Are you researching the ideal paving material for your driveway or parking lot?

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Here at Betz Works, we’ve been providing asphalt paving services to Santa Cruz County residents since 1958. We help commercial and residential customers install beautiful, durable asphalt structures every day.

In this blog, we’ve distilled our expertise into a comprehensive guide to asphalt paving.

Key Takeaways

  • Asphalt is a semi-solid form of petroleum used for paving roads and other hard surfaces. 
  • Asphalt paving involves a variety of steps, including demolishing, grading, and preparing the site, applying and rolling the asphalt, and allowing it to cure. To ensure that paved surfaces last as long as possible, you’ll need to maintain them by fixing cracks and other damage regularly. 
  • Asphalt is generally less expensive, more durable, and easier to work with than other paving materials.
  • While you can DIY small asphalt paving jobs, we recommend hiring a professional like Betz Works for larger or more complex paving needs. 

An Overview of Asphalt Paving: What You Need to Know

Asphalt is a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It is used primarily for paving roads and as the binding component in bituminous materials.

The material creates a smooth, durable surface that can withstand heavy traffic and adverse weather conditions.

Asphalt paving also offers flexibility in terms of repair and maintenance. It allows for relatively easy patching of potholes and resurfacing of worn areas, ensuring a long lifespan of the paved surface.

Known for its durability and affordability, asphalt paving has become the go-to method for building roadways, parking lots, and more.

Types of Asphalt Paving

types of asphalt paving

Asphalt paving can be broadly categorized into three main types, each serving specific needs and scenarios ranging from individual driveway installations to extensive municipal road networks. 

Here’s an overview of commercial, residential, and municipal asphalt paving:

Commercial Asphalt Paving

  • Parking Lots: Commercial properties require durable and well-constructed parking lots to accommodate the heavy flow of vehicles. Asphalt paving offers a cost-effective solution with a smooth finish, enhancing the overall look and functionality of the property.
  • Roadways and Access Roads: Asphalt paving helps create access roads that can withstand heavy traffic and large vehicles for businesses operating on large campuses or in industrial parks.

Residential Asphalt Paving

  • Driveways: Homeowners prefer asphalt for paving driveways due to its durability and aesthetic appeal. A well-paved asphalt driveway enhances curb appeal and adds value to the property.
  • Walkways and Paths: In addition to driveways, asphalt is also used to create smooth and accessible walkways and paths around residential properties, offering both functionality and visual harmony with the landscape.

Municipal Asphalt Paving

  • City Streets and Alleyways: Municipalities often choose asphalt paving for streets, alleyways, and public thoroughfares because of its cost-effectiveness and ease of maintenance, ensuring smooth and safe transportation routes for the public.
  • Public Parking Areas and Bike Paths: Asphalt is also the material of choice for public parking areas and bike paths. It provides a durable surface that can accommodate a variety of uses and withstand the elements.

Each type of asphalt paving has specific considerations, including the expected load, traffic frequency, and environmental conditions. 

These ensure that the chosen method meets your project’s unique demands.

Understanding Asphalt Types

When choosing asphalt for paving projects, homeowners should be aware of the different types of asphalt and their specific properties to select the best option for their needs.

Here’s an overview:

Type

Description

Best For

Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA)

  • HMA is the most common type of asphalt. 
  • HMA is heated and poured at high temperatures, ensuring a strong bond.
  • It is ideal for most driveways and pathways since it offers a durable surface that can withstand varying weather conditions and heavy traffic. 

Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA)

  • WMA is similar to HMA but is produced and applied at lower temperatures. 
  • This eco-friendly option uses less energy in production and emits fewer greenhouse gasses. 
  • Though less commonly used for residential purposes, it’s an option for homeowners looking for a more sustainable choice.

Porous Asphalt

  • Its unique composition allows water to drain through the surface and into the ground beneath, reducing runoff and the risk of flooding.
  • Porous asphalt offers a solution for homeowners concerned with drainage and water management. 

Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP)

  • RAP is made by recycling old asphalt surfaces. 
  • This is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly option
  • Perfect for homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising on quality.

