Driveway Paving Services and Repair
Let's face it, first impressions matter. That's why your driveway is one of the most important elements of your home's exterior.
To help you make a well-informed decision about which material (Asphalt vs. Concrete) will be the best choice for your driveway paving installation, below are some key points about these common types of paving surfaces:
Asphalt is a composite material that is comprised of a mixture of "bituminous pitch" (a black, sticky, oil-based substance) along with aggregates such as crushed rocks, sand, or gravel. Also referred to as "blacktop", asphalt pavement is one of the most popular choices for driveways due to its cost-effectiveness and durability.
Far from being a newly invented material, asphalt (in one form or another) has been in use for literally thousands of years. Interestingly enough, there are archaeological records dating back to the 6th century B.C., in which a stone inscription from the ancient Babylonian Empire described a street being paved with "asphalt and burned brick".
Today, asphalt is the surface covering of choice for roughly 94% of all the paved roads in the United States and it is always on the short list for homeowners who are looking for an attractive and low-cost paving option for their driveway.
Advantages of Asphalt Driveways
1. Highly Economical
Asphalt is one of the most cost-effective building materials in existence. As a matter of fact, among the different surface coverings that are frequently used for driveway paving, asphalt ranks as the least expensive. This is not only true in terms of the actual cost of the material but also in terms of installation speed and service availability.
A typical asphalt driveway can be installed in 1 or 2 days, depending on the size and scope of the project. After installation, your new driveway should be ready to use in approximately 24 to 36 hours. Not bad compared to a concrete driveway which normally takes a week to cure.
The exact amount of time you will need to stay off the freshly paved surface can depend on several factors, the biggest one being the time of year and weather conditions.
If the asphalt is installed during a hot summer, it will take longer to cure since the warmer air and ground temperature will slow the cooling process. But if the blacktop is laid during the winter or lower temperatures, it can obviously speed up the cooling process significantly.
2. Excellent Durability
Asphalt is highly weather-resistant and is not subject to pavement issues such as surface flaking, which can happen if concrete is not installed properly. In addition, asphalt is inherently flexible which makes it less susceptible to cracking as it can bend and adapt to extreme temperatures much better than concrete.
This durability can be further bolstered by sticking to a regular maintenance plan in which the asphalt is resealed by using what's known as "blacktop sealcoating". If this resealing is performed every two to four years, your asphalt driveway can easily have a healthy lifespan of 15 to 20 years or more.
It should be noted, however, that a large part of your asphalt's durability will come down to the quality of the installation. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional paving contractor to not only install the asphalt, but regularly maintain it as well.
3. Low Maintenance Costs
Asphalt is less expensive to maintain than other surface coverings and as mentioned earlier, it offers a lower risk of cracking due to its flexible consistency. In addition, the costs needed to reseal an asphalt surface are usually lower than its pavement competitors.
Another benefit of using asphalt is that patches are far less visible on an asphalt surface versus concrete and its black color can also hide unsightly stains (e.g. oil leaks) far better than lighter materials.
4. Melts Snow Quicker
Since asphalt has such a naturally dark color, it draws and absorbs far more of the sun's energy than other pavement surfaces such as concrete. This means that during the winter season, asphalt can retain and release that heat, allowing snow to melt faster than it would on a lighter surface.
This can really come in handy if you live in an area that regularly gets clobbered by heavy snowstorms during the cold winter months. After all, it's much better to let the sun and the asphalt do most of the work for you instead of reaching for the snow shovel right away!
Asphalt is a renewable resource, which means that it can be recycled over and over again as needed. In this respect, the lifespan of asphalt is theoretically limitless. Old asphalt surfaces that are no longer in service are often dug up and processed into aggregate material for new asphalt. This produces a net neutral effect on the environment as less material is being added to landfills thanks to proper recycling practices.
Asphalt Driveway Installation
As we noted above, your best bet to ensure a successful and high-quality asphalt driveway installation is to hire a qualified and experienced paving contractor.
