Bitumen, also known as asphalt, is a byproduct of the crude oil distillation process. The substance is thick, sticky and black in color. Bitumen can be mixed with gravel to pave driveways, runways and roads. Bitumen driveways are known to be more flexible and durable than other types of driveways. In addition, they are cheaper to buy and install.
However, it is worth noting that bitumen is sensitive to seasonal temperature fluctuations. For instance, during the hot season, the sun’s rays will dry out the asphalt surface and make it oxidize. This will lead to formation of small cracks. You might ignore these cracks but with time, they will develop into big potholes if left unattended. You need to go an extra mile in caring for your asphalt driveway in order to keep in great shape. Other than that, proper care and maintenance is important to keeping the annual cost as low as possible. Here are the best practices in maintenance of bitumen driveways as recommended by some of the best asphalt paving services Melbourne has to offer.
Take the First 14 Days With Extra Care
The first two weeks of your newly installed asphalt driveway are quite crucial. During this period the driveway is vulnerable. For a strong driveway, avoid driving on the new surface for the first 3-5 days. Also, avoid parking on the fresh driveway before 14 days are over. And if you really have to park on it, do it during the cool hours of the day.
The Curing Period
Bitumen is oil based and might take a while to cure – normally 100 days. It might take longer during the summer season. There are certain precautions you must take during this period, and they include:
- Avoid parking heavy vehicles on the driveway for long periods of time. Asphalt carparks can also be covered with plywood to dispense the weight of tires, especially for vehicles parked for long periods.
- Keep sharp objects, such as bicycle and motorcycle stands, away from the surface.
- Heavy truck like tractors should not be allowed on the driveway.
- Park on bitumen during the cooler part of the day.
Avoid Spilling Gasoline and Oil on the Bitumen
Since bitumen is oil based, oil and gasoline can dissolve the surface and cause it to weaken. Ensure that your vehicle is not leaking oil or gasoline, and if it accidentally spills, wipe off these materials immediately to minimize damage of bitumen.
Cracks are mainly caused by natural factors such as too much rain or the freeze and thaw cycle. Do regular visual inspection on your driveway and take note of cracks. Cracks should be filled immediately they form to prevent them from developing into cracks. You can fill cracks yourself.
Seal coating helps to helps to reduce cracking by locking in the existing oil on the bitumen. You should seal coat your driveway every three years. You may do it yourself or hire one of the experts in driveway asphalting Melbourne has to offer.
Protect the Edges of the Driveway
The edges of bitumen driveways tend to be weak due to lack of support. Avoid driving close to the edges and stop grass and weeds from growing through cracks.