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A paved driveway is an investment that can last decades with minimal required upkeep, but achieving the best end result requires careful consideration during every phase of the project. Avoid derailing the project from the beginning by fully planning out the driveway. Then consider which materials will be used and weigh the higher costs of premium options against the benefits. Use construction best practices and proper aftercare to protect the new driveway. Correctly paving a driveway also entails considering external factors such as local weather patterns.
Paving a driveway begins well before cement is poured onto the ground. Be sure to fully conceptualize the project on paper before embarking on the construction. If laying a new driveway, consider how much land is available to spare. If the project involves only resurfacing, consider whether the driveway shape will change. Also think about the size of the vehicles that will use the driveway; larger trucks may require a wider path.
Once the driveway is planned, decide on the materials that will be used. Driveways may be paved with a variety of materials including concrete and asphalt; decide on an option early in the process. Each material will have high- and low-end options to choose from. Decide whether the higher cost now is worth the likelihood that the driveway will last longer without imperfections; at the same time, be aware that high-quality materials alone do not guarantee a problem-free driveway.
Do not skimp on site preparation once construction begins. Paved driveways generally need adequate drainage to prevent damage from occurring later. Before paving the driveway, consider hiring a professional to evaluate whether the area has proper drainage.
After drainage is confirmed, be sure the subgrade — i.e., the ground immediately beneath the paving material — is sufficient. Driveways that will bear heavier loads need more subgrade. The surface also must be smooth and free of all top soil, leaves, weeds, and plants. Any organic material that remains in the subgrade can decay and cause subsequent damage.
When asphalt or concrete is used for paving a driveway, pour the material soon after it arrives to prevent it from drying out. Be sure a proper ground cover is achieved, the thickness of which will depend on the load the driveway is expected to bear. For asphalt driveways, compact the material immediately until the driveway is smooth. For concrete driveways, work a smoother over the surface to ensure that low spots do not emerge.
Most driveways will need to be cured for several days after the paving. Do not walk or drive on the surface. Curing allows the materials to fully set and helps avoid indentations and structural damage. After curing is complete, consider sealing the driveway. Doing so helps prevent water and extreme weather from compromising the structural integrity of the pathway.
Conscientiousness about planning and construction when paving a driveway is important, but external factors should not be ignored either. One of the most common causes of paved driveway damage comes from weather. Consider weather patterns, including likelihood of rain, frost, or extremely hot temperatures. Most projects should also take place during dry and mildly warm days to thwart early weather damage.
When paving a driveway, don't underestimate the importance of making sure that you have a smooth, clear ground where you will be laying the pavement. If you have lumpy soil, you will risk future damage occurring in your driveway that will eventually result in the need to repave it.
I paved my own driveway once, and it wasn't a good idea. Though I have some basic skills when it comes to working with concrete and asphalt, the driveway was a much bigger job than I was accustomed to doing. The finished driveway always looked crooked, and it eventually cracked and chipped in several places.
When it comes to paving a driveway, the bottom line is that you will be better off hiring a professional if you aren't one yourself. If you contact several paving professionals in your area and get bids on the project, you will be able to find a good deal on getting the job done.
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