How to Choose the Best Driveway Surface?

A large detached home with double garage and driveway

Photo of a detached home with double garage and driveway by Dillon Kydd on Unsplash

I was talking to a friend the other day who is looking at getting a new driveway surface installed because her current driveway is desperately in need of an upgrade and she wants to boost her home’s curb appeal. My friends and family always come to me to ask me what the best option is, not because I have all the answers, but because they know that I love researching this stuff and will help them figure it out. I very quickly went down the rabbit hole of finding out the pros and cons of all the driveway surface options. There are many different driveway surface types so it’s important to look at all the various driveway material options before making a decision. Now that I’ve done the research I figured I may as well share these drive ideas here in case anyone else is interested in driveway surface types.

Driveway Surface Options and Costs

So, what we don’t want to do is simply choose the cheapest driveway surface. Whilst saving money is always a bonus there are lots of other things we need to weigh up besides the cost. This includes the driveway material types, how easy it is to clean and repair and also the drainage that each driveway surface provides. So let’s take a look at the options in turn.

Asphalt

Photo by Matt Jones on Unsplash

Asphalt as a driveway surface has many benefits. It is a fairly low-cost option and is also very quick to install and easy to repair as you can fill any cracks or holes. It can last anywhere from 15-30 years so it is also quite durable.

A disadvantage of asphalt driveways is that they’re quite susceptible to cracks and damage over time and they can get sticky in hotter climates.

The majority of asphalt driveways are grey or black, but other shades ranging from blue to red are an option if you are looking to make more of a statement. 

Concrete

A silver BMW car parked outside a house on a concrete driveway

Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

Concrete is another driveway surface option and can provide a smooth, upscale look that is very attractive. Compared to asphalt driveways, concrete driveways are also much more durable, lasting up to 100 years, and can handle heavy traffic. They also do not require as much regular maintenance as other driveway surface options. They are also great in hotter climates.

It is worth noting that these driveways do require more time and money to install, although they are not the most expensive option. Another downside is that concrete can start to look faded and drab over time, despite remaining robust for many years. It will need cleaning and resealing every couple of years to keep it looking and performing its best.

While such driveways are traditionally grey in colour, it is possible to install a coloured concrete driveway if that is important to you.

Stone Pavers

A detached red brick home with a driveway made from stone pavers

Photo by Elise Brown on Unsplash

Driveway stones are another popular driveway material option. Stone pavers can have a more luxurious, high-end appearance than concrete – particularly if you choose materials like granite or slate. This is a highly durable option that will last up to 50 years.

The biggest downside of stone pavers is that they can be the costliest option. Such driveways also take a long time to install. They can also be prone to allowing weeds to grow up through the gaps so you may have to do regular removals to keep it looking well-maintained.

There are so many options when it comes to colours. Black stone pavers could create a sophisticated look, while lighter stone pavers could help to reflect light. Alternatively, you could look into stone with a red or greenish tint. There are also many paving patterns to explore ranging from simple running bond patterns to more complex cobblestone patterns. 

Loose Gravel

A red Merecedes parked on a gravel driveway with a red brick house in the background

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

Loose driveway gravel is typically the cheapest driveway surface option although it does depend on the type of gravel you use. These driveways are easy to lay and maintain and provide excellent drainage. With proper care and maintenance, a gravel driveway can last up to 100 years.

Of course, gravel driveways aren’t as easy to walk or drive on, and dragging prams or wheelchairs across them can be a chore. You will also need to regularly smooth out a gravel driveway to stop it from getting patchy. They can be dusty and may need cleaning regularly. You may even need to top of the gravel every few years which adds to the ongoing cost.

There are many different types of gravel that you can explore. Some people like gravel stones to be a uniform colour and size, while others prefer a mixture of different stones.  Gravel can also come in a variety of colours.

Resin Bound

A resin bound driveway is made from gravel that is sealed together with resin. Such driveways are lower maintenance than a traditional gravel driveway while still having that pebbled look. They can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years.

These driveways do not offer the drainage of a traditional gravel driveway and are more expensive and tricky to install.

Resin bound gravel driveways can come in a variety of colours and styles.

What is the Best Driveway Surface for Drainage?

From the driveway materials we have looked at above, a gravel driveway will provide the best drainage option as the water can easily work its way through the gravel to the soil below and drain away.

What Driveway Surface Last the Longest?

A car parked on rounded brown decorative stones

Blooma naturally rounded brown decorative stones from B&Q

From the driveway surface options above, a concrete or gravel driveway will last the longest. There is very little that can go wrong with a gravel driveway although it may require more maintenance that a concrete driveway in orer to look its best. But even a concrete driveway will need to be well looked after with regular cleaning and sealing to last the full 100 years.

What is the Cheapest Driveway Surface?

A gravel driveway is a much cheaper option compared to other driveway surface options but it will require more maintenance in the long term. There is also the added cost of topping up the gravel every few years. So do take this into account when making your decision.

What Driveway Surface is Best?

A 3-storey detached modern house with a gravel driveway

Photo by Peter Jan Rijpkema on Unsplash

This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on so many variables. You have to weigh up the pros and cons mentioned above and decide which driveway surface type will work best for your home and lifestyle. Just make sure that you bear the following considerations in mind:

  • Aesthetics
  • Cost
  • Maintenance
  • Drainage
  • Climate
  • Size of driveway
  • Durability
  • Longevity

Once you have weighed up all these aspects you should be able to choose the best driveway surface material for your home. Have you got any experience choosing a driveway surface material? I’d love to know your thoughts if you can share them below in the comments.

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