- Whether your driveway is newly built or an overlay on top of an old driveway, it is probably 1 to 2 inches of hot mix asphalt concrete. The asphalt concrete contains aggregate (stone), asphalt (often referred to as "tar"), and a variety of additives designed to make it last longer.
A properly constructed and properly maintained asphalt driveway can last more than 25 years, so it's well worth your while to follow these tips. They'll help you get the greatest return on your pavement investment.
1. Help your driveway "cure".
Depending on the temperature and humidity of the air, your new driveway should be allowed to cure 48 to 78 hours. Keeping people, cars, bikes, etc. off it during that time is important.
Asphalt pavements are "flexible" pavements, which means they will adapt their shape to the surface beneath them and things placed on the pavement that concentrate weight on a small area. This is especially important in the hot weather. Avoid: Parking your car in the same spot all the time.
Parking motorcycles and bicycles on the driveway (kickstands can penetrate the surface).
Sitting in lawn chairs on pavement.
Wearing high-heeled shoes on pavement.
Parking a trailer or boat on the pavement without putting a piece of plywood beneath each wheel and the trailer hitch to diffuse the weight. The same holds true when using a car jack.
Over time your new driveway will become less "tender", but it will always remain flexible.
2. Make sure the driveway's edges offer support to the pavement.
Sometimes a newly built driveway will be one or more inches higher than the adjacent lawn. As you dive back and forth you put pressure horizontally as well as vertically on the pavement. Because this driveway edge is unsupported, it eventually crack, causing your driveway to prematurely deteriorate. You can eliminate this problem by filling dirt in along the unsupported areas. Place the dirt and then tamp it down. This will support the driveway's edge, offering resistance to horizontal pressure of your car.
3. Pay close attention to all pavement cracks.
Because of the nature of asphalt pavement, your driveway will eventually experience some type of cracking. Cracks are the first step in pavement deterioration. They allow moisture ,chemicals such as gasoline and oil, and the sun's ultra-violet rays to penetrate the asphalt concrete. This accelerates pavement breakdown. Proper repair of cracks 1/4 in wide or larger is the first step to successful driveway maintenance.
Contractors are experienced in the cleaning and repair of cracks, and your best bet is to have them repair the cracks for you. They know the methods, have the tools, and have access to high-quality professional products. Crack sealing is an art in itself, and to get the best return on your driveway investment, have professional contractor do the work.
4. Sealcoat your driveway.
Seal coating is the method of protecting your asphalt pavement by applying a coating to the pavement surface. Oftentimes homeowners try to do this themselves, but hiring a pavement maintenance professional will give you better results.
The professional contractor understands pavement, know how the sealer works, and is trained to help stop small problems. He knows the proper techniques to prepare the pavement and apply sealer, he owns and knows how to use the necessary tools, and he also uses a top-quality professional sealing product.