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3 Keys to Installing a Long-Lasting Asphalt Driveway

When it comes to residential paving projects, asphalt remains one of the most popular choices. Not only does asphalt yield an attractive, jet-black appearance, but its durability is second to none. Of course, in order to ensure the longest possible lifespan, an asphalt driveway must be installed by a true professional.

You see, many asphalt surfaces fall short of their potential due to improper or insufficient installation. If you would like to learn more about what separates an experienced asphalt contractor from a mere dabbler, read on. This article will discuss three keys to ensuring a long lasting asphalt driveway.

Base Layer of Gravel

It’s important to realize that an asphalt surface will only be as stable as the substance on top of which it is installed. Inexperienced asphalt contractors, as well as those who offer prices too low to be true, often cut corners by installing asphalt right on top of the soil. This tactic will lead to premature asphalt failure no matter how well compacted and leveled the soil happens to be.

The problem here has to do with the structural stability of soil. Over time, the soil will begin to shift and settle as the result of changes in hydration. This can leave the asphalt dangerously under-supported in certain areas. Soon, problems such as raveling, potholes, and cracks will begin to form, necessitating expensive and complex forms of repair.

A knowledgeable contractor knows that asphalt should always be installed on top of a bed of crushed gravel. This gravel should always possess a thickness of at least 6 inches. It must also be carefully compacted to ensure that it is entirely stable before installing the asphalt.
Not only will the gravel provide a hard and stable foundation for the asphalt, but it will help to promote the safe drainage of water trickling down through the ground.

Gravel Width

One of the most common places for an asphalt driveway to experience damage is along its edges. Known as edge cracks, this problem is generally caused by the weight of vehicles passing over the outer portions of asphalt. This causes the asphalt to crack or crumble outward into the dirt that adjoins the pavement.

Edge cracks occur at a much higher frequency for those whose driveway does not have a wide enough gravel base. If the gravel is only as wide as the asphalt, it will make it much easier for the asphalt to collapse outward under pressure. For that reason, experienced installers know to create a gravel base that is at least a foot wider than the asphalt driveway itself. This additional support will minimize the likelihood of edge cracks.

Geotextile Fabric

That layer of gravel beneath your asphalt will do wonders for preventing water-related problems. That's because it will promote better drainage, thus keeping water out of contact with the asphalt itself. But as time goes on, the soil will begin to fill the gaps between the chunks of gravel. This soil will act to retain water, thus reducing the gravel’s effectiveness at promoting drainage.

In order to keep dirt safely beneath the gravel base, savvy contractors often install a layer of geotextile fabric beneath the compacted gravel. Geotextile is a type of landscaping fabric known for its toughness and durability. Its tight weave ensures that soil particles are not able to pass through it. In other words, a layer of geotextile fabric will adequately prevent dirt from impacting the drainage abilities of your gravel.

When it comes to hiring a company to install an asphalt driveway, there are far more important things to look for than price alone. Hiring a company with a history of competent and professional work is the best way to ensure that you get the results you deserve. For more information on installing a long-lasting asphalt driveway, contact the paving experts at Wenger Paving, INC.