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Paving a Driveway Boston MA

In the old days, houses usually had dirt paths that led to the barn or outbuilding where the horses were stabled. With the introduction of cars in the early 1900s, dirt paths were replaced gradually with a harder surface, such as gravel or crushed seashells, to reduce the erosion and mud that were problematic for automobiles.

Boston Sand & Gravel Company
(617) 227-9000
PO Box 9187, 100 North Washington Street
Boston, MA
Madden Asphalt Co
(617) 254-7100
100 Windom St
Boston, MA
Howard Stein-Hudson
(617) 482-7080
38 Chauncy St Fl 9th
Boston, MA
Beers Skanska
(617) 574-1400
270 Congress St
Boston, MA
Macdougall Masonry
(617) 734-4429
19 Orkney Rd
Brighton, MA
(617) 367-3847
70 E India Row
Boston, MA
Botti Jos Co Inc
(617) 298-0038
7 Topeka St
Boston, MA
Advanced Roofing & M
(617) 738-8200
50 Milk St
Boston, MA
Dmr Masonry
(617) 782-4295
43 Margo Rd
Brighton, MA
Abco Masonry
(617) 738-6040
2001 Beacon St
Brighton, MA

Paving a Driveway

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In the old days, houses usually had dirt paths that led to the barn or outbuilding where the horses were stabled. With the introduction of cars in the early 1900s, dirt paths were replaced gradually with a harder surface, such as gravel or crushed seashells, to reduce the erosion and mud that were problematic for automobiles. These types of driveways still exist in many rural or shore areas, while concrete and asphalt continue to grow in popularity because these surfaces are more durable and easy to maintain. Yet like many other home products, the demand for newer and better options continues.

All driveway materials use some form of aggregate. Aggregate is either rock or some other natural material like seashells that is either applied directly or mixed with other components to form a hard surface. In fact, aggregate material forms the basis for all of the concrete used in a house. According to Jeff Carlstrom of New Ulm Quartzite Quarries Inc., Minnesota, A new home uses on average 120 tons of aggregate. Aggregate also forms about 95 percent of a paved roadway or driveway. Aggregate comes in many different types, colors and sizes.

There are many factors to consider when constructing your driveway, including layout and design, paving materials, function, parking considerations, and landscaping. This article provides an overview of these factors to get you started on creating the best driveway for your home.


The least expensive type of driveway consists of gravel or other aggregate material over packed dirt. Gravel refers to small stones, generally 2 to 75 mm in diameter, that may be angular or rounded. Angular gravel usually comes from quarries as a byproduct of the crushing process, whereas rounded gravel comes from old riverbeds, beaches or channel dredging. Gravel can be almost any color, depending on the parent rock type, or may even be a multicolored blend. The gravel can be placed loosely or compacted.

The problem with these types of surfaces, however, is that they are difficult to maintain. The gravel or seashells often get ground into the underlying soil, or get covered with soil from stormwater runoff. It is possible to cover the gravel with a coal tar mix, which binds the gravel to keep it from migrating. Unfortunately, the mix needs to be reapplied frequently because it does not stand up well to weather and the pressure of automobile traffic.

They are also difficult to shovel when it snows, and are not good surfaces for bicycles and motorcycles. Lastly, they need to be reapplied every few years to maintain an even surface. Nevertheless, they are inexpensive and have a nice aesthetic, particularly in rural settings.


Asphalt driveways are the next step up in paving expense. Asphalt is just aggregate material (stone, fine stone and sand) mixed with asphalt cement. According to the National Pavement Contractors Association, a properly constructed and maintained asphalt driveway will probably last 20 to 30 years. Like gravel, asphalt is applied over graded soil. This subgrade soil is compacted with a roller because it must carry the loads transmitted to it from the pavement structure. If the soil is not suitable for compaction, then it may need to be replaced with either different soil or a 4-inch-thick gravel mix. Gravel should settle for two weeks before applying the asphalt coating.

