Your driveway is one of the first things you see when you come home. It forms a huge part of people’s first impressions of your house, and it can seriously affect the value of your property. Despite all this, driveways are often overlooked and left neglected.
There are lots of things you can do to look after your driveway and keep it looking lovely. In this article we will go through the pros and cons of the main types of driveway materials you might come across, before outlining how to properly maintain some of the most popular ones.
There are a huge range of materials available for people to make their driveways out of. Driveways are an important element of the overall look of your home, so it’s important to do your research and choose a material that not only looks the way you want it to look but also does the job you need it to do, and for the right price. Different materials are better for different things, so choosing the right one for you can save you a lot of hassle and heartache down the line on costly cleaning and repairs.
Here are some of the most popular materials for driveways, along with why they’re so popular:
Gravel is by far one of the most popular driveway materials, and it’s not hard to see why. Gravel driveways have great kerb appeal, and look lovely and natural whilst being fairly easy to keep looking neat and tidy at the same time. You can choose the colour of your gravel to match the aesthetic of your home and garden, so your driveway can blend seamlessly into the design of your home.
Gravel is also one of the cheapest options for driveway materials, and is very easy to install. Gravel driveways are usually installed over a few days, one layer at a time. When each layer is installed it is then rolled down to compact it, before leaving it to settle overnight. Gravel driveways also have extremely good drainage, meaning you won’t be left with lots of puddles and most likely won’t need to seek planning permission to install them.
Gravel driveways are not ideal for driveways which are on particularly steep slopes, as gravel can come loose and roll down the hill. You can use a plastic mesh or grid under the top layers but this can only do so much.
Resin bound gravel
Resin bound gravel has a similar look to more traditional gravel driveways, but the gravel is set in resin and so won’t move around when cars or people move around on it. Despite the resin, resin bound gravel driveways are still water permeable and still have very good drainage. They are also resistant to extreme temperatures, unlike some other driveway materials which may warp and crack in extreme weather.
Resin bound gravel can look very elegant and timeless, and can come in a wide range of colours and styles to suit your taste and the look of your home.
Concrete driveways are often the most cost effective driveways available, which adds to their increasing popularity, but it’s not only the value that makes concrete a popular choice for driveways. Concrete can be made in a range of different colours, and can be imprinted with patterns and designs made to imitate paving, so you can let your imagination go wild.
Concrete driveways are also extremely easy to look after, as long as they don’t get too cold and crack.
One drawback to concrete for your driveway is that it takes a fair few days, even up to a week, to fully set. This means that when you initially install a concrete driveway you won’t be able to walk on it, let alone drive on it, for as long as it takes to be ready. But in the grand scheme of things this doesn’t tend to be too much of a problem, especially considering your concrete driveway could last you for up to thirty years.
Asphalt is even cheaper than concrete for driveways, but it is slightly more prone to cracks and general signs of damage. Despite this, it is very flexible and malleable so won’t crack as a result of weather or temperature, more likely just under pressure and strain from cars. Luckily cracks and holes which do appear in asphalt can be very easily fixed and filled in.
Another bonus of asphalt as a material for your driveway is that it sets extremely quickly, so you could drive over it almost immediately after installation.
Tarmac, otherwise known as macadam, is a very versatile and inexpensive material to use to make a driveway. It is quite flexible and can withstand pretty extreme temperatures in either direction, although snow removal can damage it.
Tarmac is hard wearing and can be expected to last a very long time with only a few loose stones needing to be replaced. It’s a good option for driveways which will see a lot of traffic.
Basalt driveways are less common, but are very striking and have a big impact on your outdoor space. Basalt driveways are glossy, smooth and dark and look very sleek and modern.
Basalt driveways can be more expensive, but they are extremely weather resistant and easy to maintain. And for the sleek and stylish look of the basalt you may well think the cost is worth it!
Paving is a classic option for any driveway, and comes in a few different types. There’s block or brick paving, natural stone slab paving, and also cobblestone paving. Paved driveways have a timeless and classic look which can add serious value to a property. You can also mix things up by laying your blocks or paving slabs in patterns, or by using a variety of different shades or colours.
When paving a driveway it’s important to make sure your blocks are solid enough to withstand being driven over regularly. Some natural stones can be brittle and prone to cracking if they’re too thin, so it’s worth getting an expert’s opinion when choosing your materials.
