Driveways play an important role in your home’s appearance and accessibility, connecting it to the street and giving it that all-important curb appeal. Asphalt and concrete are two of the most popular driveway materials on account of their strength and durability, but to get the most out of these driveways, proper installation is essential. Here are some tips for working with these materials.
Use Appropriate Subgrade
Much like other types of construction, beginning with a proper foundation will directly impact your driveway’s longevity and condition. The subgrade is the layer of soil found beneath the driveway, and it is important to make sure it is uniform and graded and has been compacted thoroughly prior to laying the driveway itself. Because a properly installed base is so important for your driveway’s integrity, it is worth hiring professionals who have the right equipment and experience to properly compact the subgrade.
Mow Your Grass Ahead of Time and Turn the Sprinklers Off
Ideally, you will want to mow your grass a couple of days before the start of your driveway paving project so that grass clippings will not come into contact with your new driveway during the time it takes for it to cure fully. Another reason to start with freshly mowed grass is so you will not need to drive your lawn mower on your driveway while it is curing.
In addition, it is important to turn off any sprinklers so that the subgrade does not get saturated before the concrete is poured. If the project is taking place in fall, blow the leaves out of your yard so that they will not make their way into concrete while it is being poured and finished.
Lay Asphalt on a Warm and Dry Day
For asphalt driveways, it is important to ensure that you choose a warm and dry day for pouring. The ideal outdoor temperature depends not only on the temperature of the ground at the time of the work but also the thickness of the asphalt that will be laid. If you determine that the ground is not fully dry on the day you intend to carry out the project, it is best to reschedule it when the ground is drier.
Get the Right Thickness
The thickness of a driveway will directly affect its strength and stability over the years. The ideal thickness for a residential asphalt driveway is in the range of two to four inches. However, on driveways where heavy traffic is expected, it is best to aim for the higher end of this range for better support.
When pouring a concrete driveway, aim for a thickness of at least four inches. Although an additional inch beyond that may add 20% to the cost of your concrete, it will raise the load-carrying capacity of your driveway by almost 50%. It is a good idea to thicken the edges of the driveway by a couple of inches for extra structural support as this area will likely experience heavy loading.
Use Full-Depth Asphalt
A driveway that uses full-depth asphalt is made entirely of asphalt from the soil subbase and upward, which means there is no base made of a different material. This gives a driveway superior strength as well as the flexibility to stand up to changing temperatures, in addition to keeping water out.
These types of driveways provide excellent stability and should be poured to a thickness of five to six inches in layers, with thorough compacting between each one. If using full-depth asphalt to replace aggregate, use a ratio of one inch of asphalt pavement for every three inches of aggregate base.
Pay Attention to Grading
One of the biggest problems you may encounter with a poorly installed driveway is improper drainage. When water stands or pools on the driveway, it is not just frustrating for those who use it; it can also lead to cracks and potholes that may eventually cause the driveway to collapse.
One way of checking whether the driveway has been graded properly is running a steady stream of water down the middle of it with a garden hose. If the water naturally runs down and off to its sides, the driveway has been graded properly. If, however, water pools or collects in any sections of the driveway, the driveway may need to be regraded.
Stay Off of the Driveway Until It Dries Fully
Stay off of your new driveway until it has completely cooled and fully hardened. When blacktop is hot, it is far more vulnerable to damage. The specific amount of time that you need to avoid using the driveway depends on the weather conditions; when the outside temperature is hotter, it takes much longer for asphalt to properly cool and set.
When it comes to concrete, experts recommend waiting a week before driving on the driveway to ensure adequate time for curing. Although fresh concrete may appear set within just a few hours of being poured, it needs time to develop the strength it will need to resist weight and impact. Although the full curing period for concrete slab is actually closer to a month, a concrete driveway will be ready to handle most types of vehicles and foot traffic after about a week.
Keep in mind the curing time is also affected by factors such as the weather. Concrete cures best when temperatures are above 50 degrees and will take longer in cooler temperatures. The water-to-cement ratio used in the concrete mix will also determine how long it takes to cure fully.
Work With the Garage Door Open
When paving a driveway with concrete or asphalt, it is important to work with the garage door open so that the driveway can be poured up to the garage floor. Leaving the door open facilitates the creation of a nice edge on the driveway where it meets the garage.
Discuss Your Project With the Northern Virginia Driveway Paving Experts
Make sure your driveway is ready to stand the test of time by enlisting the help of paving professionals. The experienced driveway pavers at Dirt Connections can help with residential and commercial paving projects of all sizes in Northern Virginia. Call us to discuss your project and learn more about our services.