In most cases, one of the first things that someone visiting your home will see is your driveway.
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Is there any worse first impression than a cracked and dilapidated-looking driveway? Luckily, a driveway can easily be rehabbed or even replaced if it is too far gone. As an added bonus, homeowners that choose to do so generally see a handsome return when selling their home based off upgraded curb appeal alone.
Some of the most popular choices of material for driveway construction include concrete, asphalt, gravel, and brick. Each respective material has its pros and cons. To expand, although brick will likely last the longest, it will also be the most expensive. On the other side of the spectrum, gravel will be a less expensive option, but one that is also less durable.
The information below is meant to provide you with insight into different factors that affect driveway longevity and supplementary information surrounding driveway material options.
How Long Will a Driveway Last?
The lifespan of a driveway will depend largely on factors like the craftsmanship of the installers, the durability of the materials, and the local environment. In some cases, a driveway may last as little as 10 years before needing to be replaced, in other cases a well-maintained drive may last nearly 40 years. The number of years your drive will last you truly depends on a number of individualized factors.
Consider the following examples when making your own driveway construction decisions:
- Do you live near an ocean? Salt spray from the sea may corrode materials such as concrete, which can compromise their integrity and severely shorten the lifespan of a driveway. The same goes for areas where the road is salted, or you need to put ice-melt down. Salt and ice-melts can create small cracks that increase in size as time goes on;
- Will it be too cold for asphalt? While asphalt drives can be installed nearly anywhere, be forewarned, they are best installed during the warmer months, and only emergency patch jobs should be considered during cold or freezing weather;
- How high traffic will your driveway be? If it’s too busy, solutions like gravel may be ineffective as stones would need constant replenishment due to heavy traffic. Likewise, if weight is a factor, make sure that you choose a material that can handle heavy loads – such as concrete or asphalt.
What are the Best Materials for Driveways?
As the above considerations illustrate, not all driveways are created equal. One of the biggest differentiators in overall driveway quality will be the material that is used in its construction. Homeowners have a lot of choices when it comes to driveway materials, and we’ve highlighted several popular options below. The main differentiators will be the cost of the materials and their expected durability.
When imagining concrete driveways, many think of the tried-and-true concrete slab. It is a staple of driveways and carports across suburbia. What appeals to most homeowners about concrete is its low cost: roughly $4-$8 per square foot. Even larger drives can be redone for a reasonable price. Buyers beware, concrete can have issues if exposed to too much salt.
Yet, the slab is not the only contribution that concrete has made to the modern driveway, as permeable pavers have long since been in vogue. Permeable pavers (also known as PICP) are an eco-friendly style of a concrete driveway that allows water to flow through layers of compact concrete naturally into underlying aquifers. This is a process that a normal concrete parking pad interrupts.
Becoming aware of the available concrete options is critical. Additionally, partnering with a local concrete professional is the best way to ensure that your concrete mix is the best option for your respective location. For example, a concrete contractor in Marion, IN will likely provide its customers with a much different mix than a concrete distributor located in California will provide.
Gravel is one of the least expensive choices we will highlight. It is generally less than two dollars per square foot of drive – making it an excellent choice for extremely long driveways. In most other cases, however, it is hard to recommend using gravel. Since gravel is lightweight and can be easily moved with heavy rain or wind, it requires near-constant maintenance and has a shorter life expectancy.
Some think a resin driveway is little more than a coated dirt drive, but in all reality, a resin driveway is a permeable stone drive that is normally sealed with resin. While flexible, permeable, and durable; resin is one of the most expensive options on the market and it provides little more than aesthetic differences between other options listed here that are far below its price point. That being said, some people prefer this option and have had great success with it.
Brick pavers can be a beautiful focal point to any home’s entryway. The downside is that the price of brick drive can be very high – generally coming in at more than $50 a foot in some cases. However, for those that can afford it, brick is a long-lasting material that can add beauty and detail (alongside longevity) to any driveway.
Asphalt is an economical and durable choice for many homeowners. Many confuse asphalt with concrete, but the two materials are different from one another. However, asphalt has one major weakness that was touched on above. It is prone to becoming brittle – especially when subjected to extreme weather . While this means that drivers in northern climates will have to spend a little more time patching and repairing, with proper sealing and maintenance, asphalt drives can last decades.
Many Paths to the Same Endpoint
From concrete pavers to asphalt blacktops, there is something for nearly every taste and budget. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about driveway materials and that you’ve been inspired to try something new along the way.