Your driveway has become shabby. You’ve been watching that jagged crack grow a bit larger each week, and you could almost swear you saw a goldfish swimming in the pothole near the street the last time it rained. It’s time to renew your little private road. Maybe it’s even time to put in a brand new driveway.
What Are the Best Materials?
Homeowners have several durable options for driveway materials.
Concrete or stone pavers last many years when properly installed with plastic retaining edges and a compacted bedding of coarse sand and crushed stone set on similarly compacted subsoil. Hexagonal and irregular-rectangle pavers create beautiful designs, and other interesting shapes such as trefoil or bowtie pavers are widely available. High-quality concrete pavers can resemble subtly tinted stone blocks. A driveway made of such pavers might remind your visitors of ancient pathways in Italy.
Homeowners seeking an environmentally friendly approach can install a permeable-paver driveway. Instead of sluicing away rainfall into overloaded storm systems, closely spaced pavers allow water to seep into an underlying bed of crushed stone and thence into the soil. This sort of design can absorb astonishingly heavy rainfall without flooding.
A professional crew can install this kind of driveway in about three days. The cost will fall between $14 to $28 per square foot, depending on your desired materials, worksite conditions and other factors. Maintenance consists of nothing more than vacuuming or sweeping out the joints once a year to remove dead leaves and other debris.
Brick pavers offer a natural coloration that many homeowners find attractive and charming, but the relative fragility of clay-based pavers demands extra attention. Establishing a good foundation is critical, and good drainage will minimize wear and tear. If you’re environmentally conscious, you may appreciate the use of recycled bricks recovered from demolished buildings. High-quality bricks can last for decades, and they don’t fade as fast as concrete pavers.
Plain concrete stands up well to harsh weather, and its smooth surface makes snow removal in the winter a snap. To prevent destructive cracking of the concrete slabs, the underlying soil must be stable and well drained, and the bedding must be well compacted. Biannual resealing will extend the lifetime of a concrete driveway, and seeing fifty years of useful service is not out of the question. Colorants and stamped patterns are extra-cost options.
Conventional asphalt surfacing remains an economical approach for many budget-conscious homeowners. Asphalt driveways resist cracking across the seasons by flexing with ground expansion and contraction, and opting for gravel texturing with a chip seal will increase traction in wet conditions. Aggressive plants can shove upward through weakened asphalt surfaces, so soil should be treated with a weed sterilizer before covering it with the gravel layer that underlies the asphalt topping. Extra-cost options include pattern stamping and acrylic polymer colorants.
Applying a latex sealcoating once every two years will protect the surface against gradual water damage. An asphalt driveway’s lifetime can reach 20 years with good drainage and regular maintenance.
Major work on a driveway has a way of dragging in a remarkable variety of specialized tools. You’ll probably want to hire a competent, experienced asphalt contractor for the job. With the right contractor and materials, the odds are good you’ll experience full satisfaction and years of trouble-free service.