How Driveway Paving Works

If you are considering paving your driveway, you have many options. Asphalt is economical and easy to maintain, while pavers offer various design choices. Go to to find the right driveway for your home.

driveway paving

Environmentally conscious consumers may opt for permeable pavers. These allow water to flow into the ground and help reduce stormwater runoff into sewer systems.

Before paving your driveway, it’s important to consider the type of surface you want to create and any requirements or laws that may affect the project. For example, your new driveway may require a permit or have restrictions on the size, layout, drainage, and inspections. If you live in a community with a homeowner’s association, checking with them before beginning the project is best.

The first step is to clear the area where you plan to pave. You’ll need to remove anything currently there, including old asphalt, concrete, and grass. It is typically a large job that requires heavy machinery like bobcats and forklifts. If you decide to remove the existing material yourself, wear protective equipment and follow all safety instructions.

Soil preparation is also important. Some types of soil, such as organic or peat, could be better at supporting concrete. They can expand or shrink as they absorb and lose water, which can cause the concrete to crack or heave. A professional soil specialist can advise whether your site is suitable for a concrete driveway.

Another option is to use concrete block paving (CBP), which is becoming more popular for driveways because it provides a wide range of design and color options. It’s also relatively quick to install, making it more cost-effective. CBP is available in several thicknesses, allowing you to choose the best one for your situation. Before installing the concrete, you must prepare the site by removing grass or debris and tamping it down. It ensures the concrete is firmly anchored and helps prevent it from moving once installed.

You can use many different materials for your driveway paving project, the most common being aggregate, concrete, and stone. Aggregate is popular because it offers a natural one-of-a-kind finish and is available in various colors, textures, and sizes. Its durability and flexibility in terms of design are another reason it is a popular choice for homeowners.

An aggregate base course is a sub-layer of the pavement that sits directly on top of the soil and provides a strong foundation for the other driveway layers. It is made of a recipe of various-sized aggregate rocks and is spread by hand or machine, then compacted to achieve a minimum of 95% relative compaction. The thickness of the base depends on the climate and type of soil, as well as how much traffic will be placed on the surface.

A gravel-based driveway uses a layer of small round stones, usually tan, brown, yellow, or white. It requires a solid sub-base to prevent shifting under vehicle weight, which is why it is more expensive than other options. It also needs edging to limit movement and protect the surrounding garden or lawn. Some people prefer a gravel driveway’s aesthetic, but it requires regular maintenance to keep it looking good.

A tarmac driveway is another option, but it can be slippery under vehicles. It also degrades more quickly than other surfacing options. Another advantage of a tarmac driveway is that it is cheap to install and requires little maintenance, although it is more expensive than other driveway paving options. It is important to use a high-quality sealant to extend its life and reduce the risk of cracks. A final option is a porous, SuDs-compliant paving system with a honeycomb concrete or plastic grid with grass in between. This solution can help relieve local sewer or storm drain issues and allow rainwater to seep into the ground, otherwise suffering from drought.

The layering process is what gives a driveway its structure and durability. The builder will start by digging up any existing surface and removing plants or rocks in the way of the project. Then, they will lay a base layer, usually made of crushed stone or aggregate sub-base. This layer is accurately graded and compacted to achieve the best strength and stability for the asphalt or paving material laid on top of it.

The next step in the process is to add a gravel layer over the base layer. It is typically a type of gravel that is native to your area and is composed of pieces of rock that are roughly 1 inch in diameter or smaller. This gravel is then spread over the compacted base layer and leveled to eliminate bumps or divots. A grade is also established at this point, which raises the center of the driveway slightly higher than the sides to promote rainwater drainage.

Finally, the top layer of your driveway is added. Various materials can be poured into concrete, bricks, cobblestones, or other paving stones. Some of these materials may be more expensive, but they can add a beautiful curb appeal to your property and increase the value of your home or business.

In addition, there are eco-friendly options for a driveway, such as permeable paving. This option allows water to pass through the paved surface and return back into the soil, avoiding the need for a separate stormwater drain system. However, it is important to note that permeable paving does not last as long as traditional asphalt or poured concrete and requires regular cleaning to keep it functioning properly.

Getting the compaction right is essential for any paving project, especially one as big and important as a driveway. Without it, the driveway’s surface will sag and develop low spots that don’t drain well. The sub-base needs to be compacted thoroughly and evenly. It is done using a mechanical compactor or hand tamping to avoid this. The process takes time, but skimping on it is not an option.

Once the sub-base is finished, it’s time to lay the second layer. It is the gravel layer, and it’s best if it’s made from smaller angular pebbles. It helps the gravel interlock and creates a solid surface resistant to rutting. The last thing you want is to see your new driveway develop ruts that will ruin your home’s overall look and feel.

As you lay the gravel, compacting it every few inches is important. That will ensure the stone stays in place and doesn’t wash away during heavy rains or flooding. A vibratory roller or plate compactor can be used for this. It’s important to work quickly because the material will harden and become uncompacted if it sits too long.

It is also a good time to add edging, providing a visual border and keeping the gravel contained. The frame is then backfilled with dirt to prevent it from washing out, and the area is graded once again.

Sealing the new surface is the final step in the driveway paving process. It protects the new asphalt and helps it retain its color and strength for longer. Following the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the sealant properly is important. Begin by pouring a small amount onto one corner of the driveway and working it in using a brush or floor squeegee, depending on what the product calls for. Continue sweeping and squeegeeing the sealant in a U-shaped pattern, moving forward and backward. Let the first coat dry based on the manufacturer’s directions.

Once the driveway is completely sealed, keeping vehicle traffic off it for several days while the asphalt dries is best. Unless you have the equipment and skills to pave your driveway, hiring a professional is the safest and quickest way to get a great-looking, long-lasting driveway.

Beware of contractors who try to cut corners during the driveway paving process. Some pavers will only put down an inch or two of asphalt to save on costs, but this will cause the driveway to break apart quickly. It’s also a good idea to ask if the contractor is insured. It is easy to protect yourself against costly repairs and replacements if a worker gets hurt on your property. You should be able to tell by the look of their work and business practices whether they’re reputable. A legitimate contractor should be able to provide you with proof of insurance and a list of references. They should also be able to give you a price quote upfront that includes all labor and materials.