5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Installing an Asphalt Driveway

asphalt common mistakes
Several Typical Mistakes that Shorten the Life of Asphalt Driveways

Asphalt is a popular choice for driveway paving, and for a good reason. Asphalt driveways are durable, low-maintenance, and more cost-effective than other materials like concrete, brick, and gravel. Not to mention, it’s highly sustainable, as it can be easily repaired and reused multiple times.

Properly installing an asphalt driveway requires skill and experience. Otherwise, you could end up with an asphalt driveway that’s not up to standard, or worse, one that needs costly repairs or even replacement after just a couple of months.

Even if you’re working with a professional asphalt contractor, it pays to know the common mistakes associated with asphalt driveway installation to ensure your driveway lasts for many years.

To help you get it right the first time around, here are five mistakes to avoid when installing an asphalt driveway.

Common Pitfalls That Can Lower the Longevity of Your Asphalt Driveways

1. Using Low-Quality Asphalt

Why do some asphalt driveways start to crack and disintegrate after just a few months? Among the top causes is the quality of the asphalt mix used.

Asphalt consists of asphalt aggregate and asphalt binder, both of which should be made with high-quality materials. The aggregate, which makes up most of the mixture, is a general term for sand, gravel, or crushed stone. It should be of the correct size, shape, and moisture to ensure proper binding to the binder.

While the binder is usually less than 10% of the mix, it holds the aggregate together and should be durable enough to withstand temperature changes, water, and ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.

Using asphalt with low-quality components for aggregates and binders could lead to premature cracking of the driveway over time. Even with proper installation, the asphalt may only last a short time and require frequent repair and maintenance.

When choosing a contractor, it’s best to check the quality of their asphalt mix. Some properties you should look for are durability, flow resistance, safety, and purity.

2. Improper Grading of the Subgrade

The subgrade serves as the driveway’s foundation and grading it is one of the first and most crucial steps in installing an asphalt driveway. It involves adjusting the level of the underlying subgrade to ensure it’s even and sloped correctly.

If grading is done incorrectly, you could end up with an uneven driveway surface and one that pools water after rains, which could lead to cracks and potholes over time.

In grading, it’s essential to consider the transverse and longitudinal grade as well as the smoothness and cross slope of the subgrade to provide good drainage in all directions. 

It is important to work with a contractor who utilizes machinery that can automatically handle slopes and grade systems. In this way, the subgrade will be stable, solid, and level.

If you’re unsure about the proper grading for your driveway, consult a qualified contractor with experience in grading for asphalt driveways.

3. Poor Compaction of the Layers

Along with improper grading, failing to compact the subgrade and asphalt layers correctly is another common mistake that can weaken the structure and cause cracking. Compaction is the process of applying pressure to a surface to drive out the air bubbles between spaces, force the components together, and increase the surface’s density.

Compacting the subgrade and asphalt layers helps ensure they are dense enough to support heavier loads, prevent air voids, and provide adequate drainage. This process is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to extend the life of your driveway.

A general rule in compacting the subgrade is to use thin soil layers of six to eight inches to reach maximum density. It’s also crucial to set the asphalt at the right temperature depending on the environmental conditions to avoid problems within the aggregate components.

Once these are set, a qualified contractor usually uses self-propelled compactors to help press down any loose soil or aggregate particles, smooth out the surface, and strengthen the material.

4. Insufficient Curing

While it may look and feel cool and dry, asphalt needs time to fully cure for six to 12 months after installation. It allows the surface to set and achieve the optimum strength, density, and durability by maintaining the right moisture and temperature levels.

A lack of curing can result in an asphalt driveway that’s too soft, which makes it susceptible to cracking, shrinking, and rutting when exposed to weather elements, such as heavy rain or extreme temperatures.

As a rule of thumb, the newly installed asphalt driveway should be kept away from traffic for at least three days or more in hotter areas so it can harden enough to prevent premature damage.

The curing process is best done by covering the freshly laid asphalt with a waterproof covering, such as plastic or tarp, and keeping it wet until the initial curing period is complete.

5. Rushed Sealing Process

No matter how well you install your asphalt driveway, it will not last if you don’t seal it properly. Sealing an asphalt driveway adds a layer of protection from UV rays and water damage, which can cause cracks, potholes, and other signs of wear.

A driveway sealer that contains asphalt as its major component is ideal for protecting your driveway from harsh elements. However, the timing of sealing makes or breaks the outcome.

Many contractors recommend waiting three months to one year, depending on the climate, or until the surface is fully cured. If you rush this process, it will compromise the durability of the driveway and could lead to costly repairs in just a few months.

Get Your Residential and Commercial Asphalt Installation Done Right

Buck Brothers Asphalt Paving & Concrete is a trusted asphalt paving contractor in the Toledo area that specializes in all aspects of asphalt paving, from commercial asphalt installation to asphalt sealing and asphalt overlay repair.

Since 1950, our team has been committed to building long-lasting asphalt driveways that meet and exceed industry standards. We only use the highest quality materials to provide you with maximum durability and longevity.

Don’t let these common mistakes derail your dream of having an attractive and reliable asphalt driveway that will stand the test of time. Contact our experts at Buck Brothers today for a FREE NO OBLIGATION quote.


1. https://rmrc.wisc.edu/ug-ap-asphalt-concrete-pavement/

2. https://www.ctt.mtu.edu/sites/default/files/resources/paser/asphaltpaser.pdf

3. https://blogs.cornell.edu/learning/how-to-choose-a-driveway-surface/

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