If you own your own home and considering installing or repaving your Driveway paving or asphalt paving, you have options. How your driveway appears and performs will say a lot about you as a homeowner and neighbor and have a measurable impact on your total cost of homeownership and the property’s value.
What you pave it with is going to determine how well your asphalt paving contractor is going to match your expectations. Here’s a quick rundown on your paving options.
Without question, gravel or aggregate is the least expensive and easiest to install driveway material. Installing and maintaining a gravel drive is easily within the capabilities of most DIY enthusiasts. You can expect to pay between $0.50 and $5.00 per square foot depending on type, coverage depth, drainage issues, and availability.
Because gravel can come in a variety of colors depending on what part of the country you live in, it can actually compliment your landscaping scheme improving curb appeal. Properly installed and maintained, a gravel drive can last a lifetime.
Now let’s talk about the downside of gravel:
- In dry weather, gravel will create rock powder (dust) every time a vehicle rolls over it. That dust will kick up as a cloud, find its way into your home and garage and inside your car. If your neighbors live close enough, they aren’t going to be happy with your new dusty driveway which will last forever.
- If you live in an area that gets heavy rains or frequent moderate to heavy snow, your gravel driveway can become problematic. Heavy rain or poor drainage will potentially wash out your drive. Often a French drain, which is a trench filled with gravel and a PVC perforated pipe, can be used to direct water away from the drive. Clearing snow is going to take a pro who knows how high the plow should be set to prevent ripping up the drive.
- Gravel will develop ruts over time. You’ll need to “top off” the drive every 2 or 3 years with new gravel.
Gravel is your least expensive and easiest to install option.
Asphalt is an extremely popular driveway paving material. At $4.00 to $8.00 per square foot, asphalt is inexpensive compared to concrete and pavers the other solid surface materials. Its alate black appearance gives your drive a sophisticated, finished look that can improve your home’s curb appeal. Properly maintained, you can expect an asphalt driveway to last 20+ years.
Installation requires some heavy-duty equipment, so you are going to need a professional. Installation itself is pretty quick and the surface will support a vehicle in 24 hours. That’s significantly faster than installation time for concrete or pavers.
Asphalt is not maintenance free and it does come with some potential problems:
- Asphalt is a petroleum product and as such it’s susceptible to damage by UV rays and other chemicals like automotive fluids and deicer. To keep those risks at a minimum, asphalt needs to be sealed every 2 or 3 years. Depending on the size of the drive, you can probably do the sealing DIY on a weekend.
- If you inherited the asphalt drive from a previous owner that didn’t seal the surface, you’re likely to experience cracking. You can repair shallow cracks (less than ½” deep) as a DIY project. If the cracks are deeper or if there are failed sections, you’ll need a professional resurfacing.
- Drainage is another issue. If the substrate has shifted, it could create low spots on the drive creating pools when it rains. Asphalt doesn’t like to be submerged for an extended time. A pro can level up low spots and help you with other drainage issues.
Asphalt is comparatively inexpensive, can be installed (or repaved) quickly minimizing your down time, and required moderate maintenance.
Concrete is a common paving material in urban areas. At $6.00 to $10.00 per square foot it is moderately priced and long lasting (30+ years) Other than hosing down and cleaning up stains, there really isn’t any maintenance required. Unlike gravel or pavers, concrete is easy to plow during snowy weather. Granted, concrete is pretty bland in appearance, but it doesn’t have to be. You can add color or stamp just about anything into the surface. You can make it look like brick or wood planking or press in a giant portrait of Lady Gaga. If you go that route, you’re looking at $50+ per square foot.
- Concrete is easily stained by oil and other automotive fluids.
- If cracks appear, repairing them can require a bit of talent and a concrete saw.
- Salt and sodium chloride deicers will play havoc on a concrete driveway.
- If you apply a rough finish, you’ll get much better traction than a smooth finish. If your drive is on a slope this can become an issue in snowy or rainy conditions.
Concrete is a long lasting, low maintenance, paving material that is moderately priced. If these are your objectives, concrete is probably your best bet for your new driveway.
Arguably the most attractive paving material available, paving stones, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes from cobblestone to brick, to pavers and more, are also the most expensive and time consuming to install. Paving stones blend well with other landscaping and landscaping features. At $.00 to $14.00 per square foot (more depending on type of stone) this is an expensive option but you will add significantly to your curb appeal and property value.
The up and downside of paving stone includes:
- In most climates, stone paving will outlast asphalt or concrete. You may have to occasionally replace an individual stone or brick, but you won’t need repaving, or sealing.
- Stone paving is stable, unlike gravel. It will not kick up dust or create mud holes and it will not wash away.
- Stones are slippery when wet. Traction suffers when it rains, sleets, or snows and for pedestrians, they can be downright treacherous.
- While maintenance is nearly nonexistent, the initial installation cost can be significantly higher than any other paving material.
If you want to make an impression with your drive, paving stone is your option. It’s expensive, long lasting, and beautiful.
You have choices. Now that you know the pros and cons of the most popular paving materials, we hope you can make an informed decision that will result in the driveway of your dreams.