Beckage Sealcoating | More Than Just Seal Coating
Free Estimates Call: 908.730.7281

Asphalt Paving FAQs

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions we receive about Asphalt Paving Projects:

1. What is Asphalt?

Asphalt is a dark brown or black cementitious material which is a natural constituent of most crude oils found throughout the world.

2. What is Tar?

A dark brown or black cementitious material produced by the destructive distillation of Bituminous coal. This product is not used in the Industry.

3. What is Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA)?

Specification grade asphalt (binder) is heated and combined with specification crushed dried sand-gravel in a quality controlled mixing plant. The HMA is then loaded onto trucks for delivery to construction sites.

4. Is Asphalt and Hot Mix Environmentally Sound?

Yes, in fact, it is the most recycled product in the USA at 80 percent. That compares to significantly lower percentages for aluminum cans, newsprint, plastic and glass beverage containers, and magazines. Asphalt driveways and roads are removed, recrushed, mixed with additional aggregate and asphalt cement (binder), remixed, and placed back on driveways and roads. In fact, in 2002, the EPA de-listed HMA plants as a major source of emissions based on data leading them to conclude that no asphalt concrete manufacturing facility has the potential to emit hazardous air pollutants (HAP) approaching major source levels.

5. What is Flexible Pavement?

The ability of an asphalt pavement structure to conform with loads and withstand temperature changes. Generally, the flexibility of the asphalt paving mixture is enhanced by a slightly higher asphalt content.

6. What is Pavement Structure?

A pavement structure with all its’ courses of asphalt-aggregate mixtures, or a combination of asphalt courses and untreated aggregate courses placed above the subgrade.

7. What are the benefits of Hot Mix Asphalt?

You’ll recognize several benefits with Hot Mix Asphalt, compared to other, more costly options.

It is strong and durable.

It is engineered to withstand freezing and thawing.

No need to worry about salting your driveway in winter like concrete. Hot Mix Asphalt is less affected by salt and not effected at all when sealcoated.

Unlike other, more rigid materials such as concrete, Hot Mix Asphalt is designed to flex and “give” with slight settlements or frost heave. Hot Mix Asphalt lends itself readily to the types of service that are usual in residential areas. If a utility line must pass under your driveway, repairs are more easily and quickly performed than with alternative materials such as concrete. The same is true if undue ground settlement should occur naturally.

9. What makes asphalt crack?

In New Jersey, the frost penetrates the ground as deep as 3 feet. The ground, when frozen this deep, will heave often times as much as 1 to 2 inches. Asphalt will give to a certain extent then will crack. Now matter how strong the asphalt pavement is constructed, the forces of nature are stronger. However, thicker asphalt certainly helps.

10. What forms of payment does Beckage Sealcoating accept?

Payment is due upon completion of the work. We will accept cash, check.

11. How much notice will you give me before the work begins?

We notify clients at least 24 hours in advance. Weather sometimes forces us to reschedule.

12. Can you tell me how soon you will do the work on my driveway?

Scheduling is controlled by both residential and commercial considerations, logistics and the weather. Providing a firm date well in advance of the day the work is to be done is virtually impossible. However, we do work with clients whenever we can to ensure the work is done in a timely fashion.

13. Do you guarantee your work?

Yes, we guarantee our asphalt for 5 years from the date of installation. This is our standard. Click here for our 5 year Pavement Guarantee.

14. How soon can I drive on my driveway after it’s been paved?

You should stay off of your driveway for a minimum of seventy-two (72) hours after your driveway has been installed. Longer is better.

15. Will you pave (overlay) over concrete?

We do not pave over concrete. It is not the inexpensive solution clients are seeking. Concrete has expansion joints and moves with changes in temperature (primarily during freezing and thawing). Asphalt is paved as a single monolithic slab. Unlike concrete, it has some inherent flexibility that allows it to expand and contract; however, it is not designed to move in the same way that concrete does. Consequently, asphalt applied over concrete will crack whenever and wherever the concrete moves. This includes both expansion joints and other cracks that the concrete has developed with age. Any expansion joint or a crack in the concrete pavement below it will soon be expressed in the asphalt above. This defeats the purpose of paving. In addition, this process creates a trip hazard in some areas. Finally, because there is no way to tuck asphalt, overlaying concrete can also produce a thin edge susceptible to accelerated deterioration. In short paving with asphalt over concrete is a very bad idea.