Good drainage is critical for pavement durability. The contractor needs to blend the surface of the pavement to the contour of the existing ground so that the surface water runs over it or away from it. In flat areas, the driveway should be sloped or crowned so all surface water will drain off. Roof drainage from downspouts should, if feasible, be piped well away from the edge of the driveway. In some cases, pipe cross-drains may be needed to take the water under the driveway. Water should not be allowed to stand at the edges.

The compacted subgrade should be covered with an asphalt mix that meets the specifications of the appropriate state highway department for residential streets (usually about 2.5 inches). The asphalt mix then needs to be compacted with a steel-wheeled tandem roller or some other type of roller, like a small self-propelled vibrating roller. It is also important that the weather be warm and dry.

Asphalt driveways generally run $2 to $3 per square foot. It is very critical, however, to hire the right contractor for an asphalt driveway. This type of driveway construction is very susceptible to scams. Unlike installing concrete, which takes a lot of steps and many days, asphalt driveways can be installed relatively quickly, and there are many phony contractors who prey on unsuspecting buyers. Even if you get a good contractor, you may end up with a less-than-satisfactory job if you try to scrimp on the thickness of the materials to save costs. A 2.5-inch layer of asphalt is usually recommended.

One recent innovation for asphalt is imprinted asphalt, which provides the look of stone. A traditional asphalt driveway is poured and then covered with steel wire-rope templates. The templates, which act like waffle irons, imprint a texture in the warm asphalt, giving it the look of individually installed paving stones. The asphalt surface is then top-coated with a colored polymer material to complete the effect. In addition to enhancing the appearance of the driveway, the polymer coating seals and protects against water infiltration and ultraviolet damage. Imprinting generally costs $5 to $7 a square foot and lasts about six to eight years, when it would need to be recoated.


The next step up in terms of cost is poured concrete. Traditionally, concrete driveways have come in one color gray (or white that becomes gray). Today there are many options stamped, engraved, exposed aggregate, colored, patterned and concrete pavers. A concrete driveway is a good choice because it usually lasts longer than asphalt. A good-quality concrete driveway will last more than 30 years with little or no maintenance, according to Jeffrey S. Kirchner, owner and CEO of Kirco Industries Inc., Bohemia, N.Y.

A traditional poured-concrete driveway generally runs $6 to $15 per square foot, which is more expensive than asphalt or gravel. The difference would generally depend on the thickness of the concrete, with the best-quality driveways being 6 to 8 inches thick. This cost factor often dissuades buyers. However, Kirchner notes, If you consider the cost of surface and crack sealers and the shorter life span of the asphalt, concrete will cost much less.

As with other types of driveways, concrete needs a good 4-inch subgrade of either soil or crushed stone, depending on your location (some soils need up to 8 inches of subgrade). In order to ensure a long-lasting driveway, the concrete needs to be mixed and applied properly. recommends that A 4,000-psi 0.50 water-to-cement ratio is best for driveway construction. This provides better wearability and a denser concrete than the typical 2,500-psi mix. Concrete is permeable and wicks moisture from beneath the slab. With the moisture come salts from the soil that can leave efflorescence on the surface. The 1-to-2 water/cement mix reduces the formation of capillary pores through which water wicks up from the soil.

The concrete must also have the proper joint placement. Joints should be at least 25 percent the concrete thickness so a 1-inch-deep joint should be used in a 4-inch-thick driveway. Joints should also be spaced two to three times (in feet) the thickness of the concrete (in inches). So a 4-inch-thick driveway should have joints spaced no farther than 8 to 12 feet in both directions. If joints are spaced too far apart, cracks will often occur where the joints should have been. The concrete should be reinforced with wire mesh or steel bars, and should be sloped so that water runs off. Lastly, the concrete needs to set properly to cure. This could take a few days to a month, depending on precipitation, temperature and other local conditions.

Concrete Pavers

A relatively new alternative is concrete paving blocks, also known as pavers. These have become very popular for walks and patios, and may also be used for driveways. Pavers interlock to form a patterned surface, which can be put into service immediately (unlike concrete, which must set for days prior to use). Pavers are manufactured in various textures and colors. They can also be mixed and matched to create unique designs. The advantage of pavers is that they can move with freezing and thawing, thereby reducing the chance of cracks. Another advantage is that they can be removed and reinstalled, which reduces service interruptions. The principal disadvantage is cost, between $10 and $12 a square foot.

