Why not to seal your driveway!

Is sealing your driveway worth the time, effort and expense.

For a homeowner in my opinion "No"

Sealing companies will tell you that it protects your driveway from:

  • Water penetration
  • UV rays
  • Weather
  • Chemicals

1. If a driveway is installed with the proper pitch ( 1 inch for every 8 feet) water should drain off your driveway. The asphalt emulsion that binds the stones and sand together is not water soluble and will not wash away.

2. UV rays do break down asphalt. If you look  closely at asphalt what do you see? Depending on how old the asphalt is you will see varying sizes of stone and sand and asphalt emultion that binds all of this together. Class II asphalt has only 5.8% - 5.9 % asphalt emulation in it. When the asphalt is brand new the stones and sand have a thin coating of asphalt, that is why fresh asphalt is so black.  As it is exposed to traffic and UV rays it breaks down. I don't know how driveway sealer which is made of asphalt emulsion protects the asphalt under it. What ends up happening is the sealer breaks down over time becomes faded and cracks or wears off, hence leading to another coat of sealer being applied. It is like an annuity for sealing companies. Keeps you coming back every two years or so. 

3. Weather is driveways biggest enemy, especially frost and thaw cycles. Driveway seal cannot stop Mother Nature. In late winter early spring the asphalt pavement heaves with the frost and cracks open. When the asphalt gets older and more brittle it cracks more leading to failure. Unfortunately the driveway sealers do not have the ability to span these cracks. 

4. Chemicals, some chemicals can damage asphalt, especially petroleum products. At the least they stain the asphalt and over an extended period they break down the bond between the asphalt emultion and the aggregate. So if you have a car that leaks oil all the time, operate a gas station, convenience store or auto parts store, I would recommend driveway sealer to protect the pavement, but for the a homeowner I would not.

If sealing really extends a paved surfaces life, then why does the State of Conneticut and the local municipalities not seal their roads or parking lots ?? Hummm... 

Will I have to pay "Sales Tax" on my driveway??

Like most things when dealing with the State on Connecticut it is not a simply  "Yes" or "No" answer.

This is from the Building Contractors' Guide to Sales and Use Tax

Paving(See also Maintenance Services to Real Property)

Paving involves covering the ground with a hard smooth surface such as:

  •   asphalt macadam
  •   poured concrete tar

Paving includes the replacement of sections or the complete repaving of

  •  basketball courts tennis courts
  • driveways walks
  • parking areas

Paving does not include covering driveways, parking areas, and walks with materials such as crushed stone, crushed stone with oil, or gravel. However, these services are taxable when rendered to existing commercial, industrial, and income-producing property.

Paving services do include all preparatory work, where performed as part of the entire job, as well as the subsequent sealing or dressing of the pavement.

Initial Installation

Materials: The paving contractor pays tax on all purchases of materials including:

  • asphalt macadam
  • concrete tar

Labor: The contractor does not charge tax when a driveway, parking lot, or walk is paved for the first time. Therefore, if the contractor is putting in a driveway, parking lot, or walkway at a new construction site or paving for the first time an existing driveway, parking lot, or walkway originally constructed of dirt, loose stone, or gravel, the labor is not subject to tax on:

  •  New construction
  •  Owner-occupied residential property
  •  Existing commercial property
  •  Existing industrial property
  •  Existing income-producing property

Repair or Replacement (of an existing paved driveway, parking lot, or walkway)

Materials: The paving contractor pays tax on all materials purchased to repair or replace an existing paved driveway, parking lot, walkway, basketball court, or tennis court.

Labor: The contractor must charge tax on the labor to repair or replace existing pavement on:

  •  New construction of commercial, industrial, and
  •  Income-producing real property
  • Existing commercial property
  • Existing industrial property
  • Existing income-producing property

The contractor does not charge tax on the labor to repair or replace existing pavement on:

  • Owner-occupied residential property.

If you have any other question please feel free to call on our professional staff.

Why "Resurfacing" might be the wrong scope of work for your driveway.

Why "Resurfacing" might be the wrong scope of work for your driveway.

So your driveway is not looking so good and you have been putting off paving and the time has come that you start to make some calls. How to choose the companies to call is a topic for a future blog, but what choosing the proper scope of work is what this will be about.

Resurfacing Your Driveway

So if your driveway has some cracks here and there "Resurfacing" might be a good option. If your driveway has plenty of pitch and it only has to be flush with the garage. When a driveway is "Resurfaced" We remove a section of the existing driveway in front of the garage. We look for any evidence of rocks being pushed up by frost. Generally a protrusion pushing the asphalt up about one foot in diameter. If any we remove cut around them and remove the stone and compact the material and patch the asphalt. A wedge of asphalt is placed from the existing asphalt to the base material. Then a coat of asphalt is placed over the entire driveway and compacted.

Ripping Out, Grading and Paving Your Driveway

If your driveway has many cracks we some times refer to this as "Alligatored" and any reputable contractor should not recommend resurfacing, maybe it even has potholes. It might be tempting to resurface from a financial point of view because it can be up to half the cost, but the fact is no matter how much asphalt is installed on top of it the cracks will come thru very quickly. It will look good when completed but will not stand up to the test of time and could crack in a year or two depending on how severe the coming winters frost and thaw cycles are. The correct scope of work for a driveway like this is to completely remove the existing asphalt, compact the existing base material. Fine grade using processed aggregate and compact again. Then install the asphalt and compact a final time.

Hopefully this information will help you choose the right scope for your driveway. As always feel free to call us at 203.943.0584  to have us come out and give you our expert opinion and a detailed proposal. If you have found it helpful please let us know in our comments section.

"Alligatored" asphalt is easiest to spot after it has rained

"Alligatored" asphalt is easiest to spot after it has rained

What you need to know about polymeteic sand when having paver driveway installed.

When installing a paver driveway you:

Layout

Excavate

Compact

Rough grade base material

Compacting again

Fine grade

Compact again,

Screed the sand

Compact one last time

Laying the pavers 

and... 

the last step has changed over the years. Years ago you would sweep fine sand in the joints and compact with a plate compactor, repeat, and then hose down the area and touch up any areas where gaps were present .

Normal  sand can be displaced by erosion or believe it or not ants and can support weed growth. 

To combat these factors polymetric ic sand was invented. The only thing polymetric sand and common mason sand have in common is the basic size of the sand. Polymetric sand comes in a variety of colors, mason sand only one. Polymetric sand has polomers that when mixed with water are activated and when installed properly make a bronding agent that prevents erosion, ants and weed growth. Plus the different colors can really put the finishing touches on your project. 

To make sure you get the greatest return on tour investment make sure you choose a reputable contractor that is not willing to cut corners and is going to install quality product.

Give us a call and we will make sure your project is something that both of us can be proud of. 

A driveway in Darien, CT with a parking area that has polymetric sand  to prevent erosion. 

A driveway in Darien, CT with a parking area that has polymetric sand  to prevent erosion. 

 

 

Polymetric sand was used on a Belgium block apron in Wilton CT and can be used on othermasonary accents like flagstone walkways. 

Polymetric sand was used on a Belgium block apron in Wilton CT and can be used on othermasonary accents like flagstone walkways. 

 

Congratulations to Richard Bergmann For His Award On " Bend-in-the-Road-Landscape"

We are proud to have work on this project with Dick. The reason why I like it so much is that everything that was done matches the houses original character and comes together so well. 

Our scope of the work was to remove the old driveway, excavate for the installation of the conduits to bury the electrical service, install drainage structures and pipe, excavate for the new configured driveway, install the Belgium block curbing and aprons and circular accent, pave the driveway and then after a curing period we came back and installed oil & stone with native stone.

The only thing that surprises me about the design is that it has not received more awards.

"Congrats Dick!"

