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Driveway Longevity

Posted September 22nd, 2010 under renovations and repairs.

Nothing adds to the curb appeal of a home more than a nice black asphalt driveway. The instant visual improvement that comes from top-coating your driveway when putting your home on the market makes it a smart idea and well worth the cost.

However, don't be fooled into spending that money every year in the belief that it will “prolong the life” of your driveway. Not only is it a bad investment when done annually, it's also environmentally damaging.

The secret to a long-lived driveway is solid construction and proper sealing of cracks when they appear. The base of the driveway is the key. If a builder or paving company cuts corners when installing a new driveway by not preparing a proper base, the drive can buckle and disintegrate in as little as 2-3 years. Top-coating won't help, because the problem is under the drive, not on top!

The recommended depth of the crushed gravel base for a new driveway is 4 to 8 inches. With less than 4 inches of depth, your driveway will soon degrade. If you go to 8 inches or more, compacted in two or three layers and allowed to sit for a few months to a year to compact even further, then your driveway will last upwards of 25-30 years without any top-coating.

On any driveway, shrink cracks will begin to appear after 10-15 years of hot and cold weather and drying asphalt. When these cracks reach 1/16 of an inch or larger, you need to fill them with a proper filling compound (again, not top-coating!) to prevent water seeping down into the base. Water under your drive softens the ground and allows the top to buckle under the weight of your car.

If you invest in solid construction and you're diligent about filling shrink cracks, your driveway will be in great shape even after 20 years. As is often the case, paying for quality and investing your time in regular maintenance can save you a lot of money down the road.

Want to know more about getting the most out of your driveway? Just ask me, I'll be happy to help.

--Peter

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