The asphalt driveway of this home is seal coated before it can be used by homeowners. (Photo courtesy of Suzanne and Charles Murray)
Asphalt, or blacktop, can be installed in about two days using a process that lays hot asphalt over the foundation and is then rolled flat. After it sets, you will be able to use your driveway in about a week. This is likely to be your least expensive driveway option and, with proper maintenance, it should last 20 years or more.
Because asphalt has a tendency to fade with time and use, a sealer will have to be applied every one to three years, depending on condition, in order to keep the driveway looking good and to help prevent or slow deterioration. With time, asphalt driveways may also be weakened by poor water drainage or plant growth - forcing them to sag or crack prematurely. Often, an asphalt driveway can be repaired or restored by a recapping process, adding a new layer of asphalt over the old.
If your car develops a fuel leak, don’t park it over asphalt until it’s fixed. Gasoline will dissolve asphalt and create a gravelly hole.
Advantages of asphalt:
- Easy to repair
- Less susceptible to damage from freezing or thawing
- Hides dirt and stains well
Disadvantages of asphalt:
- Tendency to sag, crack heave due to poor drainage or plant growth
- Fades over time, requiring regularly sealing
- Limited color, stamping options