One of the first steps your contractor will take is to assess the slope and pitch of the installation area to ensure proper water runoff. Along with sorting out the drainage issue, your paving contractor will also begin to prepare and compact the subgrade soil.
Once this is done, a subbase will then be laid down to ensure a stable foundation that can support the asphalt pavement. This subbase also acts as a thermal barrier that can protect against freezing and thawing cycles that are often the ruin of many poorly-installed driveways.
After preparing the subbase, your contractor will then lay the asphalt down in accordance with the proper installation timelines and temperatures. Like we mentioned earlier, it normally only takes about 1-2 days to install an asphalt driveway and it can usually be put into service within 24-36 hours after installation.
Asphalt Driveways: Bottom Line
Asphalt is not only a durable and wallet-friendly surface covering, but it also carries a sleek, clean, and modern look that can lend an air of sophistication to virtually any home's exterior. Traditionally speaking, asphalt only comes in one color (black), but new sealant technology has been developed that offers a variety of color choices.
If you're considering asphalt as a surface covering for your driveway, be sure to connect with an experienced paving contractor to perform the installation. This is the best way to ensure the highest degree of longevity and structural soundness for your driveway installation.
Poured concrete driveways are extremely common across the U.S. and for good reason: They're highly durable, cost-effective, and they require only a minimal amount of maintenance to stay looking great for decades.
You've probably heard of concrete driveways also being referred to as "cement driveways" but this is a slight misnomer. Cement is actually one of several ingredients that go into the composite mixture that we all know as concrete.
The other materials are crushed rocks (often called "aggregate"), sand, along with the most important substance that allows it all to come together – water. A poured concrete driveway is basically an area that has been layered over with – you guessed it – poured concrete, creating one solid slab of material that covers the entire length and width of the intended pavement surface.
The concrete is normally poured to an average thickness of about 4 inches, although this can be modified depending upon the load-bearing requirements of the driveway.
In other words, if the area is designed to hold multiple heavy vehicles, this thickness can be increased to handle the additional weight. In fact, simply increasing the thickness of a poured concrete slab from four to five inches can boost its load-bearing capacity by nearly 50 percent!
Advantages of Poured Concrete Driveways
1. Longevity and Low Maintenance
In terms of longevity, concrete is the king of surface coverings. It usually takes quite a long time for cracks to emerge in a concrete driveway, and it's very rare for potholes to form. If the installation is performed correctly, most structural problems should be almost non-existent, and your biggest concerns will more than likely be minor issues such as stain removal.
2. Favorable Temperature Control
Concrete has a naturally light color, which helps to reflect a lot of the heat from the sun during warmer months. This means that you can often walk barefoot on concrete in the summertime without burning your feet – something that we don't suggest attempting on a scorching hot blacktop driveway!
3. Better Visibility
If you're pulling up to your house at night and your child has left a toy in the driveway, it's going to be hard to see it on a dark-colored surface like asphalt. But the lighter color of concrete helps various objects, animals, and even people stand out at night, giving you much better visibility and reducing potential safety risks.
4. Excellent Color Options
One of the most popular reasons for choosing poured concrete as a surface covering is because there are so many different color options to choose from. While the classic gray or white concrete driveways are standard favorites, many homeowners are catching on to the various decorative colors that harmonize well with the overall look of their home.
In fact, your paving contractor can stain the concrete in whatever tone or color you see fit, which can lend a warm and welcoming look to your home's exterior.
We are living in an era where more attention is being paid to environmental issues than ever before, and people are looking for new ways to make their lives more eco-friendly every day. In terms of environmental sustainability, it's hard to beat the advantages of using poured concrete as a surface covering.
Just think about it: The concrete mixture itself is made of natural, renewable resources (e.g., water, sand, natural rock, etc.), and many times the cement and aggregates can be made from recycled or waste materials as well including silica fume, ground blast furnace slag, and/or fly ash.
Not only that but as mentioned earlier, concrete has a naturally lighter color that promotes higher light reflectivity, which can reduce what's known as the "heat island effect" (i.e., higher temperatures due to heat retention) in urban areas.