Cold Mix Asphalt (CMA)

  • CMA is a versatile asphalt option that is not heated during the mixing and application process, making it unique among asphalt types. 
  • This characteristic allows for paving work to be done in colder temperatures, making it ideal for repairs, such as filling potholes, in colder seasons when other types of asphalt would be unworkable. 

  • Best suited for temporary fixes or low-traffic areas where a quick, easy solution is necessary.

Choosing the correct type of asphalt involves considering the project’s unique aspects, including traffic concerns, environmental conditions, and budget. 

For best results, consult a professional paving contractor like Betz Works to make an informed decision about your paving needs.

How Asphalt Compares to Other Options

Material

Pros

Cons

Concrete

  • Long lifespan and can handle heavier traffic loads, making them suitable for driveways and high-traffic areas.
  • More expensive than asphalt 
  • Can crack over time due to weather changes and ground movements.

Brick

  • Offer a classic, aesthetically pleasing look 
  • Come in various colors and shapes. 
  • On the higher end of the pricing spectrum
  • Require more maintenance 

Stone

  • Natural stone provides a unique, high-end look, and each piece is distinct
  • Durable and can last for decades
  • Installation and material costs for stone are high
  • Stone may require professional maintenance

Tile

  • Available in various designs, offering unparalleled customizability and style
  • Prone to cracking in freeze-thaw cycles 
  • Can become slippery when wet, posing a safety risk

Gravel

  • Inexpensive and able to provide good drainage 
  • Relatively easy to install. 
  • Requires regular replenishment 
  • Can be displaced easily, leading to uneven or messy surfaces

Synthetic Materials (Rubber and Plastic)

  • Durable, low-maintenance option 
  • Especially good for play areas due to their shock absorbency
  • Can be costly to install
  • May not provide the upscale look offered by other materials

What Option Do We Recommend the Most?

When compared to other materials like concrete, brick, stone, tile, gravel, and synthetic options like rubber and plastic, asphalt offers a unique blend of affordability, durability, recyclability, and aesthetic appeal. 

DIY vs. Professional Paving: Which Option Should You Choose?

When it comes to paving, taking the DIY route can be suitable for minor projects. 

Smaller tasks like repairing a walkway or creating a small patio space in your backyard can often be manageable for those with some handyman experience and the right tools.

However, for extensive paving jobs, professional paving services are usually the best bet. 

Professionals offer expertise, skills, and the right equipment to handle the job efficiently. 

One key benefit of hiring a professional paving service is longevity; properly installed asphalt will last significantly longer than DIY asphalt installed incorrectly. 

Additionally, professionals can foresee and address any underlying issues, such as drainage problems, which an amateur might overlook. 

In short, while DIY paving may save money upfront for smaller projects, professional paving offers expertise, efficiency, and durability, making it a wise investment for more substantial paving tasks.

The Asphalt Paving Process: Equipment and Steps

asphalt paving process

Equipment Used in Asphalt Paving

The professional asphalt paving process begins with specialized equipment to ensure a smooth, durable surface. 

Here are a few of the main pieces of equipment asphalt contractors use:

  • Milling Machines: These are used to remove the top layer of old asphalt and prepare the surface for a new layer.
  • Sweepers: Sweepers clean the surface after milling to ensure it is free of debris and ready for the fresh asphalt.
  • Dump Trucks: These vehicles transport hot asphalt from the plant to the job site.
  • Paving Machines: Also known as asphalt pavers, these machines lay the asphalt on the prepared surface.
  • Rollers: After placing the asphalt, the team uses rollers to compress it and create a smooth, compacted road surface.

