If you’re building a new home or planning renovations to an existing property, it’s vital you consider how long to allow a driveway to settle before paving. Installing new asphalt or concrete over soil still in the process of settling can mean eventual heaving, shifting, cracking, and other serious pavement damage, along with costly repairs.
A property owner might also consider how to prepare a driveway for paving and, once paved, how long before you should drive on a new asphalt driveway. Knowing all this important information can ensure your property has pavement that lasts and helps avoid otherwise unnecessary repair costs.
In general, a driveway should settle for six months before paving. This recommended time span will vary according to soil and weather conditions, and proper compaction can allow you to pave far sooner. If you’ll be adding new asphalt over current driveways, pavement is stamped and compacted as needed to provide a solid base for new construction. The property is also graded to allow for proper water runoff or to ensure soil is not overly dry and sandy.
While a homeowner might not want to wait before paving, note that your property’s soil will settle over the months whether you wait to pave or not! As soil settles, it might then allow one section of concrete or asphalt to sink, resulting in heaving, cracks, and potholes. Waiting for a driveway to settle and ensuring proper compaction means far fewer repair bills over time and a driveway in good condition and looking its best.
A new driveway installation requires lots of prep work to ensure the property can support your fresh asphalt. A few simple steps in preparing a driveway for paving extend its lifespan and helps reduce otherwise unnecessary repairs.
You should pave your driveway anytime from late spring to autumn, but this schedule will obviously differ according to local weather conditions. For example, a light drizzle might not interfere with the pavement’s composition, but it’s not recommended that you pave your driveway in the pouring rain, and especially during long-term storms that might leave standing water along the sub-base or fresh pavement.
A professional may use knee pads when completing a paving job in order to reach the edges and corners better.
Also, note that asphalt is heated before installation to make it pliable and easy to install and roll. A homeowner might then pave a driveway during very warm summer weather to help keep asphalt warm and soft, and more pliable. Your asphalt installation contractor can note if there are weather concerns in your area which means you should put off new driveway paving.
Asphalt sets and cures quickly, so that you can typically drive on new asphalt within 24 hours. However, the longer you let asphalt set and cure undisturbed, the less risk of damage, so wait 48 hours before driving on it if possible.
Note, too, that very warm weather keeps asphalt soft and pliable, as said. If you’ve installed new asphalt during hot summertime weather, it’s best to wait several days before using your new driveway! Your asphalt installation contractor might also note any reason to avoid driving on your new asphalt within one day, such as warmer weather or thin layers of blacktop.
A light drizzle doesn’t typically interfere with asphalt installation, as said. However, keep in mind that asphalt is petroleum or oil-based, and of course, oil and water simply don’t mix! Heavy rainfall causes the oil in asphalt to separate from its cement binders and aggregate, leading to weak material prone to chipping, cracking, and potholes.
In severe cases, rain might cause crumbling potholes to form as soon as the asphalt is installed and might make the asphalt too runny to compact and then set properly. Rainfall also means standing water on the asphalt sub-base so that the material doesn’t have a solid foundation and won’t set properly.
If you live in an area prone to lots of rainfall, you might rely on an asphalt paving contractor for a new driveway installation rather than trying to tackle this project yourself. An asphalt paving company can evaluate weather conditions and know if your new driveway installation should be delayed due to rain, high humidity levels, and the like.
Now that you know how long to allow a driveway to settle before paving and the steps needed to prepare a driveway for new asphalt, you might wonder how you protect that investment! Asphalt might last anywhere from 7 to 30 years, but the way you maintain it affects its lifespan, either ensuring it lasts as long as possible or causing undue stress and premature breakdown.
One vital tip for protecting fresh asphalt is sealing it as often as needed; your asphalt paving contractor can note how often you should schedule waterproof sealant for your new asphalt. Sealant provides an added layer of protection against weather, heavy rainfall, and other such damage.
Motor oil and other automotive fluids, as well as corrosive chemicals such as fertilizer and snow salt, also damage asphalt binders, leading to chips, cracks, spalling, and potholes. To avoid this damage, have your home’s driveway pressure washed every year or as often as needed to remove oil, fluids, and other materials.
Note a few other quick tips for protecting fresh asphalt:
Concrete still remains a favorite paving material for residential properties, but there are many reasons why homeowners are choosing asphalt for driveways more than ever! One consideration is the lower installation price; asphalt costs $2.50 to $4 per square foot, while concrete costs $4 to $6 per square foot on average. For homeowners on a budget and especially for properties with longer driveways, asphalt is definitely a more affordable choice.
Asphalt is also naturally porous, so it absorbs sound, vibration, and impact. If you have children who play in the driveway, asphalt might mean less stress on their joints and a quieter environment! The dark color of asphalt also provides lots of natural contrast to your home’s lawn versus dull gray concrete.
Homeowners especially might appreciate the fact that it’s often easier to repair asphalt yourself than fix concrete, especially if you need to tackle large cracks or potholes. Concrete cracks and potholes might need a fresh concrete mix, which is often harder to apply yourself, whereas asphalt epoxy and other materials make quick work of asphalt repair. An affordable chip and seal also covers larger areas of asphalt damage, offering a fresh new look for a fraction of the cost of concrete repaving.
Can you put new asphalt over an existing driveway?
Depending on its thickness, you can typically put new asphalt over an existing driveway; however, damaged pavement provides a poor foundation for asphalt and should be removed instead despite its added cost.
Should you water a new asphalt driveway?
No matter how long you allow a driveway to settle before paving, you should water a new asphalt driveway if outside temperatures reach 80 degrees. Watering the driveway will keep asphalt cool so it doesn’t separate.
This information was brought to you by the team at Plano Asphalt Paving. If you’re in the Plano area and have questions about how long to allow a driveway to settle before paving and if asphalt is the best choice for your property, call the best of Texas paving companies! We offer full-scale asphalt installation and repairs, using only the highest-grade materials with an industry-leading warranty you can trust. Whatever your needs for new asphalt installation, chip, and seal, asphalt sealing, or driveway paving in Texas, call us at Plano Asphalt Paving today!