In addition, a properly installed concrete surface covering can last for several decades, which reduces the overall amount of materials being consumed over the lifespan of the pavement. Even at the end of its useful life, old concrete can often be crushed and recycled into aggregate for new concrete or granular fill.
Life Expectancy of Poured Concrete Driveways
A poured concrete driveway – when properly installed and maintained – can last anywhere from 25 to 30 years on average.
There are several variables that can affect the longevity of your concrete driveway including the overall quality of the installation, stability of the subgrade and subbase, water drainage issues, weather and climate factors, etc.
That being said, it is generally recommended that you seal your concrete every 5 years after the initial installation, as this can prolong your driveway's lifespan by slowing down the process of deterioration. Since sealing concrete is also a specialized task that requires a commercial-grade sealant, you should also leave this task up to a qualified paving contractor.
Poured Concrete Driveways: Bottom Line
Poured concrete driveways are one of the most budget-friendly, resilient, and low-maintenance surface coverings around and they can instantly enhance the look of your property.
Should you decide on poured concrete as the pavement of choice for your driveway, your contractor will go through several stages including preparing the subgrade and subbase, setting up the forms (giving structure to the finished product), pouring the actual concrete, and then allowing it to cure.
Pouring (aka "placing") and finishing concrete is a very demanding process that requires several specialized tools and a solid understanding of the timing factors that are involved to complete each step of the process. Not to mention it requires a whole lot of hard work.
As you can imagine, when you're working with a semi-liquid material that is hardening by the second, you need to prepare very carefully so that you don't end up with a driveway paving disaster through poorly timed finishing operations.
For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you enlist the help of a qualified and experienced paving contractor to install your concrete driveway for you. This will ensure the highest level of workmanship for your installation, and it can save you a ton of headaches in terms of preventing structural and/or surface defects down the road.
Concrete paver driveways are comprised of several tiles or brick-like pieces of concrete known as "paving stones" or more simply, "pavers". The concept of paving stones has been around since the days of antiquity, as many of the paved roads found in Ancient Rome were built by using thousands of blocks of cut stone.
In more modern times, the idea of covering roads with blocks of stone was improved upon after World War II, when the Dutch invented the concept of interlocking pavers.
As is the case with many of today's most useful ideas, this one came out of necessity as brick materials were in short supply immediately following the Second World War. As a result, the Dutch were forced to make due with the bits, chunks, and blocks that were available.
Not only that, but keep in mind that the entire region of Holland is below sea level which necessitates flexible roads since the ground shifts and sinks on a frequent basis. By fabricating a network of segmented, interlocking stones, they created a highly efficient surface covering that would prove to stand the test of time.
This is evidenced by the sheer number of paver roads in Europe, many of which are still in remarkably good shape even after more than 50 years of enduring heavy traffic.
Concrete pavers are comprised of gravel, sand, water and cement, but their texture and durability will differ based on the methods used to produce them. They are typically manufactured using a specialized machine-assisted process that presses a concrete mixture into a mold under intensely high pressure.
According to industry standards, pavers must carry a compressive strength of at least 8,000 psi (pounds per square inch), which is roughly four times stronger than that of poured concrete. Their exceptional strength and high density make them a perfect candidate for bearing heavy loads, since their interlocking design distributes weight and load stresses across a large area.
Combine this with the fact that they can flex and move with the ground beneath them, and you can easily see why concrete pavers are considered to be some of the most durable surface coverings on the planet.
They come in a virtually endless array of sizes, colors and shapes, and many pavers are manufactured to mimic the look of naturally occurring materials, giving homeowners a wide range of options to match whatever creative preferences they might have.
Concrete Pavers: What About Maintenance?
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of using interlocking paving stones for your driveway is the low level of maintenance required to keep the area looking good. You can easily maintain your paver installation by regularly sweeping and occasionally rinsing off the surface.
If you run into some particularly tough stains, you can simply pressure wash the area using an appropriate cleaning solution, or try spot-cleaning it using a brush and some type of eco-friendly solvent.
