“If I Had a Driveway…”
I’d have a lot of paving options… but in order to determine which material works best for your application, you have to answer some questions.
How long is the driveway? The longer the driveway, the more it costs to cover, which is why you see so many long driveways covered in loose stone or aggregate. The problem with loose stone is that it can get washed away or scattered by plows and vehicle tires driving over them.
Most people are familiar with asphalt and concrete. Composed of rock, sand, and asphalt cement, asphalt is a less expensive alternative to concrete but requires sealing every few years to keep it from cracking. At $2 to $5 per square foot to install, it’s about double the price of gravel but half the price of concrete. Concrete requires little maintenance, although it’s a good idea to keep it clean and sealed, and is highly durable, often lasting 25 to 50 years, making it a popular paving material. Concrete can be stamped or colored to create unique patterns but these customized looks can double the usual cost of $5 to $10 a square foot. A lesser know option, tar and chip, is an inexpensive alternative to asphalt. Small stones are embedded in tar to create a variable surface that would be great in northern climates where asphalt driveways can be slippery in the winter months.
There’s been a lot of talk about permeable driveway materials and for good reason. Using permeable materials, water is absorbed back into the ground rather than running off roofs, onto conventional surfaces, where they collect oil, fertilizer, debris, and even garbage as the run off makes its way into the sewer system or fresh water supply.
The earliest driveway material was grass but grass can wear away. Several paving options can be utilized to avoid a potentially muddy surface during rain. Just like in the early days of automobiles, thin paver strips, about 18″ wide, can be installed allowing vehicles to pass while still reducing runoff. These paver strips can be made from gravel, concrete, or paving stones, produced from concrete, brick, cobblestone, or recycled plastic. These pavers can be solid shapes or open grid systems. Today there is even permeable asphalt and concrete which was developed for use in high traffic areas with strict environmental requirements that might not otherwise allow the use of either material.
The most costly option also offers the most creative options. Permeable paver stones give the homeowner the ability to create unique patterns while still allowing water to absorb back into the ground because the gaps are filled with sand.
So that’s my overview of driveway paving options. Which one works best for you?