The ability to differentiate between home repairs and improvements that you can make yourself and those that will require the help of a contractor is a very important skill to have. Not only will this skill prevent you from spending more money than you need to on professional services, but it will also help you to avoid costly mistakes by attempting DIY projects that are out of your league. It is my hope that this information contained in this blog will help you to obtain this skill. More importantly, it is my hope that once you have identified a project you wish to take on, this information in this blog will help you to get the job done.
If you want a new driveway installed on your property, then you may want to choose an asphalt variety. Asphalt does have many benefits over other materials. The low cost of the asphalt is one of the major attributes that makes it so popular. If you do choose to have asphalt installed, then you can pick from either residential or commercial asphalt. While commercial varieties are most often used for roads, it may be something that is optimal for your property. Keep reading to learn about some of the differences between commercial and residential asphalt.
The Stones Are Different Sizes
You may understand that asphalt is a mixture of materials. Generally speaking, it is constructed out of aggregate materials and bitumen. About 5% of the material is made from the petroleum based bitumen and 95% consists of sand, stone, and gravel. The stone within the asphalt will vary in size based on the grade of the material. Residential grade asphalt will have smaller stones while commercial grade will have larger stones. The smaller stones are typically mixed with a larger quantity of bitumen to create a smooth surface. This is aesthetically pleasing and may be the best choice if you use your driveway for parking only.
Commercial grade asphalt with larger stones contains smaller amounts of bitumen. This creates more air voids in the mixture. This type of mix can retain more stress and pressure than the residential mix and this may be a better choice if you park and RV, semi, or heavy loads on the driveway. Also, if the driveway is being used heavily as a work surface, then the larger stones in the mix can help to retain a solid surface with extensive use.
Since the commercial mix is more durable due to stone size, you can expect fewer potholes and damaged areas along the surface. However, when the surface does start to wear away, larger openings will be noted since bigger chunks of rock will release from the driveway. This may mean that a resurfacing may need to be completed instead of a sealing every few years. This can be expensive, but it will not be necessary for many years after the initial installation.
Drainage and Movement is Different
If you live in an area that sees a great deal of rainfall, then your asphalt contractor will need to make sure that drainage is considered. In most cases, the subgrade and the angular gravel placed under the asphalt surface will be enough to help water drain away from the driveway area. However, this is not always possible in marshy areas or when several inches of rainfall within a few days. In this case, the commercial grade asphalt and the voids between the rocks can help to channel fluid away from the driveway surface.
These same voids can allow water to freeze and expand in the openings though. If you live in a cold weather area, this can cause cracks to develop. In this situation, the residential asphalt and its smooth surface is much more ideal. The bitumen in the residential mix can also allow for a bit more flexibility. This means that the driveway surface can expand and contract as the ground freezes underneath the driveway. This can prevent cracking over the course of a long winter. Cracks will appear eventually though, as the bitumen starts to release from the driveway. This occurs as the driveway ages, so make sure that cracks are filled in as soon as they appear to extend the life of your driveway.
If you are having a hard time figuring out which type of asphalt mix is best for the driveway on your property, then speak with an asphalt or driveway installation expert.