Driveways come in different shapes and forms. There are concrete driveways, paved driveways, gravel driveways, asphalt driveways and more. With the large amount of physical stress and pressures that your driveway is going to have to endure, you need to make sure you choose a material that will stand up to it.
Before making a decision, it’s worth considering your options and the benefits of each one. To help you out, we’re going to take a look at some of the benefits of having asphalt (also known as bitumen) driveways.
Durable and lasts for a long time
One thing you definitely want in your driveway is durability. With properly installed asphalt, you can expect your driveway to last approximately 15 years with any major maintenance.
Asphalt’s flexibility is one attribute that contributes to it’s long lifespan. Usually, two aggregate layers (the base and the subcase course) are laid on top of the compacted soil before the final asphalt surface is installed. The asphalt itself is made of an aggregate mixed into petroleum-based binder. These top three layers rely on interlocking grains for strength.
When a heavy vehicle parks on the driveway, the pavement distributes the load throughout the top layers via grain-to-grain action. The aggregate layers are designed to lessen the load by the time it reaches the soil subgrade. This ensures that the base can withstand the weight and not get damaged in the process.
It is important to note that excessive weight or pressure can damage the asphalt. In fact, this is true for many other pavement materials. So, even though bitumen boasts flexibility, be mindful of how much load you’re putting on it on a daily basis.
The good news is, very little maintenance is required to lengthen the lifespan of your asphalt driveway. The process of sealcoating will only need to be done once every year and resurfacing only needs to happen once every five years.
Provides a safe driving surface
Bitumen also has a few key safety features. For example, open-grade asphalt offers high levels of skid resistance during wet weather. When it rains, the asphalt’s porous surface will simply drain the water away, reducing the possibility of spraying and aquaplaning. This will improve the driver’s road-vision and car control.
Due to the chemical makeup of asphalt, it also melts ice and snow faster than other materials. This prevents excessively slippery driveways during the winter months.
Additionally, asphalt’s dark appearance can be useful when putting in light-coloured road markers. This contrast can improve the visibility of the markers and reduce the possibility of accidents. Also, during those hot summers when the sun gets blindingly bright, the dark colour of asphalt can help reduce glare.
Can reduce traffic noise
In addition to safety, asphalt can also provide peace and comfort through its sound-reducing properties.
Traffic noise occurs due to the interaction between tyres and the pavement. As you drive, air gets trapped between the tyres and the road. This air is then released, creating a sound. The more textured your pavement is, the louder the sound. Of course, it would be unsafe to have perfectly smooth pavements as it will compromise vehicle control.
So how does asphalt solve this problem?
With it’s porous surface, asphalt is able to effectively absorb sound vibrations. This reduces traffic noise by about 3-5 decibels. In cases it might even reduce it by 7 decibels. But more importantly, asphalt is able to do this without compromising driver control and safety.
When asphalt is removed from an old driveway, it doesn’t just go to waste. Some of the aggregate can be recycled and be used for new driveways. There are even some cases where brand-new driveways are made using 100% recycled asphalt. In fact, almost all of the reclaimed bitumen is either reused or recycled.
One method of recycling asphalt is milling. This involves removing the top layer of the pavement, leaving the sub base intact. After milling, the old bitumen will be taken to a recycling plant where it’s reprocessed and renewed.
In some cases, the asphalt will be pulverised. This is a process where the surface bitumen is mixed with the underlying layers. This new aggregate is then used as the sub base for a new driveway or road. This method is much more efficient as the process can be done quickly at the job site with no need to transport materials.
Recycled bitumen leads to less oil being used in manufacturing and less materials getting dumped in landfills.
An attractive look with low maintenance
Asphalt is one of the best looking materials that you can have for your driveway. That smooth black look is what you often see in movies and even video games. Some might think that such a sleek-looking surface requires meticulous and frequent maintenance. However, bitumen doesn’t need too much work to look good.
When asphalt is installed, a sealcoating will be applied to the surface. This coat acts as a barrier to excessive moisture and debris. Additionally, it also preserves that rich black finish that is characteristic of asphalt. As we’ve established, this sealing process only needs to happen once a year.
If your asphalt driveway begins to crack, you can simply use crack filling to repair it. It won’t be a perfect look, but it will keep the damage to a minimum and keep your driveway operational.
Cost is probably the most significant factor that will influence your decision. If you want an option that won’t break the bank upfront, then asphalt is a good way to go.
Of course, the price that you’ll pay for asphalt will depend on your geographic location and the amount of preparation that your property needs. Generally speaking, however, asphalt will cost you much less than other options. For example, concrete driveways will cost approximately twice as much as an asphalt driveway.
The cost of maintenance is another consideration. It’s worth nothing that bitumen maintenance might cost a bit more compared to other pavements. However, the money that you’ll be paying might very well be worth the advantages that you’ll be getting from asphalt. Additionally, since you only have to undertake a maintenance job once every year, these costs are somewhat manageable.
Before choosing a pavement for your driveway, it’s important that you consider the benefits of each option and see how they fit into your lifestyle needs. Is noise-reduction important to you? Can you manage the maintenance costs? These are essential questions to ask before diving in.
Regardless, asphalt driveways have plenty of benefits. When used in the right context, it can serve you well for a very long time.