If your driveway needs a facelift but you're on a budget, asphalt resurfacing may be just the option you are looking for. Not all concrete drives are suitable for a new asphalt topping, so you must first assess your current driveway conditions and the area surrounding it.

Inspect Your Drive

Not all concrete drives are suitable for an asphalt resurfacing. Unlike concrete, asphalt is flexible. It expands and contracts regularly, and it's not as solid as concrete paving. Any flaws in the concrete will quickly transfer to the flexible asphalt surface. You will need to first thoroughly inspect the concrete to make sure it's a suitable base. Skip asphalt resurfacing if your concrete has any of the following flaws:

  • Cracks. Cracks indicate that the concrete isn't settling correctly, which means the asphalt will suffer the same settling problems and later develop a crack.

  • Raised slabs. Again, this is a settling problem from poor base construction. If the slabs are lifting or uneven, resurfacing won't fix the problem.

  • Large holes. Asphalt can only provide a temporary patch over a large hole in the concrete. It's better to replace the entire drive.

Minor pitting, such as from salt, won't affect the asphalt resurfacing if the slab is in otherwise good condition. You can also successfully lay asphalt over the expansion joints in the concrete, which are little more than man-made cracks.

Allow for Expansion

Concrete does expand during temperature fluctuations, so any large slab of concrete will be laid in several pieces. Each piece will have a joint space between them, which allows the concrete to expand safely without cracking or lifting.

Asphalt also expands and retracts, but it does so as a whole so it doesn't generally need expansion joints. The exception is when the asphalt is laid over a concrete base. The joints in the concrete will cause cracks in the asphalt as they expand and retract. You can avoid this problem by cutting through the asphalt directly above each expansion joint in the concrete beneath. These cracks are then filled with an asphalt crack sealer, which acts similar to the concrete expansion joint.

Mind Your Step

Generally, a 2- to 3-inch layer of asphalt is laid over the concrete when you use it to resurface. This can pose a tripping issue if sidewalks, steps or other paved areas connect with the drive. One option is to slope the asphalt down so it's level where it joins to other pavement, but this can compromise the integrity of the edge.

When it comes to stairs, the raised asphalt layer will make the risers on the steps too low. If possible, you can raise the height of the riser by adding onto their height.

Maintain Correctly

Unlike concrete, asphalt does require periodic maintenance to protect it against weathering and chemical damage from oil and gasoline. The simplest way to do this is by sealing the asphalt every two or three years. You will also need to avoid mechanical damage to the asphalt layer. Jack stands, bike and motorcycle kickstands, and even high heels can all leave divots in the asphalt. Placing a piece of wood beneath a stand distributes the weight evenly so this won't become a problem.

If your concrete is in good condition and you are willing to perform the necessary maintenance, asphalt provides an inexpensive alternative to costly driveway replacement. Contact professionals, such as those from Superior Asphalt Inc, to see how they can help fulfill your needs.

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