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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Northern Virginia
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    Default Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    I searched both TOH articles & blog Discussions and didn't find a comprehensive discussion of this, and so would appreciate any comments and your experience.

    First, my asphalt driveway has several v-cracks that are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide and many smaller cracks that were previously filled.

    My location: in Northern Virginia where overnight temperatures are below freezing in Dec/Jan/Feb; get 15-20 inches of snow and 43 inches of rain per year. The driveway circles around the house and slopes down 1+ story from above street level to basement level to a side-loading garage. It is about 75 feet long and has a 35 x 35 turning circle area -- my estimate is over 2,000 sf of asphalt.

    I received a quote of $4,300 to repave with 2.5-inch asphalt (2" inch upon curing) and a cloth crack sealer that bonds to the cracks and won't be visible. They will grind the edges so the asphalt won't be overbuilt there.

    This is about sealing the cracks (to prevent serious damage from winter conditions), eliminate future cracking and giving a nice appearance for 20 years. It's seems filling in the big cracks, without repaving, is only temporary and is unsightly (my wife needs it to look good).

    The house is 46 years old and I think the driveway was repaved once (given 20 years for asphalt).

    What are other things to consider and what should I ask the contractor to guaranty.

    My wife also talked to a resealing contractor but I told her resealing is a different process and they wouldn't do a better at filling cracks than I would with big box supplies by myself.

    My previous house in California had pavers - - I thought I had a good deal at $12/sq feet to breakup rebar concrete and replace with 12x12 pavers -- loved the look, longevity and lower susceptibility to cracking, but dropping $20,000+ of savings today on a house where all houses in my area will at least sink in value after the government reduces loan limits this fall is suicidal.

    Trying to get opinions on the matter. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    208

    Default Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and I just had my parking lot repaved this month (after 50 years). Maybe they do things differently here, but I'm having a lot of trouble understanding your post because:

    1. Repaving doesn't just involve replacing the asphalt. It involves replacing the base under the asphalt as well, and there are different kinds of bases and different ways to build them up. You should know what the contractor intends to do besides ripping out the old asphalt and paving with new asphalt.

    2. Cracks in the asphalt really don't warrant repaving. It's when the asphalt starts breaking up to the extent that the limestone base and/or mud below the limestone start coming up through the broken asphalt that your asphalt needs to be redone. A contractor telling you that asphalt only lasts 20 years is like a mechanic telling you that a new car will only last 5 years. They're both right because minor things will start to go wrong with a car after 5 years or so. But, no one replaces a 5 year old car because one of the light bulbs has burned out. You can expect a good 20 years out of a new car, and you can reasonably expect 50 years out of a decent paving job. Your asphalt is still young at 20 years old. You still have another 20 years (at least) of life left in your asphalt.

    Here's what my parking lot looked like after 51 years. The building was built in 1960, and I had my parking lot paved during June, 2011. So this asphalt was 51 years old:



    You can see the asphalt between the camera and the red car is covered with dirt or sandy mud. That is dirt that's migrated up through cracks in the asphalt under that dirt. That is just one area where there was sand/mud coming up through my asphalt from below.



    You can see that there was a crushed limestone base under the old asphalt. This picture shows the excavation of the parking lot; under the old asphalt was several inches of crushed limestone. I don't know how many inches of crushed limestone there was, but I'd guess at least 6.



    After excavating down 12 inches, they put down a geotextile fabric (similar to landscaping fabric, but much thicker and stronger) and put 9 inches of 3/4 inch down crushed limestone down over the fabric. For the small incremental cost, it's always a good idea to put down geotextile fabric between the ground and the base. That prevents the limestone base from mixing with the ground and soft spots forming under your asphalt. And, preventing that mixing increases the lifespan of the paving.



    By the end of the first day, they had excavated, put down geotextile material and spread 9 inches of crushed limestone.

    The second day, they sprayed water onto the crushed limestone base and compacted the limestone base. When compacting limestone, it's important to have the moisture in the limestone right. If it's too dry it won't compact well, and neither if it's too wet. A graph of the hardness of the compacted limestone versus it's moisture content is an concave down parabola. You want the hardest base of limestone you can get under your asphalt to support it well.

    On the third day, they spread and rolled a 3 inch layer of asphalt over the limestone base. You want to leave the asphalt for a few days for it to harden up before driving or parking a car on it. After the job was done, it looked so good I was sorry I didn't pay extra to have the stall outlines painted on the asphalt.

    About the only complaint I had when the job was finished is that they didn't get a uniform slope; I end up getting some puddles on my parking lot after a rain.

    What you should be asking your contractor is whether he intends to excavate the old base out from under the old asphalt.

    And, is he going to put down a geotextile fabric before putting new crushed limestone down?

