So many choices…
Many times forgotten, a driveway is a very important part of your home’s design and planning. Literally the link between your home and the street, the drive way is one of the first features most people notice about a home.
Properly installed driveways can last decades and save you endless grief and stress dealing with mud and problems of potholes and water drainage.
There are a variety of different types of driveways and which type you will choose for your home will depend on many options from your budget, to the topography of your land.
Two of the most popular and basic driveway options are concrete and tar, but there are various other choices ranging from gravel to paving all with their own sets of benefits and drawbacks. Paved driveways are very attractive if your goal is to make your home blend in with a walkway or other hardscaping feature. Ultimately, no matter which driveway surface you pick, it’s critical you hire?a qualified driveway contractor who can install a drive that meets professional installation standards and plan it out properly to avert potential issues down the road, such as intrusive tree roots and poor drainage.
Concrete or tar?
Tared or asphalt driveways costs less and are easier to repair, but concrete lasts longer and requires less maintenance. Both however need solid foundations prepared by experts or they will not last. Typically, concrete lasts up to 30 years, while asphalt lasts up to 20 years but how well they bear the ages depends entirely on the upkeep and also the amount of traffic the driveway has to deal with. If you have a small call car and only ever drive back and forward a few times each day your driveway is less likely to suffer the same wear and tear as it would if you are driving many vehicles with a variety of weights over the driveway, or if you are driving trucks up and down the driveway regularly for whatever reason.
Upkeep of a concrete driveway includes regular pressure cleaning every few years to keep it clean as oil and chemicals can weaken the structure. If your concrete driveway needs resurfacing it is usually necessary to remove the old concrete to ensure the newly poured concrete settles and adheres to the underlying surface properly while asphalt can be resurfaced and resealed every few years.
Cracks and breaks in concrete should not generally be repaired while small cracks can be resealed in the case of asphalt driveways.
Stamped concrete gives homeowners the option of a unique aesthetic look which can be created to suit their home driveway, walkways, patios or pool decks and can incorporate textured features as well as colour added to the concrete to create a variety of looks.
A specialist contractor first pours a slab with the base colour mixed in. As the concrete dries, the contractor will apply highlight colouring and push down a stamp to create a pattern that can mimic brick, stone, tile or custom designs like leaves. It’s cheaper than installing brick paving and it can last for decades if properly maintained with sealer.
Paved or brick driveways
Depending on the length your driveway, a paved driveway can usually be installed in about two days. One of the immediate benefits of paved or brick driveways is that they are ready for use immediately upon completion.
While a bit more pricey than poured driveways, paved driveways have a good lifespan and should last last up to 25 years while providing a unique and elegant look to your house.
One drawback of the use of paving stones or bricks is that it does provides a more flexible surface in which bricks can shift or sink over time – resulting in an uneven driveway.
Maintenance and repair is a little easier than concrete with broken bricks or paving stones easier to replace.
The topography of your land is a major factor in determining if paving is an option for your home as it doesn’t lend itself to places with a lot of variance in ground conditions.
Popular in less urban areas and the least expensive driveway option is gravel or crushed stone driveways.
The use of stone materials can offer a wider variety and a more rustic aesthetic than more worked surfaces with the wide variety of crushed stone materials on offer allowing several choices in colour and overall look.
One major benefit is that because this material is used in driveway foundations, no separate foundation is required — making it a very cost-effective option.
Gravel driveways however do need a fair bit of maintenance and will need to be replenished over time as the rocks settle into ruts faster than a hard surface driveway. Obviously the type of traffic the driveway sees will also determine how much maintenance is needed and how frequently this needs to be done.
If you have a lawn alongside your gravel driveway raking will be required on occasion to keep the rocks from getting into your grass.
Choosing your contractor
Before hiring a contractor to install a driveway, you’ll need to be sure they have experience installing the specific kind of driveway you’re looking for. Each type requires specific skills and knowledge to install, and you want to be sure the contractor you hire knows how to do the job correctly the first time.
Make sure prospective contractors include base materials and plan in their written proposals. Low bids may mean they plan to skimp on the base or use substandard materials which will lead to a weaker driveway that will fail prematurely resulting in false economy as you need to repeat the expense and effort again sooner than you expect or might have budgeted for. Get multiple bids to compare how much base each driveway installer recommends for your project.