How Long Does it Take To Lay Asphalt – How to Plan For A New Project

Lay Asphalt

Every home and business needs a driveway and parking lot to enable their guests, customers, etc. access the building safely and comfortably. 

But when considering a driveway or other pavement project, lots of homeowners and business owners are curious about the time required to have the project completed appropriately so as to make the necessary arrangements.

So, how long does it take to lay asphalt?

Exactly how long it takes to have a new driveway or other pavement installed depends hugely on the amount of preparatory work needed. For instance, excavating the existing pavement adds time to the task, as well as using gravel to build the right pitch and grade. Most driveways can be laid within two days once the site is prepared, yet most take only a single day.

When will you be able to use of your asphalt driveway?

Compacting the asphalt will require additional time. The asphalt needs to firm up after this. In most situations, you should be able to drive on your driveway in two to three days. But asphalt can take 6-12 months to completely cure. You can use the driveway as usual during that period but care should be taken to avoid scuffing the surface with car tires (by turning too sharply), including other likely reasons for damage.

A driveway is under construction for new asphalt with tractors onsite.

How to prepare your property for a new paving project

Once you have decided to install a new parking lot, driveway, etc., it’s essential to get necessary prerequisites out of the way. You need to get your property adequately prepared before your contractor would commence the project. 

Taking the required action now can save you energy and some money while making sure the project is completed in a timely fashion.

Step 1. Plan ahead. When it comes to improving your home’s project, proper planning would assure its success. Before you commence, decide the area you want to have the paving installed so you can make a detailed drawing of its design.

Step 2. Find a dependable paving professional. Next, look for a dependable expert that will carry out the project for you. You may try to seek advice from the people you know and carefully research every option before you make the final decision.

Step3. Have the area cleared. Inasmuch as it is ideal to ask, how long does it take to lay asphalt, you need to have it in mind that this step can also add to the time. It is vital to have the paving area cleared before the arrival of your asphalt contractor. The contractor will want to start the asphalt installation project right away, so you shouldn’t wait until the last minute before you think of moving your vehicles, toys, tools, etc.

Step 4. Check for pipes or cables. You should also check to ensure there are no pipes or cables on the paving project site. Because hitting hidden pipes or cables can cause costly damage to your property, which is dangerous.

Step 5. Make arrangements for alternative parking. In addition, during the course of the installation, you will need to make arrangements for an alternative parking space. You can enquire to know the timeline to complete the process so you know the time you can use your property again.

A newly install asphalt over the concrete driveway

Asphalt installation steps and timeline

The steps involved in asphalt installation are:

  • Removal of old surface
  • Preparation of sub base
  • Paving process
  • Drying and curing

Installing new asphalt pavement involves some steps and timeline to ensure the correct thing is done. While asphalt installation can be a DIY project, we often recommend you seek professional assistance for the job. Hiring a professional implies employing their vast experience and knowledge to install a pavement that would serve you for an unimaginable  number of years. The steps and timeline involved in asphalt installation are highlighted below:

Removal of old surface

The first step here is to remove the old surface. If you have an existing pavement, the contractor would have it removed or pulverized and stabilized so as to construct the base for the new pavement.

Contractors usually use heavy machinery like forklifts, small bobcats, and when necessary, large dump trucks and front loaders to complete the demolition and removal of the existing pavement surface. This step also contributes to the answer of, how long does it take to lay asphalt questions.

Preparation of sub base

After that, the contractor will grade the surface using automatic motor graders and laser-guided transits to construct the proper slope so that water will run-off correctly. Adequate drainage is important to your asphalt pavement since water is a primary cause of damage, such as cracks, potholes, and heaving.

After grading the area, the base soil would need to be compacted and filled with gravel to create the foundation. The sub base offers a solid surface to support new asphalt pavement and is a frost shield to help mitigate winter damage due to freeze / thaw. 

The asphalt surface on top will not have years of longevity if the sub-base is not properly compacted. The amount of gravel required will depend on the conditions of the soil – Hence, it is vital for you to choose the correct contractor for your project.

Paving process

  • Once the contractor completes the full grading and compaction, they will take additional steps to proof roll it with the use of heavy machinery, making sure the underlying surface is solid and prepared to support new asphalt.
  • It is time to install the binder after laying the sub base and any soft areas are found and fixed. Big aggregates mixed with oil are the binder sheet, making it very solid and sturdy. You can think of the binder layer as the strength of every fresh asphalt surface.
  • The top layer of new asphalt would be laid to offer a safe, smooth ride as soon as the supporting structures of a new asphalt surface have been installed. Surface asphalt consists of oil, small aggregates, and sand that produces jet-black asphalt, providing a smooth ride and a shiny, appealing finished surface if properly installed.
  • The contractor will use a roller truck to smooth and compact the new asphalt surface, ensuring that no small bumps of stone or aggregate are left to poke via the smooth new surface. All these steps determine the answer to how long does it take to lay asphalt questions, coupled with other factors.

