The idea of an asphalt driveway probably doesn’t get the heart racing in terms of style, but when compared to driveway pavers and concrete driveways they represent a well priced and practical option. Furthermore they can look very smart when offset with creative landscaping ideas. In this driveways guide we will look at your options (more than you might realize), compare asphalt with concrete and look at the cost of installation, maintenance and repair.
A stamped asphalt driveway
When you know your options, you’ll select a driveway that you’re pleased with based on your budget requirements and/or your eye for aesthetics.
Standard asphalt driveways: This is the type of asphalt driveway you probably see most in your neighborhood. A standard asphalt driveway is made from “virgin” asphalt straight from the asphalt plant. The surface is smooth and a color ranging from the dark brown of black coffee to coal black. Most standard asphalt driveways include about 3 inches of asphalt. Standard asphalt can be resurfaced when needed with 1-1.5 inches of fresh material.
Recycled asphalt driveways: Also known as crushed asphalt, asphalt millings or RAP (recycled asphalt pavement), this material produces the lowest asphalt driveway prices. Asphalt removed from driveways, parking lots and roadways is crushed to about the size of gravel. The asphalt aggregate is trucked to the site, dumped and then spread 3-4 inches thick. The material is wetted to activate the tar, and then it is compacted to bind the pieces together. Recycled asphalt drives can be resurfaced with 1-2 inches of material.
Stamped asphalt driveways: New standard driveways are best for stamping. Existing driveways can be stamped if the asphalt is in very good condition. Otherwise, the drive must be resurfaced first. When stamping, the surface of the driveway is heated to soften the top inch or so. A steel template is laid on the hot material, and a tamping machine forces it into the asphalt to create the pattern. Before the asphalt fully cools, the template is removed. The heating and stamping proceeds section by section. A range of brick and stone patterns are available.
Once stamped, the asphalt is coated with a polymer cement material combined with modified epoxy acrylic to form a water-tight bond. The coating is sprayed onto the driveway. It can be tinted in a range of colors to look like brick, granite, concrete, terracotta, bedrock or other options. Stamped asphalt driveway prices make it a cost-effective alternative to paver stone and stamped concrete driveways, especially for homeowners with an existing asphalt drive.
If you want to get further stamped asphalt ideas take a look at this video:
This chart comparing asphalt to concrete driveways in major characteristics shows their similarities and differences:
|Initial cost||$3.20 to $5.50/sf||$1.95 to $4.25/sf||
|Sealing frequency||1-3 years||1-3 years||
|Sealing cost||$0.40 to $0.70/sf||$0.40 to $0.70/sf||
$1.25 to $2.50
|Color||Dark brown to black||Dark brown or gray to black||
Medium gray to nearly white
Here is an overview of the process of installing a standard asphalt driveway.
We have a dedicated post to help you calculate your asphalt driveway costs.
Costs vary based on how much aggregate base is required, the distance from the source of materials and related factors. Wooded property costs more to excavate than open land. Costs below are per square foot.
When you get driveway estimates, choose an installer with these traits:
Asphalt driveways require consistent care to look good for 20+ years. Here is what you can expect to have to do along with the costs you’ll incur.
Asphalt driveway sealing: The driveway should be sealed yearly in hot, sunny climates because the sealer will deteriorate. Annual sealing may be needed in climates with severe winters because plowing/shoveling/de-icing removes sealer.
In temperate climates, the driveway can be sealed as needed. When the sealcoat begins to fade, it is time to reseal.
Caution: Do not seal more often than is necessary. A buildup of sealer harms the aesthetics of the driveway and may make resurfacing it an impossibility.
Section Replacement: Sunken, raised or badly damaged sections of asphalt need to be cut out and replaced. Costs are high due to the labor-intense nature of repairs and the cost of bringing in a crew and equipment for just a small area of work.
One of the benefits of asphalt, both standard and recycled, is that it can be resurfaced at least once. Minor cracks in the existing surface are repaired. Settled areas are replaced or filled. Then, a fresh surface 1-2 inches thick is installed.
Homeowners choose resurfacing over repairs when: