Can a driveway be paved in the winter

If you were wondering whether-or-not you can pave your driveway in the winter, you came to the right place. 

It is really important to hire a reputable and qualified paving company to pave your driveway to ensure that all of the industry standards are being followed and a one of these standards that is most important is: whether or not you can pave your driveway in the winter. 

Can a driveway be paved in the winter?

If you live in the warmer regions of the world, you can most certainly pave your driveway ANYTIME of the year. However, those who live in the northern hemisphere, or anywhere it gets cold enough for freezing temperatures, you MUST wait until spring or there is a significant break from cold-freezing conditions. 

A driveway cannot be paved in the winter if the temperatures are dipping low enough to freeze, the asphalt will not be able to retain enough heat to remain malleable, thus stopping work or running the certain risk of ruining the asphalt product. The questions below should substantiate your decision and ease any doubts as to whether-or-not you can pave your driveway this winter, or you should wait until spring.

A house and driveway covered by snows

When is the best time of year to pave your driveway?

Knowing WHEN to schedule your driveway to be paved can save you a lot of money and extend the life of your driveway in the long run. 

In the northern hemisphere, most paving jobs are completed in the SPRING and SUMMER. 

Depending on location, some paving companies may even be able to continue working late into fall. When it is considered “winter” outside; cold, possibly snowy and blustery outside, the asphalt cannot retain the extremely hot temperature that is needed for it to remain malleable. 

In such a scenario, should there be an emergency, if the pavement has cracked, or a hole has been created due to a pipe breaking, you won’t find anyone trying to resurface or pave anything, especially if the temperatures are below freezing or hovering some-where near there. Patch work will be tolerated until the weather conditions improve. 

A view of a sea from the asphalt driveway

What is the best temperature to pave a driveway? 

You ideally want to have your driveway paved when BOTH the GROUND and AIR temperatures are between 50 and 90 degrees. 

The “perfect” temperature would average out to about 76-80 degrees, if you could, by some crazy chance, control the weather, or live in San Diego or Malibu, California. 

When asphalt is paved outside of the aforementioned temperatures, undesirable outcomes to the quality of the driveway begin to take-play and in the long run; the driveway will deteriorate MUCH quicker than a driveway that was paved during proper temperatures.

An owner is busy removing snow on the driveway.

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Is it okay to pave over an existing driveway?

If your driveway was installed properly and you have gone through the trouble of maintaining it and keeping it in the best possible condition, you should be able to get 20 to 30 years out of it before it is time to resurface or replace the existing driveway material.  

Many fear that once an existing asphalt surface is at the end of its lifespan and their driveway is in disrepair, they will have to dig everything up and start over with a new driveway entirely. This may not necessarily be the case. 

There are several factors to determine if you can pave over your existing driveway or will have to replace it completely. If you pave over your existing driveway, the process is called an” OVERLAY”. 

Doing so may add 10-15 years of additional life to your driveways surface, possibly saving you some significant money. However, to determine if paving over your existing driveway may be suitable for your property, it’s important to have the pro’s go over these factors with you.

  • Pre-Existing Damage: If you are considering paving over the existing asphalt, all the existing damage must be fixed first prior to resurfacing. It is very important to understand, if any of the damage of the asphalt goes all the way to the sub-base, the driveway may not be able to be resurfaced.  It is very important to ensure you are dealing with a reputable company, so that you ensure you are getting the best quality job.
  • Overall Cost:  The cost to resurface is around 65-75% of the overall cost for a new driveway installation, depending on all that needs to be done.  It is only a good idea to pave over existing pavement if it is in fair to good condition. If the driveway is not structurally sound, it will be cheaper to reconstruct the driveway from the beginning than to pave over and keep repairing in the future. Paving over a driveway that is not in good condition, will cost the home-owner a lot of money down the road.
  • Drying and Set Time: When installing an overlay of asphalt, it takes time, patience and skill to have a quality finished product. Once it has been installed, it is absolutely critical to allow the asphalt time to set and cure specified by the contractor. Are you able to allow enough time for it to set, without exposing it to traffic?
A workers busy on leveling the new asphalt driveway.

Factors to consider before paving your driveway

Before taking on such a MAJOR task, you will want to take a step back from focusing solely on the driveway for a minute and really think about what your desired final product is and just make sure you haven’t overlooked anything. 

This may be the opportunity you have been looking for to renovate or mix-up your properties aesthetics. Take some time and consider the following.

  • If you live in climates where the temperature can get really hot or cold, it is best to do your research before considering paving your driveway; there may be alternative materials available, it may not be possible to pave asphalt, but maybe concrete is an option. 
  • Speak with more than one paving company. It’s important to interview several of the best companies that you can find. Between the different quotes on estimates and talking with the companies estimators you should get a general idea on the scope of the project.
  • Have you picked the right contractor? Are they suitable for the job? They have paved driveways before and not just commercial parking lots, right? You want to make sure that the company or contractor you have chosen to pave your driveway, does so often. Some companies only specialize in certain aspects of paving. You don’t want someone who paves interstates and highways to do your driveway, or vice versa.
  • If paving a new driveway installation, are all the proper steps being taken to ensure the sub-base is compact, level and the proper density? Check to ensure the proper materials are being used. Get it specified in your contract.
  • Do you need any permits or to follow any specific local regulations? There may be a home-owners association or some other governing body. Check before you do ANYTHING.
  • Has the contractor allowed for proper drainage and water run-off?  You DO NOT want standing water on your driveway.
  • Will you be able to ensure that the driveway is NOT USED for the proper amount of time so that the asphalt can set and harden properly?
  • Cost of Maintenance and “Up-Keep.” Have you asked about what you need to perform periodically over the years to keep your investment protected? Some are not aware of the additional costs incurred down the road nor are many informed.  Don’t be that guy or gal.

If your driveway is paved properly, the correct materials were used and you are able to keep up on the ever occasional, somewhat pricey maintenance, your drive way should ideally last you 20-30 years; this is according to the National Asphalt and Paving Associations website. 

How to Choose the Right Paving Contractor

A concrete driveway with snow in the surface

When selecting your local paving contractor and getting estimates, it is important to be vigilant in your search. 

Choose a company that is reputable, has been established for some time and offers a guarantee on their work. 

You don’t want to select the cheapest bidder for your job; doing so usually results in poor workmanship and low-grade materials. Usually, it’s not worth the risk.  If you have to bundle up and deal with the freezing temperatures in the winter season, it’s best not to pave your driveway during those times, period.  Think on it, make an appointment for sometime in the spring, after the last freeze, and turn your energy elsewhere. You’ve taken all the proper steps and figured out if you can or can’t pave your driveway in the winter.