If you're tired of kicking up dirt or gravel onto your vehicle each time you journey down your home's driveway, you may be wondering which solid-surface paving options are best to give your driveway a more uniform appearance and lasting durability. While both asphalt and concrete can fit this bill, you may find application to be more difficult than expected if you live in an especially hot or cold region. Read on to learn more about the most durable paving options for areas in which indoor climate control is often a necessity for much of the year.
For Cold Areas:
Cold air and freezing ground temperatures pose potential complications for both hot mix asphalt and concrete. Because hot mix asphalt must remain at a uniform temperature of between 275 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit while being transported and spread, scheduling this project for a frigid day could mean that your new asphalt loses its desired temperature as soon as it hits the air. This could lead to compaction problems and other structural issues down the line, and the efforts taken to keep this asphalt (and the ground) at a sufficiently high temperature can significantly increase your paving costs.
While concrete doesn't have the same high temperature requirements as hot mix asphalt, it does require some level of warmth in order to quickly set (or "cure"). The curing time increases dramatically as temperatures drop, extending a five hour project (at 70 degrees) to a 20 hour or more project if outside air temperatures drop below 30 degrees. In addition to this lengthened cure time, you'll also need to budget time (and money) for warming blankets or other ways to render the frozen ground more hospitable to a concrete pour. While it's not impossible to use concrete in a cold region, to do so will take some careful planning and may cost more than you've anticipated.
Fortunately, there is one paving option that should help you achieve the flawless appearance of a new driveway without requiring you to wait for the warmest days of the year. Cold mix asphalt (often composed of recycled hot mix asphalt and waste rubber like tires) is mixed at a lower temperature than hot mix asphalt and requires much less heat during the spreading and compaction process. This asphalt is often used by road crews during the patching process and can be applied directly to frozen ground without compromising the asphalt's quality.
For Hot or Dry Areas:
Asphalt, particularly hot mix asphalt, is ideal for warm-weather paving. When mixed and poured during the hot summer months, this asphalt cures easily and can often be driven upon within just a day or two of application. Pouring during the summer months also ensures that your asphalt driveway will be fully compacted (and therefore less vulnerable to cracking) by the time colder temperatures arrive.
However, if you choose to pour an asphalt driveway in a part of the country where summer temperatures routinely hit three digits for an extended period of time -- or if your new driveway will have direct sun exposure for much of the day -- you may want to investigate alternatives to the traditional dark grey or black asphalt used for most paving projects. Because dark colors absorb significantly more sunlight than light colors, they're more likely to build up high levels of heat, potentially burning you or another family member upon contact and prematurely aging your driveway. By choosing a lighter-colored asphalt or an asphalt product that includes UV-blocking chemicals, you'll be able to avoid sun damage to your driveway or any unfortunate accidents to family members, guests, or pets.
If you have any questions about asphalt and how it might work for your driveway, you may learn more here.