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How long does it take asphalt to dry

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

If you’re about to have your driveway done you may have a few questions. You’ve likely seen some step in the paving process on roadways but likely don’t know the fine details unless you’ve had your driveway paved before.

There are some nuances to the ‘drying’ process with asphalt. The big one is the distinction between drying and curing time. When it comes to asphalt there is a distinction. We’ll break it down for you here, and let you know how long until you can park on your driveway again.

How long does it take an asphalt driveway to dry?

Construction crew with bobcat, grater and dump truck paving a driveway.

When we refer to a driveway ‘drying’ we mean the amount of time before you’re able to drive on your driveway. Before this point the surface is wet and tacky and driving or walking on it can alter the aesthetic and structure of your driveway and even lead to cracking.

Once the petroleum cools and sets, then you’re able to drive freely on it; this is typically within 2-3 days. This process varies depending on a few factors. As asphalt is exposed to the elements there can be some margin of difference. We’ll detail those down below.

How long does it take an asphalt driveway to cure?

Curing is where the tar sets and chemical bonds strengthen. Unlike concrete surfaces that seem to become rock solid in less than a couple of days, asphalt surfaces are still quite malleable after the initial drying period and can take some time to properly cure. This can take up to a year or more. Technically, a driveway continues to cure indefinitely.

While it's safe to use your driveway once dried, your driveway will continue to harden over time. We consider this one of the benefits of asphalt driveways. It is still hard at work long after the work is complete.

While this article offers a general guide on the drying time you can expect when you get a new driveway, we strongly recommend following the guidelines set out by your contractor when getting your driveway paved. Their mix, time of year, and thickness can significantly alter their suggested wait times. We know it’s hard to resist driving on your beautifully smooth new surface but trust us it’s well worth the wait!

Newly paved driveway drying.

Impacts on the curing process

There’s a lot of variability in the drying and curing process partially because there is some disagreement in the industry of when something is fully dried or cured but additionally there are impacts caused by weather and the environment. Elements like humidity, temperature, sun exposure can all significantly affect drying time.

For example, a super hot sunny day in the summer is going to extend the amount of time that it will take to dry. The more cooperative the weather the quicker the drying time. For this reason it’s harder to provide exact timelines on when you can expect to walk or drive on your new driveway.

Additionally, different suppliers and requirements may change the thickness of the asphalt. The thickness of the asphalt layer also affects the drying time. Thicker asphalt layers will take longer to dry compared to thinner layers.

Finally, the type of asphalt mix can also impact drying time. Different asphalt mixes have different drying times. For example, hot mix asphalt typically dries faster than cold mix asphalt. Additionally different mixes can also include a variety of additives used to strengthen the chemical bonds which can alter the properties adjusting drying time.

Tips to help your driveway along

While you certainly can’t control the weather there are a few things you can do to help your driveway dry.

  1. Water it with your hose. Water helps the asphalt cool. This is a particularly helpful on those hot sunny days mentioned above.

  2. Be patient. It’s so exciting to have a new driveway. It’s enhances the curb appeal of your home but it’s also so satisfying to drive on. It’s tempting to skip the wait but we assure you that waiting will make your driveway that much better.

If you’re researching driveways because you’re looking for a new one of your own, reach out to our team. Whether you have additional questions regarding the process or are ready to take the leap our team is here to help.


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