Asphalt Paving FAQs
What is the difference between resurfacing and sealcoating my drive?
The main difference is that resurfacing/ rehabilitation is a structural repair that will extend the useful life of your asphalt surface. It entails the patching (if necessary) and resurfacing of the entire surface with a new overlay of 1 ½” to 3″ of hot bituminous asphalt. Sealcoating is not a structural repair and may be likened to painting your house. The sealcoat protects and extends the life of your asphalt, but does nothing to correct structural flaws. Sealcoating, accordingly, is substantially less expensive than resurfacing your drive.
Can I get asphalt in gray or any color other than black?
Essentially all asphalt is black. When the aggregates (stone) are mixed together with hot asphalt cement, the mass of material becomes black. Over time, as the asphalt oxidizes, the coating on the aggregates breaks down and the color of the aggregate starts to show through. This can lead to a ‘grayish’ color if the asphalt plant uses a light color aggregate.
When can I drive on my new drive?
Your new asphalt surface can take more than 30 days to cure depending on temperature variations from night to day. In general, however, you should be able to drive on the surface after two to three days if you are careful. (See tire scuff marks below)
My car left tire scuffmarks. Are they permanent?
Tire scuffmarks are caused when you turn your car’s steering wheel while the car is stationary. If it is a hot day and the asphalt has not completely cured, the surface will get a blemish like grinding your heel into a soft substance. Over time, most of this will become less noticeable.
Why does asphalt appear to have different textures in different areas?
Asphalt is comprised of roughly 95% varying sized aggregates and 5% black asphalt cement. While the mixes we use are all state approved, the appearance and characteristics of the mixes from any of the 62 asphalt plants in Maryland will vary. It is natural to expect a variation in the surface texture of the asphalt between loads and in different areas of a paved surface.
Why do I see roller marks on my surface?
A critical aspect of producing a long lasting job is the achievement of the proper compaction of your surface. 90% compaction is ideal. Sometimes the rollers leave ‘streaks’ or marks on the drive. These are temporary and will become less noticeable over several months.
What can I do about poor drainage on my drive?
As a frame of reference, good drainage requires a minimum of 2% ‘fall’ for water to run off properly. In plain English this means that the grade (angle) of the driveway should have a ¼” decline for each foot of pavement… i.e. a 10 foot wide section of asphalt should decline 2 ½” to have the water run off properly. Many driveways do not have this amount of grade and water ponds accordingly. There are a variety of solutions to this including drains, swales and curbs. In areas with less than 2% fall, ponding water is to be expected.
Why shouldn’t I pave my driveway during the colder winter months?
When asphalt is mixed at the plant, it is super heated to in excess of 325° F. By the time it is put in a truck, shipped to the job site and installed on your project, it should still be a minimum of 250° to allow it to be properly compacted. Ambient air temperature and the temperature of the ground both play a significant role in how long the asphalt is ‘workable’ and can be properly compacted. This can range from several hours on a hot summer day to 10 minutes on a chilly fall morning.
What should I do to help prevent the edges of my driveway from cracking?
The edges or ‘shoulders’ of your drive are one of the most vulnerable areas of the drive. If you put a lot of weight on the edge (say by driving your car or lawn mower right to the edge), there is the possibility that the edge will crack or break off if it is not properly supported. We try to help the situation by creating a ‘beveled edge’ on the side of the drive with a 45° angle to defuse the pressure. You can help by installing seeded topsoil against the finished height of the asphalt once the job is completed.
Our car is leaking oil on the asphalt and it is causing it to deteriorate. Why is this happening?
Asphalt is a petroleum based product and oils, gasoline and brake fluids act like a solvent, causing the surface to soften and become more susceptible to damage.
I have grass growing in my new drive. How can this happen?
Properly compacted asphalt has 10% air voids in it. If a seed of grass gets into the mix and germinates – viola! – We have grass. The best thing to do is spray the area with ‘Round Up’ to kill the grass.
My driveway has areas that are deteriorating. Should I wait a year or two and get the entire driveway resurfaced or address these specific areas now?
Much like the repair of rot in a piece of wood on your house exterior, it is significantly cheaper to repair deteriorated areas before they start to spread than to wait and rehabilitate the entire drive. Typically a dollar spent on repairs in the first half of a driveway’s life will cost $4 to $5 to repair at a later date.
I am concerned about the aesthetics of patching my drive. Will it look OK?
This is one of the trickiest questions we get. And the answer is ‘it depends’! Once we patch part of your drive, it will be a black area in the midst of your existing graying surface. If your driveway has been sealcoated previously, the new asphalt will also have a more porous texture. This does not bother some people, as they know that they are protecting the investment that they have in their driveway. Others see it as an eyesore and have the whole driveway resurfaced or sealcoated after the patching is completed.
Is there an environmentally friendly way to resurface my driveway with asphalt?
‘Environmentally friendly’ is a term subject to many interpretations, but – yes – some asphalt is more environmentally friendly than others. Aurora utilizes a foamed asphalt stabilized base (FASB) product for its base asphalt on certain projects. This is manufactured in a cold mix process incorporating recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) aggregates and has been approved for credits towards LEED certification. For more information see www.greenmixasphaltinc.com.
When should I sealcoat my new drive?
This is generally a function of the amount of direct sunlight and traffic that an area gets. As a rule of thumb, a surface should not need sealcoating more than every three or four years. Once a driveway has been sealcoated too many times, it becomes very smooth and slick when it rains.
Can I get my driveway sealcoated in any color other than black?
No. We have many calls for this, but as Henry Ford said ” you can have it in any color you want, as long as it is black”. Recently a more environmentally friendly light grey sealer (less heat retention) has been under development for commercial uses, but this is very expensive and has not been utilized very extensively.
What are the pros and cons of using asphalt versus concrete for my drive?
Color aside, we believe that this is primarily a question of personal taste, but there are two primary differences.
Asphalt is a flexible surface that has the ability to flex with use and slight movements of the base. Concrete relies on its own internal strength to absorb loads and bridge weaknesses in the sub-base.
Concrete costs significantly more than an asphalt surface of comparable strength.
Can I put an asphalt surface over my old concrete drive?
Yes. This can be done if the concrete has not deteriorated too much, but there is a caveat. Concrete has expansion joints and when the concrete ‘moves’, it will reflect up through the asphalt and crack. We can put a Petrotac paving fabric over these joints to retard this cracking, but sooner or later it will show through.
The alternative is to excavate the entire concrete drive and rebuild an asphalt or concrete drive from the base up, but this is an expensive proposition.