Concrete, Asphalt Paving, or Paving Stones?
When undertaking a new home construction or existing home renovation project, homeowners are often faced with the challenge of selecting the best type of driveway design and material; to simply grade a driveway, pour concrete, or install asphalt paving.
Yet another new innovative option is the use of paving stones made from concrete, asphalt paving material, clay, ceramic, or stone. Whatever material is used, the quality and durability of the finished pavement also depends on the quality of the preparation work.
Driveway Paving Options
Three types of driveway paving are commonly used, and all provide a good all-weather surface. The use of cobblestone (granite stones) or paving stone (man-made) has become one popular choice. Unfortunately, it is the most expensive type of paving available; making it cost-prohibitive for most homeowners. The other two options are poured concrete or asphalt paving.
Concrete or asphalt both provides a good surface for easy snow removal in winter climates. However, both are susceptible to heaving and cracking. Because it is a petroleum-based product, asphalt has some flexibility; more so than concrete. Causing it to perform better than concrete in this area.
Some other benefits of asphalt include:
- Like concrete, asphalt can be stamped with decorative patterns.
- Additional layers can be added.
- Asphalt prices are more cost effective.
Quality Pavement Requires Quality Preparation
When undertaking a driveway or roadway paving project, there other considerations to insure a quality, properly engineered finished project.
- High quality road base and paving materials.
- Proper weather conditions for undertaking all phases of the work.
- Properly maintained grading and asphalt paving equipment.
- A skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable excavation contractor as well as grading and paving contractor.
The sub-grade (or soil) beneath a driveway or road plays a crucial part in the finished project. Different soils vary vastly in expansion/contraction properties, in addition to how each acts with water. Soils that are high in clay or shale content are unstable. In time, this will create buckling and shifting under a load; or when subjected to various weather conditions.
A good excavating contractor knows that unsuitable soil must be removed from the sub-grade and replaced with suitable. For new construction, top soil as well as roots or other vegetation must be removed before adding any material. In addition, sub-grade soil must be compacted for stability purposes.
If trenching for utilities or other services has been done, make sure it is filled with sand and gravel (not soil) to avoid settling; and then compacted before adding road base material.
Road Base and Drainage
When building a road base in areas prone to poor drainage, consider integrating a geo-tech fabric between the sub-base and road base for improved stability. Like the sub-base soil, the road base must be compacted for stability. Road base thickness is normally 6 to 10-inches; the higher thickness required for larger, heavier vehicles and loads.
For surface drainage, a properly graded road bed should have a crown, or slightly higher center that slopes to the edges at a ratio of at least -inch per foot. This crowning effect should continue up and include the finished asphalt paving surface once the project is complete.
Once the road base is adequately compacted and crowned, paving may begin. When selecting a paving contractor, keep in mind that asphalt pavers are complicated machines. If not kept in good repair the machine will render a poor paving job.
Weather comes into play with a minimum required temperature of 45 F. In addition, paving should not be attempted in rainy conditions. Be wary of an asphalt paving company under a contract deadline on another project, which may force them to work on your project under less than ideal weather conditions simply to stay on schedule.
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