In terms of repair scenarios due to damage, your paving contractor can simply remove the defective stone(s), regrade and recompact the base, and then install new pavers in their place. This is far more convenient than having to break up a large slab of concrete with a jackhammer in order to begin the repair or replacement process.
The flexibility of having several small units also comes in handy for any work that needs to be done on underground utility lines or drain lines. Once again, all your paving contractor would have to do is just remove the necessary stones, and then reinstate them when the repairs have been completed.
No major service interruptions required and no unsightly patches sticking out like a sore thumb!
How Concrete Pavers Work: Understanding the Interlocking System
One of the main things that makes concrete pavers such a strong and durable surface covering is the fact that they are interlocked.
To get a good picture of how this interlocking system works, first imagine having a sheet of sandpaper in each hand. Then press your hands together so that the gritty side of each sheet is in contact with the other one. Now try to rub them back and forth – you will quickly discover that they won't budge.
This is the basic premise behind how interlocking pavers work; they are installed using a machine called a "vibratory plate compactor" and then the joints between them are filled with compacted sand. This creates a powerful interlocking system that allows the entire installation to act as flexible "web" of paving stones.
This flexible structure has the advantage of being able to withstand minor shifts and movements in the soil beneath them, which helps to minimize cracking and settling issues. This compacted sand also acts as a stabilizing force that keeps the position of the pavers intact, so that you won't experience that shaky or wobbly feeling when you step on the stones.
The Weather Resistance of Concrete Pavers
Concrete pavers can be used in practically any climate, but they are particularly useful in areas that get heavy snowfall as they are resilient enough to withstand frequent freezing and thawing cycles.
You can also plow, blow, or shovel snow on concrete pavers, just the same way you can with poured concrete or asphalt driveways. Since concrete pavers have beveled or sloping edges, you won't have to worry about snagging your snow shovel on one of the stones when you're trying to clear your driveway in winter.
In addition, concrete pavers are naturally slip-resistant which can really come in handy if you're dealing with rainy or snowy conditions.
Versatility of Concrete Pavers
Not only are concrete pavers beautiful to look at, but as you can see they offer a myriad of functional benefits as well. With the extensive amount of colors and laying pattern options that are available, you can customize a look to suit the aesthetics of almost any home's unique exterior.
Installing concrete pavers is a very tedious and exacting job with many details to consider. Therefore, it's always a good idea to leave the installation in the capable hands of an experienced paving professional. This will ensure the highest level of structural quality and longevity for your new driveway.
Driveway Paving: Bottom Line
As you can see, there are distinct benefits to each of the paving materials covered above (asphalt, poured concrete, and concrete pavers). Which one you choose should be based on your individual needs and budget.
Asphalt vs. Concrete Driveways
|Less expensive but requires more upkeep.|
Average cost $3-$6 per square foot.
|More expensive but requires less upkeep. Average cost $4-$10 per square foot.|
|Average lifespan up to 15-20 years with proper maintenance.||Average lifespan up to 25-30 years with proper maintenance.|
|Easy to repair. Sealcoating recommended every 2-4 years.||Difficult to repair. Should be sealed every 5 years.|
|Normally installed within 24-48 hours. Ready for use in 1-3 days.||Normally installed within 24-36 hours. Ready for use in 7 days.|
|Flexible pavement is less likely to crack and highly weather resistant.||Rigid pavement is extremely durable and exceptionally strong.|
|Ideal for colder climates as it melts snow faster, can expand/contract with temperature changes, and won't deteriorate from salt use. Prone to softening in hot climates.||Ideal for warmer climates as it will not overheat and soften in hot temperatures. Prone to cracking from freeze-thaw cycles and salt can damage it.|
|Limited finishing options available but dark color makes it easier to maintain a neat appearance and hide stains.||Many finishing options and colors available but typical light gray surface can stain easily and show every imperfection.|
No matter which paving material you decide to go with, your best bet for ensuring a successful driveway investment is to enlist the help of one of our qualified and trusted paving contractors. With their help, you can create a stunning, one-of-a-kind look for your driveway that will turn heads and set the overall tone for the look, feel, and value of your property.
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