A beautifully paved asphalt driveway is the perfect way to complement your home. The smooth, sleek surface is great for showcasing your car, or for letting your child practice their art in sidewalk chalk. However, if you don't take care of your asphalt, it won't look so great, and could pose problems for you. Here's how you can keep your asphalt driveway looking great for years to come.

Start with a good foundation

If you are just installing an asphalt driveway, be sure that you use a knowledgeable, reputable contractor. You want to know that the asphalt being laid was mixed just for your driveway, and not left over from some other job, or the consistency won't be right. You can apply the asphalt directly over an existing driveway, or directly onto soil, but it needs to be done quickly and professionally in order to get that sleek asphalt finish that is so desirable in a driveway.

Stain removal for a beautiful driveway

Oil from your cars can leave nasty stains on your asphalt driveway, but many of these can be removed if caught quickly. Clean any oil leaks or spills as soon as you can to prevent the oil from seeping into the asphalt and damaging it. Some common household items that you probably already have at home can soak up the oil and get your driveway looking great again. Try using cat litter, sprinkling it on the stain and crushing it with your feet, to absorb the oil overnight, then sweep up the litter and dispose of it. Baking soda, dishwashing soap and soda are also often recommended for treating oil stains on asphalt.

Prevention is better than repair

Due to the nature of asphalt and the way that it is made, it does require fairly regular maintenance to keep it looking great and lasting for a long time. The first line of defense for your asphalt driveway is a proper sealant, which protects the asphalt cement from the elements and helps to prevent your driveway from becoming brittle and developing cracks. Cracks can fill with water, which expands when it freezes, causing damage to your driveway.

Before you or an asphalt company will seal a driveway, it's important to remove any stains and repair any small cracks that have appeared on the surface of the driveway. Crack filler can be purchased at many hardware stores and works well to fill small cracks in your driveway. Larger cracks may need to be filled with fine gravel before patching to ensure the stability of the repaired asphalt. Once your driveway is stain and crack-free, the sealant can be applied to keep the driveway looking great.

Watch for weeds

Weeds that grow along the edge of an asphalt driveway can quickly become a problem as they can force the edge of the drive to crumble. Keep weeds in check by lining the edge of your driveway with gravel or paving stones and applying weed killer as necessary to keep them under control. For weeds that manage to grow up and through your asphalt, you need to solve the problem at its root. 

For weeds that haven't erupted through the pavement, use a nail to poke a hole in the asphalt and pour in weed killer or salt, then smooth any bulges in the asphalt. The driveway will likely expand to seal the hole, but you can apply crack sealer if necessary. 

For weeds that are already poking through, apply weed killer or salt to the base of the weed, then wait for it to die, and remove it.

With a little care and maintenance, your awesome asphalt driveway will remain beautiful for many years, and give you a great place to park your car, play a game of pickup basketball with the kids, or just set off your house stylishly.