Does your driveway feel a bit clingy on the hottest days of the year? It's common knowledge that asphalt pavement can get sticky when heated, but what can you do to prevent a hot driveway from damaging your tires or your shoes? Before you can look at prevention options, it's important to understand why asphalt gets tacky at all.
Why Does My Driveway Get Sticky On Hot Days?
Asphalt gets its name from the oil-based binding agent used to hold it together. Basic asphalt, which consists of only binder and crushed rock, is sensitive to temperature extremes. When it gets cold, the binding agent will become brittle and prone to cracking. On the other hand, when it gets very hot, asphalt can start to return to its original liquid state. This is what you experience if your driveway gets sticky on hot summer days.
Modern asphalt comes in a variety of grades, each utilizing a different mix of additives to make the end product more resilient and resistant to temperature shifts. If your driveway was paved years ago, it may not have an ideal additive mix for your climate. Depending on other problems you might notice with your driveway, it's possible that it was also mixed improperly, which can shorten its lifespan.
How Can You Protect Your Driveway?
If stickiness is your main concern and you have a fairly short drive, selective landscaping may help protect your asphalt from the worst of the sun's rays. Trees and tall shrubs can provide protective shade, which keeps the pavement just cool enough to stay solid. Very short driveways might even be protected with just an awning overhead.
Longer driveways that are still in good shape can be saved from direct sunlight with protective coatings. These usually come in the form of either colorful asphalt paint or a transparent varnish. You'll have to power wash your pavement before applying any product to it, since dirt and debris can stick to the coating and cause it to come off. Avoid rainy or windy days as well, since this could damage the coating or leave permanent ripple marks in it.
Adding a coating can give your driveway personality and greatly extend its lifetime. However, it's important to remember that as long as you keep the same driveway, you'll have to reapply the coating of your choice regularly as the old layer wears down. The level of wear depends how many cars use the pavement, but it's a good idea to check for worn areas at least once a year.
What If The Driveway Is Past Saving?
Pavement that is also cracked, chipped, and rutted in sections may not be worth protecting. Instead, you might be able to recycle it into a new mix with the appropriate additives for your home's sun level. This helps to save on material costs, since the paving company won't have to supply entirely fresh asphalt. As an added bonus, today's asphalt mixes are far more ecologically friendly than the old formulas used to be, so you don't have to worry about harming the environment.
Repaving a small driveway can be a do-it-yourself project if you feel like saving some money in exchange for the required elbow grease. You might find that renting the tools to mix and pour the asphalt is less expensive than hiring professional contractors to do the job for you. Just be sure to use protective equipment when working with the heated mixture, as it can cause serious burns if it makes contact with skin. It's also important to make sure any children or pets are inside when you start laying the driveway.
Whether your driveway can be saved by a coat of paint or needs to be torn up and replaced all over again depends on its current state. If you aren't sure how much life your pavement has left in it, consider having it inspected by a local asphalt contractor from a company like Armour Pavement Inc. That way, you'll know whether or not it's a good idea to invest in repouring it.