Professional Installation Steps

  • Site Preparation: The first step an asphalt contractor will take is to design and prepare the site. This involves removing any existing pavement, debris, or obstacles. In some cases, it also involves milling and sweeping to ensure a clean, solid base on which to lay the new asphalt. Most contractors will use GPS and AutoCAD technology to survey the site throughout the preparation process. 
  • Grading: Next, the team will set the grade and slope of the area to ensure proper drainage and a level base for the asphalt.
  • Applying the Binder: To begin paving the area, the team will apply a binder layer made of large aggregate mixed with oil. This helps the new layer of asphalt adhere properly.
  • Laying the Asphalt: Next, the team will transport asphalt to the job site and apply it in layers with the help of paving machines.
  • Compaction: Once the asphalt is laid, the team will compact it with rollers to increase its density and durability. This process removes air pockets and ensures the surface is smooth and ready for use.
  • Cooling: Finally, the newly paved surface will be left to cool and harden for about 24 hours before use. 
  • Professional installation companies meticulously follow these steps to ensure a durable, high-quality surface that meets the specific needs of the roadway, parking lot, or pathway being paved.

Asphalt Damage and How to Repair It

While asphalt is designed to be durable, it’s not impervious to damage. 

Below are some of the most common types of asphalt damage and details on how to repair each:

1. Cracking

Various forms of cracks can appear on asphalt surfaces, including fatigue, edge, and block cracks. 

Here’s a quick overview:

  • Fatigue Cracks: Often referred to as alligator cracks due to their resemblance to alligator skin, these are typically caused by repeated loading and a weakened base or subgrade layer.
  • Edge Cracks: Manifest along the edges of the pavement, often due to insufficient support at the pavement edge, poor drainage, or heavy traffic loads.
  • Block Cracks: Block cracks, characterized by large rectangular or square patterns, usually result from the pavement’s inability to expand and contract with temperature changes.
  • Transverse Cracks: These run perpendicular to the pavement’s centerline and are mainly caused by the asphalt shrinkage during low temperatures.
  • Longitudinal Cracks: Running parallel to the pavement’s centerline, these cracks can be due to poor joint construction, pavement fatigue, or foundation movement.

Repairing cracks involves cleaning them out and sealing them with a high-quality crack filler to prevent water infiltration and further damage.

2. Potholes

Potholes occur when water penetrates through cracks into the underlayer of asphalt, causing the material to weaken and fail. 

Repairing a pothole requires removing the damaged area, cleaning it, and then filling it with new asphalt compound.

3. Rutting

Rutting happens when repeated traffic loadings deform the asphalt sublayer, leading to depressions or grooves.

To fix rutting, the rutted area must be removed and replaced with a new asphalt mix compacted to match the surrounding surface level.

4. Bleeding

Bleeding is characterized by a shiny, black surface on the asphalt caused by an excess of asphalt oil coming to the surface. 

Spreading sand over the affected area can address minor bleeding, but severe cases may require removing and replacing the top layer of asphalt.

5. Raveling

This damage is caused by the disintegration of asphalt, which leads to the loss of aggregate from the surface and creates a rough texture. 

Raveling is often repaired by applying a seal coat to replenish lost bitumen and protect the remaining aggregate.

6. Base Failure

Base failure is a severe problem that occurs when the foundation material beneath the asphalt surface becomes destabilized. 

This can result from inadequate compaction during construction, water damage, or the erosion of the base material over time. 

Symptoms of base failure include the following:

  • Large, interconnected cracks
  • Depressions in the surface of the asphalt

Repairing base failure is a complex process that typically involves excavating the affected area, replacing the unstable base material with a properly compacted new base, and then resurfacing the area with new asphalt.

7. Stripping

Stripping refers to the detachment of the asphalt binder from the aggregate particles, which usually results from water infiltrating the asphalt layer and weakening the binding. 

This leads to a loss of cohesion within the asphalt mix, which can manifest as potholes or surface disintegration. 

Preventative measures include ensuring a quality mix design and proper compaction during installation. 

Repair strategies might involve removing the stripped layer and replacing it with a new, properly compacted asphalt layer to restore the pavement’s integrity and performance.

Asphalt Maintenance 101

Caring for and maintaining an asphalt driveway is essential to maintaining its appearance and ensuring the surface lasts as long as possible.

