Building An Addition: A Homeowner's Guide

3 Ways To Make Your Asphalt Driveway Summer-Safe

by Toni Richards

As the hot summer months approach, you may not be thinking too much about your driveway. But it's the one thing that can benefit from some simple early planning. From making sure it's protected from the elements all the way to ensuring some new summer shrubbery doesn't damage the surface, here are three ways to make sure your asphalt driveway is summer-safe.  

Apply a Seal Coat

Changes in the weather can affect paved driveways, whether they're made of asphalt or concrete. Going from hot to cold and vice-versa causes expansion and contraction and can lead to cracking. And UV rays from the sun can also deteriorate the surface.

Extreme summer heat can soften an asphalt driveway, resulting in indentations, grooves, and depressions. Fortunately, there's one super easy way to ward off the above threats, and all it takes is a little time investment and a small amount of cash.

When it starts to warm up, do a quick walk around your driveway and note any areas that are cracked, crumbling, or stained with oil or grease. Stains should be scrubbed away with soap and water.

Cracks that are between ¼ and ½ inch wide can be fixed with asphalt-repair caulk. Any cracks wider than that should be filled with foam backer rod, which is essentially a long, solid piece of foam. Once the foam is in place, fill the crack with repair caulk.

If your driveway has potholes, you'll have to do a blacktop patch repair, which might need 24 hours to cure afterwards.

If your driveway is clear and doesn't require any repairs, simply spray your driveway down with a hose so that the surface is clean and ready to seal. Seal coats can be purchased for as little as $12 per 5 gallons—not a hefty investment at all. Follow the manufacturer's application instructions, which typically involve nothing more than stirring and spreading it out over the surface of the driveway.

How often you need to seal your driveway depends on the weather in your area. If you get a lot of snow, ice, and sleet in the winter, or if you experience temps over 100 degrees, then seal coating every two years or so should be sufficient. And this will definitely extend the life of your driveway.

It's best to seal in the summer because the weather needs to be warm in order for the seal coat to dry. Winter is not the ideal season for this task.

Keep It Cool

Asphalt absorbs heat from the sun. It also contains oil, which has exceptional thermal properties, allowing it to hold heat for long periods of time. As a result, your driveway can become soft, so you should refrain from using car jacks on really hot days. Instead, use a carport or the garage for anything that could possibly put indentations or grooves in your driveway.

Also, if you have children or pets, you may be concerned about their feet and paws getting burned, especially if your kids love to run around barefooted.

One way to minimize these risks is to spray your driveway once a day with a hose. This can be done during the hottest part of the day, and it not only helps to cool the surface and protect little feet and paws, but it can prevent the driveway from becoming too soft and succumbing to scratches, dents, and craters.

Watch the Greenery

Roots from trees and bushes can cause damage, but only if they're too close to the driveway. So if you're thinking of planting anything new, be sure you know how tall it will grow because that often affects root behavior.

Trees that will reach 30 feet in height should be planted three feet from the edge. And those that will grow up to 50 feet tall should be no closer than 6 feet. Also, avoid planting red maples and sugar maples, as they have roots that can crawl close to the surface of the soil and travel pretty far, so they tend to be more damaging than other types of trees.