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Driveway paving: is this normal? Advice please!

PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 12:48 pm
I got an estimate for driveway repaving from the lawn care company while they were over, since they also do odd jobs.
The estimate was $3,000 which includes ripping up the old driveway and laying a new foundation etc.

I called a local construction contractor that, among other things, specializes in driveway repaving (they did my neighbors house).
Their estimate, surprisingly, came in lower (just over $2,600).

My question is:
They said (mostly quoted verbatim) they:
1) rip up the old driveway. The new driveway will then consist of 4 - 6 inches of 3/4" quarry processed stone and/or recycled materials.
They then recommend letting the stone sit for approximately 10 to 14 days, allowing it to compact completely before they come back to pave.
They also encourage you to drive over the stone and to park as you would normally do, enabling the high traffic areas to compact, as driveways tend to wear most in these areas.

An acquaintance of mine thinks that this might be their way of getting the customer to do the compacting for them, thereby saving them money.
I had thought (assumed I should say) this wait period was the proper way of making sure the surface is ready (settled) before paving.

I don't know enough about driveways, but I thought others here
might be able to provide feedback, since I would rather go with anohter contractor and cut out those 10 - 14 days if that is truly unnecessary.


PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 9:48 pm
by bill
Hello Veff,

The most important part of paving is the base and drainage. Start with a good base and the asphalt will stay tight and shed water. If the base deflects, minor cracks develop that can trap water.

A four to six inch gravel base is standard for residential driveways in Virginia on a red clay soil. If I remember correctly, you live in an area that has a sandy loam soil and there may be a different standard.

The sequence;

1) Remove the old asphalt.

2) The contractor should verify that the existing soil had been stripped of all organic material and that there are no soft spots. Any soft spots, top soil or organics should be removed and be replaced with compacted fill dirt. You can also probe the soil with a rod to search for soft spots. A good place to look would be any areas where the old asphalt failed or showed an obvious depression.

3) Grade the subsoil and place the new gravel. Gravel size should be one inch to one half inch with the average being three quarters of an inch. Smaller stone doesn't provide suitable support and larger stone doesn't compact well.

4) Use a vibratory roller or plate tamper to compact the gravel, preferable the roller if the driveway is large enough. I would never rely on car traffic to compact the gravel because car tires tend to displace deep gravel rather than compact. Of course, using compacting equipment may involve additional cost but it definitely provides a better base.

5) Place the asphalt before the gravel base is disturbed. I assume you are only placing about two inches of topping asphalt such as SM2A, correct?

It's important to remember that the above specifications are suitable for car traffic. It would likely fail if you have frequent traffic from dump trucks, fuel trucks etc.. If you are considering something like adding an in-ground swimming pool it would be better to install the new asphalt last.

Hope that helped.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 2:56 pm
Great post BigMonkey. Thanks!
You certainly seem to be an authority on (driveway) paving.

They are using ~ 2 1/2 inches of asphalt over the 4 - 6 inches of stone.

My biggest concern was whether the 10 - 14 days wait was standard, or at least common, practice.
I guess they don't use the machines for residential applications due to the expense and driveway size.

They, according to an interview they gave, freely admitted that they charge about $400 more than the average driveway paver and still get lots of business (among other things they use more asphalt ~2 1/2 inches
vs. the 1 - 2 inches that competitors use).

They have excellent referrals and have done the neighbors driveway; they are professional and are in my town not that it matter much where they're located.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:37 pm
by bill
LOL, I never did give you a direct answer. No, no need to wait 14 days, the gravel (at that size) won't compact just laying there and car traffic will be detrimental to the base. The general rule is to either compact the entire base or don't do any of it so it settles at the same rate...

Good luck.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 5:24 pm
Interesting, thanks.

Then I don't understand why they even bother; since it also means they have to come by twice instead of doing it all in one day, which is not something they would want to do obviously, if it could be avoided.

Someone on another forum said they did the same with him, and even said 2 months was a minimum! I think it went up to 2 months or so.....!!!
I think that is obviously overkill.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 7:30 pm
by bill
VEFF wrote:Interesting, thanks.

Then I don't understand why they even bother; since it also means they have to come by twice instead of doing it all in one day, which is not something they would want to do obviously, if it could be avoided.

Someone on another forum said they did the same with him, and even said 2 months was a minimum! I think it went up to 2 months or so.....!!!
I think that is obviously overkill.

They may actually believe that the wait is good but it truly isn't necessary. I would guess, and it's only a guess, that it's in the contractors own self interest to wait and I'll explain.

A good profitable company will try to be efficient with their labor and material cost. It's actually more efficient to prepare several jobs in a certain area and then pave them all on the same day. As you know, asphalt needs to be applied while its hot. So if your drive requires 2.5 truck loads of asphalt and another drive 5 miles away requires 4.5 loads of asphalt it makes sense to do those two drives on the same day and share the asphalt. It would save the contractor two trips to the asphalt plant and two half loads of asphalt waste. Also, prep work and the actual application of the asphalt requires different equipment and usually different crew members.

I do know from my own experience that I can't get a small project of mine paved until the paving company has a crew in the area working other projects. But if I give them a parking lot, they run when I call. :D

If you feel good about the contractor, the workmanship and the price I would just wait.

Btw, regarding your second post.. one inch of asphalt is to thin.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 8:24 pm
Thanks BigMonkey!
That does make sense about them combining other driveways; this could explain why they say "10 to 14" days and not simply "10 days" or "14 days".

In case it wasn't clear (I assume you didn't misunderstand, otherwise you wouldn't suggest I still go with them if their reputation is good etc., but I will say it for others who may just read your last post):
The 1 inch is the amount some paving cos supposedly use.
The company I contacted uses about 2 1/2 inches of asphalt.

Part of the reason why I haven't scheduled it yet, is because I was waiting to hear from the hardwood floor refinishing company and get an idea when the painters can come (they might spill on the driveway), since ideally I wanted the drive to come last, so no trucks would drive over it while it wasn't 100% settled...

However, I don't think I can afford to wait more than another day
1) Winter is fast approaching and I don't want to miss the cutoff for repaving; otherwise I'll have to wait till the spring.

2) I want to put my house on the market VERY soon (before rates go up and/or before the holiday season really slows demand down).
I am looking to move closer to my new (announced officially after I bought the house) job location and also get a townhome with a garage (I was spoiled by the convenience condo living); the house is also too big for me right now.

HOWEVER, if the market value isn't enough to at least recoup my investment and the realtor's commission (not going to worry about the other big cost - state realty transfer fee - too much).