Protecting Your Asphalt Driveway During The Winter Months

Posted on: 20 April 2015

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If you have recently had an asphalt driveway installed on your property, then you likely want to protect your invest due to the cost of the installation.  Thankfully, most asphalt driveways last between about 12 and 35 years.  However, if you do not properly care for your driveway during the winter months, then the asphalt may not last as long as you want it to.  Click here to read or follow the tips below to make sure this is not the case.

Fill Cracks Beforehand

One of the most important things you can do to keep winter damage to a minimum is to repair cracks before the cold weather sets in.  Asphalt driveways are constructed with about four, five, or six inches of solid asphalt material.  This asphalt is made out of a thick and tar-like hydrocarbon mixture that is heated.  Aggregate materials like gravel, sand, and stones are then added to the hydrocarbon.  The aggregates add bulk and strength to the asphalt, while the hydrocarbon acts like a type of glue to bind the materials together.

Unfortunately, ice can place a great deal of pressure on the bonded materials.  This happens when water and snow fill small cracks and openings.  The water expands as it freezes and forces some of the aggregate to break away from the tar mixture.  Also, the water can work its way all the way down to the gravel substrate that is placed underneath the asphalt.  As the water freezes, it pushes upward and creates hills and uneven areas across the driveway materials.  All of this type of damage can be prevented though, as long as you fill in visible cracks.

Crack Filling Methods

It may be wise to contact your asphalt contractor to properly fill in cracks that are wide or long, but you can repair smaller openings yourself.  Remove loose asphalt chunks with your hands first, and also get rid of debris by vacuuming out the opening.  Once the space is clean, go to your local home store and purchase a rubberized asphalt filler material.  A cold compound sealed in a squeeze bottle or caulk container is the easiest to use.  Squeeze the material in the crack and immediately use a squeegee or a piece of cardboard to smooth it out.  Allow the material to dry for four to eight hours and apply a second layer of filler if the material has settled.

Protect the Edges

Snow removal is very important to keep ice and snow from accumulating on the surface of your asphalt driveway.  The removal keeps melted snow and ice from openings you may have missed.  It is in your best interest to hire a professional snow removal expert to make sure that the top layer of asphalt is not removed from the surface of the driveway.  Even a professional plowing expert can damage the edges of your driveway though, if they are not marked properly.  The edges of your driveway are the weakest areas across the entire asphalt surface.  This is true, even though contractors will taper the edges downward so they are not easily stressed.

Edging and Markers

During the warm winter months, consider placing edging materials across the sides of your driveway.  Stone pavers, bricks, railroad ties, and plastic edging are all good options.  Once the cold weather approaches, place driving markers every two or three feet along both the right and left edges of the driveway.  Three to four foot markers with reflective orange or yellow stickers on the top are the most visible.  Make sure the markers are also the plastic variety that bend when you hit them.  This way, the markers will stay in place even if you accidentally run them over with your car.

If you have invested in a new asphalt driveway within the last few years, then you want to make sure that the asphalt material remains strong for many years.  Filling cracks and protecting edges can help offer protection during the winter months.