You want an attractive, freshly paved driveway, but you’re unsure where to start.

At Betz Works, we have over 50 years of combined experience in the asphalt industry, so we know what it takes to create a beautiful, paved surface.

In this blog, we’re sharing our step-by-step process for laying asphalt, including what equipment you’ll need and how to ensure your surface lasts as long as possible.

Key Takeaways

  • To lay asphalt like a professional, you’ll need evaluate the existing surface (dirt, baserock, asphalt) to determine what prep work needs to be done prior to paving. Dirt will need to be graded, compacted, and a foundation of baserock added prior to paving. Old asphalt with subgrade failures will need to be demolished and removed. The existing subgrade will need to be graded correctly for water run off. The next step is to Grade, moisture condition and compact the aggregate base. Install the new asphalt surface, and seal the finished product after the new asphalt has cured.
  • Because asphalt installation requires heavy equipment that most DIYers don’t own or have access to, we recommend hiring a professional for expert asphalt installation.
  • If you’d like help adding a new asphalt surface, contact Betz Works.

Before You Get Started

Before you begin the process of laying asphalt, take some time to do the following:

1. Make sure it’s truly a DIY job

Should you lay the asphalt on your own or hire a pro?

While DIY installation is possible, it’s usually best to call a professional.

Here’s why:

Investing in professional services helps you avoid frustrating and costly pitfalls like improper grading or drainage, problems with the subsurface base, and asphalt that is not compacted to the correct density for vehicular traffic.

It’s also the fastest way to get a beautiful, paved surface!

2. Evaluate the road base

The road base is the foundation of your paved surface, and you have a few different options to choose from:

You can install pavement on the existing asphalt driveway. This process is called and overlay. Remove the old driveway and pave on the existing baserock, or remove the old driveway and lay the asphalt on a new section of aggregate base. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of each:

  • Laying pavement on your existing driveway: If your driveway is in good condition (meaning no subgrade failure), you can usually lay hot mix asphalt right on top of it. The main consideration here is height: laying asphalt on top of an existing driveway increases the height of the paved surface. With this in mind, you’ll need to ensure that the added height won’t negatively impact your fences, garage floors, doorways, or most importantly the flow of water.
  • Remove the old driveway and pave on Existing Baserock: If you pursue this installation option, you must remove the existing driveway, grade and recompact the existing baserock and add 2-3” of hot mix asphalt right on top of the soil. This is an ideal option if the existing asphalt needs to be removed for drainage or finish grade height considerations.. 
  • Remove the old driveway and pave over an aggregate base: This is the preferred method for laying asphalt if you have subgrade failure or no baserock under your driveway. This process involves installing a new aggregate base that’s 6-8” deep and then adding 2-3” of asphalt. With this method, the aggregate base will over decades of stability for your new asphalt driveway..

3. Gather the tools and equipment you’ll need

Installing asphalt requires heavy equipment that most homeowners don’t own or have access to. 

That’s part of why we recommend hiring a professional to do the job: doing so ensures you’ll get the right tools for the job without having to rent or buy anything. 

If you want to DIY your asphalt installation, however, you’ll need to rent or purchase equipment, including but not limited to the following:

  • A double drum roller
  • Asphalt paver
  • Hand tools – Asphalt rake and shovels
  • A hand tamper
  • A tractor to grade
  • An excavator to remove existing driveway

5 Steps for Asphalt Pavement Installation

asphalt pavement installation

Here’s a step-by-step overview of the asphalt installation process:

1. Demolition and removal of the existing surface

The first step in asphalt installation is to remove the existing asphalt, concrete, or paved surface. 

Usually, this step is completed with the help of heavy machinery like excavators or jackhammers, which make it easy to dig up the surface and remove it. By the end of this step, the surface should be completely clean and clear of all debris. 

2. Sloping and grading

Once the surface is clear, it must be graded and sloped to ensure appropriate drainage. 

Since water is a major cause of asphalt damage and degradation, this is a critical step. 

During this process, the driveway surface is sloped so that water drains off the sides or bottom. Low and soft spots are also filled in with engineered fill and compacted firmly during this process. 

3. Preparation of the aggregate base

Next, the baserock is installed.

In most cases, this baserock is composed of aggregate rock material, which provides a stable surface to support the new asphalt. It also provides a frost barrier, which reduces freeze/thaw damage in cold climates. 

The amount of aggregate base you install depends on the composition of your underlying soil. If your soil is clay-based, you should install about 8” of crushed rock. If the soil is sandy, you’ll need at least 4” of crushed rock. 

As the aggregate base is installed, you’ll need to make sure the rock is disturbed evenly and that it’s compacted with a roller to ensure stability. Ensuring a solid baserock section is critical to a high-quality finished product. 

4. Installation of the new asphalt surface

Once the supportive baserock is in place, the new asphalt surface is installed – usually 2-3” thick for residential driveways and 4” in two lifts for commercial driveways. Professionals use heavy machinery to Apply the asphalt, while DIYers can use simple equipment like shovels, rented asphalt pavers, Asphalt rakes, and plate compactors. 

As you install the new asphalt, you’ll also need to smooth transitions from new paved surfaces to existing surfaces, like walkways, driveways, roads, and parking lots, and ensure that grading and run-off are appropriate.

As you lay the asphalt, you’ll need to smooth and compact the surface. While the pros do this with a massive roller 6,000 LB, DIYers can use a plate tamper, which can be rented from equipment suppliers.

Rolling the surface smooths the asphalt and achieves the proper densities for asphalt to with stand vehicular traffic. Rolling the surface at the correct temperature is one of the most important parts of the paving process.

5. Final sealing

After about three to twelve months, when the new asphalt surface is fully cured, we recommend sealing it to prevent wear and tear, safeguard the surface, and avoid problems with water intrusion. 

Looking For an Asphalt Paving Contractor in Santa Cruz County? We can Help!

If you’ve decided not to pave your own driveway or you just want the peace of mind of professional assistance, Betz Works is here for you. 

Offering professional driveway paving services, our team is uniquely equipped to provide a beautiful, durable paved surface that you and your family will enjoy for years to come.

We serve all of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara Counties. 

Ready to learn more? Contact us to request your free estimate today.

Asphalt Installation FAQs

1. How long does it take to lay asphalt?

It usually takes about a day to install asphalt and an additional 24 hours for the driveway to cure completely (you shouldn’t drive on the driveway during the curing process).

2. What is the best time to install asphalt?

The best time to install hot mix asphalt depends on the weather conditions. In Central California we install asphalt year round as long as weather is favorable for prep, installation and cure time. We often talk to customers about having the right “window” of weather to compete their project.

The thickness of the paved surface you’re installing is another factor to consider: thicker paved surfaces provide more leeway and allow crews more time to work on the surface, while thinner surfaces can get cold and hard quickly. 

3. How long does asphalt last?

When asphalt is installed correctly and properly cared for, it should last about 20-30 years. Simple solutions, like regular cleaning and sealing, can help extend the lifespan of your asphalt. 

4. Can you put asphalt over dirt?

Yes, although not recommended and often no warranty will be offered for this application, this tends to be one of the least stable ways to install asphalt. Installation of baserock is always recommended and for many building departments, baserock is required per county codes.