Home Tip Tuesday: Driveway Material Options

Asphalt driveway.
When it comes to your driveway, you have several choices of material. Learn the pros and cons of common driveway materials to select the right option for your home. 

If your region experiences seasonal temperature changes, asphalt is a good choice. The material is flexible and durable enough to cope with extreme cold and heat. Since asphalt is dark, it naturally retains heat. It can thus help to melt snow in the winter. Asphalt can last for up to 20 years when it is well cared for, and can usually be patched fairly inexpensively if any cracks develop. 

Asphalt must be resealed every few years, so it is not maintenance free. However, it can easily be swept and cleaned to get rid of debris.  Asphalt generally costs $3 to $5 per square foot to install. 

Concrete driveway.

Gravel is a budget-friendly option, generally costing $1 to $3 per square foot. Since it is natural stone, gravel can last for decades to come and remain attractive. 

While gravel has many advantage, it is the highest maintenance option. You may need to sweep stray rocks back to your driveway after a rainstorm. You will also need to spend a lot of time weeding the driveway and manually picking out debris that falls onto the driveway. There is no way to sweep debris from the stones, since you will misplace the gravel when you try to do this. On a related note, shoveling snow from gravel driveways is also extremely difficult. This material may be a better choice for temperate climate where snow is rare. 

Falling somewhere in between asphalt and gravel, concrete typically costs $2 to $2 per square foot. A concrete driveway that was correctly poured and cured should last well with few to no cracks for roughly 30 to 40 years. The material can be swept and shoveled easily and does not need to be resealed, like asphalt. 

Concrete driveways can discolor with stains. If you want to keep your driveway looking its best, be prepared to scrub stains occasionally. 

Paver driveway.

Brick and other pavers (such as concrete or natural stone) are a pricey yet durable option for driveways. Depending on your choice of paver, you can spend $5 to $50. 

Pavers tend to hold up over time for at least 20 years. If something does go wrong, it should only affect a few pavers at a time. Depending on your choice of paver, finding a replacement can be tricky. It might be better to choose a common material like brick, which can easily be replaced with bricks of a similar hue. Bricks can be cleaned and shoveled fairly easily, although weeds may grow in the gaps between stones. Still, you'll perform less maintenance than with gravel. 

With any of these materials, it is a good idea to hire a professional to install your driveway. If you try to do the project yourself to save money, it could backfire if the installation was not performed correctly. 

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