Thursday, February 16, 2012


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Okay when it comes to concrete on driveways a majority of contractors,(even good contractors),have been led to believe that prep for concrete is not that big an issue as with asphalt. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. Have you ever seen concrete driveways/parkinglots cracked? I know you have ,especially cracks that one side of the crack appears to be higher or lower than the other. This is the tell-tale sign of poor prep and or compaction. Where most think concrete is stronger than asphalt asphalt is "pliable". Concrete is not,it is very brittle and under its own weight will create "settling in un-compacted or soft subgrade or base."Due to the extreme difficulty and cost of repairing concrete it is very important to expect any contractor doing work for you to follow the same specs as asphalt.. When the begin to argue their point with you,(and they will),don't back down.unless you want a driveway that will not stand the test of time,or you have money to burn and like having a demo saw and jack-hammer defoning the neighborhood. I have, unfortunately,repaired more of these "pour on dirt"and "an inch of #57 stone " jobs than I would ever want. Wire re-enforcing is also a must,without wire or steel"rebar"re-enforcing you are simply wasting your time and money. If you don't believe me I'm sure it will not take you long to find someone in your area that will tell you they wish that they had been educated on the subject before they had their job done. Myself personally I prefer asphalt to concrete anyway due to concrete's blinding reflection in sunlight,it's really hard on automotive tires,tends to hold water more often,does not flex if you scrub your toe on the highly abrasive brushed surface. and is very difficult and expensive to repair. Anyway in my next post we will get deeper into the do's and don'ts

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ok,I was absent for some time as I've had so much going on but let's continue.
For those who have an asphalt drive already and it has begun to crack or rut out or pot holes have appeared,give a few contractors a call to come give an estimate on "overlaying your drive. If you drive has little or no structural damage a straight forward over lay is what you need. I recommend 1.5 - 2 inches  of a 9.5 mm or"f" mix.If it's rutting or cracking or has mud pumping up through the top you need some corrective work first. Anything soft or muddy,seems wet or is rutting and you can see it move when traffic rolls across it should be saw cut and removed down to solid subgrade and replaced with GAB and or 19 mm asphalt and compacted. Then leveled by zeroing the depth cranks on the paver. Bituminous asphaltic "Tack" coat should be applied(liquid asphalt,ac3). If the contractor is a reputable one they will recommend this. After the "tack coat" an anti-fracture membrane called"petro-mat" will be rolled out. This is a type of fabric that is soaked and coated with asphalt. Then the top coat or overlay. This fabric may cost a little more but it is well worth the cost. It will prevent cracking and failure in the existing asphalt from coming to the surface through the new over lay. This is one of the most important if not the most important step to take in overlaying existing asphalt. It will provide an element of re-enforcement preventing any failure to come through the new paving job,as well as a moisture barrier. Again make sure you speak with your contractor about water drainage. Pay close attention to any walk ways, carports,doorways,garages making certain you have room for additional material without damming water or throwing water back inside the house or carport.It may be necessary to saw cut and remove existing material far enough away from the set grade(doorway,steps,carport) to apply the new lift of asphalt without holding water. Be sure once the paving has been completed that any waste material is picked up and removed as the paving crew leaves. Once it loses temp it will be solid and ,depending on the amount,could be very hard for the home owner to deal with. Look the drive/parking lot over for roller marks, splits, or cracks while the contractor is cleaning up and loading equipment. If there is any problems this is the best time to correct them. Most "good"paving foremen will walk the job over taking a final look before picking up and leaving. I always unrolled the water hose and wet the job to check for proper drainage. Dont try to do this until the finish roller has completed marking out .In my next post we will look at cementitious concrete on driveways/small parking areas.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The material

If you are planning to pave your driveway you must decide on the type traffic it might see.Passenger cars,light duty pickups,an occasional trailer with a lawn mower will only require a light duty paving job.  If you have 1-ton farm trucks and cattle trailers or car haulers rollin in and out you should opt for a medium duty material set-up and job. Anything larger than that should be medium to heavy and so-on. The material itself is designed for a controlled depth or weight-per-sq.yard. To keep from gettin to techy you can set these as standards; light duty asphalt topping-1.5 to 2 inches with a minimum of 4inches of graded aggregated base on solid subgrade. I prefer 6inches of G.A.B. but according to spec 4 will work. This will be using asphaltic concrete paving material with  9.5mm aggregate or an"F" type topping. On most DOT work a 12.5mm material is used but in my experience the heavier topping is prone to segragation and doesnt seal water out as well which causes problems and shortens the life of the material. medium duty-1.5 inches of 9.5mm topping,bituminous tack coat,(acts as a binder or adhesive),minimum 2inches of 15mm or "B"binder asphaltic concrete paving,on 6inches of GAB(some call G.A.B.crusher run but its far from a crusher run of stone.). Heavy duty will include the prior with the addition of 3inches of 19.5mm "black base" asphaltic concrete paving and a total of 6 to 8 inches of G.A.B.
This reference is for new construction or new additions. I will talk about overlaying existing asphalt more later and cover some cementous concrete guidelines in my next post.

