Vital Steps When Paving Your Driveway

Paving your driveway creates an exterior space that is neat and safe. But this landscaping project requires careful planning to ensure a project that's built to last. Homeowners should know the ins and outs involved in a paving project; this allows them to make better decisions and protects them from unethical contractors out to make a quick buck.

When Should You Pave Your Driveway?

Professionals advise the owners of newly built homes to wait at least two years before paving the driveway or walkways. The grade will settle during that time, creating a stronger base and providing better working conditions.

If your home is older than two years, you simply need to pick the right time of year to begin paving. The weather should be dry and relatively warm for the ideal paving conditions. Too wet and you risk the gravel base washing out before the asphalt is set; too hot and you risk the asphalt not bonding well.

Steps When Planning to Pave

Consider the grade level on your current driveway. Asphalt paving and patio stones require a gravel base at least 4-inches thick. Asphalt is laid on top of that base, to a compacted thickness of about two inches. If your newly paved driveway will end up much higher than the surrounding grade, you'll need to plan for excavation first.

Existing driveways will need to be removed before the new paving is completed. Your contractor should check the condition of the base, and add crushed limestone for proper drainage.

Any drainage issues you faced with the old driveway should be addressed from the base up. Did your old driveway slope away from the house and garage? In order to drain properly all year round, your newly paved driveway should be designed with an 18-inch fall for every 100-feet of length. This slope should be directed to the road or away from the house to avoid leaks and foundation damage.

Check your property lines as well, before marking out the driveway. An existing paved driveway may not be on your property, so it's best to find the stakes or property markings and be sure of the location before asphalt is laid.

Find out whether a building permit is required as well. Call your local building authority and enquire; you may need to fill out the paperwork and pay a small permit application fee.

How About Weeds?

Weeds should not become an issue with a decent base made from crushed limestone. Older driveways may be infested with weeds, choking the base and breaking through the existing asphalt. Once this area has been completely excavated you can opt to have weed killer applied, but check with the local bylaw authorities first to be sure those chemicals are allowed.

Once you've hired a contractor, be sure to have any extra steps (such as weed killer application) written into the project contract. This ensures you won't be billed for extras once the project is completed.

Thicker layers of asphalt will not protect your driveway from weeds. Some contractors will charge you extra to install three-inches of compacted asphalt, promising better weed protection and better durability. The problem is that asphalt thicker than two inches tends to remain soft, resulting in poor quality and an unattractive driveway in just a few short years.

How About Sealing?

Your new paved driveway should be sealed, but not right away. Many professionals recommend waiting at least 60 days after the asphalt has been laid, but a 90-day wait time would be better. Driveway sealing protects the asphalt from the effects of oil and grease, and tends to make the driveway look better for longer. Be sure to hire an experienced local sealing contractor or consider the DIY route.

Hiring a Paving Contractor

Protect yourself and your home by hiring an experienced paving company. Start with at least three quotes, preferably from recommended contractors in your area. Ask the neighbors and family members for referrals and take a look at your Better Business Bureau for paving companies with good ratings.

Once you have those three initial quotes, compare the services offered, warranty and price. Some contractors may not provide a specific quote, which could mean that small changes or working conditions result in extra charges. Others will provide a clear, detailed contract that spells out exactly what you can expect from the job and the final price.

Always check the details of your project ahead of time. Find out what type of asphalt the company is using (HL3A is often used for suburban driveways), the thickness of the base and the base material used. Note the total driveways dimensions, any details about the slope, and warranty information. The contract may also outline your responsibilities in terms of maintenance, and recommendations about sealing.

Be sure to check a contractor's references before signing the deal. If they cannot offer references, call someone else. Check with local building associations and look for online customer reviews. This research will often uncover fly-by-night contractors or those with less than stellar reputations, although it will not guarantee a perfect job. Hire the contractor you are most comfortable with, based on their experience and professionalism. Prices tend to be fairly comparable, and you shouldn't mind paying a little more for a job well done and a solid warranty.

Knowing when to pave your driveway and how to plan for paving will ensure your project is handled well. Hire a contractor that will excavate where necessary, install the required limestone base and lay the right thickness of quality asphalt. Sealing can wait a few months or more, but don't forget to carefully go over the contract details before signing the deal. With proper planning and the help of a professional paving company, your new asphalt driveway will be a valuable investment.

Posted by: diana
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