Improving the look and condition of your driveway isn’t only to do with having a practical place to park your car. With something aesthetically pleasing, you are increasing the value of your property and so will benefit in the long run.
However, with this being such a large and sometimes complex job, depending on what you are looking for, there are a lot of things to consider. Before getting your driveway paved, take a look through our detailed guide so that you can feel confident in every choice you make.
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Types Of Driveway Paving
When you think of driveway paving, you might come up with a specific image in your mind of what it will look like. While choices may have been limited in the past, the options on today’s market are endless and can be altered to help you create a look that suits your home and your personal preference.
Block paving is perhaps one of the most recognisable forms of driveway paving in the UK. While this is one of the most affordable options, you have to be careful that you won’t end up with blocks of bad quality.
You can pick up a bundle of around 50 blocks for £30 at the cheaper end of the scale with these prices moving into double figures if you want something that is much better quality. You will also find that blocks made in the UK are vastly more expensive than those that have been imported.
The great thing about block paving is that there are so many options when it comes to colour and style. This is great if you want to create a statement driveway or conversely, something that blends in with the brickwork of your house. That said, it does pay to source permeable block paving as this meets drainage requirements under the Sustainable Urban Drainage System.
Indian Stone Driveway
In recent years, the Indian stone driveway has become ever more popular and it is little wonder when you consider how modern and neat it looks. These large paving stones provide you with a much more natural look but one that is utterly contemporary.
Practically speaking, this type of driveway may not be as strong as other types and you may find that individual stones come loose. You will also have the issue of weeds growing between the pavers meaning that maintenance will be a little higher.
However, for the beautiful aesthetic effect, Indian stone driveways are more than worth it.
Pattern Imprinted Concrete
Much like the Indian stone option, pattern imprinted concrete is popular thanks to its attractive look. This type of driveway is slightly different to other paving options because the pavers are formed on the driveway rather than being placed down individually.
This works by pouring a layer of concrete over the area which is then coloured and hardened. The pattern or ‘stones’ are then imprinted into the surface using large printing mats. The great thing about this option is that it has greater durability than many other types of driveway.
Asphalt is an affordable and durable material used for paving driveways but where aesthetics are concerned, your choices are much more limited than with other options. However, it is possible to install an asphalt driveway that matches the colour of the adjoining road which can make for an attractive feature.
This type of driveway could last up to 30 years but this is reliant on the homeowner taking good care of it. Contact with oil and chemicals from your vehicles could cause it to deteriorate much more quickly.
In recent years, resin driveways have become more popular thanks to their flexibility. There are pretty much unlimited choices when it comes to colours and designs so you have the option to create a driveway that is unique to you.
What’s more, this type of driveway is typically water permeable so contributes towards the drainage of the area, which is not something that all materials can lay claim to.
That said, it is important to keep in mind that resin driveways tend to be less durable than other kinds and have been known to lift in areas. You will find that maintaining this type of driveway is much more difficult and costly.
What Do I Need To Consider When Getting My Driveway Paved?
As well as deciding on the type of paving you would like, there is a lot more to consider before making any decisions.
Practicality And Size
Some people live in a household with one car and very few visitors. In this instance, you would only need a small driveway. Moreover, having something of this size means less unnecessary maintenance. However, if you live in a larger household or frequently have guests over, more private parking space is a must.
You should also consider your children. If they are getting to the age where they may invest in a car, you might need something larger in the future. Of course, your options are going to be limited up to a point according to the property’s boundaries. That said, many people opt to install a driveway in place of a lawned area which in itself reduces the maintenance needed at the front of the property.
Depending on the design of the driveway, you may need to make it larger in certain areas. For example, if you will have a curved driveway, there will need to be wider points at the bends to allow vehicles to comfortably move through. What’s more, you should think about whether you are accommodating vehicles only or whether you want a pedestrian pathway as well.
In addition to size, you must also take the thickness of the driveway into account. What you opt for will depend on the ground below the drive and how strong it is. We will talk about foundations a little later on but for now, we should point out that your driveway will need to be placed on a stable surface. Depending on the type of vehicle you intend to park on the driveway, you may need to have something slightly thicker to accommodate this.
