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All about heated asphalt

Last modified: 2020-12-11 | Approximate reading time 5 mins

Amanda Harvey

Every single winter, homeowners like yourself know how difficult it is to leave the driveway successfully. Between the constant build-up of ice and snow and the energy it takes to shovel, we all find cold weather exhausting. Many have turned to hire someone to frequently clear their driveway, but this is a costly affair. So, is there a middle ground to consider that’ll solve this problem? Enter heated asphalt.

Heated driveways have been slowly growing in popularity. We’ve got to admit upfront that the materials involved as well as the process can be costly and won’t fit into the budgets of everyone. However, many argue that the benefits outweigh the costs. If you’re interested in heated driveways, we’ve got the lowdown!

Everything you need to know about heated asphalt!

home in winter

An alternative to shovelling

As technology continues to advance, heated driveways are an expected addition to the wide world of machines and automation created to make our lives easier. These are also commonly referred to as “snow melting systems” and work as a way to avoid the dreaded processes that are necessary when snow is accumulating. This including shovelling, salting, snow blowing as well as plowing, and plenty of other snow-clearing fads.

Heated driveways are in place so that snow isn’t able to accumulate, and thus, you can avoid these methods altogether. Of course, snow and ice buildup is a hazard. It’s dangerous for walking, as slipping can lead to a serious injury and it’s frustrating for those coming and going to work every single day. But, how do these systems work and are they actually worth it?

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How heated driveways operate!

As mentioned, the concept behind snow melting systems is just that; melting the snow immediately as it has fallen. This way, snow won’t pile up and an excessive amount of ice won’t form. There are two distinct systems on the market and they are:

  • Fully built-in heated driveway systems
  • Portable heated mats

Both these systems work by generating radiant heat directly under the driveway, softly warming the pavement below. The portable heated maps work in a similar way to indoor floor heating, where the built-in system operates by way of an array of tubing that is pumping hot water. The main difference between the two systems, other than the way they function, is the cost. As should come as no surprise, portable mats will be significantly cheaper than installing and maintaining an entire system, so these will be the best option for homeowners working within budget limitations. 

Fully built-in heated driveways


The fully built-in snow-melting system is dynamic. Tubing will be run underneath the driveway as well as adjacent walkways or ramps and even the steps to your porch. Once installed, a mixture of antifreeze and heated water runs through the tubes. Since water is involved, this system is “hydronic.” This water allows heat to radiate through your driveway material, and the excess water will find its way into drains which have been previously installed.

The majority of built-in systems are heated by way of a boiler and pumps help this heated water to circulate. This is considered a form of radiant heating, commonly used in home interiors. This process is regulated, and thus it’s very uncommon for heat to be wasted. There are a few different control schemes, and this can include a simple on/off device whereas other heated driveway systems offer customization and automation.

The manually controlled (on/off) systems are less efficient than systems which use automation. They do a fine job at keeping ice at bay, but unfortunately are not predictable and may be turned on too late to melt enough of the accumulating snow. If there has been a significant buildup of snow, it will take a long time for it to fully melt as the density will keep the radiant heat from making its way through the snow. Most homeowners, especially those who live in areas which get large quantities of winter snow, avoid manual systems.

An automated system is always on and runs at low levels. Once it begins to snow, the heated driveway will automatically respond. With these systems, it’ll be rare to find an accumulation of snow. Heated driveways that are automated are able to respond directly to temperature and moisture levels by way of multiple sensors. Of course, if it’s consistently snowing every day and your system is operating at a high level, your energy bills will be quite high.

Thinking of installing a heated driveway?

If your driveway is made of concrete or asphalt, then installing a snow-melting system is more than possible as these materials are compatible with heated driveway systems. Also worth mentioning is that snow-melting systems can be added to driveways that are already in place, and this project is not limited to the construction of a new driveway.

Points to consider regarding cost

Many homeowners are concerned about the cost of snow-melting systems and for good reason! The up-front installation costs aren’t cheap. However, these costs depend on many factors. Ask yourself these questions to get a better idea of how much a heated driveway will cost:

  • Can the system be integrated into your home’s heating system or will it need to stand on its own?
  • Will you be choosing a manual or automated system? As mentioned, the automated system will cost more but is significantly more efficient
  • What will your heat source be? Hot water, electricity or an alternate source? Although hot water systems cost more upfront, they can save you money in the long run
  • What materials are you using and how much will they cost?
  • How big is your driveway?

These questions will allow you to know more about how much this project will run you. Of course, if you’re working with an expert as well as an installation crew, do leave room in the budget for their wages.

On the cheap: heated driveway mats

Do bear in mind that heated driveway mats are a much cheaper alternative to the installation of an entire snow-melting system. Heated driveways mats can be conceptualized like a sandwich. They have slip-resistant rubber on the top and bottom, with the heating element sandwiched between them. Attached will be a power cord that can be plugged into an outlet. Most heated mats come with multiple settings so that you can choose how hard they are working based on how much snow you receive.

This alternative is best for areas which do not receive an abundance of snow. They work for targeting areas rather than covering your entire driveway. These are typically used beneath a car or around walkways to avoid dangerous ice building. Of course, these mats are portable and thus, can be moved around to places where they’re needed the most. With either of these snow-melting options, choose the one best for your climate, home, and budget!

Get 3 renovation quotes for your heated asphalt project can help you get quotes for your heated asphalt project. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with 3 qualified professionals. Fill out the form on our homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will receive quotes from trusted renovation specialists.

Dial 1-844 828-1588 to speak with one of our customer service representatives


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