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Asphalt Driveways

Everything To Know About Asphalt Driveways
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The Pros And Cons Of Asphalt Driveways

Thoughts to ponder when considering an asphalt driveway.

  • What are the benefits of asphalt driveways versus concrete versus permeable/interlocking paver driveways?
  • Which driveway surface has the longest lifespan?
  • Which driveway surface is best when choosing between asphalt, concrete or permeable/interlocking/concrete pavers?
  • What type of ongoing maintenance do asphalt driveways require compared to concrete or paver driveways?
A newly installed long asphalt driveway.

Considering A New Asphalt Driveway?

Are Asphalt Driveways The Best Choice For A Driveway?

Asphalt driveways are often referred to as blacktop driveways, "ash"phalt driveways, tarmac driveways and macadam driveways. Regardless of the reference, they're all the same.
A new asphalt driveway.

How common are asphalt driveways?

Asphalt driveways can be found all over the country.

However, the further north we travel in the United States, the amount of asphalt driveways increase, while the further South we travel, the amount of asphalt driveways decrease.

This is due to the amount of freeze and thaw cycles that occur in colder regions. 

Asphalt is the choice for a residential driveway in colder regions for 1 main reason.

It's pliable, making it much more forgiving than the other hard surfaces when it comes to heaving from freeze and thaw cycles, hence, why we see more asphalt driveways the further north we go.

An asphalt driveway with snow on either side but not on the asphalt.

How well do asphalt driveways hold up in snowy regions?

Asphalt is an excellent choice if you happen to live in a snowy region. There are many benefits that come with asphalt that you just don't get with concrete or concrete/permeable pavers.

Frigid cold and the constant melting, freezing, thawing and refreezing can wreak havoc on any type of driveway, but when we compare the costs to repair and the ease of repairing asphalt compared to concrete, asphalt easily wins.

Damaged asphalt can be cut out and replaced and then sealed so that the patch blends in very well. With concrete, the color of the mix can never be matched perfectly, therefore patches will always be visible without an overlay. 

Comparing the costs and ease to repair asphalt vs concrete/permeable pavers can be relatively equivalent.

The major benefit to asphalt is the color.

The black asphalt soaks in the heat from the sun and melts snow much faster than any other type of driveway surface.

How well do asphalt driveways hold up in hot regions?

Unfortunately, asphalt driveways are not a great choice for hot regions. Since asphalt is black, it tends to soak in the heat considerably.

Even in warmer regions where it can occasionally get extremely hot, newly laid asphalt can heat right back up again. Almost to temperatures equivalent to when it was installed.

Some of the problems that can arise in hotter climates and are virtually irreparable:

  • Wind along with extreme heat can cause divots in the asphalt by parked cars, 5th wheels, RV's, and boats.
  • Unprotected edges can be smashed if driven off of by a vehicle.
  • Tire tracking from sharp turns and garden tractors.
  • Power steering divots

And one of the worst aspects of an asphalt driveway in extreme heat can be injuries to children and animals. The hot asphalt can and will burn feet. 

A tire mark or divot in asphalt.
Compacting freshly paid asphalt with a roller and a plate compactor.

How long does it take to install a new asphalt driveway?

A new asphalt driveway can be installed in a relatively short amount of time.

Typically it only takes 1 day or less to install the average sized asphalt driveway after the sub-grade preparation is complete.

Sub-grade preparation can take anywhere from less than a day to a couple of weeks depending on the soil conditions in your area.

There’s very little inconvenience when having an asphalt driveway installed. However, if you live in a region that requires the sub-grade to settle for a couple of weeks, it can be a bit of an inconvenience.

Asphalt can generally be driven on once it has completely cooled down, usually by the next morning, but not longer than 24 hours.

However, something to keep in mind: A new asphalt can take years to fully cure, therefore minor scarring of the surface may occur from sharp turns, power steering divots, tractor tires, snow blade and a variety of things for the first couple of years, particularly on hot sunny days.

Asphalt Driveways Compared To Other Driveway Types

Of the four types of driveways, asphalt driveways rank at #3 when comparing the cost of installation and at #2 when comparing the ongoing maintenance of a driveway.

Cost Analysis Comparison

  • Paver Driveways - #1 - Most Expensive To Install
  • Concrete Driveways - #2
  • Asphalt Driveways - #3
  • Gravel Driveways - #4 - Least Expensive To Install

Asphalt driveways can be the 3rd least expensive option when compared to the cost of other types of driveways.

Ongoing Maintenance

  • Gravel Driveways - #1 - Most Most Ongoing Maintenance
  • Asphalt Driveways - #2
  • Concrete Driveways - #3
  • Paver Driveways - #4 - Least Ongoing Maintenance

Asphalt driveways require the 2nd most frequent amount of ongoing maintenance when compared to other driveways.

Life Expectancy Of Asphalt Driveways

Asphalt driveways, properly installed with regularly scheduled maintenance can last up to 20 or even 30 years.

This variation in age can be determined by the stability of the sub-grade, the quality of the installation, the type and frequency of maintenance, the drainage plan and the climate of the region you’re located in.

Types of ongoing maintenance you can expect to perform on asphalt driveways?

