Since 1976

Types of Driveway Materials

Thinking about replacing your driveway or building one from scratch? There is probably a good chance you have not researched all types of driveway materials as there are many.

different driveway materials

Different Types of Driveway Material Options

First impressions are paramount for many homeowners and a beautiful driveway can make a positive lasting impression.

From asphalt to shell, we’ve got the pros and cons of seven popular types of driveway materials to help you make the right decision.

Asphalt

The majority of commercial and residential driveways in the country are finished with either asphalt or concrete.

Asphalt driveways are very popular in colder climates as the material is pliable and weathers freeze-thaw cycles well.

A significant benefit to asphalt is flexibility and durability. As driveways bear heavy loads, an asphalt driveway is less likely to crack than concrete.

Pros:

  • Less expensive than concrete
  • Easy to repair
  • Sustainable as it can be recycled
  • Tolerates extreme weather including subzero temperatures and freeze/thaw cycles
  • Well-suited for sloped driveways
  • Can be stamped or colored
  • Quick installation
  • Smooth and seamless appearance

Cons:

  • Requires regular maintenance and should be sealed every three to five years
  • Can become extremely hot during the summer months
  • Petroleum-based: Not environmentally friendly
  • Lifespan: Asphalt does not last as long as concrete
  • Can crack and distort without an adequate foundation

Concrete

Concrete has long been a favored material for driveways and walkways.

Driveways made of concrete are expected to remain functional for more than 25 years. A classic concrete driveway is not only versatile and cost-effective, but it is also exceptionally strong and durable. While many homeowners consider the building material to be maintenance-free, keeping the driveway clean and sealed with a concrete sealer will help ensure its longevity.

Concrete typically comes with a choice of finishes and can be enhanced with color, texture, and other decorative treatments.

Pros:

  • Relatively affordable
  • Exceedingly durable
  • Long-lasting
  • Easy to maintain
  • Durable: Can last for decades with minimal maintenance
  • Versatile and customizable: Can be stamped or colored
  • Sustainable: Made of natural materials that can be recycled
  • Better load-bearing capacity

Cons:

  • Susceptible to staining from oil and tires
  • May crack over time
  • Difficult to repair: Cracks usually require the removal and replacement of an entire area
  • Poured concrete is not well-suited for sloped driveways
  • Not suitable for salting in winter unless sealed
  • Prone to damage from freeze/thaw cycles in unsealed
pervious concrete driveway

Pervious Concrete

Pervious concrete pavement is an effective means of addressing environmental issues and supporting green construction.

The material goes by many names including porous concrete, porous pavement, and pervious concrete. Containing little to no sand, it allows water to run through its porous surface, minimalizing run-off issues commonly seen with asphalt and concrete driveways.

Pervious concrete is not ideal for high traffic driveways as it has a lower load-bearing capacity than conventional pavement.

Pros:

  • Rustic, textured look and feel
  • Durability: Can last up to 20 years before showing cracks or potholes
  • Decreases water runoff
  • Promotes infiltration of runoff into the ground
  • Versatile and customizable: Comes in a wide variety of colors
  • Relatively low maintenance

Cons:

  • Not ideal for high traffic areas
  • Lower load-bearing capacity

Gravel

Gravel is the material of choice for rural driveways across the country for its low-cost and easy maintenance.

The term gravel refers to loose rock or stone that is larger than sand but is smaller than cobble. The gravel typically used for driveways is a processed product that consists of rocks, sand, and clay. A gravel driveway is usually far less expensive to install than other materials and can last for many decades.

Be sure to check with your local building department before installing a gravel driveway as some urban areas do not allow gravel on small lots. Gravel can be installed quickly and is available in many different colors for a customized look.

Pros:

  • Cost-effective
  • Can last up to a century with proper care and maintenance
  • Extensive color, shape, and size options
  • Suitable for wintery conditions
  • Requires less infrastructure than concrete
  • Less vulnerable to freeze/thaw cycles

Cons:

  • Not well suited for snowplowing or scrapping
  • Requires frequent, although easy, maintenance including regrading
  • Readily develop potholes, chips, and deep groves
  • Not suitable for sloping driveways
  • More challenging to remove debris and dirt

Brick

Brick provides classic beauty to a driveway that is unmatched by other materials. Their deep colors and varied patterns create a grand entrance and can complement nearly any style of home. However, installing a brick driveway can come with a big price tag.

Brick driveways are generally skid resistant and the abrasive service makes them a good paving option for wet or flood-prone areas.

Pros:

  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Slip-resistant
  • Durability
  • Ability to be stained for a longer lifespan
  • Flexibility: Brick is able to maintain an interlocking form by adjusting to movements of the earth
  • Wide variety of colors, textures, and placement patterns
  • Exceedingly strong and durable
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Sustainability: Brick is made from natural clay, making it eco-friendly

Cons:

  • Typically expensive
  • Bricks can shift if the subsurface is inadequate
  • Requires regular cleaning
  • Maintenance: Should be resealed twice annually
brick pavers driveway

Pavers

Paver driveways are stronger, less slippery, and more durable than concrete and asphalt.

They have a superior load distribution compared to other materials and come with lower repair and maintenance costs.

But they do have their drawbacks. Paver driveways are typically more expensive and are more labor-intensive to install.

Pros:

  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Slip-resistant
  • Exceedingly durable
  • Long-lasting
  • Reduced propensity to cracking
  • Easy to maintain
  • Durable: Can last for decades with minimal maintenance
  • Versatile and customizable: Can be stamped or colored
  • Sustainable: Made of natural materials that can be recycled
  • Better load-bearing capacity
  • Sustainable: Made of natural materials that can be recycled

Cons:

  • Typically expensive
  • Pavers can shift if the subsurface is inadequate

Shell

Shell driveways are not only beautiful, but they are also functional and cost less to install than many other materials.

Typically a combination of clam, oyster, and scallop shells, shell driveways break into smaller pieces over time to create a uniform, stable surface that resists ruts and holes.

Shell complements many home styles and is very popular on the East Coast.

Pros:

  • Cost-effective
  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Low-maintenance
  • Environmentally friendly: sustainable and renewable
  • Provides adequate traction

Cons:

  • Not durable over time
  • Shells can become damaged or washed away in areas with heavy wind or erosions issues
  • Breaks down over time

While you are mulling over the many different types of driveway materials, consider an upgrade to your home’s exterior.

BrickImaging has been the premier brick staining company in the nation since our founding in 1976.

Our exclusive Stayntech® brick stains provide a consistent finish that is permanent, looks entirely natural, and is maintenance-free. Available in 12 exclusive colors and four application options, our stains are formulated specifically for brick, block, stone, and mortar, and are guaranteed to never bubble, chip, or peel, like paint.

To learn more about our brick staining process, do not hesitate to contact us to discuss the details of your latest home improvement project.

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