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Sealing your driveway will protect it from not only the elements, but also fluids from your vehicle—but is it truly necessary? Consider both the pros and cons here.
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Hiring Asphalt Contractors
Asking asphalt contractors a few questions before hiring will help ensure a quality job.
Repaving an asphalt driveway might not rank among the showiest home improvements, but it’s necessary and not cheap. In 2014, Angie’s List members nationally reported an average price of $5,308 to pave an asphalt driveway, and Costhelper.com reports a range of $2,300 to $10,300.
Choosing a quality contractor is imperative, since poor work could cause pooling water in the garage or around the home’s foundation, says Scot Leggett, owner of Leggett Asphalt in Tualatin, Oregon.
“A substandard job will decay within a year or two, while a quality job will last up to 20 years,” Leggett says. “Many times, it costs much more to correct poor workmanship than it would have cost to have it performed correctly the first time.”
Do your due diligence before hiring an asphalt contractor
Tom Morelli, owner and president of Suburban Asphalt Concrete in Lynbrook, New York, advises homeowners to hire an established company with a good reputation. Getting recommendations from friends and family also helps guarantee a good outcome, he says.
“It’s always the best way to hire someone to do work on your house,” Morelli says.
Make sure the contractor possesses the proper licensing, bonding and insurance, including liability and workers' compensation, Leggett says.
It's also a good idea to contact at least three companies and ask about their pricing, availability and examples of work completed. If possible, view a company's work in person to evaluate the overall quality.
Be wary of "secret" methods by asphalt contractors
Homeowners should avoid contractors who claim to employ secret or cutting-edge methods, Morelli says.
“Sometimes you’ll get a guy who tells people, ‘I’ve got a new way of doing blacktop,’” he says, adding every reputable contractor does it the same way. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and it hasn’t changed in 30 years.”
Be wary of contractors who claim to be in your neighborhood with leftover asphalt that they offer to you at a discount, Leggett says.
“Also, proper asphalt paving is a major undertaking, requiring expensive equipment,” he says. “So if a price sounds too good to be true or is much lower than your other estimates, that would be a reason for caution.”
Understand asphalt paving standards
Asphalt contractors can either apply a layer on top of a driveway or tear out the driveway and redo it.
When paving overtop, the contractor should apply at least 2 inches of asphalt, Morelli says. He recommends commercial-grade asphalt rather than residential grade. It’s rougher, but it lasts longer, he says.
A completely redone driveway should include a gravel base and 3 inches of asphalt, Leggett says. Some experts note that areas with poor drainage may require a deeper base.
Questions to ask your asphalt paving contractor
Leggett says consumers should ask about scheduling, whether the estimate is a set price, how thick the asphalt will be and anything else they’re unsure about.
“A good contractor will go over industry terms with the customer to ensure they are fully informed and completely comfortable with the project,” Leggett says. “If a customer does not feel comfortable asking questions and double-checking details with their contractor, they may want to consider a different contractor.”
Any reputable asphalt company should easily identify potential problems on your property, such as improper drainage or a lack of underlying support for an existing drive. In other words, a company shouldn't be eager to simply pour over the existing driveway, if it's badly damaged, and bill you.