Asphalt Do’s and Don’ts

DON’T… park your car, camper, or other vehicle in exactly the same spot in the driveway all the time.

 

Reason:  No matter how thick the material, deep the base, or heavy the compaction, placing a vehicle that weighs a ton or more in the same spot over an extended period of time may produce depressions or “wheel dishes.”

 

DO … vary the position of your parked vehicle slightly from time to time. Distributing the usage over the entire driveway will maximize the appearance and longevity of the parking surface and avoid areas of damage. If a camper or other vehicle must be stored for a long period of time, place a piece of plywood under the tongue jack and tires.

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DON’T … pull out too fast, pull in too quickly, or drive too fast on your new driveway. In addition, avoid using a jack stand or car ramp without putting a piece of plywood underneath to distribute the weight. Do not turn your steering wheel back and forth when your car is not moving.

 

Avoid parking large and/or heavy vehicles such as concrete, oil, or landscaping trucks on your new driveway. Their excess weight can depress and cause ruts in your blacktop.

 

Do not walk on your new driveway with sharp high heels. Do not place lawn chairs, bicycle kickstands, or any other sharp objects on the new surface as they will create holes or depressions.

 

Do not drive on the edges of your driveway since they are the weakest area due to lack of side support.

 

Reason: Any of the above actions may cause scarring, rutting, or depressions in the asphalt surface, or premature crumbling at the edges.

 

DO … take precautions to avoid the potentially damaging actions described above, especially during the initial 6 to 12 month asphalt curing phase. Building up the sides of your driveway with topsoil will help support the edges, especially if reinforced by sod or grass.

DON’T … expect the driveway to be completely puddle-free. It is normal and not harmful for puddles sometimes to form.

 

Reason:  Close drainage tolerances and hand application of small sections of asphalt may create some slightly uneven surface areas. Subtle shifting of the sub-base may also cause some puddling. Any spot holding water 1/4″ or less deep is almost impossible to eliminate. Many of these small water spots work themselves out with eventual use. The oils present in the new asphalt tend to retain the water on the driveway. However, as these oils gradually evaporate, the water should disappear.

 

DO … understand that appearance of shallow puddles is normal. These puddles do not indicate that the paving job is substandard, do not harm the surface, and will most likely resolve themselves over time.

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DON’T… allow overweight vehicles such as concrete, oil, landscaping, garbage, or recycling trucks on your driveway. Their weight can depress the surface and cause ruts in your new blacktop.

 

Reason: Your driveway is constructed for automobile traffic only. Overweight vehicles will break up the surface since the base is not constructed to take this extra weight.

 

DO … consider having a special driveway constructed if you need to regularly accommodate these heavier loads. With normal precautions, this more costly installation is not necessary in most situations.

DON’T … turn the car wheels sharply on the driveway while the asphalt is fresh and in its curing phase of up to one year. Also, do not turn the wheels while the car is stationary – always ensure that the car is in motion while turning the wheels. Otherwise, power steering gouges will result. These are bruises or lacerations to the surface caused by the kneading, grinding action of the tires moving on the bias against the asphalt.

 

This problem is most often encountered in L-shaped driveways where the garage sits at right angles to the driveway. The repetitive backing, cutting, and turning actions create this condition. Even cars without power steering or lightweight sports or compacts can cause these marks under certain conditions. Greater care should be exercised in hot weather, since the asphalt is softer and more susceptible to marking.

 

Reason: Asphalt contains certain oils and volatiles to make it more workable or malleable. Until these oils and volatiles oxidize and evaporate, the blacktop will remain soft. This aging or curing process may take as long as a year, depending upon blacktop thickness, weather, and other factors.

 

But my old blacktop never did this!” is a common refrain. This is quite possible because earlier mixes were coarser and therefore more stable. Today’s mixes are much finer in response to increasing public demand for a smooth driveway. While pleasing in appearance, the finer mixes have a greater tendency toward displacement under strain.

 

DO … be patient. Gradual oxidation will eliminate this problem.

 

*NOTE – Sealer applied too soon will only aggravate this condition since it tends to trap the oils that that need to oxidize. Premature sealing therefore prevents and retards the curing process. After the driveway “sets up,” then sealer should be applied. We advise that sealer not be applied earlier than 3 to 6 months after the surface is laid, and it is optimal to let the surface “winter over.”

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DON’T … place sharp or pointed objects on your driveway. Indentations will result. This will certainly be true for the first year of its life and perhaps longer, especially on a very hot summer day. Stay off the new driveway for 2 to 3 days after installation and longer if temperatures are high. Principal offenders include high heels, bicycle kickstands, ladders, and porch chairs.

 

Reason: The pressure per square inch exerted by sharp and pointed objects is very high. Although an object may be small in area and light in weight, the pressure exerted will be great because of its concentration in one small spot.

 

DO … keep in mind that asphalt is a soft, porous material that needs to be treated with care, especially in its curing phase for the first 6 to 12 months after installation.

DON’T … drive near or off the edges of your driveway. You may fracture the asphalt and crack the whole edge. All edges should be built up with soil and sod or grass.

 

Reason: Asphalt contains no structural strength of its own. It is merely a wearing surface; the strength lies in the stone or gravel base. Therefore, if great weight is placed unevenly on an unsupported edge, it will crack.

 

DO … Support the edges of the driveway by building them up with soil and sod or grass. If your driveway is constructed slightly above grade, proper drainage will result. If it is not, water will collect alongside the driveway and eventually undermine it exposing the edge. This type of damage can be prevented by backfill or soil and grass support, which creates a type of shoulder or curbing as on roads.

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DON’T … allow weeds or other vegetation to crowd the edges of the driveway. These hardy plants will burrow through the stone base and up through the asphalt topping. They will evidence themselves prior to blooming as bumps or minor corruptions in the driveway.

 

Reason: The strength and persistence of some of these species, such as creeping morning glory and dandelions is phenomenal. Instances of their penetrating even concrete are common.

 

DO … apply weed killer or a simple table salt solution to this unwanted vegetation. Understand that even though the base layer is sprayed with weed killer prior to paving, it is impossible to eliminate each and every weed seed. Appearance of unwanted vegetation is not a reflection upon the thickness or proper application of the material.