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Choosing the Right Material to Construct Your Driveway

When it comes to driveways, there are four popular options: gravel, concrete, asphalt and pavers. Each option has it’s advantages and disadvantages.  Your driveway may not be on the top of the to do list when it comes to home projects, but it will make a large impact on your home’s curb appeal and overall value.  The driveway is one of the most functional parts of your home. 

There are many factors that must be assessed when choosing a driveway material including cost, durability, maintenance and aesthetics.  We will rank each of the driveway materials based on these four categories from 1-4, with 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest.  If you are looking for more insight into what type of material to use for your driveway, explore these different types below so you can make the most knowledgeable decision possible.

Gravel Driveway

Cost: 1
Durability: 1
Maintenance: 4
Aesthetics: 1

gravel driveway

Advantages:

  • Gravel is a relatively low-cost option.
  • In addition to being inexpensive, a gravel driveway is permeable, allowing rainwater to soak through, reducing runoff
  • Installation time is very fast

Disadvantages:

  • Because gravel is permeable, weeds can grow through it.  Those weeds tend to migrate from the driveway into your lawn
  • Ruts and depressions will form over time and will require regular raking or grading which leads to high maintenance costs
  • Gravel driveways tend to have the least amount of curb appeal

Concrete Driveway

Cost: 3
Durability: 3
Maintenance: 2
Aesthetics: 3

concrete driveway

Advantages:

  • Low maintenance costs are associated with concrete driveways
  • Other than an occasional cleaning with a pressure washer or repairing cracks, concrete driveways can last many, many years with minimal repairs, one of the easiest driveway types to maintain
  • Visually, concrete gives a finished look that many homeowners enjoy.  Some pavers actually provide a stamped concrete option, which creates the illusion of brick in a solid, dyed concrete slab that can add more curb appeal for your home.

Disadvantages:

  • As in contrast to gravel driveways, concrete driveways are a more expensive driveway material
  • Concrete can develop cracks over time.  To prevent erosion of soil under the slab, you should have these cracks filled. 
  • If you live in a part of the country where winter road maintenance is possible, concrete driveways can be prone to spalling from the use of salt and magnesium chloride de-icers.  When these de-icers build up under your car and you pull into your driveway, they will start to break apart the concrete.

Asphalt Driveway

Cost: 2
Durability: 2
Maintenance: 3
Aesthetics: 2

asphalt driveway

Advantages:

  • Asphalt does cost more than gravel, but less than concrete and can usually be installed in a short amount of time.  
  • Many people enjoy the smooth, solid, and durable surface that an asphalt finish provides. 
  • As with concrete, some pavers will provide the stamped asphalt option, which creates the idea of brick in a solid, dyed asphalt slab that can add more curb appeal for your home.
  • Asphalt is more commonly seen the farther north you go in the United States because of the forgiveness it offers when it comes to freeze and thaw cycles. 

Disadvantages:

  • Asphalt will crack, leading to frequent sealing. Resealing these cracks is important to preserve the integrity of your driveway.
  • In climates with wintery conditions, you are going to want to seal an asphalt driveway every few years to maintain its longevity and durability.  If not preserved properly, asphalt driveways can develop holes over time. 

Paver Driveway

Cost: 4
Durability: 4
Maintenance: 1
Aesthetics: 4

paver driveway

Advantages:

  •  Paver driveways have the most curb appeal out of any of the other driveway material options. 
  • If you decide to spend the money for a paver installation, you will not have to worry about much maintenance. 
  •  If an individual paver stone cracks, it can be easily replaced without ripping up the entire driveway. 
  • With consistent weed control, the lawn is unlikely to encroach onto the driveway and therefore will not hinge on the quality of the paver stones.

Disadvantages:

  • Paver stone driveways can be costly
  • Not only will material costs be high, installation will be costly due to the need for workers to lay each paver stone individually on a solid foundation to create the driveway. 
  • Longer installation period due to the labor-intensive work needed.

In Summary

Here is a glimpse at the four most popular types of driveways available to homeowners.  Hopefully it provides some insight in terms of the pros and cons of each option when selecting a driveway for your home.  It is important to consider the cost, durability, maintenance, and aesthetics of each option when making your decision. Be sure to talk to your homebuilder or contractor and let them answer any questions you have and help you make a selection.

 

 

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