Whether considering the practical aspect or the appearance, or even from an environmental point of view, a driveway reflects the care you put into the maintenance of your home. There are various materials on the market available to you, and each has its advantages and disadvantages based on the style you want to bring to the exterior look of your home while also considering your budget.
In addition, combinations of materials add to the choices, such as juxtaposing asphalt and pavers. Today, we will not cover preparing the ground to receive the chosen surface, but it is important to emphasize that this step should not be neglected, because if you do a poor job, your investment will lose a large part of its value and you’ll risk being very disappointed with the results.
To start, prioritize the elements that are the most critical in order to help you select a material:
- Appearance: how much do you want to coordinate with the architectural style of your house?
- Climate considerations: are there significant temperature variations during the year, abundant rain or snow?
- Upkeep: how much time are you ready to devote to maintenance?
- Budget: you need to find the best compromise between a greater investment at the outset and the expected result.
It’s the most economical solution but also it’s the one that requires the most upkeep. You’ll need to add gravel several times as it compacts over time. To improve its looks, a layer of decorative gravel, about ½ -inch thick (50 mm), can be placed on top.
For those who live in areas receiving snow, plowing done by you or someone else will cause some of your gravel to end up on your lawn or planting areas, requiring quite a bit of time to rectify the situation.
For those who want to protect the environment, it’s a very reasonable alternative because during rainy periods, water can be absorbed into the ground instead of running into the streets, and eventually, into the sewer systems.
Along the same lines, there is natural stone, such as slate, pebbles and limestone. More expensive than plain gravel, but it won’t end up on the lawn, needing to be cleaned up in the spring.
It remains the most popular and widely used material. Remember, the preparation of the ground is crucial for a successful result. As well, it requires regular maintenance, in the form of a sealer, every few years to protect it from the elements. These sealers come in various shades. You can also be more daring and ask for a pattern to be stamped in the asphalt to resemble pavers.
Concrete paving block
More expensive than asphalt, concrete pavers stand up to heavy vehicles and better tolerate freezing and thawing. As well, their life expectancy can be up to 30 years. Another advantage is that they come in various shapes, textures and colors. However, just like with asphalt, preparing the base is very important, and also, they require some maintenance, namely a yearly application of sealant.
We also still see regular concrete used for driveways, but it is poured into compartments with joints to allow for contraction and expansion.
A unistone driveway utilizes blocks of roughly 2 ½" thickness (60 mm), each fitted together and bonded with a mixture of cement, aggregate and sand. Sealant is applied annually, but this is the only major upkeep. A noticeable advantage of this kind of driveway is that if a block becomes cracked, stained, etc., another can easily replace it without disrupting the integrity of the other blocks.
Does this surprise you? If you are dreaming of a driveway that seamlessly blends with your lawn, it’s the perfect solution. The underlying ground is reinforced with a plastic honeycomb-like structure. This is then filled with soil then seeded with grass. Laying sod to speed up the process should be avoided unless sufficient time is given for the grass to take root before driving on it. There are also concrete slabs or blocks with opening where grass can be grown, for a mixed surface. Just remember, though a more eco-friendly option, reinforced grass is not a good solution if you use your driveway regularly or have heavy vehicles.
A combination of different materials
If there is no obvious choice, why not think about mixing two or more materials? For the areas where the vehicle actually touches the surface, there can be strips of concrete pavers, for instance, surrounded by gravel, grass or another ground covering. The choices are almost endless, so you can certainly get just the look you want for your home.
Don’t forget your garage door
As long as you are sprucing up your driveway, if your garage door deserves a makeover too, contact us at 607-687-5126.
We can send you a detailed quotation by email. As well, it will be our pleasure to visit you at home and explain the whole range of garage doors on the market. With years of experience in the industry, we’ll be able to guide you in making the best choice. If you’d really like to see what a new door looks like, use our Design Centre or look through our image gallery.