Asphalt Paving

Full Depth Asphalt Pavements for Private Driveways

In order to be a good investment, a residential driveway must be properly constructed. This information is designed as a general guide private driveways. A driveway that is properly designed and constructed, will give many years of service with minimal maintenance. Such a driveway is simple and affordable to build.

Sub-Grade Preparation

Before construction begins, buried utility lines in the vicinity of the driveway will be marked. This will include water and gas lines, telephone, electricity, cable, and any other utility service provided lines in the area. Homeowner-installed lines such as sprinkler systems, security systems, or power lines for a garage are not marked by the utility providers. It is necessary for the homeowner to locate and mark any private lines before any digging begins.

The sub-grade soil serves as a working platform to support construction equipment, as well as the foundation of the pavement. Because it will carry the loads transmitted to it from the pavement structure, it is important that the sub-grade be properly graded and compacted. After grading and compacting with a roller, the sub-grade will be tested to determine if it will support the loads that will be placed on it. This is done by driving a heavily laden truck over the sub-grade and noting the deflections. If a sub-grade area shows pronounced deflection, this shows that the area has not been sufficiently rolled or that the moisture content in of the sub-grade is too high. If additional compacting fails to correct the condition, the sub-grade may need to be removed and replaced by select materials.


Good drainage is important for pavement durability. It is desired to blend the surface of the pavement to the contour of the existing ground, so that surface water will run away from the pavement in its natural course. In flat areas, the pavement should be crowned or sloped not less than 1 1/4 in. per ft. so all surface water will drain off. Where possible, roof drainage should be piped away from the surface of the pavement.

Pavement Width

Primary consideration should be given to installing a driveway to the proper width. It should be no less than 8 ft., but 10 ft. is more a practical minimum width. If the driveway will be used for both pedestrians and automobiles, a 12 ft. width should be considered. It is generally desirable to preserve aesthetic objects such as trees and rocks. Driveways should conform to the terrain, to avoid large cuts in hilly areas. When possible, a curving driveway will be more attractive. A curved driveway needs to be increased in width on sharp curves.

Pavement Thickness

Full depth asphalt pavements for residential driveways should be a minimum of 2 1/2in. compacted thickness on a properly prepared sub-grade. This minimum is sufficient for many years of service when properly constructed. If there is a concern about foundation conditions or an exceptional number of heavy vehicles using the pavement, it may be desirable to increase the thickness.

Applying the Asphalt Mixture

The thick lift technique of placing lifts of 2 1/2 in. is in most instances satisfactory. However, if conditions necessitate thicknesses greater than 2 1/2 in. then the asphalt will be placed in two layers. Weather conditions affect asphalt construction. For the best results, asphalt is not applied in wet or severe cold conditions. Regardless of the thickness of the course being placed, compaction is one of the most important elements to the proper performance of the pavement. That is why a properly prepared sub-grade against which to compact the pavement against. A steel wheeled tandem roller is used for this type of work.


It is not necessary to seal the surface of a newly constructed driveway in the first year. It is recommended to seal your driveway the year following installation. This will help the longevity of the pavement by blocking out harmful chemicals, such as oil, solvents, and other harmful materials.

Definitions of Terms Used

Asphalt: A dark brown to black cementitous material. The predominating constituents are bitumens which occur in nature, or are obtained in petroleum processing. In varying proportions, asphalt is a constituent of most crude petroleums.

Full Depth Asphalt Pavement: Pavement in which asphalt mixtures are used for all courses above the sub-grade or improved sub-grade.

Asphalt Concrete: A high quality thoroughly controlled hot mixture of asphalt cement and well-graded, high quality mineral aggregate.

Sub-Grade: The soil prepared to support a structure or a pavement system. It is the foundation for the pavement structure. The sub-grade soil is sometimes called “basement soil” or “foundation soil”.

Asphalt Base Course: A foundation course consisting of mineral aggregate, bound together with asphaltic material.

Asphalt Surface Course: The top course of an asphalt pavement, sometimes called the wearing course.

Tips on Selecting a Paving Contractor

On small construction jobs, such as residential driveways, it is very important that a reputable, competent contractor be chosen. Since private homeowners generally do not have the benefit of strict specifications, trained inspectors, and the technical expertise that a public contracting agency has at their disposal, the following may be helpful in selecting a reliable contractor:

  1. Select a contractor known for high-quality work and who has an established reputation in the community.  SBI has been an established and highly reputable contractor in the Northland since 1988.


  2. References. Don’t just ask for references, check them. Call customers near you who had work done some time ago. Ask if you can come visit to look at the work.  SBI has a number of both commercial and residential references. Feel free to ask for a list of past work or check out what others have to say here.


  3. Obtain proposals from more than one contractor and ensure that all are bidding on the same type of mix and construction. In order to make true and valid comparisons, all proposals should cover the same units.  SBI has two options of mix design: 1. 100% angular material with a recycled asphalt mixture. 2. A virgin aggregate mixture.


  4. Make sure the contractor has both general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. If not, you could end up paying for damages to your property, lawsuits from your customers, or even lawsuits from the contractor’s employees.  SBI has both general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. Proof of insurance is available upon request.


  5. When discussing a project, be sure that the thickness of the asphalt is “compacted” thickness.  We recommend 2 1/2 inches of compacted volume bituminous over a satisfactory sub base.


  6. Insist on a written contract in addition to any verbal guarantees offered by the asphalt contractor. A good contractor will give a detailed written quote with all specifications, materials, and costs included.  SBI uses a standard contract for all projects. Projects do not start until both parties have a signed copy of the agreement.


  7. When getting bids from contractors, make sure the services suggested are the services needed. In addition to accepting bids from single-service contractors, always obtain a quote from a multiple-service contractor. Single-service contractors may not be able to offer a maintenance program for your project. A multiple-service contractor will be able to install your asphalt as well as offer a preventative maintenance program to help ensure a long-lasting product.  SBI offers a full complement of maintenance options for your property, from seal coating and patching to overlays and striping. SBI will deliver you the service your property needs.


  8. Avoid the leftover materials line. An example is when someone stops by and says they have some materials left from another job and offer you a great deal right now. Reputable contractors calculate materials carefully and seldom have more than a small amount of leftover materials, certainly not enough to do an entire job.  SBI never asks for a decision right now. All quotes are good for a maximum of 30 days.