Compare companies.

If possible get several estimates. In my experience the most professional companies will usually be among the most expensive unfortunately. This is not a bad thing ,actually it means that they are not planning on cutting corners. The only exception here is whether the company you contact is a very large Highway Class company. they tend to have very high overhead costs,and are usually geared for larger work. Don't worry if this is the case just ask and they will tell you and possibly give some recommendations. Ask lots of questions. Listen to their recommendations and compare them to what I'm writing here. It will not be hard to see the professionals if you keep a few set principles in mind. One above all- You Get What You Pay For.
Always be sure that they warranty their work for a minimum of one year. The last company i worked for guaranteed two years on light duty residential work.
In my next post i will list the recommended depths and materials for various type jobs.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

From the bottom up

Engineering of your driveway/parkinglot should not be an after thought> In most residential cases this does not require heavy surveying or intensive engineering but the use of a site level and a sound water drainage and elevation plan can be simple and should always be done. In commercial areas this is a must and should be adhered to strictly. Usually there will be building and storm drainage codes that have to be followed. This is the first thing to throw up a flag If the contractor you call comes out and gives an estimate without getting a tripod or sight level or laser and grade rod out and taking some elevation shots. Water is your driveway/parkinglot's worst enemy. Always ask where the water will go. If you pave you're drive and the neighbor's house floods or water is dammed up and floods youre own carport or house then you have big problems. I have seen this numerous times. It is always expensive to repair. So when the estimator comes work with him and ask questions if he represents a value company he will not mind at all. But be sure that youre job has had thoughtful quality engineering no matter how large or small

Fly-by-night paving

I've been in the asphalt paving business for 21 years now and something i often see are the results of "fly-by-night" or "gypsy" paving outfits. These guys are really easy to spot, they're the guys rollin' around with a small tracked paving box and a small roller and skid steer loader crammed on an eager beaver trailer being pulled by a tandem axle dump truck. Unlike all legitimate companies they go door to door offering their services,usually to the elderly. Please do not fall for anything they may say. They might offer you a deal that seems great but what you will get is a mess that will cost thousands to straighten up.
As far as that goes some of the more location based companies may try to steer the homeowner/business owner into a "good deal". Let me set things straight right now there's the right way to do this and the wrong way. No in betweens, no special circumstances. Here i will out line the basic rules and get pretty technical on the job from stripping grass to painting stripes and seal coating.

  1. Asphalt,concrete,brick pavers,stone paving,or any other type of hard wear surface,will ONLY BE AS GOOD AS THE SURFACE THEY ARE APPLIED TO/ON. If your drive way or parking area is soft and muddy,or is full of pot holes or has standing water,without proper prep and set up your new paving job will in a very short time emulate what was there before. In other words your new job will only be as good as what it sits on.
  2. The "asphalt-concrete"debate. This is another confusing issue for someone with no actual real world training. They both have pros and cons. I personally lean toward asphalt due to ease of repair and its easier on the eyes in bright sunlight,less wear on automotive tires,and water drainage issue. Don't be dismayed you may like concrete and it is a very durable dependable surface material if properly applied. Cost wise these two materials are usually competitive. Beware with concrete as few companies I've had experience with think that prep is very important. This is due to concrete will temporarily bridge poor subgrades. If you have ever seen concrete with a crack running the length or width of the drive where one side of the crack seems to be raised or lower than the other side ,then you have witnessed poor subgrade prep. Sadly you wont find very many concrete jobs where this has not happened. I'll explain why this happens later.
  3. Brickpavers,cobblestone,stone paving are the most pleasing to the eye but please be sure you research the company that you hire to do these type jobs. These jobs require the same set-up systems as concrete or asphalt but they have inherent "issues" that are just a result in the material. Water drainage being the foremost. I will get deep into the whole real world problems here also.
  4. I am offering this advice to any who want it. Ive seen guys selling hit and miss stuff but I think a man should get what he pays for.Bottom line. If anyone reading this has a question about their personal problems or what to do if you need repair,just leave a post. If you dont find any help on this blog my email address will be  posted . I will try to help you all i can.