Asphalt Driveway: How Thick Should it Be

The asphalt driveway thickness is important if you’re planning to install pavement at your home. Many people choose asphalt driveways because they can withstand wear and tear and don’t require much upkeep. So, how thick should the asphalt driveway be?

The thickness of your asphalt driveway is essential to consider during the construction process. The asphalt thickness will determine the driveway’s durability and how soon it needs to be replaced. The thickness of your asphalt driveway should be based on your needs and budget.

The asphalt paving thickness and structure will depend on how you plan to use the space once it is completed. To create a lasting asphalt pavement, you must consider the entire structure and decide on materials and drainage.

A thick layer is mostly needed for business buildings or driveways that experience a lot of wear and tear.

Residential Asphalt Driveway

The average residential driveway is made of 2 to 3 inches of asphalt. The recommended depth to avoid issues with large machines or heavy vehicles is 3 inches of asphalt.

It is important to have 6-8 inches of granular base aggregate to keep your asphalt from deteriorating. You won’t have to do anything special to the drainage in gravelly, rocky, or sandy soil areas. If the soil at your construction site is loamy or clayey, excavate it before building to avoid future issues.

Commercial Parking Lots and Asphalt Paving

Good drainage is essential to maintain the longevity of your driveway. The recommended thickness of asphalt for commercial parking lots is 3 inches of asphalt. For regular lots, only six inches of asphalt are necessary. For commercial driveways, you should use 8 inches of granular foundation aggregate.

Heavy Duty Commercial Driveways and Lots

If your driveway will be next to a loading dock or regularly experiences heavy truck traffic, you should opt for a stronger asphalt construction with different finishes and binder layers. For asphalt thickness, go between 4 and 7 inches of asphalt. A six-inch layer of asphalt should be placed on top of a three-inch aggregate base for commercial lots that will experience high traffic.

Asphalt Paving Mixture

Asphalt components contain two main ingredients: aggregate and asphalt binder. The asphalt binder and aggregate are mixed at a hot mix plant and then placed on the roadway. The pavement is then compacted. This process creates a strong and level surface.


The rock, stone, or crushed limestones are mixed with the asphalt binder to create a sturdy mixture. 

The amount of aggregate in the finished product affects its strength and flexibility. Coarser aggregates result in a stronger but less flexible pavement, while finer aggregates produce a weaker but more flexible option.

The size of the aggregate used also affects drainage. Larger aggregates allow water to drain more easily, while smaller aggregates tend to trap moisture.

Asphalt Binder

Asphalt’s binding agent properties make it useful in many ways. Bitumen, a by-product of the petroleum refining process, is what asphalt consists of. It is sticky, black, and either viscous or semi-solid. 

Adding the right amount of asphalt binder to aggregate is crucial because it affects the strength and flexibility of the final product. A more significant asphalt binder to aggregate ratio indicates a tougher and more adaptable pavement.

A lower asphalt binder to aggregate ratio means a less flexible but more durable pavement. The asphalt binder is also what makes the pavement sticky and black.

The amount of asphalt binder can be adjusted to meet different needs.

The Drawbacks of a Too-Thin asphalt driveway

Asphalt is designed to distribute a load’s weight across its surface evenly. The material is pliable and will eventually be upheld by the bottom layer beneath it.

The car’s weight isn’t evenly distributed if the asphalt layer is too thin. Without that even distribution, the pressure from compression causes material beneath the tire to pull away from adjacent pavement and creates fatigue cracks.

These flaws will eventually become larger and spread out, growing quickly and causing the surface to deteriorate long before the product’s lifecycle is complete.

Choosing a Thicker Asphalt Driveway Has Benefits

If you frequently experience extreme weather conditions where you live, opt for a thicker driveway. Asphalt regularly sealcoated will better withstand weather elements such as temperature extremes and heavy rainfalls. The asphalt can expand or contract in extreme heat or cold, which then causes cracking.

Generally, a driveway constructed properly with thicker asphalt will be of higher quality and last longer.

The installation cost is the only thing thicker asphalt driveways have going against them. However, the extra money you spend on a thick asphalt driveway is worth it in the long run.

Professional Asphalt Contractors

With over five decades of experience in the paving industry practice, our JR Paving & Construction Co., Inc. team is dedicated to giving you the best possible asphalt paving. We know how important it is to have reliable and high-quality pavement, which is why we only use the best materials and expert contractors.

Keep the thickness of your asphalt in mind if you are paving a new driveway. Although a thicker driveway paving will cost more upfront, it will last longer and be more durable in the long run. If you’re unsure which paving thickness is right for your needs, reach out to JR Paving & Construction Co., Inc.- we’d be happy to help you decide.