As well as thinking about how many people will be using the drive, you might also wish to think about how easy it is to access. For larger households, it would serve very little purpose to have a wide driveway that can house three cars but a small entranceway which requires each car to be moved in order to allow one to come or go.
Your driveway primarily serves a practical purpose but this is by no means its only raison d’etre. Your driveway tells people a lot about you and by decorating it in a style that suits your personality, you can create a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing space.
There are several aspects you might wish to include in your paved driveway and this is something you can talk to your contractor about. At the most basic level, you may wish you have blocks aligned in a different direction to create an edge or raised blocks to create flower beds and areas for driveway shrubs.
At a higher level, many paved driveways have built-in LED lights which illuminate your path when you return home in the evening. What’s more, a design like this can result in a much more luxurious feel.
Sealing The Driveway
Not all driveways need to be sealed. For example, if you have had an asphalt driveway installed, this material is strong enough to last many years without sustaining damage. However, other types of driveway may require sealing to protect the surface. Your contractor may seal the driveway for you but it is also possible to do this yourself using a special driveway sealant which can be picked up from most hardware stores or online.
What’s more, using a sealer won’t only protect the surface from cracks and general wear and tear but it will also make it easier to maintain. There may be times that oil or other stubborn liquids are split on the drive, while they will still be tricky to clean up, the presence of a sealer will make it considerably easier.
Imprinted concrete driveways in particular benefit from being sealed and while you may think that you have already spent enough time and money on the driveway, it isn’t expensive. Moreover, it could save you a lot of hassle down the line.
The last thing you want is to install a driveway only to be told that the entire thing has to be taken back up because it doesn’t comply with the relevant legislation. The driveway legislation in the UK requires you to apply for planning permission if your driveway will exceed more than 5m² and is not made from permeable materials.
Otherwise, you will need to make sure that an appropriate drainage system is installed and this cannot be an existing one on public land. The rules and intricacies of this legislation may differ slightly depending on your location. The best way to find out what applies to you is to speak to your local council who will be able to give you the best advice.
If you are installing a flat driveway then drainage becomes a little more complicated as the water may not naturally run off the surface as easily as a sloped driveway. However, by including a very slight incline of just 2% can make just the right amount of difference.
It is also imperative that you ensure any existing drainage system such as those for roofs, patios, and decks are piped away from the driveway. If you allow water to sit on the drive for a prolonged period of time, this can cause damage. Having good foundations in place will limit the above surface drainage components that are required.
Getting The Foundation Right
There is very little point in attempting to install a driveway on an unstable foundation, you’ll only end up having to redo the work down the line. The foundation is placed underneath your paved driveway, regardless of the material you have chosen and acts as a support. Moreover, when the winter comes and frost sets in, you will need a good foundation to protect the driveway from the effects of continual freezing and thawing.
When you hire your contractor, you will need to talk to him or her about their approach to the foundation. They will likely perform an assessment to see the condition of the current foundation (if there is one) or look at the quality of the soil. Depending on the soil type, it may not be necessary to do any additional work as this will act as a good enough foundation on its own.
However, if the soil contains a lot of clay or is not well compacted, it may be the case that more work is needed to create a stable foundation before laying the driveway. This may seem like a lot of additional work, not to mention the added cost but it is important to avoid problems in the future. In the long run, you will only end up spending more money if the foundation is not correctly laid.
Covering Existing Surfaces
Unless you are building a property from the ground up, it is likely that there will already be some sort of driveway in place. If not, you will be paving over soil, and as we mentioned in our section on foundations, the soil will need to be assessed to test whether it would make a suitable foundation. It may be the case that the soil needs treating first.
If you have an aggregate driveway in place, one that features gravel or stones, for example, the area will need to be treated before you can pave over the top. Your contractor will talk to you about this, but most commonly a non-toxic soil sterilising agent is used. In addition to this, it may be that more aggregates are required on top of the existing drive if the thickness is not adequate, again, this is something that your contractor will discuss with you.
In the case of paving over an existing asphalt driveway, it does require a little more preparation but it is possible. Any areas of asphalt that have been weakened will need to be reinforced and a solid concrete foundation at full-depth will need to be in place to ensure the driveway meets the minimum thickness requirements. However, this is something that your contractor will be able to talk to you about and provide personalised advice on how you should approach the job.
