My Asphalt Driveway Is Crumbling-Can It Be Fixed?
Asphalt is one of the most common driveway materials used in the UK as it is relatively easy to lay and a cheaper option compared to the more time consuming paving stones or even concrete. However, not everyone who has an asphalt driveway is entirely happy with the results.
In some cases, the material begins to crumble, and the surface and edges are left with gaps and pits that make it look unattractive and impractical. So what can be done with a asphalt driveway that is crumbling and what are the better options? It’s time to find out…
What Is Asphalt?
Asphalt is a mixture of aggregates, binders and fillers that can be used to build pavements, driveways, paths and even road surfaces. The aggregate used can be crushed rock, sand, or gravel, which is mixed with a binder – usually bitumen, at about 5% of the total mix.
This is what gives asphalt its distinctive black look. The mix proportions are extremely important when it comes to getting the required finish – for example, a driveway will need a different mixture to a pathway.
The difficulty is getting the right degree of strength, while still maintaining enough flexibility to avoid cracking.
Asphalt can be applied as a hot mix, a warm mix or a cold mix. Hot mixes work best where more strength is required and it can be worked more easily into the required depths and shapes. Cold mix is often weaker and more prone to crumbling and cracking.
Why Choose Asphalt?
Asphalt has many benefits and can be used in many applications and until recently was a great choice for driveways, roads and paths. Here’s a few of the pleasing plus points of opting for this surfacing solution:
● It is a cheap surface to lay and the raw materials are inexpensive to buy
● It is ideal for roads as it is forgiving when it comes to tyre noise – causing less noise pollution
● If mixed correctly, asphalt can last a very long time – up to 20 years if correctly laid. It can also be repaired easily and a new layer added if needed
● The surface can even be reused and recycled making it sustainable – it is simply dug up, reheated and used again. As such it has a low carbon footprint compared to other surfaces such as concrete.
● Asphalt is permeable and allows the penetration of water through its surface
● Because there are no joins in the way it is laid, there is nowhere for water to settle or for cracks to develop – this makes it ideal for areas where you need a surface that lasts
While asphalt comes up as being perfect for many applications, the ease with which is can be laid means that many driveway companies use it and some do not understand the product – leading to poorly laid driveways that are not standing the test of time.
4 Critical Reasons Why Your Asphalt Driveway’s Crumbling
There are several reasons why your driveway may be crumbling and most come down to a poor understanding of the product and incorrect laying. In many cases it is simply a normal process of decay caused by oxidation from the sun.
Over the years, your driveway will lose its good looks, start to fade, and the crumbling will, inevitably, begin. If a problem shows up within the first year or two however, it is more an issue with the laying of the mix. Here’s 4 underlying factors for why your asphalt surfacing is starting to crack:
● The sub base is extremely important when it comes to your asphalt driveway. In most cases contractors should use a deep base driveway with plenty of stones used for the base layer. This is the process used under roads and railways, and is therefore designed to last. The use of a geotextile product over the soil can also be useful in ensuring that the sub base remains strong. If there is going to be a problem with the sub base, this will show up after the first rainfall, as the water will cause the base to shift and sink.
● The sub-base needs to extend beyond the edges of the asphalt layer. If the top layer reaches the edge of the gravel layer, the edges can begin to crack, and flake off when driven over. This is because there is no sub-base support directly underneath the edge. As much as 6 inches of gravel base should be used all around the perimeter – this edge can be hidden under grass, or other edging materials.
● Over time, the sand used in the mixing of the asphalt will begin to work its way out of the driveway, and the gravel will come loose. This can lead to potholes and cracks, and pitted areas that are hard to fix.
● Sealing an asphalt driveway is often recommended, but is never a good idea. Asphalt needs around 90 days to cure properly, and a further 6 to 9 months to really harden completely. You could think about sealing it, but you may ruin the flexible nature of the driveway, and cause the very cracks and crumbling you are trying to avoid.
My Asphalt Driveway Is Crumbling: Repairs vs Replacement
Making repairs as quickly as possible is the best way to extend the life of your driveway. One advantage of asphalt is the fact that it can be patched quite easily – although it is wise to get a good contractor in to do this for you.
If you have potholes or cracks, these can simply be filled with new material. If the issues are caused by a poor sub-base, it will continue to shift around unless you pull up the driveway and start again. In this case, you might want to consider a new material that will prevent these issues.
If you chose asphalt make sure the contractor does the following:
● Installs at least 4 inches of crushed stone as a base for the right level of drainage
● Has graded the driveway away from the house, to prevent pooling of water
● Has used the right mix of asphalt for your domestic needs
● Has laid at least 2-3 inches of asphalt that is compacted between each layer, to prevent the top staying soft
● Has not sealed the driveway until it is properly cured
● Has installed a retainer around the edges, or ensured the sub base extends beyond the edges
Resin Bound Surfacing: The Ideal Alternative To Asphalt
While asphalt is cheap, it may be a false economy. This is especially the case when you choose the wrong contractor, or have one of the many issues that can cause crumbling.
Your best option is to choose a driveway that is known to be long lasting and attractive too. A resin bound driveway has these benefits and much more.
Using a mixture of resin and aggregate, a resin bound driveway can be made to any colour you wish and is laid in a similar way to an asphalt driveway but has many more benefits. The driveway lasts upwards of 15 to 20 years, is extremely hard wearing and still allows the free drainage of water.
Asphalt can be used as a base for these driveways, but concrete also works well. The base needs to be carefully prepared, as with all driveways, but a resin bound driveway is more forgiving.
Asphalt and resin bound are two good options for your driveway, but resin bound material offers a long lasting solution that will not crack or crumble. Plus it is better looking, and will maintain those good looks over the years.
Seeking at a driveway surface that stands the test of time? Resin bound material offers the best value for money. Take the first step to creating a strong and durable driveway today, Calling 0800 1700 636 or by simply clicking the button below!