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.