16. How does a remove and replace differ from an overlay?

A driveway’s longevity will depend on three things; the geology of the soil, the quality of the installation and the maintenance it receives. Nevertheless, at some point it will begin to fail. When this happens, there are two options; an overlay or a remove and replace. An overlay consists of bonding a 2 inch asphalt veneer to an existing asphalt surface (it is rolled to a finished 1 ½ inch thickness). It is only recommended when the majority of the existing asphalt and its base are viewed to be structurally sound. A properly installed overlay on a sound base can last as long as a completely replaced drive. However, the keys to success are “properly installed” and “sound base”. If an overlay is applied over a weak or compromised base, it will fail. If an overlay is applied over extensively cracked asphalt, those same cracks will eventually express themselves through to the new surface. The speed and extent of this process depends on many things, but typically it does occur over time. The advantage to an overlay is that it is less expensive than a remove and replace. The disadvantage is that existing cracks in the underlying pavement will eventually express themselves (appear) and, if the underlying base proves, despite surface evidence, to be unsound, portions of the new surface will fail sooner than they should. A “Remove & Replace” is just that. The existing asphalt is removed; additional base is added as necessary and rolled to grade. Finally a new (3 3/4”) layer of asphalt is applied and rolled to a final thickness of 3″.

17. When should I consider getting my driveway removed and replaced?

The removal of an existing asphalt driveway should be considered when (1) a repair of failed areas and the subsequent overlay is not cost-effective or (2) an adequate slope cannot be attained with an overlay to ensure that water moves away from the house and garage. Because a remove and replace consists of removing the existing asphalt surface, the adding and grading additional base (to compensate for what has been lost to time, erosion and removal process) and a new asphalt surface, many of the concerns inherent in an overlay are irrelevant. The asphalt is installed at three and three-quarters (3 3/4”) inches and rolled to grade at three inches (3″).

18. How long does an asphalt driveway last?

A poorly installed asphalt driveway will last as little as 5-7 years or less. However, some of the driveways we see are considerably older than that. We have seen driveways that are 30+ years old and still in relatively good condition. Three factors contribute to asphalt’s longevity; geology, construction and maintenance. Poor geology like bad genes can doom a driveway to an early demise. Quality construction can counter some of geology’s anomalies. If the soil is excessively wet, larger stones can be added to stabilize the base before the limestone and asphalt are applied. Strategically placed drainage, i.e. French drains, etc. can also mitigate the effects of too much soil moisture. If geology and construction are optimal, proper maintenance can extend the life of a driveway and add to its appearance. Appropriate sealcoat and crack sealer applications ensure that neither the surface nor the base is exposed to more wear than necessary. A single application of sealer should be applied every other year. Cracks of 3/8ths inch or larger should be sealed with a hot crack sealer yearly if necessary.

19. How long will the Remove and Replace or Overlay of my driveway take?

If you have a typical driveway, i.e. approximately a remove and replace will take roughly will be spread over two days. The “prep” crew will come on the first day and remove the existing asphalt, apply new base as necessary and roll the surface to the appropriate grade. You can drive on this stone surface until the paving is completed. If the weather cooperates, the paving crew will pave the driveway soon after. An overlay, because we will be applying a layer of asphalt to the existing surface, will occur in one day or less. You should not drive on either drive for 72 hours. They should be sealed after one (1) year.

20. Is asphalt cheaper than concrete? What are the advantages and disadvantages to each?

Concrete is typically more expensive than asphalt; however, both mediums have advantages and disadvantages beyond cost. Concrete is perceived to last longer; however, both concrete’s and asphalt’s endurance and longevity are a function of the quality of the mix, geology, installation and maintenance. You should not use salt on concrete during the winter as it will make it spall, i.e. become pitted. You should use a calcium chloride de-icer. Asphalt is less affected by salt and not at all when sealcoated. Concrete’s lighter color reflects the sun’s light and consequently its heat. This is advantageous in the summer because the drive remains cooler. However, in the winter snow on the drive melts more slowly because the concrete doesn’t absorb the light and radiate the heat. The exact opposite is true of asphalt. Often the decision between concrete and asphalt is one of aesthetics; which looks better to you. We suggest that clients compare the price of asphalt to concrete and make a decision based on all the criteria important to you. Beckage Sealcoating will only install your driveway with asphalt as we believe it’s the obvious choice.

