When you hire a company to install an asphalt driveway for you, your expectation might be that they come right out and just pour a strip of asphalt into your yard. However, there are actually a few steps they need to complete before they can pour the asphalt. Take a look at these essential beginning steps so you have a better idea of what to expect once your paving contractors arrive.
Step 1: "Demolish" the surface.
The term "demolish" may seem a little strong here, but that really is what pavers have to do first. If there is an existing stone or concrete driveway, they first need to remove it. Even if the area is currently grassy, they will need to dig up and remove the top layer of sod. Usually, this part can be done relatively quickly with a big team. It's the reason the asphalt paving company will often charge you for a dumpster rental.
Step 2: Grading
If you were to pour an asphalt driveway on a completely flat surface, it would not drain well. The water would sit on the driveway and cause the asphalt to degrade over time. If you want the driveway to drain, the pavers need to slope it properly. They'll do this using motor graders, which shave a little off the top of the land, as needed. They'll leave the ground a little bit higher on one end of the driveway than the other so water drains off of it -- ideally towards a storm drain.
Step 3: Laying down the base.
The base is the layer of materials beneath the asphalt. Usually, this will consist of a layer of thick gravel. The gravel will be compacted to ensure the asphalt does not settle into it too much. This base layer helps prevent dirt from mixing with the asphalt. It also makes your driveway more stable, especially when it gets wet and muddy outside. Some paving companies will bring in a big, driveable roller, like that you might use on a lawn, to compact the base. Others may do this by hand with tampers.
Once these three preparatory steps are complete, then the asphalt paving contractors can finally begin applying the asphalt to your future driveway. While these prep steps might seem time-consuming, they are essential to ensure your driveway lasts. A driveway poured over a well-prepared surface will be endlessly more stable and durable.