I see many blacktop driveways that are cracked and uneven. This may be because the base is inadequate. If you want to install a new driveway that will last a long time, then I suggest these steps to protect your investment.
Asphalt with a firm base is just as strong as concrete and will hold up very well over time. We recommend an 8-inch stone base with 2.5 inches of blacktop rather than a 2-inch stone base with 4 inches of blacktop. Asphalt needs an adequate base of 8 inches for the following reasons:
• Asphalt is more flexible than concrete so it needs adequate support.
• The freeze-thaw cycle during winter will not crack asphalt that has a significant stone base.
• A good stone base provides adequate load-bearing qualities and proper water drainage.
• Even with heavy vehicle traffic, the blacktop will not move because the stone base supports it well.
Hire an asphalt driveway contractor that has modern equipment and an experienced crew. In the last 15 years, equipment manufacturers have greatly modernized construction equipment. This benefits the contractor and the customer because the contractor is more efficient and the homeowner benefits financially. More importantly, the customer will often get a higher quality job when the contractor uses modern equipment.
Experience with compaction techniques, mat quality and proper joint construction will also make a difference in the quality and longevity of your driveway.
Consider paving with a coat of binder or modified binder. Binder is a rough and durable grade of blacktop with 1-inch stones rather than the typical 3/8-inch stones. Using binder might add tremendous strength to your driveway.
Modified binder is a good option if you want a cost-friendly paving job and you have an adequate 8-inch stone base. Modified binder sheds most rainwater and doesn’t need a wearing course — the very top, surface layer of asphalt — to seal it. It is often cheaper and sometimes better than a wearing course.
Investing in a sufficient stone base, hiring a quality and experienced contractor and considering a binder are great ways to help your asphalt driveway stand the test of time.