If you have an old asphalt driveway, it will probably need new asphalt at some point. Asphalt naturally breaks down and dries out due to sun exposure. You can prolong your driveway's life by keeping up with repairs and sealcoating, but eventually, it will need new asphalt so it doesn't look neglected and worn down.

There are a couple of approaches your contractor may take with new asphalt paving. One is to put on a new asphalt overlay and the other is to tear out the old asphalt and put all new asphalt down. Here's a closer look at these two options.

1. An Overlay Is A New Topping Of Asphalt

When you get an overlay, the contractor puts new asphalt on top of your old driveway. Some of the old asphalt is removed first so that the driveway will be the original height when the new asphalt is put on. This ensures your driveway will still match the curb and edging if you have any.

An overlay gives your driveway the appearance of being new since there is new asphalt on the surface. However, the old driveway is still there, so it has to be in good structural shape before an overlay can be applied. An overlay is less expensive than a driveway replacement, so it's a good way to rejuvenate an old driveway for less.

2. A Replacement Driveway Is Entirely New

Getting a new asphalt driveway is much more involved than getting an overlay. First, the old asphalt is broken up and taken away. Then, the base has to be built up and compacted. Next comes the new asphalt paving that adds the asphalt and compacts it to make a stable and sturdy driveway.

If your old driveway has a lot of damage or if the base has been washed away due to ineffective drainage, you may have to get a replacement driveway. An overlay can't be used on a driveway that's in bad shape, but tearing out the old asphalt and repairing the base before new asphalt is put on restores and rejuvenates your driveway to make it like new again.

While getting a replacement driveway costs more, the new asphalt should last much longer than what an overlay lasts. That helps offset some of the cost. Getting a replacement driveway also takes longer and is much more disruptive. Both options make your driveway like new again, so you may need to talk to an asphalt paving contractor to find out the right choice for your property.