Pavers are also used in new low-impact construction. Low-impact means that the building and site are designed to minimize the effect on the environment. Porous pavers have holes in the center designed to allow water to seep into the ground restricting runoff and to allow grass to grow through the pavers. This encourages groundwater recharge while providing an aesthetically appealing driveway. The drawback is that porous pavement should not be used if the driveway is in constant use, since the pavers can become clogged with dirt and debris, preventing groundwater recharge. And for people in northern, snowy climes, they are difficult to shovel. Therefore, pavers are best suited to auxiliary driveways and overflow parking.

Pavers require little maintenance. Occasionally new sand or cinders should be applied to keep the pavers in place. Since they are made of concrete, they should last a long time up to 30 years. Given the variety of colors and textures, they also represent an excellent way to achieve a custom-designed look for your home. Traditionally, bricks were used in driveway construction, particularly in historic settings. Pavers are rapidly replacing bricks since they are more flexible for designs, have interlocking surfaces and thus move less, do not have slippery surfaces when wet, and are less likely to crack. While bricks are still available, they are used far less for driveways now than in the past.

Other Considerations Landscaping

In a small yard, the driveway can sometimes be overpowering because of the size of the paved area plus the view of a large garage door. To avoid this situation, you need to balance the driveway with a proportional area of grass or ground cover. If the area is not available, then you may want to provide a group of bushes or trees to offset the view of the driveway. Conversely, in a large yard, the driveway can be used to accent the architecture of the house such as a large, sweeping driveway that connects the house to the street.

Landscaping around a long driveway can serve several purposes. Often, the driveway is the principal means of access to the house for the homeowner but not for guests, since it ends at the garage door. Landscaping can redirect your guests to the path to the front door. Screening is another important factor in choosing landscaping, whether from the inside of the house or from the street. Driveways often have parked cars, or may even have cars under repair, that need to be screened from both the house and the street. Landscaping can also block noise from driveway activities.

Guest Parking

If you do not have on-street parking available for guests or other family members, then your driveway may have to serve that purpose. Therefore, you may need to provide additional space on or adjacent to the driveway for this purpose. A typical situation for many baby boomers is the need to accommodate teenage drivers. A driveway that was fine for two cars may be overwhelmed with more cars. Also teenagers often use their cars more frequently and may inhibit your ease of access into and out of the garage. In these cases it is often helpful to construct an overflow parking area adjacent to the driveway. Many homeowners choose gravel or pavers for overflow since they may want to remove this area in the future. If, on the other hand, you need a more permanent area for guests, then you should consider a design that either matches or complements your existing driveway, without turning your yard into a giant parking lot.

Access Fri, 14 Sep 2007 00:00:00 Barry Chalofsky 13 Tools Every Homeowner Needs Not everyone who owns a house was born to build a deck, retile the bathroom floor or rip out an old plaster ceiling in the living room. But sometimes the only way to get jobs done around the house is to do it yourself.

Even if you're an un-handy homeowner, you have to be prepared if your plumber avoids repeated calls about the showerhead that won't stop dripping, or if the local handyman is booked through the end of next June. That's when it's time to dive into your own toolbox, the one stocked with just the right stuff for hanging a picture, tightening the oven door and making scores of other minor repairs.

Our list includes a baker's dozen of essential tools for homeowners. Outfit your toolbox with all of these items and you'll pay less than $250" a small price for the years of service they'll deliver.

A frequent contributor to Smart HomeOwner, Charles Self is the author of more than 40 books and numerous articles on woodworking, do-it-yourself and tool subjects. He lives in Bedford, Va.

Screwdriver set 9

A basic kit of screwdrivers may get used as much as any tool in the house. Look for a set that includes several types of blades, such as a No. 2 Phillips, a No. 2 square-drive and a 3/16-inch flat blade for conventionally slotted screws. To save space, consider an all-in-one screwdriver that uses a common handle for any one of several hex-drive tips. A basic screwdriver set costs about $14.

