Asphalt paving

Asphalt has long been accepted as a paving for driveways, paths, and service areas, but it also is being used more and more for patio and terrace surfacing because of its low cost. Some homeowners use it in combination with other materials such as brick or concrete.

Because of its flexibility, a 1-inch asphalt pavement will re-main intact under light loads in places where concrete would have to be 2 or 3 inches thick simply to hold together.


The most durable of the two asphalt mixtures is called asphalt concrete. This material is formed by coating heated and dried crushed rock with a hot asphalt cement. The homeowner who attempts to put down this type of asphalt himself usually is not too successful because of the lack of equipment to transport the heated mix. Paving contractors have special equipment for compacting the rock fill and spraying on the hot-mix. They can give you a smooth, level surface that is difficult for the amateur to achieve with limited equipment and lack of know-how.

The other type of asphalt is called cold-mix. It is made by combining graded aggregates with liquid asphalt that has a volatile solvent. When the mixture has been put down as paving, the solvent evaporates, leaving the asphalt cement to hold the aggregates together. For small areas like a path or an extension of a driveway to the house, cold-mix is well worth an attempt by the handyman, and it is useful for patching. But for larger areas, such as a patio, terrace, or large service yard, he would probably find it difficult to use without a gasoline-driven tamper or a small power roller.


Highway engineers know that a pavement is no better than the base on which it is laid. The principle applies in home paving as well. If your ground is sandy or rocky, you may be favored with a good natural base. But if the soil is soft, shows cracks when dry, or is of clay or adobe, put down a base of sand before you pave. A sand base insulates the paving from moisture and mud, which might otherwise work up from below and make the paving unstable.


Whether you use a hot asphalt or a cold asphalt mix, edgings are required to keep the asphalt from crumbling at the edges. If you decide to have a contractor install a hot mix, you can save on this expense by preparing the ground and installing the edgings yourself. Lumber for the edgings can be as light as finished 1 by 2-inch stock.


Asphalt paving may be attractively colored with plastic paints specially manufactured for the purpose. The colors are soft in tone and range from light tan to dark green. Check with your local paint dealer for specific instruction on application.


Spread sand over tamped earth between edgings of 1 by 4’s until you have a smooth base about 2 inches deep.

Dump mix from sacks into mounds that are about an inch above the tops of the forms. Space mounds about a foot apart.

Carefully rake asphalt over sand until it is about 2 inches thick at the edges with a crown up to 3 inches at the center.

Brush roller with water so asphalt will not stick to it; roll several times until asphalt is flush with forms at edges.

Sprinkle sand or white gravel over rolled surface to soften dark appearance of as-phalt; use crushed brick for color.

Final rolling insures that gravel or sand is firmly embedded in asphalt. The surface can be walked on right away.