If you’re planning on installing asphalt driveway paving, there are a few tips that can make your installation a lot easier and help your new driveway last years longer. Timing is everything when putting down asphalt. It’s important to plan the installation of your blacktop driveway during warmer weather to be sure it cures properly. The ideal air temperature for a layer of asphalt that is 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) thick or less is 70° Fahrenheit (21.11° Celsius) while a layer of 2 inches (5.08 cm) or more can be put down in temperatures as low as 40° Fahrenheit (4.44° Celsius). Moisture can also be an issue, because asphalt installation requires dry conditions.
A key element in putting down asphalt driveway paving is the foundation material. If you have clay soil, an 8-inch (20.32-cm) base of crushed stone will be needed; only 4 inches (10.16 cm) of crushed stone is required for sandy soil. This stone base is the most important part of the driveway. The asphalt layer only needs to be 2 or 3 inches (5.08 to 7.61 cm) thick and actually serves as a top dressing for the layer of stone.
The foundation, or base layer, of crushed stone will also need to be graded to allow for the runoff of rain and melting snow. Proper drainage is necessary for the longevity of asphalt driveway paving. If water settles under the surface of the asphalt, it can crack and heave, particularly in areas where temperatures drop below freezing. The typical slope is 0.25 inch (.06 cm) per foot (30.5 cm). If the driveway is relatively flat, it should have a slight crest in the center and slope off at the sides to ensure that water flows off rather than settling in the middle.
While the homeowner can do a lot of the preparation work, asphalt driveway paving is not typically a do-it-yourself job. It really requires a professional paving contractor to get it done right. The most important tip you can follow is to take some time in choosing the right contractor. You should talk to a few asphalt driveway paving contractors and get quotes for your project. Before you hire any contractor, be sure to check his or her references and have a contract in place before any work begins.