Driveway Paving Considerations In Cold Climates

If you live in an area that sees freezing temperatures, ice, and snow every winter, then making the right choices when it comes to a new driveway is a must.

Paving Type

When it comes to driveways, the two most common types of paving materials are concrete and asphalt. Concrete isn't really suitable in areas where freezing is common in winter, particularly if freezing conditions also accompany moist snow and ice. Concrete can be prone to cracking and spalling when exposed to freezing moisture and salt treatments. Concrete cracks are difficult to repair in an effective and attractive manner.

Asphalt is much more flexible than concrete. It can easily withstand minor heave due to frost without any cracks or permanent damage. It is also less likely to suffer salt damage from ice removal products. Even more useful, most asphalt cracks are simple to repair effectively. There are even strategies, like resurfacing and coatings, that can completely camouflage extensive repairs once they are made.

Base Considerations

The base is another important aspect to consider in cold climates where the ground often freezes. If the base is constructed above the frost line, then the swelling of the frozen soil below will cause it to heave upward. This destroys the base and allows moisture to collect beneath the paving. It also causes the asphalt to distort and eventually crumble away.

The frost line must be determined prior to driveway installation. Then, the base must be installed about 10 inches below the usual frost line. This way frost heave is no longer an issue. The sturdy, non-heaving base will provide a firm layer that prevents any surface soil movement from affecting the asphalt above. Your installer may also install additional drainage around and under the drive, as less moisture near the base also equates to fewer heave concerns.

Surface Protection

The surface of the driveway can't be ignored, either. Weathering can be especially hard on driveways in cold climates. Water can make its way into small cracks and pores, freeze, and force the asphalt to crumble and develop potholes. Frequent de-icing practices and moisture exposure will further wear away at the surface.

Sealcoating is a must in these climates. The sealcoat is a protective coating comprised of asphalt and epoxies. It's spread over the asphalt where it then dries and fills in small pores and cracks, effectively making the paving waterproof. Sealcoating is done every couple of years, depending on the amount of weathering on the paving.

Contact a paving contractor to learn more about driveway options in your climate.