Drying and curing

As asphalt requires time to cure and harden (normally 6 to 12 months), your driveway or parking lot will stay soft and tender until then. You may walk immediately on the new pavement, but ensure automobile traffic is kept off of it for a minimum of 3 whole days, and even long in extreme temperature.

A busy workers installing a new asphalt pavement on road

Things to keep in mind 

When planning an asphalt paving project, there are things you need to also consider if you want to guarantee its long service life. Of course, you want the best value for your investment, but if the right things are not put in place, the project aim may be defeated. Below are what you need to keep in mind for your asphalt installation project: 

Make sure to plan for proper drainage

Water is the primary cause of pavements collapsing. Water can get through cracks and down to the subgrade, either eroding it or freezing it, leading to cracking. Hence, it is critical to construct a proper drainage system,allowing water to flow easily over your pavement, rather than stagnating on it.

Ensure use of a strong subbase

Another thing to keep in mind is the subbase. If a weak sub base is used for your pavement, in no time, your new surface will begin to develop cracks. The base thickness should typically be in the range between 4 to 6 inches. If the base thickness is not up to par, it will ultimately result in cracks on the asphalt pavement surface, resulting in significant damage if not corrected on time.

Ensure proper thickness for your surface 

The thickness of an asphalt can dictate what becomes the surface of your pavement. So, how long does it take to lay asphalt if the subbase is solidly laid? The time needed to lay asphalt can not be determined by the sub base characteristic.

But  ensure your surface has proper thickness. Typically, an asphalt surface thickness should be at least 2 inches to withstand moisture, including heavy traffic. If the surface of the pavement is too thin or the paving contractor has poorly built the pavement, it will be susceptible to severe cracking.

How to properly care for your new asphalt surface 

Below are the tips to properly care for your new asphalt surface:

  • Do not drive on the new surface until after a minimum of 24hrs.
  • Avoid driving over the edge
  • Ensure to hose it down once a while
  • Carry out snow plowing
  • Avoid parking on the same spot all the time
  • Seal coat only after at least 1 year
  • Do not park heavy equipment on the new surface
  • Avoid turning car wheel sharply on the surface
  • Do not pull out too fast
  • Carry out regular maintenance
The process of seal coating on asphalt driveway

Long term asphalt maintenance tips

A well-maintained asphalt pavement can enhance the curb appeal of your home and increase its value for resale. So, if you want to keep your pavement in great shape, continuous maintenance is necessary. 

The asphalt can start cracking or crumbling in as little as 15 years if it is not properly cared for. Maintaining your asphalt pavement can help in extending its service life and removing the cost of having to repave it.

Many homeowners often ask, how long does it take to lay asphalt without thinking of how to care for it, ensuring it serves well. 

By adhering to the below maintenance tips, you are sure to have a long-lasting asphalt pavement:

  • Ensure you seal coat your pavement every two years for extra protection
  • Regularly carry out repairs of any issue you may identify
  • Ensure you frequently clean your asphalt pavement to avoid the accumulation of dirt, dust, debris, etc.
  • Ensure to prevent water from puddling on the surface
  • Control load plying the surface
  • Adopt the habit of regular sweeping and washing of your pavement
  • Contract a professional to carry out repairs of any arising issues as soon as possible

What temperature should you lay asphalt?

The standard requirement is for the ambient temperature to be 50 degree fahrenheit and to increase on a project of paving or patching. Do figure out the wind speed predicted for the paving day. If there is wind, the asphalt pavement temperature of the hot mix can cool faster than usual.


The timeline to have an asphalt paving project completed depends on some human factors and external factors. For instance, the time taken to demolish, procuring the material, and preparing the paving site adds to the paving timeline. 

Also, the thickness, and environmental factors can also influence the asphalt laying time.

So, talk to a paving contractor when you are planning a paving project for correct and professional advice about everything you need to know regarding your project.

Tim Dawson's Avatar

About the Author: Tim Dawson

Tim is a seasoned paving expert with 30+ years of experience in the industry. He has worked on countless projects, from small residential driveways to large commercial parking lots.