Should a base be installed before paving a driveway?

Ideally, a driveway should be installed on stable soil. Adding a base material can help stabilize the soil and lengthen the lifespan of a driveway. Whether this is necessary or not is dependent on the soil in your area.

Expansive soils tend to be unstable and move around quite a bit. It would be smart to install a 3-6 inch sub-grade on this type of soil to stabilize the soil and minimize future cracking. However, if you’re dealing with soil that is more stable, like decomposed granite material, it would not make sense to lay a sub-grade, because the soil already acts as a sub-grade. Laying down another layer of sub-grade would only be costly and wasteful.

So how can you, as a homeowner, know if sub-grade is necessary? We recommend gathering bids from multiple contractors and see if they’ve included sub-grade in their estimates. If someone has not included it, you may want to investigate further and look at their past work. Are the driveways they’ve paved in good condition? Do you see excessive cracking, low spots, bumps, and failed areas? If so, you will want to go with a contractor that has included a sub-grade. It is up to you to do your investigation if you receive varying answers from contractors.

How much will my driveway installation cost?

Total cost is dependent on a variety of factors including, size of the driveway, location of the job site, drainage preparation costs, and more. These factors all add up to a complex answer to the question, how much will it cost? If you want to learn more about driveway installation costs head on over to our page, “Driveway Installation Cost: Explained.”

What does drainage have to do with a driveway installation?

Proper drainage is one of the most important pieces of a driveway installation. Without have proper drainage channels, the risk of water penetrating and destabilizing the sub-grade is higher, and it could also result in damage to the landscaping or water entering the garage or basement. These situations are not ideal and can be easily avoided with the right preparation.

Should I be concerned about drainage with my driveway?

In general, two measurements will help you determine if drainage will be an issue for your driveway. The first measurement is the fall. The fall is the elevation of your driveway divided by the length of your driveway. So if you have a driveway that is 5 feet above street level and 10 feet in length, your fall is 0.5 inches per foot. The minimum fall for proper drainage is 0.25 inches per foot. Use this measurement as a quick reference to determine if your current driveway has adequate drainage.

The second measurement that comes into play is the edges of your driveway. One edge of the driveway must be lower than the other to allow for drainage. Usually the minimum difference between the two edges is a 2% change. That means if one edge is 120 inches in width, 2% of 120 inches is 2.4 inches. So, the difference in height between the edges needs to be at least 2.4 inches.

What if my current driveway doesn’t allow for proper drainage?

If your driveway is downwards sloping or if you are dealing with a drainage issue with your current driveway, it may be possible to install drains or channels in strategic locations to improve drainage. You can discuss with your driveway contractor what would be the best method for your home. Contact us for more information.

Why am I receiving quotes that vary greatly in price?

For starters, make sure that the quotes you are comparing are identical in specifications, scope, and time. If one contractor has left off the fuel costs for delivery materials or equipment, their quote may seem lower at the time, but will result in add-on costs after the job is finished. Make sure the quotes you’re receiving are all-inclusive to avoid any confusion.

We always recommend gathering quotes from at least 3 driveway companies, if not more. What you would find if you were to gather quotes from all the companies in the are is that most quotes are going to fall into the “mid-range,” with one or two quotes that are much higher or much lower.

Remember that low prices, while enticing, may not equate to high quality materials and labor. The quality of work involved with repaving a driving is extremely important because it can mean the difference between your driveway lasting 10 years versus 25 years. Getting the job done right is more important than getting it done on the cheap—because in the long run, that bargain driveway might end up costing more to fix and maintain.

How should I maintain my driveway?

Proper driveway maintenance can make a huge difference in pavement longevity. You can easily increase your pavement life by regularly checking your pavement and addressing issues early on. A pavement maintenance plan should include crack filling, pothole repair, sealcoating, sweeping, and other surface applications as needed. By properly maintaining your pavement, it can last 20+ years.

Also remember to stay on top of maintenance to avoid costly repairs in the future. That small crack in your pavement might not be so small after a few years. Cracks and potholes allow water to enter the pavement and erode the foundation, which can end with large scale damage to your driveway. Caring for your pavement is the best way to increase its longevity.