Measuring tape 0

Contractors usually carry 30-foot tapes, but a 12- or 16-foot model is plenty for most of us. Tape measures with wider blades are sturdier and can be extended farther without collapsing. These tapes, from Lufkin and Stanley, are priced at around $12 to $15.

Cordless drill -

A screwdriver as well as hole-maker, the cordless drill is a versatile helpmate. This Ryobi has 24 clutch settings, helpful for countersinking screws in different materials, and a keyless chuck. Builders invest in cordless tools with batteries up to 24 volts, but this 9.6-volt drill is lighter and less expensive. It's priced at about $30.

Adjustable wrenches 8

You can use adjustable wrenches when tackling anything from loose toilet bolts and supply-line nuts to bicycle wheels and the loose handle on your oven door. This set of three wrenches" 6, 8 and 10 inches long" will be more than enough to handle just about anything an average household can throw at it. When choosing wrenches, look for ones that are drop-forged chrome-plated steel. Good sets are priced from about $15.

Stud finder 9

A good-quality electronic stud finder is the tool of choice for locating structural framing before you hang a heavy painting or shelving unit. Driving a series of test holes with a finish nail may work just as well, but it leaves a mess. Look for a stud finder that probes to a depth of 1 1/2 inches. Newer models indicate the center as well as the edges of a stud, and some also are capable of finding hidden electrical cables. This StudSensor Pro SL from Zircon is available for about $20, battery included.

Torpedo or laser level 0

A short level, like this 9-inch model from

Stanley, can help you hang pictures or get the right pitch on a drain line. If you want to spend a little more money, try a laser level, which starts at as little as $12. Torpedo

levels start at around $5.

Utility knife 0

16-ounce curved-claw hammer -

A hammer is just the ticket for driving upholstery tacks, reassembling bookcases and repairing window frames that have started to come apart. Look for one that has a no-maintenance fiberglass or steel handle with a rubber grip, like this Stanley AntiVibe. It's priced at $28.

Block plane -

A small block plane is ideal for trimming wood doors and drawers that stick. Although many manufacturers offer block planes, we recommend two models: A $60 wood-bodied plane from E.C. Emmerich, a German company, and the Veritas apron plane by Lee Valley. It's priced at about $90. You can use both of these planes right out of the box.

Allen wrenches -

These six-sided lengths of steel formed into L shapes fit the recessed screw heads you'll find on everything from bathroom towel bars to door knobs. You may need several sizes (and metric as well as standard), so look for a set. Auto-parts stores often carry models with a number of wrenches that fold into a handle, some with both metric and standard sizes. They're priced at around $5 to $10 a set.

Plunger 9

A tool that should need no introduction is the only plumbing entry on our list. Also called the force cup, the plunger will pay for itself several times over the first time you don't have to call the plumber. Any hardware store should offer a choice between a plain cup version and a cup with an extension horn. The extension-horn version is much better at clearing toilets. They're priced at around $5.

Set of pliers 8

We recommend a set that includes 8-inch needlenose pliers, 6- to 7-inch slip-joint pliers, 9- or 10-inch channel adjusting pliers, 8-inch locking pliers and 7-inch side cutters (also known as diagonals or dykes). The locking pliers will not be part of a set but should be added, while the wire cutters are not necessary often but are worth keeping on hand. All the pliers shown here will cost a total of about $35.

Electrical circuit tester and breaker locator 0

Try as you might to avoid it, you may find yourself working on an electrical branch circuit a job no one should attempt without killing the power first. Finding the right circuit breaker let's say it's the one powering a receptacle for a lamp in the dining room" may be a lot harder than you'd guess. When you're faced with that situation, you'll be glad to have this device. Plug the transmitter into the lamp's wall receptacle, then pass the receiver over the service panel and watch for the light to indicate you've found the right breaker. Now shut if off and get to work. The unit pictured here is Zircon's CF12, available for about $50.

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