Is a driveway just a driveway? At first it seems like any ol’ material will work for a driveway, as long as it can handle the weight of a vehicle. In reality, a driveway can also be a bold statement or a work of art. Its functionality can also be enhanced based on the material used.
Take a moment to think about what you ultimately need from your driveway. Then check out our material recommendations below!
The Least Expensive
Gravel is the least expensive material to use for a driveway. All driveways start out with a sturdy gravel base, so you can cut the labor and materials of any other driveway in half by just sticking to the core gravel driveway.
Recycled asphalt product is a type of gravel made out of recycled asphalt, concrete and brick, making it the truly least expensive driveway material on the market. As long as gravel driveways are located on an even surface, they should hold up well. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself having to replace the gravel after it gets washed away by the rain. Even with regular “topping up,” gravel is by far the cheapest option for a driveway.
The Most Artistic
Pavers are man-made blocks, which means you can get them in any color, shape or size you could imagine. And if you can’t find what you want already on the market, you can do a custom order.
Who needs a driveway when you can have a mosaic instead? That’s what paver driveways offer you … the opportunity to let the whole world see your artistic flair. From swooping designs to conservative block patterns, and from bright, bold colors to neutral tones, pavers can be installed in virtually any custom configuration imaginable.
The Most Durable
It’s a toss-up between concrete and asphalt regarding which is most durable. It depends slightly on the environmental conditions where you live. Concrete, for example, can erode and become crumbly when exposed to road salt, but here in hot and sunny Houston, that isn’t much of a problem.
Therefore we’re inclined to say that concrete is the most durable. If installed correctly, large, unsightly or downright dangerous cracks should not be a problem. Concrete has a tendency to stain, but sealing it regularly can help keep surface stains under control.
A high-quality concrete driveway installation should give you a fuss-free driveway for more than 30 years. And with innovations in stamped or patterned concrete, you can also add an artistic flair to go along with such durability.
The Easiest to Repair
Paver driveways win this category hands-down. Because the driveway is made up of individual pavers, you can pinpoint the exact ones to remove if any cracks or unsightly stains appear. With other driveway materials, you may be faced with the prospect of replacing your entire driveway just to get rid of a few annoying cracks. This means that although paver driveways have an expensive upfront cost due to the price of materials and labor, they can actually save you money in the long run by lasting a longer amount of time.
The Most Eco-Friendly
Impervious driveways do not allow water to pass into the ground below. In most city and suburban areas, the water instead goes into a storm drain by the road. This can be problematic for the environment in a couple different ways: first, the water is polluted with chemicals from the driveway (including anything that has leaked out of your car) as it rolls down toward the street. Second, in areas with droughts, a lot of water is lost to the storm drains instead of passing into the ground within your yard, nourishing your garden or lawn.
The best way to problem-solve this water dilemma is to use pervious pavers for your driveway. These pavers sit on top of an aggregate and facilitate the flow of water into the ground. Once in the ground, microbes can remove any pollutants or toxins, and your lawn and garden will get a deep drink.
From a recycled-materials standpoint, compressed glass or recycled asphalt product both produce gravel-like driveways from reused materials. Compressed glass can also be mixed with concrete for a smoother finish.
You Have Options
Driveways have been made from gravel, concrete, asphalt or bricks for years, and these materials still remain the most-used of all. Based on your budget and availability, you may also consider stone, “tar and chip” or a combination of grid stabilizers and sand or crushed stone. In short, you have plenty of options to choose from based on your unique wants and needs.
Join our newsletter
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter chalked full of useful tips, techniques, and design goodies.