If you're considering a new or updated driveway and live in a warmer-than-average part of the country, you may be wondering whether there are any special considerations you'll want to keep in mind. Although the potential for premature aging of solid driveway surfaces is often higher in areas with long stretches of cold weather and heavy precipitation, hot and sunny climates pose their own challenges. Read on to learn more about your various driveway options, as well as which material may hold up best in your warm weather area.
Asphalt driveways are composed of petroleum mixed with sealants and other substances that render it hard but flexible after it has cured. Due to their inherent flex, asphalt driveways can stand up to significant temperature fluctuations, which is especially useful in desert climates where the air temperature may rise and fall by 40 to 50 degrees per day.
Because asphalt is mixed and spread at a very high temperature, and cannot be applied when it's raining, it is much easier (and less expensive) to install during warm, dry months. Although, over time, your asphalt driveway may lose a bit of its flex and require some minor patching or crack filling, overall, it is a durable option for hot climates.
The only potential downside to an asphalt driveway in a hot climate is the incredible ability of this dark pavement to absorb light (and heat) -- if you're someone who seldom wears shoes while walking outside, you may quickly have to learn to "fire walk" over your driveway to avoid minor burns on sunny days.
Another popular option that may help keep your driveway cooler on the hottest days is concrete. The installation of a concrete driveway is relatively simple. First, the area will be prepared, then its edges will be marked and sealed to ensure that the driveway stays within its boundaries. A cement mixer will pour semi-liquid concrete into the cleared space, where it is spread to ensure a smooth, flat surface. It's generally best to pour concrete on dry days when the temperature is moderate -- between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Concrete dries to a much harder state than asphalt, and is therefore a bit more prone to cracking under extreme weather conditions. Although there are cement patches available to help fill in any holes or cracks that may develop, it can sometimes be difficult to match the color of the patch to the color of the surrounding driveway, so you may want to sealcoat your driveway every few years to provide a uniform appearance and help prevent any pitting or erosion.
One of the most inexpensive options available to you is gravel. This can also be one of the easiest options -- rather than requiring a construction crew to come prepare and pour liquid concrete or asphalt into your driveway, you simply have a dump truck spread gravel over the area you'd like covered. For a neater appearance, this gravel can be spread or formed using a loader. Although gravel can be dumped in just about any weather conditions, if you're spreading the gravel yourself (by hand or with a rented loader) you may want to avoid super-hot days simply for your own comfort.
The primary advantages to a gravel driveway are its installation cost and the flexibility you have to change the appearance of your driveway. Because gravel is available in a variety of colors and rock sizes, you can switch things up if you're tired of the way your driveway looks. Most gravel driveways will need to be renewed or refreshed with a partial load every few years as gravel washes away or disintegrates under the pressure of frequent driving.
Gravel can be a great option in all climates, as the risk of the driveway cracking or developing structural problems is minimized. Any potholes or other imperfections that might appear in your driveway can quickly be resolved by using a shovel to spread nearby gravel and fill the hole.
For more information, contact a local driveway installation company or visit http://armourpavement.com.