Asphalt, which has been in use since the late 19th century, provides a smooth and durable surface for driving. Most drives are paved in asphalt, but to get the longest life out of a new asphalt driveway, it is important to give the new surface enough time to cure.
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Soon after laying
Asphalt needs six to 12 months to fully cure and harden, but it can be used before then. The driveway can be walked on immediately, but it should not be driven on for at least three days. Bicycle and motorcycle kick stands and high heels can also damage the asphalt soon after it has been laid.
Effects of weather
Asphalt is heat activated, and before it is fully cured it will soften in hot weather and harden in cool weather. On very hot days, you can harden the asphalt temporarily by hosing it down. This may cause soap suds to form on the surface. These are caused by a reaction between the oil in the asphalt and chlorine in the water, and it will wash away.
Driving and weights
Avoid parking in the same spot every day while your asphalt drive is curing. Take care when driving on your driveway during the first year. The asphalt can be scarred by turning the steering wheel while the car is standing still, starting too fast, pulling in quickly, driving fast and turning around in the driveway. Heavy trucks, such as rubbish vans and delivery vehicles, should also be kept off the drive during the first six to 12 months, especially during hot weather. If you are storing a camper on the drive, place a piece of plywood under the tyres and the tongue jack.
If your drive does not have a curb or gutter, avoid driving on the edges during curing, as they can crack and crumble. Build up the edges with topsoil. During curing, leaks and spills from petrol, oil, antifreeze or other corrosive fluids can dilute the asphalt and cause holes in your driveway. Any holes should be patched.
Because asphalt is porous, your driveway should be sealed to prevent water seeping through the surface and warping the surface. Wait until one or two winters after the asphalt has been laid before applying sealant. Sealing too soon can damage your asphalt drive. After the initial seal, apply new sealant every two to five years.
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