Commonly Asked Questions about Paving a New Driveway with Asphalt

Asphalt can be a good alternative to concrete when it comes to your home's driveway, as the material is very flexible and bends and shifts with the soil underneath it while concrete can get very brittle and crack with shifting soil. Asphalt may also be a good choice in colder climates because of its softer texture, as extreme cold may also cause concrete to crack more readily. Before you're ready to have a driveway paved with asphalt, note a few questions you might ask your contractor. This will ensure you know what to expect and can keep your asphalt looking its best for years to come.

1. How can asphalt be protected from cracks and damage?

While asphalt may be softer and less brittle than concrete, it can still crack and be damaged over time. One thing that many homeowners find surprising is that they need to avoid oil spills on their asphalt more than anything. This is because asphalt is a petroleum-based product, and oils can dissolve the cement or adhesive that holds the asphalt together. This means asphalt can actually fall apart due to these spills. 

It's also good to address cracks as soon as you notice them, as allowing water to pool inside them can cause the asphalt to get softer and then crack or break up even more. 

2. Can asphalt be installed in any weather?

In most cases, light rain and cold weather don't interfere with asphalt paving. However, if the ground is frozen, this can make installation difficult as the ground would eventually thaw and the resulting moisture might damage the asphalt. If you're concerned about inclement weather interfering with your scheduled installation, ask your contractor about their preferences, but don't assume that the installation can only take place during summer.

3. Is thicker asphalt safer and more durable?

Thicker asphalt can be more durable, but usually the foundation where the asphalt will be poured is even more important than the thickness of the material. A contractor may add more gravel to the asphalt to make it more durable or may take extra time to compact the soil of a driveway before installation. These can be just as important as putting down a thick layer of asphalt when it comes to making it durable and keeping it from cracking or buckling.

Your asphalt paving contractor can give you the best advice on how to protect your asphalt from damage over the years, but keep these points in mind as well.