new driveway questions


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Old 07-28-07, 08:49 AM
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new driveway questions

I have a driveway of about 1250 sq ft. It is currently gravel and we would like to have it paved. What are the advatanges/disadvantages of asphalt compared to concrete?
We received a quote of $2450 to have it paved with asphalt as well as sealed and it comes with an extended warranty (whatever that means). Is that a good price for this size of a driveway? How much would concrete cost?
He also said the gravel we have now is not the right type to pave over so it would have to be removed.
We're trying to get another quote later today.
 
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Old 07-28-07, 10:40 AM
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Asphalt is not as durable as concrete, it will develop ruts with spring thaw (particularly in more northern climates susceptible to freeze-thaw cycles) as you drive over the driveway, and will be more susceptible to oil and other fluid leaks from vehicles. Oil and gas will wash off concrete with soapy water but asphalt will absorb both. Gas will break down the bitumen bond with the aggregate and the driveway will become a mess so that repairs require removal of the contaminated asphalt. Concrete is much more expensive, both to build and to remove when the time comes for that. On the other hand, asphalt can more easily be patched. Also concrete cracks may develop in time and the resulting concrete slabs can buckle and settle unevenly resulting in a "stepped" driveway. Both can last a very long time in areas where little freezing occurs, the aggregate material is good underneath the top coat and drainage is not a problem.

The best gravel to use would be granite crushed gravel (3/4" or 7/8" crushed granular), but granite is not available in all parts. In many areas you have to settle for what's available locally which may be limestone crushed gravel (same size). Limestone is crap because it breaks down with water and eventually becomes mud and when it gets wet it behaves like jelly, thus promoting ruts, cracks, etc. But if that is the type of gravel available in your area you don't have much of a choice. You don't say what you have in your driveway, but if it's stone dust (also known as screenings) it is the waste from crushing limestone gravel, rather fine and will turn to mud (as I mentioned above) much more quickly. This is commonly used in limestone areas for leveling areas to be paved with asphalt, concrete, interlocking brick, etc.

For comparative prices for asphalt, get more quotes. Brand new asphalt doesn't require sealing. It could be sealed once it is a couple of years old, but not when it is freshly laid. Ask the contractors how much asphalt mix they will lay down (should be at least 2 inches thick all over). The thicker the more it will cost so knowing how much they will use is important to compare prices. (I've seen some done with 1/2 inch asphalt in the middle and 1-2 inches at the ends!). Also ask how they will spread it. You don't want somebody coming in to do the job with inadequate equipment (i.e. merely shovels and rakes). They should use a spreader (for evenness) and a mechanical roller to achieve proper compaction. If you can get HL4 it will provide you with more grip and a stronger driveway (HL3 is usually used for driveways, HL4 is a little coarser and used on roads with a single coarse of asphalt). Also ask the contractors if they will do the entire job continuously (in and out in 1 day) or if they will do the preparation (if the gravel has to be replaced), then come back a month later to do the asphalt (this seems to be common these days). Don't pay the contractor until the job is completed.

As an alternative to asphalt and concrete, consider interlocking brick. Interlocking brick is made from concrete so it has the same properties, but is relatively easy to re-level when ruts develop from the spring thaw. Any do-it-yourselfer can do that fairly easily with a bit of sand and something to level the granular with. Prices tend to fall somewhere between asphalt and concrete, and it is also easy to remove when you want/need to do that.

Good luck.
 
 

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