Asphalt driveways are a great alternative to concrete driveways when it comes to cost and a great alternative when it comes to gravel driveways when it comes to a solid surface. But when installing a new asphalt driveway, the transitions, meaning where the asphalt meets the garage floor, sidewalks and the street should be a smooth transition. Absolutely NO FEATHERING, NO trip hazards, NO bumps and NO low or high spots.
Transitioning into the garage:
Regardless of the drainage, the transition should be smooth as opposed to a bump or a lip or anything that could act as a water barrier. This is important because an unethical contractor may lead us to believe that installing a bump is quite normal to divert water or to act as a barrier for water when installing asphalt driveways. On the contrary!
Here's three examples of what we’re referring to:
1) Slope Away From The Garage
If a driveway has a natural slope away from the garage, the sub-grade should be excavated equal to the thickness that’s being installed right in front of the concrete garage floor. Then, tack oil should be applied to the exposed edge. When the asphalt is installed and compacted the transition should be smooth. No bumps, no water barriers... nothing.
2) Flat Driveways
If the driveway is flat, then the installation contractor will need to excavate equal to the thickness that’s being installed right in front of the concrete garage floor and out to make the water drain away from the garage. If that can't be done, then often times a swayle, or a dip, can be installed a few feet from the entrance of the garage which will then divert any water running towards the garage off to one side and ultimately off of the asphalt. Still, the sub-grade should be excavated down equal to the thickness of the asphalt being installed. Then tack oil should be applied to the exposed edge. When the asphalt is installed and compacted this transition should be smooth as well.
3) Slope Towards The Garage
If the driveway slopes down into the garage the installation contractor should excavate the sub-grade just before the concrete apron or garage floor, cutting a swayle that goes down and then back up into the garage. Nothing extremely dramatic, but just enough to keep the water from running back into the garage. Except in extreme downpours, this should keep the water from running down the driveway and into the garage. Again, the sub-grade needs to be excavated down the equivalent of the thickness of the asphalt being installed for that smooth transition into the garage.
In extreme cases, a drain channel can be installed in front of the garage to divert heavy rainfalls or snow melt, but I don't recommend them as they fill up with dirt and become plugged as well as freeze full of ice in the winter.
Be cautious of any installation contractor that recommends a bump or a lip to divert the water. The only thing keeping a contractor from excavating this properly is the additional work that’s involved because they can't, "Get in, get paid and get out!" fast.
Transitioning onto sidewalks:
Just like the garage, the sub-grade should be excavated down equivalent to the thickness of asphalt that’s being installed. Then a tack oil applied. And when the asphalt is compacted, this transition should be smooth as well avoiding dangerous trip hazards.
Transitioning onto the street:
When it comes to the transition from the street onto the asphalt, just like the garage, the sub-grade should be excavated down equivalent to the thickness that’s being installed. Then a tack oil applied. And when the asphalt is installed, and then compacted, this transition should be smooth as well. Some counties don't want your water from your driveway running into the road, therefore, a swayle may need to be installed to divert the water coming off of the driveway. Either way, this should also be a smooth transition.
Any reputable contractor is going to take the time to ensure transitions are installed properly. This is also an area where "fly by night" contractors and travelers are going to cut corners and try to feather these areas in. Short term it may look just fine, but long term they can be a nightmare!
Avoid asphalt paving scams and see our report on “The Most Common Ways Asphalt Installation Contractors Rip Us Off and How To Avoid Them”.
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