The idea of a glass driveway might sound impractical and implausible, but glass driveways are gaining popularity. They are sleek and modern, and can be customised to be any shape or colour so you can really let your imagination run wild. Glass driveways are also not as impractical as they sound. They are made up of small chips of glass held together in resin to leave a smooth, flat surface. Glass driveways are also exceptionally easy to maintain and keep clean, but they are a more expensive option and are certainly not for everyone.
Grass driveways are very versatile and environmentally friendly, allowing grass to grow up through a grid. It has excellent drainage and is very simple to maintain. The grass can simply be trimmed down with a lawnmower if it gets unruly. Grass driveways are becoming increasingly popular.
How to look after your driveway
Different driveways need different care and maintenance, depending on the materials they’re made of and how they are used. We’ve picked out a few of the most common driveway materials to explain exactly how to best look after your driveway.
Keep it clean
Concrete doesn’t need much maintenance at all, but keeping it clean will keep it looking shiny and new for a long time. Sweeping debris and loose dirt off with a stiff bristled broom regularly, and washing it down with a hose or power washer every now and then will keep your concrete driveway looking lovely.
On concrete it’s a good idea to remove stains as soon as you spot them. Concrete can absorb stains if they’re left sitting for too long, so if you spill any grease or oil or anything similarly staining it’s best to clean it up right away.
Check the seal
Checking the seal on your concrete driveway can help you to identify anywhere which needs a top up before it has a chance to become a problem.
De-icer can seriously damage your concrete driveway. If you need to melt ice quickly you could use small amounts of natural salt instead, but even this could make the concrete susceptible to damage.
Tarmac and asphalt
Keep it cool
The dark colour of tarmac and asphalt driveways make them particularly susceptible to overheating. When they overheat, both of these materials get significantly softer and more malleable, which can easily lead to dents and bumps forming in spots which are under any kind of pressure.
To avoid these dents, you need to keep your driveway cool when the weather gets hot. You can do this by having your driveway covered by some shade if you can plant shrubs or trees nearby, or simply by hosing it down with cold water every so often in the hottest parts of the day.
Use a sealant
Adding a good sealant to your tarmac or asphalt driveway will extend its life and protect it from cracking and breaking.
Remove moss and algae
Moss and algae can form on your driveway and make it look dirty and unappealing. Luckily these things are very easy to remove. You can buy specialist products to remove them with, or just use a mixture of vinegar and water to wash the moss and algae away and leave your driveway looking as good as new.
Use a rake
Gravel driveways are very easy to maintain, but one tool you might want to acquire if you don’t already have one is a rake. By raking your gravel regularly, you can easily and quickly remove any debris such as twigs and leaves before they start piling up and making your driveway look untidy.
Fill in holes
When dips start to appear in your gravel driveway it’s best to fill them in with a small amount of new gravel, rather than spreading over some gravel from a different bit of the driveway. This means any holes are simply filled in without creating any new holes anywhere else. Having an available stock of gravel to top these holes up with is a good idea.
Add fresh gravel
Every couple of years you will want to add a fresh layer of gravel to your driveway to keep it looking shiny and new and fresh. It’s not expensive and can make a huge difference to the look of your driveway, as well as how long it will last. When you add these extra layers, make sure to keep the shape of the gravel the same, with slightly more in the middle and slightly less at the edges, to keep the flow of drainage water under control.
Keep it clean
Keeping your paved driveway clean is simple. Just sweeping it with a stiff bristled brush is enough to make a real difference to the look of your driveway and to keep debris and dirt under control. If you spot any stains building up, scrubbing the blocks or slabs down with soapy water is a great way to clean your driveway up.
Weeds can easily pop up between blocks and make your driveway look a bit of a mess. It’s a good idea to remove weeds as soon as you start to see any, as this means they are less likely to grow roots big enough to disrupt your paving. You can also apply weedkiller between your paving slabs to get rid of stubborn weeds easily.
Fill in the gaps
The spaces between blocks can easily turn into gaps over time, especially if you try to use a pressure washer to clean your paved driveway. Pressure washers can blast away the sand between your blocks. Luckily it’s very easy to fill these gaps in. Simply use a soft brush to brush some new sand into the gaps whenever you spot they need topping up.
For more information or advice on any kind of driveway, feel free to get in touch with us at Hazel & Jefferies. We’ll be happy to help in any way we can.