Determining Soil Type Before An Asphalt Driveway Installation

Construction & Contractors Articles

If you have recently moved into a new home and want to replace the stone driveway, then your two best options are asphalt and concrete. Asphalt is often chosen over concrete because it is cheaper, it cures more quickly, and it is easier to repair. If you do pick asphalt, then you probably should not shoot out and schedule an installation tomorrow. Some things should be done well before the paving contractors arrive, and one of these things is determining the type of soil you have on your property. Keep reading to understand why this is important and how you can find out what is in your dirt.

The Importance Of Understanding Soil Type

Soil is composed of a few different types of material that include organic matter, rock, clay, and sand. Most soil will contain a mixture of these compounds. However, the substance that makes up the majority of the soil will tell you how the dirt on your property will react. This is extremely important when it comes to constructing heavy objects, like an asphalt driveway, over the dirt. The most stable types of soil contain a good mixture of organic and inorganic compounds. You may have some difficulties though, if the earth is made up mostly of clay or sand.

While clay does offer substantial strength over other types of soil, the soil may shrink and expand when it becomes wet or dry. To keep the soil from shifting and possibly causing cracks along the asphalt surface, a french drain will need to be added to the driveway area to move water away from the soil. If the soil is made out of sand, it will not be very strong, but it will allow for good water drainage. In this case, a geotextile material will need to be added between the soil and the gravel base placed on top of it. This will help to keep the rocks from sinking into the soil. A thicker substrate base or an asphalt surface will also need to be secured. You should speak to your paving professional about the best options to retain the strongest and longest lasting driveway.

Figuring Out Soil Composition

There are few different ways to figure out the compounds or materials that are located in your soil. The easiest way is to look at a soil survey map in your area. A web soil survey can be found online that is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The survey contains information for about 95% of the United States. You can also ask your local city or town for survey data that has been collected within the last few years. 

If you do not want to use general data for the area, then you can have the soil from your property evaluated by an agricultural or environmental laboratory. Many laboratories will allow you to send in some of the soil from your property. A detailed report of the soil contents, contaminants, and pH level of the dirt will then be sent to you through the mail. If you decide to do this, then you will need to take the best sample possible. Purchase a steel soil sample probe from your local home store. Also purchase a five gallon bucket. You will need to take between six and eight soil samples across the area where your new driveway will be installed. Force the soil sample probe about four inches into the earth and release the soil into your bucket. Mix the soil up thoroughly once you take all the samples. Use a spoon or a shovel to fill a sealable sandwich bag full of the soil. Place the soil in a mailing envelope or box and send it to the sampling laboratory with your paperwork. 

For more information and tips on how to prepare your soil for asphalt paving, contact a local paving company, such as Lakeridge Paving Company.


20 April 2016

Using Reclaimed Wood For Construction Projects

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