Many homeowners today are selecting asphalt paving for their home's driveway and even exterior walkways and patios, versus standard concrete. Asphalt has many advantages over other driveway paving materials and is often one of the most affordable options available for homeowners today.
The cost of an asphalt driveway typically averages between $2 and $7 per square foot and will depend on the property's current condition as well as the amount or thickness of asphalt you have installed. Various aggregates can also be added to asphalt's surface by asphalt paving companies, for increased traction or a more pleasing overall appearance, and these might also add to that cost.
Before you decide if the cost of hiring asphalt paving contractors is a good investment for your home, note some advantages of asphalt over concrete, how asphalt is maintained over the years, and how to determine the best amount or thickness of asphalt to add for your home's driveway.
What Are the Benefits of Driveway Asphalt Paving?
Concrete driveways are very durable and a popular choice for residential driveways, but note some advantages and benefits of asphalt as a residential paving material:
- Asphalt doesn't show stains as quickly as concrete. If you drive an older car that tends to leak oil or other fluids, or often work on lawn care equipment and power tools in the driveway, it can then be good to choose asphalt as your paving material. You won't notice as many drips, drops, and areas of discoloration when you select a darker asphalt versus light concrete!
- The dark color of asphalt can help reduce glare during the day. Less glare can be significant for Arlington area properties, where bright Texas sunlight can interfere with your vision when behind the wheel of your car, and even cause eye fatigue and strain.
- The porous material of asphalt absorbs noise, more so than brittle concrete. Choosing asphalt as your home's driveway material can then mean a quieter outside environment.
- Asphalt can handle harsh weather conditions and changes in the surrounding environment more easily than concrete. Concrete often tends to get brittle and crack, or soften and then spall, when continuously exposed to high heat, dry and arid conditions, heavy rainfall, and exposure to the chemicals in lawn care materials. Asphalt is soft and more pliable than concrete, so it more readily withstands extreme temperatures and fluctuating environments.
- Asphalt is easier to repair than concrete. Cracks and potholes in asphalt can be filled somewhat easily with store-bought patching materials, while chipped or broken concrete might require the services of a professional concreter to repair.
One of the primary benefits of asphalt as a residential paving material is that it typically costs far less to install than concrete. The darker color also offers some natural contrast to a white or light-colored home and your property's lawn and landscaping features. You can then forego the cost of having your driveway painted or stained when you choose asphalt as your driveway paving material.
Asphalt Driveway Cost Calculator
To figure your potential asphalt paving cost, you'll need to know the square footage of the area to be paved. An asphalt paving company will then quote you a price per square foot, but note a few variables and essential information to consider when calculating the cost of your new driveway installation:
- Be sure to check if the asphalt paving cost quoted to you refers to the full installation price. A quote for asphalt "installed" typically includes the company's cost for materials, labor, preparation of your property, and so on. Don't assume that a very low quote is necessarily the best choice, as this quote may not be for the complete installation of asphalt; you may then be hit with added costs for labor, grading your home's driveway, delivery of the materials, and other such charges.
- Asphalt has a naturally bumpy texture that provides lots of traction, but adding another layer of aggregate over the surface of your freshly poured asphalt can mean even more stopping ability. Any added or specialty aggregate, however, might increase the cost of your asphalt installation.
- Before fresh asphalt can be poured, your property might need to be graded and tamped so that the ground is compact and slopes toward the street. The current condition of your property might affect that cost, depending on the amount of work needed before the installation of fresh asphalt.
The amount or thickness of the asphalt you have installed will also affect its overall cost, and it's good for homeowners to understand how to decide between a thin or thick layer of asphalt for their driveway.
Calculating the Thickness of an Asphalt Driveway
Most asphalt driveways are installed to a three-inch or four-inch thickness, which will provide an adequately strong and stable surface. A thicker driveway, up to five or six inches, can offer even more strength, an excellent option for heavier trucks, campers, and the like.
When deciding on the thickness of asphalt to have installed, however, remember that damaged asphalt driveway paving can usually be covered with a fresh coat of blacktop. If you opt for a very thick initial asphalt driveway installation, the number of times you can have a new coat applied might be limited. In turn, you don't want to assume that the thickest layer of asphalt is necessarily the best choice; leave yourself a bit of room with the initial installation for adding new layers throughout the years.
Why Sealcoat an Asphalt Driveway?
While asphalt is very durable and stable, it's good to have the material seal coated on a regular basis. Your asphalt paving contractors can tell you how often this work should be done to protect your driveway, but most homeowners find that seal coating is best done at least annually. Note why it's good to have your home's asphalt driveway seal coated as often as recommended by the installer:
- While Arlington area homes may not see enough snow and freezing weather to damage asphalt, note that hot summertime sun can break down the binders in asphalt, causing the material to lose adhesion. Your asphalt driveway can then be more prone to spalling, cracking, and chipping. Seal coating will provide a protective layer across the surface of the driveway, reducing the risk of damage caused by direct sunlight.
- Chemicals in lawn care materials, including fertilizers, pesticides, plant foods, and the like can also break down asphalt binders and aggregates. A simple spray with a garden hose won't thoroughly and adequately remove these materials, but a layer of seal coating will ensure asphalt doesn't absorb those chemicals and suffer early damage.
- Motor oil will also degrade and dissolve the binders that keep asphalt strong. Seal coating will keep this oil from being absorbed by the pavement. If you park your car in the driveway, and especially if you have an older car with an oil leak, it's essential to have your driveway's asphalt seal coated consistently.
Asphalt Driveway Maintenance
Whatever the cost of your new asphalt paving, you'll want to keep the material in good repair for as long as possible. Note a few quick tips for maintaining your home's new asphalt driveway, and be sure to ask your installer for specific advice that you might need to consider for your home's blacktop in particular:
- Have your home's asphalt driveway power washed or soft washed on a regular basis, preferably every year or even more often. A professional power washing with high-quality detergents or surfactants will remove motor oil, lawn care chemicals, acid rain residue, dirt, soot, grime, bird droppings, and other corrosive and damaging materials from the surface of asphalt, preventing premature damage.
- Avoid turning a parked vehicle's wheels over asphalt. The pressure of tires twisting back and forth can cause depressions or indentations on the surface of that materials, and these areas can hold damaging pools of water that cause asphalt to crack or spall.
- While Arlington area homeowners may not need to manage much snowfall every winter, it's good to avoid scraping the surface of asphalt too deeply when clearing any snow you do get throughout the year. Do the same when raking leaves or removing anything off the surface of the pavement, as using heavy shovels or rakes or other such equipment along an asphalt surface can dislodge aggregate and cause nicks that hold water and other corrosive materials.
- If you do use ice melting products on your home's driveway, or if the asphalt gets sprayed with any lawn care chemical or other corrosive substance, and you can't arrange for a professional power washing, spray down the driveway with a garden hose. While not the best choice for protecting asphalt, even a simple spray will remove some of that harmful material from the driveway's surface.
It's also recommended that you examine your home's driveway on a regular basis, looking for indentations or skid marks, areas of loosened aggregate, spalling, or cracks and chips. Repairing even the smallest crack, chip, or pit along your new asphalt paving can ensure that the material is protected from unnecessary damage, and will also ensure that your driveway is always strong and stable and looking its best.