  • Crack Sealing

    sealing asphalt cracks with hot rubber.
  • Sealing or "Sealcoating"

    Sealing an asphalt driveway with brush squeegee.
  • Treating Oil Spots

    Oil from a car on an asphalt driveway.
  • Weed Control

    Weeds growing in a crack in the asphalt.
  • Edging

    Overlooking the edge of an asphalt driveway next to grass.

A new asphalt driveway should NOT be sealed until it's a minimum of 6 months old.

They should then be sealed every 3 to 5 years thereafter to slow down the deterioration process.

However, a quality commercial grade asphalt sealer manufactured by a local asphalt maintenance supply company is recommended versus the big bix store sealers. Professional sealers can be applied either by yourself or a reputable seal coating contractor. 

When cracks develop, they should be sealed frequently.

Ultimately cracks should be sealed every fall when the asphalt is cool and it has contracted. The cracks are open at their widest this time of year and will be optimally sealed when the heat from summer comes back around and the asphalt has warmed and expanded.

 Sealing the cracks will help to prevent further damage and pavement failures like alligatoring and potholes.

Also take into consideration the effects on asphalt driveways if they're not maintained properly and how they can look as they age, even with routine maintenance.

An asphalt driveway with many cracks and alligatoring due to little or no maintenance.
An aging but well maintained asphalt driveway.

As you can see, not maintaining an asphalt driveway leads to additional cracking, weeds growing in the cracks and overgrowing the edges, heaving and unevenness and deterioration of the thickness.

A well maintained asphalt driveway still deteriorates but at a much slower rate. 

If you already have an asphalt driveway in front of your home and it’s beginning to show the signs of aging and deterioration, or has a tremendous amount of visible patches and repairs; overlaying the existing asphalt or completely removing and replacing it is the only way to bring it back to life. 

An overlay absolutely should be performed by a reputable paving company that will do it right the first time. Overlays are not for the inexperienced. In improperly installed overlay can cause more problems than a new asphalt driveway.

If the asphalt has completely failed, performing soil tests and determining if the sub-grade is suitable to re-pave the driveway on the existing soil should be done. If the subgrade is in fact not adequate, the soil should be excavated and new base or structural material installed for a solid, long lasting driveway.

All driveways age, deteriorate and can become a safety hazard. However, the goal with an asphalt driveway should be to maximize the life expectancy as much as possible before having to completely remove and replace it. This requires a solid maintenance plan every 3 to 5 years.

Choosing The Right Driveway For Your Home

When choosing between asphalt and the other three types of driveways, consider these questions:


ARE Asphalt Driveways Compliant with your HOA OR Municipality?

Be sure and check with your HOA (if you have one) or your local government municipality to make sure an asphalt driveway is acceptable in the area you live. Some HOA's, municipalities or developments do not allow asphalt driveways.


Will An Asphalt Driveway Look Good In The Neighborhood You Live In?

Will an asphalt driveway look good in front of your home? Maybe a different type of driveway will look better. Have you explored your options?

A neighborhood of asphalt driveways from above.
An asphalt driveway with snow melting off.


What is the climate like in your region of the country? Is it cold and snowy? Rainy and wet? Hot and dry? Be sure and select a driveway type that make sense for your region. Asphalt driveways are great for cold and mildly warm climates. Asphalt driveways are not as durable in hot climates. 



If you want your driveway to last a lifetime, regular maintenance plays an important role in how long your asphalt driveway will last. Asphalt driveways should have a regularly scheduled maintenance every 3 to 5 years. No less. No More. Over sealing asphalt or sealing too frequently can cause irreparable damage. 



How much and what kind of traffic do you expect to use your driveway? Normal, everyday passenger vehicle use or heavy vehicle use? Select a Driveway that make sense. Any type of driveway must be designed and built properly for heavy vehicles like trash trucks, propane deliveries and septic cleanouts. 



Select a driveway that fits into your budget short term and long term. Would a low maintenance or maintenance free driveway like concrete or pavers make better sense? Asphalt driveways are an economical option compared to the other hard surface choices. 

n asphalt driveway with an RV parked on it.

Summary Of Asphalt Driveways

Asphalt driveways can be a beautiful and economical solution for a hard surface driveway. They provide a very sharp, clean, sleek black look which is inviting to visitors to our home.

Consequently, the black color is also very appealing for snow melt in the wintertime for araes that receive a lot of snow. The black asphalt heats up from the warmth of the sun and melts off the snow and ice much faster.

If you’re considering having a new asphalt driveway installed, an existing one overlayed or one completely removed and replaced, see our Asphalt Driveway Installation FAQ’s section for more information to ensure yourself a good, quality long lasting job.

You can also learn more about the ongoing maintenance of an asphalt driveway by visiting our Asphalt Driveway Maintenance FAQ’s section.

Before you hire a contractor to install or perform maintenance on your asphalt driveway, be sure and review our video and eBook series, The Asphalt Paving Scams Playbook: How to Outsmart Dishonest Asphalt Paving Contractors and Protect Your Hard-Earned Money. In the end, you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to hire a reputable contractor and get the job done right the first time!

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