21. What’s the difference between a cut and patch and an infrared repair?

Both procedures are designed to repair failed areas of your driveway. The end product is essentially the same. However, cut and patch is employed when the damage has penetrated to the base and little or no asphalt remains in the damaged area. Infrared is used when the damage does not go to the base, when there is sufficient asphalt remaining in the damaged area to be repaired. With cut and patch the damaged area is literally cut out (usually a foot wider on every side than the visible damage) with a saw. It is rebased, i.e. new base is added, new asphalt is applied and it is rolled or vibratory tamped to grade. Infrared heats the existing asphalt to 350° F. The asphalt in the repair area is scarified to depth, i.e. it is heated to the thickness of the asphalt. Rejuvenator is added to the existing asphalt, new asphalt is added and the area is rolled to grade. The difference between the two procedures is in the final product. A cut and patch leaves four cuts in the asphalt that must be crack sealed. If crack sealer is not applied regularly, water will eventually penetrate to the base and make the area susceptible to failure again. Infrared creates a seamless repair. Consequently, it requires no crack sealer and should be less susceptible to water into the repaired area. IR is typically employed where the asphalt is fairly new and when there is not significant sealer buildup on the drive. Excessive sealer prevents the IR from penetrating to a sufficient depth. As noted, the correct procedure depends on the extent of the damage, the age of the driveway and the amount of sealer on its surface.

22. Are there any temperature constraints when paving a driveway?

Paving is much less susceptible to temperature issues than is sealing. Asphalt paving can be done until the ground is frozen, usually around mid-December. This is because the asphalt comes to the job site very hot and the air doesn’t cool it very quickly. When the asphalt comes in contact with frozen ground; however, it often will become firm before it can be rolled to grade. Consequently, the final surface is frozen, may appear very rough and tend to “ravel,” i.e. lose stone, shortly after the work is completed.

23. If I eventually plan to install an asphalt driveway, what is the best size and type of stone to apply in the interim?

The best initial base for an asphalt driveway that is to be graded and paved consists of an initial layer of ¾ quarry process stone. To ensure a solid base, this should be in place as long as possible so that the repeated movement of vehicles over the surface drives the stone into the ground.

24. When can a driveway be graded and paved?

Grade and Pave is an option when sufficient stone has been applied to the drive area over time such that it has become deeply embedded in the soil. This embedded stone typically consists of , 3” of ¾ quarry process stone etc., but other stone is sometimes sufficient. The stone provides a portion of the base necessary to install an asphalt driveway. However, an asphalt driveway cannot be paved directly over such a base because such stones do not constitute a structurally sound asphalt foundation. But this stone can be graded to make it level and, with the addition of quarry dust, can become the base for an asphalt driveway.

25. What are the advantages of Grade and Pave?

If water accumulates on a gravel driveway during the winter, it can freeze and make traction difficult, particularly on a grade. During the spring and summer months, the stones shift whenever traffic passes over them. This ultimately pushes the gravel beyond the initial boundary of the drive. Over time potholes often form in gravel driveways and much of the stone that is pushed to the periphery is lost to the surrounding soil. Of course much of the stone is also driven into the ground by the weight of the cars and trucks passing over it. The end result of the constant traffic is that periodically new stone must be applied. The good news is that over time this stone becomes an excellent base for an asphalt drive. Paving a driveway / parking lot where the stone has been down long enough to be forced into the soil by continuous traffic is less expensive than new construction since less labor and materials are involved. There are several advantages of an asphalt driveway over a gravel one. Because its structure is rigid, an asphalt driveway stays in place. Furthermore, an asphalt grade can be determined and controlled, so water moves off of the driveway. This improves traction and makes winter navigation less hazardous. Finally, you can shovel or plow an asphalt without throwing gravel everywhere or hanging up your blade in a pothole.

26. How long is my estimate good for?

We make every effort to honor our estimates to the end of our fiscal year. When we can, we make every effort to honor them the following year. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, e.g. price pressures, we cannot promise this will always be the case.

27. Do you give free estimates?

Yes. If you call for an estimate at 908-730-7281, or request a quote online, we will try to get to your residence within five (5) business days to measure the work area. We will send you an estimate within a week thereafter. We do not provide estimates in the field (with the exception of sealcoat) or on-the-fly. When you receive our estimate it will be in writing, on our letterhead and accompanied by other relevant paperwork.

28. Will you give me an estimate while you are at my residence?

We don’t provide estimates “on the fly”. Only residential seal coat estimates are given in the field. All other quotes are returned to our office for evaluation and calculation. You should receive a written quote within a week of our estimator’s visit. If you are comfortable with the description of the work to be done and price, simply sign the bottom of the contract and return it to the office. We will schedule your work as soon as we can.

29. Do you give discounts?

We give discounts for cash and when more than one client requires the same or similar work done in the immediate area.

30. Is there a question we didn’t answer?

Email us at will send you an answer by email. And thank you in advance for your interest.