3 Alarming Reasons Not to Build an Asphalt Curb Ramp
There’s a DIY project popping up everywhere: building your very own asphalt curb ramp. Perhaps you are toying with this idea to give your car an easy way to drive over the curb in front of your driveway.
Continually bumping into and forcing your car over a curb will eventually wreck your alignment. If your car is low enough, its easy to scrape up your car. We can’t blame you for wanting to build an asphalt curb ramp, but we strongly advise against doing so.
What’s an Asphalt Curb Ramp?
Image credit MerryPad
It's a curb ramp made out of asphalt. There are two basic ways to make an asphalt ramp:
- Cold Patch Asphalt Ramp - Cold patch asphalt is an asphalt like material that comes in a bag or a bucket. This material is normally used to temporarily fill potholes. But, some companies are selling it as a ramp construction material. The idea is to buy some of this cold asphalt patch material and then carefully form it into a ramp shape. If all goes well, the result will be a nice curb ramp. The total investment will be about $100 and a couple hours of labor.
- Hot Asphalt Ramp - Hot asphalt is the same material that's used to build roads. Hot asphalt is installed at a temperature of about 300 degrees. Most homeowners can't heat the asphalt themselves, so they hire a company to do the work. This isn't cheap, and and a ramp made out of it comes with all the downsides of having an asphalt ramp.
Neither of these methods are inexpensive, and both have similar issues:
1. An Asphalt Ramp Will Fall Apart After a Short Time
If you’re looking for a permanent solution, this is not it. Both cold patch asphalt and hot asphalt are not reliable materials to be used as a ramp.
Cold Patch Asphalt Ramps
The asphalt you’d find in these ramp kits is specifically designed for temporary repairs. Professionals only use cold patch asphalt for a temporary fix. When a curb ramp is built out of a temporary material, it will break down within a few months of installation. Supporting a ton or two of weight on a regular basis is just too much for the material.
It costs about $100 to build a ramp out of cold patch asphalt that’s going to fall apart after a few months. If you keep rebuilding every few months you’re looking at about $400 per year. And that's if you don’t factor in the cost of tools and the value of your time. We’d just take that $400 and invest it into a permanent ramp like BRIDJIT that doesn’t require time, tools, and labor to install.
Hot Asphalt Ramps
Even though hot asphalt itself is designed to last a long time, it doesn't fare well when used as a curb ramp. Even if you have a hot asphalt ramp professionally installed, there's still a good chance it will crack and break down in a few years. There are a couple reasons for this:
- Asphalt poured on top of concrete never completely bonds to the concrete itself. Over time, water works its way between the asphalt and concrete and cracks the asphalt. Once this happens, the asphalt will wear away quickly. (This is also how potholes form.)
- Asphalt is not a good material for making fine, thin edges. Fine edges easily crumble when driven over. If you use asphalt as a curb ramp, you'll be driving the 2 long edges a couple of times a day. When subjected to even light traffic, the asphalt won’t take long to break down and become an eyesore.
2. Asphalt Ramps are Illegal in Many Places
Many towns and counties ban asphalt ramps. They interfere with the normal function of the curb, which is to channel water runoff into the drainage system. If you install a ramp that interferes with water drainage, your local city or county may issue you a ticket. And then make you remove the ramp. You’re better off getting a professionally-built curb ramp that allows for proper drainage. For example, BRIDJIT ramps have a built-in full length waterway. The passageway allows storm runoff to run right under the ramp.
3. Asphalt Ramps are Not Removable
Asphalt ramps aren't removable, which will violate HOA rules in many cases. Most HOAs don’t allow adding your own permanent curb ramp. If you install a set of BRIDJIT curb ramps and then find out that your HOA doesn’t allow even removable curb ramps, you're not sunk. You can easily remove BRIDJIT ramps and return them for a full refund (minus a 25% restocking fee). It’s much easier than manually removing an asphalt ramp. Removing an asphalt ramp is hard labor. You might even have to rent a small jack-hammer, or hire someone to remove it.
All in all, building an asphalt curb ramp isn’t a good idea. You'll be much better off buying a professionally designed portable curb ramp.