What is the difference between a garage apron and a driveway Apron? Why do they fail and how to prevent it.
A Garage Apron is the 1st 3 – 6 of driveway as you exit the garage.
A Driveway Apron is the 1st 3 – 6 feet of your driveway as you exit the road onto your driveway.
Garage Aprons usually fail for very different reasons than a street side apron. Garage foundations are normally cinder blocks or poured concrete.
When a poured foundation is present, there are usually fewer holes but more like a sinking of the driveway where it meets up with the garage floor.
When a cinder block foundation is used you will see the sinking as well but you will also notice holes that seem to go on forever. in fact, they go down about 6 – 8 feet.
So why does a street side apron fail?
There are no foundation footings at the end of the driveway so when an apron at that end fails it is usually 1 of 2 reasons.
- The ground is moving due to either large objects buried or you just live in an area that has a lot of movement.
- The most likely reason is that when an Asphalt driveway is installed, the contractor estimates the amount of asphalt mix needed before he does the job. Keep in mind anything left over he has to pay for and get rid of, preferably before it hardens in the dump truck.
So they start at the top of the driveway at the garage and lay down the asphalt as they move towards the street. As they go, they will normally put down 2.5 to 3″ of asphalt so when it is compacted, there is a full 2″. As they get closer to the end of the driveway and if they notice they are going to be short, they will thin out the mix so they don’t have to run back and pick up another batch (1 ton minimum) and leave a seam where they left off. This thinning asphalt will break apart long before the rest of the driveway does.
So Why does a garage apron fail?
This is an example of a cinder block foundation failing at the apron.
Cinder blocks have holes in them and the foundation goes down about 6 feet. The top layer of the foundation cider block is what is called a “Capped Block” You can see an example of it above.
Water gets between the driveway and the garage and eats away at the cider block capping. Even worse, when contractors are trying to save money, they will not use a capping block and put something over the holes in the cider block like spare shingles lying around and then install the asphalt driveway over it. Water eats through this material easily and the dirt falls into the holes. On hot summer days, the asphalt heats up and will also start to break away and also fall into the holes. Giving you what you see above.
So how does replacing it fix the long term problem?
Street side aprons can be replaced with asphalt or concrete and as long as there is a full 2″ of compacted asphalt, it should hold up for the life of the driveway.
Concrete will last longer than the driveway and there is a natural separation between the apron and the driveway whereas with asphalt, the blend is less natural because they are both asphalt sections but very different colors.
Garage side aprons should never be replaced with asphalt. Water will always get down between the driveway and garage and there will always be deterioration of the concrete blocks but concrete will not soften up and fail like asphalt will. Also, when we do our aprons, we back fill all of the exposed cider block holes and set the apron onto the foundation blocks and unless the ground starts to shift, there it will stay. This will also limit the amount of water that gets through.