Home>Discussions>EXTERIORS>Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks
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Nestor
Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

People should be aware that as long as they live in a climate where the ground freezes in winter, then there really isn't any kind of paving that will withstand frost heave, and if an ice lens forms under your driveway, it won't matter one bit whether it's paved with asphalt, interlocking pavers or concrete... that driveway is going for a ride and is gonna end up damaged, no two ways about it.

Frost heave is caused by ice lenses forming in the ground. They call them ice lenses simply because of their shape; similar to that of a magnifying glass (although I don't see any reason why they'd be generally round or any other shape for that matter).

When an ice lens forms, it starts of as nothing more than ground water rising at some localized spot in the winter. That ground water then freezes to the bottom of the frost layer, and as it does so it expands as it forms ice, thereby raising the overburden a small fraction of an inch. However, the process of water rising from below and freezing, thereby raising the overburden above it can continue all winter, resulting in "frost heave" of anything from a fraction of an inch to a few inches or more. That frost heave is the result of the way ice lenses form; by freezing of water to the underside of the frost layer, and the subsequent expansion of that water as it freezes.

Ice lenses are fairly localized, but it they lift a driveway 2 inches upward, then that driveway is gonna be damaged regardless of how it's been paved.

This link talks about ice lens formation in the arctic tundra, but you don't have to be that far north to have frost heave. Frost heave can happen anywhere the ground freezes in winter.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_lens

I was concerned someone out there might be thinking: "Well, if I spend $12,000 on an interlocking paving stone driveway, it'll be somehow inherently less susceptible to damage." I'm certainly no paving expert, but if you live where the ground freezes in winter, then you're susceptible to frost heave, and frost heave will lift any driveway, thereby causing damage to it.

dj1
Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

Nestor,

These are interesting facts about ice lenses. I never knew about them, living in places where the lowest possible temps are around 40F.

But here is a question: If every driveway is going to break up, why do they even bother with driveways - asphalt, pavers or concrete? why not use gravel?

I wouldn't like to have a gravel driveway, but at least it won't crack.

Brookworld
Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks
Nestor wrote:

People should be aware that as long as they live in a climate where the ground freezes in winter, then there really isn't any kind of paving that will withstand frost heave, and if an ice lens forms under your driveway, it won't matter one bit whether it's paved with asphalt, interlocking pavers or concrete... that driveway is going for a ride and is gonna end up damaged, no two ways about it.

I was concerned someone out there might be thinking: "Well, if I spend $12,000 on an interlocking paving stone driveway, it'll be somehow inherently less susceptible to damage." I'm certainly no paving expert, but if you live where the ground freezes in winter, then you're susceptible to frost heave, and frost heave will lift any driveway, thereby causing damage to it.

Gravel is too country and uncivilized . . . although with my sloping driveway (drops 1 story to the basement level) and NoVA weather, it would be a great nature beater.

Nestor, I'm not an expert in anything, but based on my intuition, I would say, if cost was no object, that pavers are not only better looking than asphalt, but seems more resilent (also more resilent than concrete, which is standard for my former No. California home). The pavers are already "broken" based on their brick-like size. I would expect that the heaving caused by frost can be "fixed" by compacting whenever the pavers slip above the level line. In this respect then, pavers are not maintenance free, and they are often sealed to keep a gloss look.

I have seen pavers crack (like bricks), or maybe what I saw were really ground bricks (mortared) that cracked, and I do wonder whether they they can be removed and replaced -- my doubts come from the fact that the pavers are squeezed or interlocked by adhesive-like sand that bonds them, I've never had to replace a paver in the short 5 years I had a new driveway.

My bad experience with a company called Pacific Interlock Pavers was that a white powdery substance leeched out -- it looked like New York City sidewalks after salting and melted snow. It was horrible for 2 years and sorry looking after that, and the manufacturer refused to acknowledge it was materials defect. Otherwise, I very much like the paver material, and when baked properly, you won't be tracking in tar marks from asphalt or seeing ugly looking cracked concrete.
The other matter was that the foundation needed to be prepared in a way to stop plant growth underneath. However, in NoVA, I've discovered that weed can grow in ANY condition.

Nestor, while I can't argue how long term pavers may last, it's my choice material for driveway, patio or any surface, but it costs, I think, in the same price range of concrete. It's only on the East Coast that I've seen asphalt for driveays as a common material.

Nestor
Re: Repaving Asphalt Driveway vs. Just Filling Cracks

DJ1: Yep, a gravel driveway is about the only driveway that won't be damaged by frost heave.

Brookworld: I don't think there's a good, better and best driveway material. Paving stone driveways look nice, but all driveways kinda look like crap if there's a big oil stain right under where the family car's engine would be. I posted about frost heave because with so many purchases the conservative thinking is that if one spends more they'll get a more bullet-proof product. I wanted people to know that asphalt, concrete and paving stone driveways could all be damaged by frost heave, and to know that going in so that if they spend the extra money on paving stones, they know they're doing it just for the looks, and not anything else.

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