Asphalt is everywhere. The most commonly thought of site of asphalt is roads, and that?s accurate. Ninety-four percent of the 2.6 million miles of paved roads in the United States are surfaced with a total of over 18 billion tons of asphalt. But what about driveways? Ninety percent of parking areas in the U.S. are paved with asphalt, including commercial and residential types.
Asphalt, a mixture of stones and sand with liquid asphalt cement, is bound with bitumen, a dark sticky substance that is a petroleum product. It is applied while hot to a prepared base, crushed in with a steamroller, and then allowed to cool, after which it is solid, and ready for vehicle use.
While concrete driveways are a common choice, there are some benefits to asphalt driveways.
Typically, an asphalt driveway is cheaper to construct than a concrete version. One reason for this is they take less time to install. A new asphalt driveway can be installed in about three days, total, from preparation of the subgrade to drying. Because they are easier to repair and more durable than concrete driveways, their long term cost is lower, too.
An asphalt driveway will last at least 25 years if maintained properly. Another cause for their longevity is that they are highly weather resistant, which is particularly important in cold climates. Asphalt winters better than concrete, which cracks and heaves in extreme temperatures.
Unlike concrete, which is more rigid, asphalt pavements are designed to conform to changes in the underlying soil, such as those from erosion, flooding or freezing.
Asphalt is a 100 percent recyclable product. For the most part, asphalt is reheated and reused, and so it rarely finds its way to a landfill. For example, 67.8 million tons of asphalt pavement material was reclaimed in 2013, and all but a negligible portion of it was reused.
The difference in repair needs between a concrete driveway and an asphalt driveway is notable. Asphalt is easier to repair, and requires less repair. Concrete cracks fairly often, and when it does, it needs to be removed and replaced. Asphalt, though it hardly ever cracks, can be easily resurfaced in less time and less expensively.
Choosing a contractor for an asphalt driveway isn?t difficult. There are around 3,500 asphalt mix factory sites in the United States, producing about 350 million tons of asphalt pavement material per year, and over 10,000 paving contractors nationally who have expertise and highly qualified staff. Get several estimates from reputable companies, and take your time getting to know each contractor. Review price points, warranties, and design ideas. Whether it?s a new driveway, or some other residential or commercial asphalt paving need, there?s a company who can create and safely install what you want.