Oil & Stone Driveway in Darien CT with Belgium block aprons, curbing, accent and stone pillars

What to expect in a proposal from a contractor that is going to work on your property.

Any reputable contractor doing work on your house or property will provide you with a written proposal for the work requested. Proposals can look different from company to company but they should have essentially the same information to protect you and the contractor.

  • The names and address of both the contractor and the homeowner.
  • The scope of work. This should be as detailed as possible.
  • The cost of the work.
  • Payment terms. Example: 1/2 upon signing contract, 1/2 upon completion or Net
  • Warranty period: One year is typical on labor and materials

It is not uncommon for proposals to contain additional information. When reviewing  proposals make sure to compare apples to apples. Most residential driveways do not facilitate large compaction equipment so be weary of any contractor claiming they place three inches of pavement in one lift. Do your home work on any contractor working on your property and always ask for proof of insurance before the work begins.

Please feel free to call upon us to provide a written proposal for your next project @ 203.943.0584

What you need to know about edging before you have work done on your driveway.

Driveway Edging Considerations 

The main function of driveway edging is to create a border between your asphalt driveway and lawn and or to keep loose stone on a gravel driveway contained. Another use is to channel water to limit erosion on driveways on an incline. Belgian Blocks are the most common material and can be installed in a variety of ways to create something unique. Other options are metal edging and asphalt curbing, but do to our location and severity of our winters these types of edging are prone to problems. Granite curbing is the most durable and unique.  Many driveways are installed with no edging the lawn grows right up to the edge of the asphalt. Regardless of the type of driveway edging you install, you should choose material that matches the appearance and the décor of your home's exterior and landscape. 

Raised Driveway Edging                    

  • Raised driveway edging is designed to extend above the height of your driveway and usually creates a border for protecting both your driveway and lawn.

  • You can use larger pieces of Belgian block to create beautiful granite driveway edging for your driveway. This type of curbing can be installed with cement joint or without.

  • An asphalt curb will functionally serve the same purpose as a granite curb, but does not hold up to the abuse of a snow plow as well.

  • Four inch wide granite curbing come in lengths from two feet long to ten feet long. It has a longer lead time and unfortunately is the most expensive.

 Flush Driveway Edging 

  • You can use Belgian block, brick or pavers along your asphalt driveway edges to provide contrasting color that easily identifies the border between your lawn and your driveway. Metal edging also provides a crisp clean line.

  • If you want to make your driveway edging really noticeable, consider installing two rows of edging material on either side of your driveway. This will create a wider border and make your driveway stand out more.

  • For an aesthetically pleasing option that is unique, you can use a stone gutter which can be comprised of Belgian blocks or stone set in concrete with a “u” pattern on both sides of the driveway.

Hopefully this will help you make the decision that is right for you, and as always we invite you to share your comment or suggestions. Please call on our professional staff to provide your with a proposal for your driveway paving project in Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Westport.

driveway new canaan.jpg

 

Why you should ask your contractors for insurance?

Here are some reasons you really need to make sure your contractor is insured and carried workman’s comp. 


1. The contractor or one of their employees gets hurt on the job.

You hire someone to pave your driveway. One of the employees of the company gets hurt on your property. If the contractor you hired does not have worker's compensation insurance for that employee you may be responsible for the medical bills for that injury. While your homeowners insurance usually has some built in worker's compensation, it is much better to have the contractor have his own in place.

2. A competent contractor will always be insured.

People who run their businesses well want to be properly insured. They are professionals who take pride in their work and want to stand by the work they do. A quality company will always want their customers to know they are responsible and want to have the proper insurance in place.

3. You are responsible if damage occurs to your neighbor's property.

You contractor someone to pave your driveway and they knock down a tree. The tree falls, it falls and crushes your neighbor’s car. You are responsible for that damage unless the contractor has liability insurance.

Protect yourself and the work you have done by taking a few minutes more to make sure your contractor has a certificate of insurance. While it can take a little longer, you will be grateful in the end if something goes wrong that you asked for it!