If you've gotten a nice, new asphalt driveway this past year and live in an area prone to ice and snow, listen up: You need to take special care with ice and snow removal if you want to keep that driveway in great shape. Anything you do to remove snow and ice risks cracking the sealant top coat and chipping the asphalt itself. Here's what you need to know about keeping your driveway clear and in one piece. 

Early Removal and Ice Picks

Don't let snow sit on the driveway. Obviously, if it's currently snowing, removing the snow isn't going to help much. But once it stops, remove what you can. Snow can become compacted as you walk or drive over it, and you'd have to use tougher methods to remove the compacted snow than you would fresh snow. Removing snow promptly means you can continue to use gentler methods.

If you end up with ice on the driveway, do not use ice picks. Even if you are trying to hit just the surface of the ice, it's too easy to drive the pick into the surface of the driveway. Once you do that, you open up the driveway to moisture intrusion and cracking from ice expansion. Remember, all it takes is one little chip in the sealant coat to let moisture in.

Blade Heights

When removing snow with either a plow or a shovel, don't let the blade of either scrape against the asphalt. Remove the snow in layers and leave a thin layer of snow on the ground -- This Old House recommends keeping blades at least 1/2 inch off the surface of the ground.

Another route to take with blades is to use plastic or rubber-tipped blades. You'll still want to keep the blades off the ground, but if they accidentally scrape against the asphalt, the plastic or rubber will be less likely to damage the asphalt.


Add a layer of sand to the driveway to make that leftover layer of snow or ice less slippery. You can use kitty litter, too, if that's what you have on hand. The rough material will add traction to the driveway.

Inspect and Reseal

After the snowy and icy season has passed, get your driveway inspected and possibly resealed. If your driveway was sealed before, and you took care not to damage it with blades or picks, chances are it will survive the winter well. But it's better to inspect and not need more work than it is to not inspect and then find potholes forming a few months later. Contact an asphalt paving company (such as Precision Lawn & Landscaping) for more information on keeping your driveway safe during bad winter weather.