How to pave a long lasting asphalt driveway

How to pave a long lasting asphalt driveway

Ever wondered how to pave a driveway?

Paving a driveway can be a costly addition to your property if you hire a contractor to do it for you.  Because of this we have compiled a to-do list for the DIY gurus out there that want to install a long lasting, durable driveway while keeping costs low.  The cost of asphalt or blacktop driveways is cheaper than concrete and we like cost effective projects so we will focus on asphalt driveways for this article. Nevertheless, we will include a small comparison chart for both asphalt and concrete below:


–       Aesthetically diverse: can change the colour or design

–       Cost of concrete: more expensive than asphalt

–       Longevity: will last up to 40 years

–       Durability: can crack in freezing weather

–       Maintenance: less maintenance than asphalt driveways


–       Aesthetics: only one colour (blacktop)

–       Cost of asphalt: cheaper than concrete

–       Longevity: will last about 20 years

–       Durability: can soften in super hot weather

–       Maintenance: should reseal every 3-5 years

1.     Hire a contractor to pour your asphalt driveway:

You won’t need the contractor for the rest of the steps as this article teaches you how to pave a driveway yourself. But you should schedule one for when you need them to pour the asphalt and shop around before you commit.

2.     Rent a skid steer:

You will need heavy machinery for this project, as most driveways are pretty large.  A skid steer or compact track loader are great options for efficient driveway leveling. The John Deere 317D skid steer is a great choice for building a driveway.  If your driveway will be larger, the bigger John Deere 326D skid steer may be better with a larger bucket size. If your DIY driveway is being installed in a very muddy area you may need to rent a compact track loader which is a rubber track skid steer and ideal for rough terrain or super muddy areas.  In this case, the John Deere 323D compact track loader rental is a good choice.  A larger model such as the John Deere 333D compact track loader may be best for oversized jobs. If you have no experience operating heavy machinery, then you should also hire an operator.

3.     Start digging:

Dig down using your skid steer rental or compact track loader to skim about 4” to 8” below the surface of your property. If you have clay under the dirt you will need to dig down 8”.  If you find sand under the dirt then you only need to dig about 4” below the surface.  This is because the clay will result in less than satisfactory water drainage and the sand provides better drainage.

4.     Grade your do it yourself asphalt driveway with a slope:

Ensure you have a slight slope for water drainage, as any pooling of water will damage the asphalt long before normal wear and tear will. You can see whether your slope is graded well by turning on a hose at the top of it and seeing where the water runs off.  If there is pooling in any area then fill with mounds of dirt.  Your driveway should be graded ¼” per foot for proper drainage.  Make sure the water runs off the sides or the bottom of the driveway and away from any structures. Once you have established an ideal slope for your do it yourself asphalt driveway you need to roll over it to pack it down. A good tool to use is a 3,000 lb twin drum roller.

5.     Pour the gravel:

You will need to purchase coarse, sharp edged gravel that is ideal for water drainage. Again, if you have clay under your surface soil you will need to purchase enough to fill the space 8” deep.  If you have sand beneath the surface soil you will only need enough gravel to fill the space 4” deep. Roll over the surface with a drum roller again to compact the gravel into the underlying material

6.     Let gravel settle for 1 week:

When contractors do the entire job they usually skip this step to save time, but a week is ideal for natural settling to occur so that later your do it yourself asphalt driveway will not be damaged from the ground settling under it.

7.     Lay the asphalt:

Choose with your contractor the size of the aggregate and decide on the thickness of the asphalt. When choosing the aggregate, the size ranges from ½” to ¾”.  The smaller the aggregate the smoother the appearance of the driveway and most residential driveways are ½”.  The larger the aggregate the stronger the asphalt so decide which is more important to you. The driveway should be at least 2” thick with asphalt and up to 3 or 4”.

8.     Compact the asphalt with rollers:

Make sure the compaction of the asphalt happens before it cools.  Asphalt that is too hot (check for blue smoke) may have premature hardening. If it is too cold it will fail to compact properly. The weather should be dry and warm for best results.