When you are paving a driveway or a parking lot, the process involves a variety of nuances. A small mistake made during the paving process can affect the longevity of your pavement. With the costs of paving an asphalt driving reaching up to $15 per square foot, errors can be expensive. Minor cracks should be refilled as and when they appear with hot asphalt crack filler, so they do not turn into a major issue.

If you aren’t planning to repave your asphalt driveway in the nearest future, you need to put a lot of thought into the process. In case you aren’t planning to get professional assistance, you have to put some time into research.

Let’s take a closer look at putting gravel under asphalt and why you may need to do it.

Gravel Under Asphalt

The longevity of your asphalt pavement depends on many things. One of them is a good bed of gravel underneath. You usually need to lay about six to eight inches of gravel under an asphalt driveway.

Adding asphalt without gravel or before gravel settles could cause the asphalt to sustain damage soon after it’s on the surface. You don’t need to wait for the gravel to settle naturally. You can do it with special paving equipment.

According to ABС Paving, sealcoating contractor from Florida, heavy equipment that paves gravel requires a professional to handle it. So even if you are planning to pave the driveway on your own, you need someone to manipulate the equipment.

Once gravel settles, you can proceed with further asphalt paving tasks immediately.

Skipping Gravel

Some paving contractors may suggest leaving gravel out of the equation entirely. Instead, they may offer to make the asphalt thicker. This means you would need to add about four to six extra inches of asphalt.

While this option can be efficient, it may turn out to be costly. Take the time to calculate how much the thicker layer of asphalt will cost you. In some cases, using gravel can be a cheaper way out.

Skipping Asphalt

Since gravel is a durable material that increases the longevity and integrity of your asphalt driveway, should you consider skipping asphalt? Many homeowners opt for gravel driveways. Does it make sense to think about this option?

Advantages of a Gravel Driveway

·         Affordability – gravel driveways aren’t expensive. Essentially, it’s crushed stone that doesn’t require much work to lay and spread. In most cases, you can pave the driveway with a gravel on your own. It doesn’t need a variety of special equipment or extra protection layers like a sealcoat. A gravel driveway will cost you between $2 and $5 per square foot.

·         Durability – gravel is crushed durable stone, which is highly damage-prone. Unlike asphalt, it’s not susceptible to cracks. If it breaks down, the gravel simply turns into smaller stones. Gravel can withstand various weather challenges, including hot sun. Meanwhile, asphalt is highly susceptible to UV rays.

·         Low maintenance – taking care of gravel is rarely complicated. All you need to do is keep the surface smooth. This may involve spreading the gravel and bringing more of it to even out the surface. Meanwhile, asphalt requires cleaning, inspections, repair, and regular re-sealing.  

Disadvantages of a Gravel Driveway

·         Washing away – since nothing holds gravel together, it’s susceptible to washing out. When the weather is rainy, currents of water can wash gravel away from your driveway. You would need to bring it back and add new gravel to even out the surface.

·         Weeds – since gravel doesn’t create a smooth surface, weeds can grow through the stones. You would need to take care of these unpleasant guests, otherwise, your driveway will soon stop being usable.

·         Snow issues – if it snows in your state, you are going to face problems when trying to shovel snow. You would need to be extra careful to remove snow without removing the top layer of your gravel driveway.

·         Appearance – gravel driveways don’t look as appealing and neat as asphalt and concrete driveways do.

·         Cleaning – when dirt and debris settle over a gravel driveway, they can be hard to remove without taking a layer of gravel with them.  

The Takeaway

Laying gravel under your asphalt driveway can contribute to the durability and longevity of the pavement. You can replace the gravel with extra asphalt.

It’s also possible to skip the asphalt and settle for a gravel driveway. While gravel pavement is cheaper and easier to maintain, it’s not as long-lasting as asphalt.