Thursday, October 17, 2013

The proper aftercare of your driveway


Properly cared for it should give you many years of service. These aftercare guidelines have been drawn up to help you look after your drive and to help you overcome problems if they arise.


Your new drive is made from asphalt, a mixture of hard aggregate bound together with bitumen, a flexible, black, waterproof substance derived from crude oil. There are many different types of asphalt surfacing that are used on driveways, the more common being Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA). Dense or Close-graded Bituminous Macadam, (DMA) and Hot Rolled Asphalt (HRA). Some of these are stronger and more durable than others, but the same basic principles apply to looking after all of them.

Guidelines


Hot Weather

Because your drive is black it can absorb heat in sunny weather, becoming quite hot. Under such conditions, the bitumen binding agent becomes softer and the surface becomes more prone to ‘scuffing’ from tyres and indentation from point loading from ladders and the like. It is sensible to take care not to overstress the surface in hot weather, particular by sharp turning of wheels with power steering when your vehicle is not moving, as this can distress the surface. This is particularly important in the early life (first summer) of your driveway when it will be black and shiny and prone to soften. As it ages, the surface will turn grey and the material will harden and the risk of damage will be much less. It is however wise to remember that there is always a risk of such damage in very hot weather. Whilst scuffing damage like this may give you concern, it is usually only superficial and will largely disappear as the surface which has been ‘turned’, weathers and blends into a uniform appearance with the rest of the drive. This guidance is particularly appropriate to sheltered south facing drives where surfaces retain heat for longer periods and to heavy vehicles, such as people carriers and four-wheel drive, off roaders.

Oil and Chemical Spillages

Bitumen bound surfacings are resistant to occasional oil droppings but can be softened and damaged by significant oil spillages. If left in contact with the asphalt, any oil product will dissolve into the bitumen binder and soften it. Where oil spillages have occurred, the best course of action is to soak up the oil before it has time to damage the asphalt. Use the best available material close to hand to do this such as cat litter, sawdust, dry same, paper or cloth. If the oil has already penetrated the asphalt, you should protect the surface from stress (keep traffic off where possible) and give the contaminant time to evaporate away. With petrol this will be very rapid whereas diesel fuel will take several months to evaporate but should eventually return to normal. Such spillages will leave marks, which should diminish with time. Great care should be taken trying to wash such marks away as this could wash away the asphalt itself. Where appropriate, it is recommended to wash the surface of the asphalt with luke-warm water and a brush. Alternative cleaning products are available from DIY stores but it should be noted that water-base solutions are preferred and a small discrete area be tested before treating larger areas. If chemicals such as gardening products have spilled onto the surface care should be taken to read the guidelines on the bottle with regard to dilution. In many cases simply washing the driveway with copious amounts of water is recommended.

Point-Loading, Trailers, Caravans, Motorbikes and Ladders

The jockey wheels of trailers and caravans, and feet of ladders concentrate a large load over a small area and can give rise to indentation of the driveway surface. Newly laid driveways and warm south-facing driveways are particularly prone to this kind of damage. You are advised to use items such as a block of wood, a plank, a sheet of plywood, or a paving slab to spread to load.

Weeds, Vegetation and Soil Debris

Older driveways can be prone to growth of vegetations through the asphalt. The best course of action is to first kill this by means of a leaf acting weed killer such as Roundup. Carefully remove the dead foliage by scraping, but do not attempt to pull out roots as this could disturb the driveway. If necessary treat the root with an appropriate water-based brushwood or root weed killer. If soil or similar gardening products are to be placed onto an asphalt driveway a plastic sheet is recommended to prevent clay and soil getting stuck into the surface of the driveway presenting a difficult cleaning problem. In extreme cases clay in a macadam surface can cause damage by shrinkage when it dries. Soils and sand deposited directly on to an asphalt driveway should be carefully brushed from the surface whilst dry and the remainder removed with water and a stiff brush.

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1 comment:

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