Are There Any Obstacles?
If you were drilling a hole through a wall in the home, you would first check to see if there were any wires in your path. When it comes to installing a driveway, you will expect your contractor to assess whether there are any unseen obstacles below ground level before beginning the work.
This could be utility pipes and drains as well as root systems for nearby trees. In addition to this, your contractor will have to assess any nearby structures whether this be a shrub, tree, or built-in planter or something more substantial like a garage. Deciding where the driveway will go is important but you should also think about how these obstacles will affect its function.
For example, if you have large root systems running under the ground, over time, there is a risk that these may break the surface and cause damage to the drive.
If there are trees or other large structures, you should try to incorporate these into the work as much as possible. Removing them is likely going to be a very big job and will cost a lot more money. It is possible to pave around these things and use them as a focal point rather than an obstruction which can serve as a much more attractive feature.
How Do I Choose The Right Driveway Contractor?
When you are putting your property into the hands of a contractor, it is essential that you feel you have picked the right person, or company, for the job. If you’ve ever watched early evening TV, you will be familiar with the number of ‘cowboy’ builders that do a real number on their clients. In order to avoid this, it is worth doing your research on your chosen contractor before employing them to do the work.
With this in mind, it can feel intimidating but the good news is that there are a lot of trained, professional and most importantly reliable contractors out there. Consider the following:
- Look at the previous experience of your contractor and how long they have been in business. While it is nice to support new local businesses, be sure to check that they have the relevant training to complete the job properly. Moreover, you should never be afraid to ask for examples of previous work and also don’t forget to check out reviews from other customers online.
- Before committing to anything, it is important to talk to your contractor about the cost of the work. In any case, a good contractor will be able to provide you with an upfront estimate. Of course, it does pay to remember that this amount may vary because there is no guarantee that additional work may be uncovered during the course of the job. However, a professional contractor will be willing to discuss this with you and provide you with options along the way. You might also wish to compare prices from various installers to get the best bang for your buck. But remember, cheap isn’t always the best option.
- As well as offering a reasonable price, it is important that your contractor is willing to provide you with a warranty for their work. Not only will this give you peace of mind but this is also a sign that the contractor is confident in their work.
- If you are going for a larger company then it is important to look at what training the team undergoes before being allowed to complete jobs. Similarly, if you are hiring an individual, be sure to ask them about any relevant certification and knowledge. This can be a prime opportunity to chat to your contractor and ask them questions; someone with optimal expertise will have no issues in answering anything you need to ask.
What Are The Benefits Of Paving My Driveway?
If you have been considering getting your driveway paved, you may have been mulling over the pros and cons in order to make a decision. While there are a couple of things that you will need to think carefully about, having a newly paved driveway is something that comes with a wealth of advantages.
It Doesn’t Cost The Earth
For a lot of people, especially those with larger driveways, paving may seem like a hugely expensive task. But the good news is that it may not cost as much as you might think. If you’ve got it in your head that you’re going to have to part with thousands of pounds, think again!
The reality of the situation means that you might only pay around £1000 for a large area. When you think about this as an investment and how it will increase the value of your property, it becomes something of a no brainer.
Improves The Value Of Your Home
As we have just learned, installing a new paved driveway is a great way to give your property’s value a boost. While putting a new kitchen or bathroom in your home can also do this, your driveway has the added value of curb appeal. If you ever come to sell your home, this is something that potential buyers will notice as they drive past.
It Will Last A Long Time
There are some home maintenance jobs that require upkeep every couple of years, but your paved driveway is not one of them. Provided that you employ a contractor who uses quality materials and excellent workmanship, you can expect your paved driveway to last as long as 30 years! Now that’s what we call an investment.
It Isn’t Time Consuming
When compared to other jobs that can be done to improve the quality and condition of your home; let’s say, adding a conservatory, installing a paved driveway takes no time at all. Of course, the length of time it takes will depend on the size of the drive but on average, you can expect the installer to be with you for no longer than two days.
Installing a new paved driveway is a great way to give the exterior of your property a new lease of life. There are a lot of choices in terms of style and design but this is not the only thing you will need to think about. In addition to the practicalities of installing a paved driveway, you must also think very carefully about who you are going to employ to do the work and perform all the relevant checks.