A driveway is much more than just a place to park your car; this stretch of space on your property actually has a significant impact on the overall appearance of your home. That means choosing a driveway requires not only weighing utilitarian features like performance and maintenance, but also how the driveway affects curb appeal and aesthetics. When comparing various driveway materials, consider these options to find one that best suits your needs.
Asphalt is one of the most popular finishes for driveways thanks to its smooth surface and low maintenance requirements. While asphalt driveways require sealing every few years, they can last 30 years or more with proper installation and care. Thanks to their dark color, they won't show stains, but this dark finish may contribute to a heat island effect that can raise the temperature around your home on very hot days.
Think of chip seal – or tar and chip – driveways as a more affordable version of asphalt. They use liquid asphalt and large pieces of gravel, giving them a rough surface that provides plenty of traction. Tar and chip driveways are cheaper than asphalt, but some buyers may not like the rough texture, which can be difficult to shovel when it snows.
Gravel driveways are one of the cheapest options for homeowners, and one of the best choices for DIY installation. Despite their low cost, this option isn't right for every homeowner; keep in mind that gravel can scatter out of place, which means lots of maintenance. It's also difficult to maintain during the winter when snow and ice may be present.
Concrete offers the same long-term durability as asphalt, making it one of the more common driveway finish options for homes. Unlike dark-colored asphalt, concrete can be tinted and embossed to add color and texture, though lighter finishes are susceptible to stains from oil and grease.
Paving stones come with the extreme durability of asphalt or concrete, but provide a much larger range of finish options. By using a variety of stones, you can add significant visual appeal to a paver driveway, including complex patterns and designs. This material should be installed by a professional contractor to reduce the risks of cracks and failure over time. Driveways built with pavers tend to cost more than concrete or asphalt driveways.
Permeable asphalt and concrete look just like regular asphalt and concrete, but are much more eco-friendly. These surfaces are made with very little sand or fine gravel, which allows storm water to pass through the material to reach the ground below. This means less runoff and pollution. These materials are an excellent choice for areas where local water quality is of major concern, or states like Illinois and Maryland which are subject to a "rain tax."
If you want a driveway that blends right into your lawn, consider a lattice-style installation. The most common versions use open concrete blocks to provide enough support for a car while still allowing grass to grow inside of and around the blocks themselves. Similar systems use very hard plastic lattice systems that you can bury underground. The lattice supports the car while grass continues to grow, eventually covering most or all of the driveway.
To explore options for your driveway, visit a local paving company like Larry's Asphalt Paving Co Ltd.