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Choosing the Right Driveway for Your Home

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 18 Jul 2019 | comments*Discuss
Driveway Driveways House Concrete Tarmac

The number of different driveway materials that you can choose from is huge. Driveway Expert leads you through a host of relevant questions that will help you to pick the best driveway for your situation.

1. Are your neighbours' driveways all paved in the same material?

If you live on an estate where the houses share a similar look, then replacing or installing a driveway in a completely different material could make your house, not to mention those of your immediate neighbours, less saleable. People won’t be happy.

2. Is there a significant gradient to your driveway?

Driveways constructed from solid materials like concrete aren't easy to lay on a gradient. Tarmac is significantly better and Gravel is a waste of time. For a DIY job, small to medium blocks would be the best option.

3. Will you be staying at the house for a long time?

If you want to spruce up your driveway in order to sell your home, gravel is the quick, easy and cheap option. It needs frequent topping up and attention to prevent weeds taking over, but in the short term it's perfect.

4. Are you in a conservation area?

It's imperative to make sure that you are aware of any planning restrictions on your home or your area. If you install a driveway using the wrong material, the planning office can force you to replace it at your cost. They won't listen to any pleas of ignorance – it's your responsibility to find out. (For more information, read our article Planning Permission for Driveways on this site.)

5. Is your area prone to flooding?

The governments of the UK are now paying more attention to the detrimental effect of driveways, particularly in front gardens, on flooding. Look at permeable materials for your driveway, which are usually cellular structures. The honeycomb structure supports the weight of the vehicle but water can escape through the holes, which can be filled with all sorts of material, even soil.

6. Is it important to have a non-slip surface?

If you are unsteady on your feet or have frequent visitors who are, you might want to avoid stone or stone-like block surfaces which can be slippery when wet. Concrete or clay bricks or blocks are better in this respect. You can also go for loose materials such as gravel and bark ,but they aren't so easy to navigate with wheelchairs.

7. Is it important to use natural materials?

More and more concrete is being used in driveway construction, not just poured concrete but flags and blocks, too. For a solid surface, look for natural stone in flags or cobbles or clay blocks, or if you prefer a loose surface, choose from slate, gravel or bark.

8. How important is cost?

If you are after the cheapest solution, concrete is one of best choices for a domestic driveway, particularly if you do most of the work yourself. Tarmac is the cheapest on a large scale, but in a domestic situation it's not that practical. Alternatively, you could look at concrete blocks or perhaps gravel.

9. Are you building a new driveway?

If you are replacing an existing driveway, the easiest option is to replace like with like. But if you are putting in a new driveway, remember that the groundwork and foundations are likely to take time and therefore money. Bearing that in mind, skimping on the top surface is probably a false economy, so choose the surface you like the most.

10. Do you wish to protect the environment?

With the current focus on green issues, products like concrete and tarmac are under fire for the ecological damage done during their manufacture. When laid they can also cause drainage problems and contribute to the warming up of urban areas. Choose natural materials, either loose, such as bark, slate chippings or gravel, or recycled aggregates made from brick, glass or other materials for the greenest option.

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Hi, We're in the process of having a new tarmac driveway installed to replace our old broken concrete one. The company excavated the old surface around 6 weeks ago, left the job due to unforeseen drain repairs (which have since been fixed) and returned this week to finish the job. They discovered that some "Mare's Tail" weed has shown up on one of the areas we had intended to be tarmaced, and are reluctant to tarmac this area (replacing it instead with chips). The company's quote said they'd lay MOT Type 1 hardcore down, with an 80mm layer of tarmac on the surface. What are the chances of Mare's Tail bursting through over 3" of tarmac?
Winfield - 18-Jul-19 @ 8:39 PM
I have a little yard outside my house made of concrete - which is accessed down some steps straight from a small lane . I would like to demolish an old coal shed in the yard and build a raised parking area up to the level of the road - it would be about 5m x 2m. I think I will have to apply for planning permission even if it was made permeable because it will involve the building of a party wall between my house and the neighbours - and a rebuilding of their entrance gate as we have a shared access to the yard currently. My initial plan was to reuse the bricks from the coal shed and current outside wall to build a retaining wall and infill with hardcore. Is this a viable option?I'd love to create a permeable space but I think this would involve digging up the concrete yard first - so sounds expensive and I'm on a tight budget.
Caroline - 14-Jul-19 @ 12:28 PM
We have a drive that is on a low to moderate slope. We park cars in it. Our main concern is for non slip & to be seedless. Currently it is large concrete flags. What would you suggest ?
Denise - 16-Jun-19 @ 7:42 AM
Hi - I live in a semi in south west London area and my current driveway is partly block-paved and partly garden-ish features. I would like to take out the trees and re-lay a new driveway. I'm bit confused as to which one to go for. Should I go for block paving or slab paving? As I prefer not to worry about weed/moss/algae cleaning, I am inclined towards the slab paving. Am I in the right direction please? On drainage - I am planning to get my new ground laid at an angle so that the rain water will not stagnate and directed away from my driveway. I would appreciate to links to any knowledgebase detailing the pros/cons of block and slab pavings. Many Thanks SK
SK - 24-Aug-16 @ 2:57 PM
I have a small driveway that is block paved, but as it isds very slippery in the winter, it is also has a small incline so is very slippery in the winter, can you suggest any altenative
Dor - 23-Jul-16 @ 9:22 AM
Thanks for your advice, I will get back to you!
DT - 19-Jul-15 @ 7:36 PM
@DT. Do let us know how you get on.
DrivewayExpert - 16-Jul-15 @ 10:59 AM
Perhaps the answer is to dig out the new area, break up the existing tarmac, and use the excess for hardcore in the new area, then cover with sand and the self impacting gravel as you suggested.I will investigate how I might get it done.
DT - 12-Jul-15 @ 8:00 AM
@DT. Have you thought about a semi porous option like self impacting gravel? It's used in many Forestry Commission and National park areas. You may have some intial problems with loose stones but it beds in well. Another green solution is to look at the percolated blocks - like traditional paving blocks,with a wicking designed to pull water down into a special base layer, (and then into the soil). You can also get interlocking concrete blocks that allow grass growth (try specialist grasses etc) as another permeable solution.
DrivewayExpert - 9-Jul-15 @ 10:19 AM
I think I am convinced now that tarmac isn't the solution, we will need to break up the existing surface.But what is the best replacement for an area of some 70 sq metres?
DT - 5-Jul-15 @ 12:14 PM
@DT unfortunately most solutions will require the break up of the existing tarmac. We do have a couple of articles on what to with existing tarmac drives here: Re-covering tarmac and Tarmac patching
DrivewayExpert - 3-Jul-15 @ 9:47 AM
We have a double width driveway made of poor and broken tarmac. We would like to improve this and also to extend it onto an adjacent grass area. Would like as green a solution as possible but quake at the thought of tearing up the existing tarmac. Is there a good solution?
DT - 30-Jun-15 @ 12:53 AM
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