Many streets, and even some driveways, are constructed of asphalt. Asphalt is a mixture of aggregate (rocks) and tar, which is heated, poured, and smoothed out by large heavy machinery. The result is pavement with few or no joints that is smooth, quicker to install, and less expensive than concrete. It’s the perfect paving solution, right? If the soil conditions were perfect – and stayed that way – it could be!
Asphalt pavement contains tar, which is much more plastic-like than concrete. It can expand and contract without many issues, which is why there are few or no joints in the pavement when it is first installed. However, the stability of asphalt is much more dependent on the soil beneath for support. If the soil moves or erodes, the asphalt driveway will be affected. After a few years, you may start to see cracks and potholes. After several years of wear, the entire driveway may need to be replaced.
Large-scale replacement of asphalt driveway pavement requires heavy equipment and lots of room for materials. The existing pavement must be removed by scraping it up and sending off to be recycled. The soil must be reconditioned, usually with the addition of materials, to harden and restabilize it. This additive is commonly referred to as “soil cement” and appears white and powdery. It is tilled into the soil, graded smooth, and then new asphalt is installed. Severe problem areas will need to be dug out, replaced, compacted, and restabilized. Broken sewer or drainage lines must be repaired, and nearby trees that can affect the driveway may have to be removed. The new driveway can be operational as soon as the equipment is out of the way.
Repairing and/or replacing an asphalt driveway is a large undertaking that can be accomplished by an experienced asphalt paving contractor. Your contractor should be experienced, and specialize in small projects or residential development – since most asphalt paving contractors are associated with larger construction projects like highways and commercial parking lots. If you are considering this kind of project and need assistance, your state licensing board for contractors should prove to be a reliable source for locating a contractor.