Almost every house today uses an asphalt driveway. Simultaneously, almost every house faces the same problems that arise with an asphalt driveway. Whether its cracks, corrosion, surface depressions or puddle formations, driveway problems can present households with unnecessary headaches.
Asphalt, or blacktop, is practically an agglomeration of pebbles and concrete rubble held together by a strong petroleum matrix. It is cheap and easily accessible. But just because it is cheap, by no means is it of poor quality. In fact, asphalt provides the best value for money for domestic driveways. When applied correctly and with expertise, asphalt driveways are strong, durable and impervious.
Over the course of enduring variations in weather, climate, temperature and other such external factors, an asphalt driveway tends to wither. It can present persistently irking problems if not attended to. Some of the common problems include:
Your driveway may not be the biggest problem to attend to at home, but it definitely pays to take good care of it to ensure its longevity. Hence, we have put together a list of what you can do to guarantee a long life for your asphalt driveway.
Sealcoat is a bituminous semi-liquid solution that is used to treat minor cracks or add friction to slippery asphalt. It is used as a temporary cover to attend to hairline cracks. It fills in the crevices and prevents water or snow from seeping in and damaging the asphalt from underneath. Sealcoating is also a great makeshift solution as it prevents external agents from disturbing the soil underneath and causing bigger issues in the future.
Sealcoating on Highway 16 near Burns Lake in BC. Source:TranBC
Patching is a solution that is used when just a small part of the asphalt surface is damaged. It is a cost-effective alternative to replacing the entire surface. Through this process, the damaged patch of the asphalt is carved out and replaced with a fresh patch, before being levelled by a roller. This technique is predominantly used to treat public roads.
Patching a dent
If a crack becomes too big to repair by sealcoating, or if the asphalt corrodes, or is affected by upheaval or raveling, then asphalt overlay is recommended. As the name suggests, overlaying is a technique where a fresh hot layer of asphalt is laid over the older, damaged layer. A roller is used to roll over and make it compact. It is then left to cool, and a new fresh surface is created to completely mask the problem.
Example of Asphalt Overlay
Asphalt milling is a technique used primarily for maintenance purposes, although it is not completely subjected to it. It is a recycling process wherein damaged or corroded layers are removed, ground up and mixed with a fresh batch to lay out a new surface. This is an efficient way to refurbish an aging driveway using a cost-effective method. It is also a more sustainable, eco-friendly option as it recycles the older batch. Milling is not a highly recommended option for highly damaged surfaces as they could hinder the quality of the fresh batch.
source:Schibeci Road services
Sometimes due to poor drainage and unchecked cracks or fissures on an asphalt surface, water and moisture seep underneath the asphalt which is absorbed by the soil. Over the course of time, the soil begins to swell up and contract simultaneously. This damages the surface from underneath by causing bigger cracks, but without actually damaging the quality. Normally, this problem requires the entire driveway to undergo full-depth reclamation, wherein the entire surface is milled and re-laid. It is not a very expensive process as it eventually involves milling of the asphalt.
Modified Concrete Base
Sometimes, to create a strong base and to prevent the soil from hindering the asphalt driveway, a composition of asphalt and cement is used. The result of the aggregate of the two is a stronger complex, much like the concrete used in pavements. Due to damages under the surface, fresh asphalt is mixed with cement and water is added as a chemical cure. It is then used as a base for the fresh asphalt surface, which presents you with fewer deficiencies. Concrete bases are also easy to maintain and repair.
A more pricey solution to ensure a longer life for your driveway is the use of geotextile fabric to separate the overlay from the base and the soil, adding more protection. Made of propylene or polyester, geotextile fabrics are a great way to solve issues of cracking and water (or moisture) absorption. A geotextile fabric, also called geosynthetics, because of its permeable nature, drains and reinforces the asphalt and in the process, gives it more durability. The fabric is laid out right under the overlay acting as a barrier from underneath, very similar to the way corks are applied between a concrete base and the marble while flooring a house. A lesser known benefit that people use the geotextile fabric for is the fact that it acts as a shock absorber. Although not very common in driveways, cracks can also be caused by vibrations from a moving car or weather conditions.
Example of Geotextile Fabric. Image Source:Land and Water
You could be forgiven if you didn’t pay attention to the driveway, but when the need does arise, the solution can sometimes burn a hole in your pocket. So we’d suggest you try and keep checks and perform minor fixes on your driveway by hiring a paving contractor.