With that in mind, here are our top maintenance tips:

  • Clean the Surface Regularly: Sweep your driveway regularly to remove debris. Use a hose to wash away spills and dirt, preventing stains and deterioration.
  • Sealcoat Every Few Years: Apply a sealcoat every two to three years to protect the asphalt from UV rays, oil and gasoline spills, and water penetration.
  • Fill Cracks Promptly Address cracks as soon as they appear. Use a high-quality crack filler to prevent water from seeping in and causing more damage.
  • Avoid Heavy Loads: Heavy vehicles can cause indentations or even cracks in your driveway. With this in mind, try to minimize parking heavy vehicles like trucks or RVs on your driveway for extended periods.
  • Support the Edges: Support the edges of your driveway with soil or lawn. This prevents the edges from crumbling over time.
  • Double-Check Your Drainage: Ensure proper drainage around your driveway. Water should flow away from the surface to prevent pooling and the subsequent weakening of the asphalt.

Betz Works is Your Source for Asphalt Paving Services on the Central Coast

Asphalt is a beautiful, durable option for paved surfaces. 

When you invest in professional installation and care for your new asphalt surface properly, it will last decades. 

If you’re seeking reliable asphalt paving services in Santa Cruz, Monterey or Santa Clara Counties, look no further than Betz Works. 

We’ve been a dedicated asphalt paving contractor since 1958, and we’re here to help 

you find the paving solutions that work for your needs, budget, and space.

Contact us today to learn more or request a free estimate. 

 

Asphalt Paving FAQ

1. How much does asphalt paving cost?

The cost of asphalt paving can vary widely depending on several factors, including the area’s size, the asphalt’s thickness, and geographic location. 

For DIY enthusiasts, the rough costs primarily include the price of bulk asphalt, which can range from $100 to $200 per ton, and the rental of necessary tools and equipment. 

Considering an average driveway, DIY asphalt paving might cost between $2 and $5 per square foot.

On the other hand, professional asphalt paving services offer a comprehensive package that includes material, labor, and machinery costs, resulting in a higher price point. 

Typically, professional asphalt paving costs between $3 and $10 per square foot. While upfront costs for professional services are higher, their expertise and access to high-quality materials can ensure a more durable and long-lasting pavement, potentially saving money on repairs and maintenance in the long run.

2. How should I choose a paving contractor? 

Choosing the right asphalt paving contractor helps ensure the longevity and quality of your paving project. 

To make the right choice, follow these tips:

  • Start by searching for contractors with a solid reputation in your area. Look for businesses with positive reviews, testimonials, and a track record of successful projects. It’s important to select a licensed, insured contractor who is willing to provide a detailed, transparent quote outlining the scope of work, materials, and costs involved. 
  • Find a contractor who is willing to communicate, discuss your project in depth, answer any questions, and accommodate your specific needs and preferences.
  • Lastly, compare bids from multiple contractors, but remember that the lowest bid isn’t always the best option. Focus on the value and quality of work you’re receiving for your investment.3. Is asphalt paving cheaper than concrete?

In terms of initial installation costs, asphalt paving is generally cheaper than concrete. 

Asphalt offers a cost-effective solution due to its lower raw material costs and faster installation time. 

3. What is the life expectancy of asphalt paving?

The life expectancy of asphalt paving typically ranges between 15 to 20 years, depending on various factors such as the quality of the initial installation, the volume and type of vehicular traffic, and the level of maintenance it receives over time. 

A well-installed and properly maintained asphalt surface can extend beyond 20 years, while neglect and high stress can significantly reduce its lifespan.

 Regular maintenance tasks, such as seal coating, crack filling, and periodic resurfacing, are crucial for maximizing the longevity of asphalt paving.

4. Is asphalt pavement better than concrete?

It depends on your application, but the answer is generally yes—asphalt is a better paving material than concrete. 

Asphalt, known for its flexibility, tends to be more resistant to cracking in cold weather and is generally less expensive to install than concrete. However, it requires more frequent maintenance to keep it in good condition. 

Although concrete is more expensive upfront, it has a longer lifespan and requires less maintenance over time. 

Concrete can also reflect more light, reducing the need for outdoor lighting, but it may not fare as well in extremely cold climates due to its susceptibility to cracking from freeze-thaw cycles. 

Contact a local asphalt paving contractor like Betz Works to learn more about which option is best for you.