larger dense/course rocks. Two and three-quarter (2 ¾) inches of binder are installed and then compacted with an industrial roller to two (2) inches. When the binder is installed it is left down 1 ½ inches from the garage floor and sidewalks. The reason this is done is to allow for room when the second layer of asphalt is installed the following year.

The second layer of asphalt (or the finished layer) to be installed is referred to as fine Top asphalt and is installed the following year. As noted in the picture above, the second layer will be thinner when installed and have smaller aggregate, consisting of smaller stones and sand. Two (2) inches of Fine Top asphalt are installed and then compacted with an industrial roller to one and one half (1 ½) inches. Installing the Top coat of asphalt will bring the level of the driveway up to the height of the garage and sidewalks.

Why should I wait one year in between the installation of the Binder and Top?

Waiting until the following year to install Top asphalt allows the Binder time to settle. Due to the area in which we live, the ground goes through many periods of freezing and thawing. These natural occurring circumstances may cause the Binder to settle, causing low areas. If settlement has occurred to the Binder repairs (if any) can be made prior to installation of the Top to insure that the finished product will last a long time.

How long should I keep vehicles off my new asphalt driveway?

You should try to keep off of the driveway for 5-6- days. If the temperature at night stays above 70 degrees, we suggest that you wait at least 1 week or longer before driving or parking on it.  Driving and parking on the driveway surface right away could cause tire marks and other impressions you may find unsightly later on.  Allowing the surface enough time to cool and harden will prevent most scaring from occurring.

Actually, the asphalt will continue to cure for the next 6 to 12 months but you do not have to wait that long to use the new surface. Since the asphalt will be pliable until it has hardened or fully cured, it is important to avoid the following:

  • Parking your car in the same spot every time.
  • Parking motorcycles and bicycles on the driveway where kickstands can penetrate the surface.
  • Parking a trailer or RV on the pavement without putting a piece of plywood beneath each wheel and trailer hitch to evenly distribute the weight.

What type of maintenance is required or suggested for my new asphalt driveway?

Your asphalt driveway should be relatively easy to maintain.  The first part of this is simply keeping the driveway clean and free of things like oil and gasoline drips, which can cause damage to the surface.  Broken or damaged areas should be checked regularly to see if they should be repaired.  Weeds and vegetation should be kept in check to prevent further cracking or heaving. The second part, is keeping the driveway sealed and protected.  Seal-coating the driveway helps maintain elasticity and prolong the drying process that causes asphalt to crack.  It also helps protect the asphalt from chemical and oil spills.   For best results, we suggest sealing the driveway about one year after it has been installed and then approximately every 2 years after that.  It is important not to seal-coat to often, as this will result in a build up of sealer, which may split and peel.

How long will my new asphalt driveway last?

How long the driveway will last depends on a few factors. Typically, with proper maintenance, an asphalt driveway should last between 10-15 years. Factors like sun and weather, usage and wear all take a toll on the life of your driveway. Although asphalt is strong and durable, it is also somewhat yielding. It will move and flex slightly with seasonal freezing and thawing, and it can sometimes scar from heavy weight or sharp objects. Over time, asphalt can become dry and brittle from the elements, therefore, the older it is, the more vulnerable it will become to cracking. With a little bit of maintenance, such as sealing and repairing damage early, you’ll be assured to get the most out your driveway.

How long will it take to install my driveway?

An average sized residential driveway can be installed in one day. If more than one day is required you will be notified in advance.

Once my driveway is installed, what are my payment options?

There is no down payment required before the job starts. Payment is due upon completion of the job. Payment can be made in the form of cash, check, visa or mastercard.