Different Options For Surfacing Your driveway

As your home’s first impression, it is important to understand the different driveway surfacing options available and sometimes be willing to invest a little more so that your driveway compliments your home and creates a positive first impression.

There are several important considerations that may influence the type and style of driveway that best suits your home. Factors to consider include;

+ Will the driveway compliment the colour and style of your home?
+ What are the drainage issues?  You need to plan where rainfall runoff will flow and a suitable drainage solution.
+ Your tolerance for future maintenance and ease of repair?
+ What is your budget? This will obviously dictate which materials you can consider.
+ Type and volume of vehicle use expected.

Below I have summarised some of the most common types of driveway surfaces available on the market and the pros and cons for each;

Concrete Driveways

This is used to describe driveways constructed using poured concrete, which is sometimes mixed with other products to produce a different look and colour.  Concrete surfaces have the advantage of being extremely hard wearing and long lasting, lasting between 15 to 30 years in appropriate weather conditions.

Their biggest disadvantage is if they require repair due to cracking as it is not possible to repair the area – meaning the entire slab of concrete will have to be replaced. Cracking can be caused by poor preparation of the subsurface, roots from nearby trees or freezing weather conditions. The other downside with concrete driveways is if the surface is stained by motor vehicle oil, there appearance can be easily marred and these are very difficult to remove.

If you have a strict budget it is also worth considering the expense involved in concrete driveways as they are generally more expensive than their alternatives.

Driveway Pavers

The most popular pavers used are clay bricks and concrete pavers. Concrete pavers accommodate greater variations in size and shape, and are not as susceptible to chips and cracks as their clay counterparts, making it a better option structurally. As well as this, concrete is generally cheaper than clay pavers. However, clay bricks tend to hold their colour much longer and are less likely to fade.

Regardless of which paver you choose to use, both offer the benefit of better drainage than surfaces constructed using poured concrete – although this also means they are susceptible to weed growth between the bricks. Paved driveways are also beneficial if damage is suffered as replacing a few pavers is much easier than replacing an entire slab of concrete.

Due to the labour involved in laying the pavers, paved driveway surfaces can be just as expensive as poured concrete ones.

Bitumen/Asphalt Driveways

This is another popular material for driveway surfacing, possessing similar properties to concrete while being the least expensive solid surface driveway. Like concrete surfaces, asphalt can also be pattern-stamped and coloured to produce the desired appearance.

Asphalt is a particularly popular alternative to its concrete counterpart in colder climates as its relative flexibility allows it to outperform concrete in regards to its susceptibility to cracks. As well as this, if damage is suffered, asphalt can be relayered and so easily repaired. If your driveway will be in a hotter climate then it is worth considering its susceptibility to high temperatures and so the possibility of denting and ruts.

Although asphalt is a cheaper alternative, it requires much more care than concrete surfaces, requiring sealing at least once every 3 to 5 years to avoid breaking the asphalt’s surface, which clearly involves both more time and money.