    And, how does he intend to build up the limestone base. In my case, they just spread out 9 inches of 3/4 inch down crushed limestone one day and sprayed it down with water and compacted it the next day. Really, they can't compact that thick a layer of limestone in one shot, but it's commonly done on residential parking lots simply because there's no really heavy vehicles driving or parking in that lot. Some paving companies wanted to put down a 6 inch layer of 2 1/2 inch down limestone, and then top with a 3 inch layer of 3/4 inch down limestone. In actuality, if it's only a parking lot with no heavy vehicles (like garbage trucks or dump trucks) driving over it, either way of doing it will last.

    And, for parking lots where you do get heavier vehicles (like shopping centers and such), where I live, it's common to pave with 4 inches of asphalt instead of 3.

    You need to find out exactly what your contractor intends to do. Maybe where you live, they simply spread asphalt directly over mud, but I'd be surprised at that. I'd talk to some paving companies and find out whether you guys use geotextile fabric there, and what kind of base (if any) you typically use under driveways.
    Last edited by Nestor; 06-28-2011 at 10:03 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    Dear Nestor: appreciate your taking the time to explain your project. You basically had your asphalt area ripped out, and re-done from scratch.

    The "repaving" that is proposed for me is to shave off the edge perimeter and jackhammer out some areas to smooth out some spots, and basically add a new 2" topcoat. The contractor proposed to treat 124 feet of stress cracks with a fabric patch. But basically, will leave the old blacktop intact and add a new layer. The idea is to make my 2,000 sqft driveway & turning area crack free for period of time -- this to cost about $2 per square feet or $4,400.

    The foundation materials will be left alone.

    My paver project in my prior home in California was about $12/sf to rip out the entire concrete driveway, prepare the foundation and lay down about 900 sf of pavers. I think they were as careful in the foundation preparation as your guys (but not 9" of foundation materials). Pavers are very forgiving with cracks & settling.

    If I were you, I probably would have done pavers instead of asphalt in your case if the cost was similar, but it's a personal preference.

    In the last 2 days, we decided to have the cracks filled and re-sealed (hopefully a more uniformed blacktop look). Our 45 year old driveway actually is in decent shape but for the cracks -- foundation material is not working to the top, but we need to seal the cracks to prevent water getting under and freezing to avoid potholing damage.

    My question now is whether there is a preferred way of sealing cracks -- just some black gluck from the store ? My wife says to let the contractor do it, but they're charging $300 to reseal and fill cracks (in one visit, in 1/2 day, etc.) and I don't know if crack filler needs time to cure for the best result.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Default Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    Sorry, I can't advise you on this cuz I've never filled cracks in asphalt.

    Most of the places that do asphalt repaving don't make their own asphalt; they'll buy it from a company in your area that makes asphalt for those paving companies. I would phone around to see who makes asphalt, and they would also know what to use to fill cracks in asphalt, and where you can buy it.

    I know you can buy asphalt coated gravel for filling pot holes at your local lumberyard or home center, but that wouldn't be very suitable for filling cracks tho.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    What people are saying on the internet is to fill cracks using the black stuff from Home supply stores and then re-sealing. The sealing material will give an uniform "new" look to it.

    The re-paving quote I received was for a commercial crack filler (some sort of fabric) and then 2" of new asphalt on top of old.

    This is different that your definition of re-paving, which is to rip up the old asphalt, re-prepare the foundation with the right stuff and put in a new top -- really a new driveway.

    It seems my driveway can be salvaged by refilling cracks and then re-sealing, but it needs to be done in the "right" way.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2011
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    Default Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    I agree completely that you should be able to fill the cracks in your driveway and use it for many years yet.

    Phone the companies that make asphalt in your area for sale to the paving companies. They should know what you should use to fill your cracks, and where to buy it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    Brookworld -

    Have you had your driveway done yet?


    Nestor -

    may I ask what is the size of your parking lot and you paid for the new job?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Brookworld -

    Have you had your driveway done yet?

    No, not yet. I going to fill the cracks myself and have the re-sealing done professionally. Repaving doesn't seem the right thing.
    Spent last Sunday buying the stuff at Home Depot and can only get what HD carried.
    Then a storm moved through, creating a lot of brush debris on the driveway and it's now hot & humid, so I'm hiding out until the wife complains that the place is falling apart and I better do the work or hire someone (or she will and empty the bank account).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    4

    Default Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    Hi Brookworld, We, too, have driveway problems and are about 1 hr. north of you. The driveway was repaved at some point- a new layer of asphalt atop the original which makes a 1 1/2 in lip up from the garage to the driveway. The driveway has cracks and two spots where the asphalt is coming off in chunks- one where it meets the street (started when they repaved the street and did a terrible job connecting to our driveway.) and another where no chunks have come off but you can see chunks forming. The asphalt underneath seems cracked but intact. Finding a reputable contractor is one issue, but do you think we need to have the top layer taken off and redone? How did you reach your decision? Barbara

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    208

    Default Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Nestor -

    may I ask what is the size of your parking lot and you paid for the new job?
    The area of my parking lot is 4120 square feet, and the cost to repave was an even $20,000. I had to pay an addition $1,000 (which is 5 percent) in Provincial Goods & Services Tax.

    This was not the lowest cost estimate for this work, but it wasn't the highest either.

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