How To

Replace or resurface a crumbling driveway?

Bad asphalt on your driveway? Better replace the whole thing.
Bad asphalt on your driveway? Better replace the whole thing. (Bigstock)
By Jeanne Huber
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, June 24, 2010

Q My driveway is a mess. It's concrete with asphalt on top. The asphalt has failed, with large chunks missing and deep, wide cracks. The concrete is also a problem. The edges are cracked, and there are uneven parts.

I've been told that if the asphalt is removed, new concrete can be poured over the old, with a bonding agent applied in between. I'd also like to widen the original footprint, so there will be a part of the driveway that is entirely new.

Do you see any problems with this approach?


A Replace the driveway.

Yes, it is possible to scrape off the asphalt that's crumbling and peeling and re-coat the driveway with concrete or asphalt. But that is a smart strategy only when the underlying concrete is sound. You suspect yours is not.

"Remove everything and start fresh," advises Thomas Jordan, office manager of Collegiate Sealers and Paving (703-542-5555,, a Chantilly-based asphalt installer that works in your area. He was especially concerned that cracks in the underlying concrete and joints between new and old sections would telescope through.

Carol Roberts, who with her husband, Robert, owns Create an Image Decorative Concrete (703-753-9948, in Haymarket, also recommended starting fresh. "When you're uncertain about the support below, placing anything on top would not guarantee the future outcome and stability of the overlayment," she said.

For the risk of failure you'd get if you tried an overlay, you might save just a few hundred dollars. Jordan says his company has a minimum charge of $1,600 for resurfacing an existing driveway. That price would cover a relatively short two-car driveway and would include removing loose areas, patching them, applying a tack coat to ensure that the new asphalt sticks, and then re-topping the entire driveway. Replacing a driveway the same size would cost about $1,965 if done in asphalt.

If you want a concrete driveway, figure on spending about twice as much, or even more if you want a decorative finish that resembles stone or brick. If you're in that price range, you might also consider repaving with interlocking concrete pavers.

Your turn: Tape to DVD

A few readers wrote in with suggestions after a recent column about converting VHS tapes to DVD.

From Arlington: "There is another great place in Arlington: TransVideo Productions, at 2800 N. Pershing Dr. I have taken many reel-to-reel tapes there over the past years and received excellent service. David Downey, the one-man owner, is terrific and has every kind of audiovisual equipment imaginable. He's at 703-525-0297, or e-mail"

From Silver Spring: "Another option to paying an audiovisual company is to find someone like me who owns a combination DVD-VHS recorder-player. I've converted many of my old VHS tapes and some of my friends' into DVD discs."

From Stafford: "I have a Panasonic DRM-ES46V DVD recorder with VHS and DVD drives that I bought in 2007. It has one-touch dubbing from VHS to DVD. You don't have to be a techie geek to do that! One caution: The quality of the DVD is only as good as the source VHS tape. I checked on and found DVD recorders as low as $150 with the same mechanical and recording features."

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