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A Glossary of Paving Contractor Terms
Paving contractors can resurface your parking lot and build the foundation for your home. They can also apply decorative pavement to your hot tub deck, beautify your walkway and patch your driveway. Here are some terms you’ll likely come across when looking for the right contractor.
Asphalt – Asphalt is typically used for road pavement—in fact, 94 percent of U.S. roads are asphalt. Many people also pave their driveways with asphalt. It is flexible, making it ideal for cold climates because it won’t crack in the cold and does not respond negatively to salt. Plus, it is cost-effective.
Blacktop – Blacktop paving usually consists of asphalt, but can also be made out of tarmac.
Concrete – Concrete is a mixture of sand, gravel, crushed stone, water and cement. As opposed to asphalt, it is rigid. Concrete pavement lasts about 15 years longer than asphalt. And unlike asphalt, which you have to seal regularly, concrete is very simple to maintain.
Concrete Slab – Concrete slab often forms the foundation for homes, and you can also use it to pave driveways and porches. It is flat, consists of one whole piece, and is easy to lay down.
Gravel Driveway – A gravel driveway is affordable upfront but requires upkeep. It is comprised of loose stones, and thus harder to drive and park on.
Paving Stones – Popular in patio design as well as pool decks and walkways, the paving stone look can be made using limestone, granite or even a multi-colored concrete block assortment.
Sealer – A coat of sealer is used in driveway repair to smooth the finish after you fill in holes and cracks. It is often made of tar.
Paving contractors perform masonry work related to driveways and other asphalt and concrete areas, like patios. Although driveways are the most common type of work they do, they also handle parking lots and the repairs on private roads. Some also work to install and repair stone patios.
While some homeowners lay pavers themselves, others may hire a contractor. Patios are generally made out of stone slabs or blocks, but can also be brick. Driveways, however, are often asphalt or blacktop. Driveways may also be made out of gravel. Concrete is also common, as it requires less maintenance, although some also find it less attractive.
A contractor may be hired to lay asphalt for a completely new paved area, they may resurface an area or simply patch cracks. Routine maintenance may also be performed. Asphalt driveways and roads need to be sealed and repaired regularly. Over time, the blacktop surface turns gray, a sign that resealing is needed. The sealing coat is generally made out of coal tar. Large companies often maintain their lots and areas in residential and commercial properties.
Asphalt needs to be laid in optimum weather conditions and then rolled so it is compacted. Contractors may also assist with the design of the paved area, especially when a driveway needs to be laidaround fixed features or on a hill. Building a driveway also requires the use of fill material under the asphalt or concrete surface. Gravel driveways generally have a base of scalping stone taken from a quarry.
Although it is possible to build a driveway yourself, the majority choose to have this difficult and time consuming paving job performed by a paid professional contractor.