Should I Replace or Resurface my Driveway?

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If you’ve found this blog, then chances are you’ve noticed some cracks in your driveway. Sometimes fixing cracks is an easy job, not even worth rolling up your sleeves (see our post on crack repair). But sometimes the cracks get out of hand. When your driveway looks like shattered glass or a drunken spider’s web or an icy lake breaking under your feet, it’s time to take action.

Metaphors aside, at some point either resurfacing or repaving your driveway are the best long-term solutions. All that minor damage can add up to major problems down the road (or driveway?). The question, then, is whether driveway resurfacing or driveway replacement is the better option. As usual, it depends. Today we’ll discuss the different factors at play to find the best option for your situation.

Driveway Resurfacing

Resurfacing is the middle ground in driveway care. On one hand, minor cracks can be filled in. On the other hand, replacing the driveway is a complete overhaul. Driveway resurfacing, however, can solve widespread damage without digging up the driveway, foundations and all.

Resurfacing is when new asphalt is poured over the old layer. You end up with a flawless, jet-black driveway and your wallet is left intact as well. If your driveway has bigger holes or cracks in a small area, you may be able to patch it yourself. There are mixtures that fill the damage and then you tamp it down. For larger areas, though, you will want to resurface. Otherwise you’ll have to repair damage every year.

To tell if you need resurfacing, walk outside and examine all the cracks in the driveway. Are many of the cracks more than a quarter inch wide? Are the cracks more than just surface deep? These are signs that you probably need driveway resurfacing. Even if you fill these cracks yourself, water will be able to seep in. Then, it will freeze, expand, and crack again. Sounds like a major headache to fill in cracks with frozen fingers each winter only to do the same job next winter, and the next winter, and the winter after that… Resurfacing saves you the labor and your finger functionality.

Driveway Replacement

Resurfacing is wonderful—it’s cheaper, quicker and in some cases just as effective as replacement. However, there are many cases where driveway replacement isn’t just better, it’s necessary. To replace a driveway, the asphalt is removed but then the whole foundation is dug up and remade. Remaking the foundation is the important—and more expensive—part of driveway replacement. You can go years filling in cracks here, patching holes there, even resurfacing the whole driveway. But if the foundations are bad, all your work will be in vain and these problems will return each year. The driveway will always be riddled with cracks, which leaves us a hard riddle to crack. Should I replace the whole thing?

To answer this question, you have to determine if the foundations are shot. How old is the driveway? The age of your driveway is an easy way to diagnose the problem. If your driveway is 20-30 years old, it’s time to replace it. Driveways that old almost certainly have rotten foundations that need to be replaced.

However, even newer driveways can have bad foundations. After several years of rain, snow, and thousands of tons worth of cars driving over it, foundations can start to wear. Similar to driveway resurfacing, you’ll need to take a look at the cracks. If they are wider than a half inch and several inches deep, it’s time to take action. These are too big to seal well and suggest a loose, failing foundation.

Another way to diagnose a bad foundation is if the asphalt isn’t flat. If it’s wavy or buckling, then the foundation isn’t solid in places. Along with being unattractive, this is a problem that can’t be fixed without professional help. It also means that small repairs to the asphalt won’t last in the long term.

What’s the Verdict?

Knowing all the warning signs, is driveway resurfacing or replacement better for you? Making the right decision is important. If you replace when you could have resurfaced, it will cost you. If you resurface when you needed to replace, it will cost you. Luckily, figuring out what to do isn’t guesswork. Pay attention to the signs and pave the way (*disappointed sigh*) for an attractive, long-lasting driveway. If you’d like to get a professional opinion, contact us at Sunrise Asphalt. We offer the best quality service for both resurfacing or replacing asphalt in the Tucson area.