Breakdown of 7 Materials for Driveway Surface

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    Each building has some sort of driveway or at least should have. The main reason is for vehicles to come closer without need to walk all the way. Some homes are residential with small driveway for their car to come in and park before garage or front entrance, and others can be large commercial buildings with loading docks, delivery entrances and casual parking entrances.

    On Point Remodeling was asked for suggestions on residential driveway for new home construction, and we decided to write detailed article for all our readers. Using this guide you can select the material for your driveway and see what works for your budget.

    Here are the materials for driveway we will be discussing in our guide:

    • Asphalt
    • Concrete
    • Paver Stone
    • Crushed Stone
    • Brick
    • Seashell
    • Gravel

    To find good contractor for your driveway, you can either ask our team by email or try to find someone local that worked with neighbors or nearby buildings.

    Installation process of any material surface on your driveway

    a) Demolition and Excavation – Before anything is done, your contractor will get heavy machinery and scratch off old layer of driveway. They need to go down at least 5-6 inches to insure proper layering before your final layer of material is installed.

    b) Material Purchase and Delivery – At this point your contract is signed and you already know how the surface will look. Contracting company purchases necessary materials and delivers them to site. Double check if material is correct and not damaged.

    c) Preparation of Sublevel – Whatever you place as final material, it cannot just be installed directly on top soil. Gravel is the first choice of material that goes down at this stage. Other preferred material is screen sand that can go on top of gravel and works better with stone and bricks.

    d) Compaction of Ground – To prevent your driveway from moving and changing shapes, all the layers from bottom up have to be properly compacted. Do not leave any spot untouched while doing this or you can get small holes and cracks in driveway after installation.

    E) Final Installation – This is when all the magic happens. After all preparations and dirty work the final installation is made literally within hours and you can enjoy new driveway. Stone and brick is set up by hand, while other materials for driveway require some sort of machinery with manual labor to even out surface.

    1. Asphalt

    Probably the most used material for road top surfaces as well as driveways is asphalt. This is a mix of gravel and sand that is mixed in and combined by asphalt cement with crude oil.

    Pros of Asphalt Driveway

    • Very popular and easy to find materials/contractor
    • Completed in 1 day and you can drive on it after
    • Patches and small holes can be fixed fast

    Cons of Asphalt Driveway

    • Easy to damage and cracks appear in few years
    • Almost everyone else has same surface
    • Oily surface and chemicals used in mix

    Prepared for asphalt driveway will cost you around $5 per square foot to finish. The contractors that take care of entire process from taking out old driveway surface, install subsurface and compact the ground with new asphalt on top, will charge on average $5500 per regular size driveway at single home property.

    2. Concrete Materials for Driveway

    What we call concrete is a mixture of Portland cement, aggregate as well as sand with gravel. Suggested thickness of concrete for driveway is 6 inches. The mixture needs to cure without being touched or driven on top for several days.

    Pros of Concrete Driveway

    • Durable material for large weights
    • Long lifespan if installed properly
    • Winter and summer friendly

    Cons of Concrete Driveway

    • Has marks and stains over time
    • Hard to repair without replacement
    • Super hard to DIY

    To hire contractors for concrete driveway materials it will cost around $7-$9 per square foot. This will include site preparation with gravel spread and new concrete installation. They will order full truck of concrete (or several for larger driveways) to pour inside forming. Smoothening and curing is required after installation.

    3. Paver Stone Driveway Materials

    Paver stone driveway pros and cons
    Level line for installation of paver driveway.

    The most luxurious material that you can use to create driveway path with is paver stone. It is made out of natural stone with uneven rough shapes that have different line patterns. Paver stones are very heavy and are perfect for weights on top of them. Almost every city in Europe has roads and walks made out of stone that were installed centuries ago.

    Pros of Paver Stone Driveway

    • Creative designs can be done
    • Personal looks, can match the house
    • Can replace single stone in minutes

    Cons of Paver Stone Driveway

    • Weeds growing through
    • Stone can move over time
    • Most expensive material

    There is wide selection of stone that can be purchased for your driveway. On average we recommend settling with $17-$20 per square foot for stone with installation included. Working with this material is very intense labor and we recommend hiring professionals that do this type of work every day.

    4. Crushed Stone Driveway and Walkway

    Our readers sometimes mistake crushed stone with gravel, but this is not the same material. Crushed stone material is achieved when machine is mechanically crushing larger pieces of unused stone for this specific purpose. It is larger than gravel and can have smooth finish. Crushed stone can also have a mix of colors, which is much pleasant to eyes than gravel.

    Pros of Crushed Stone Driveway

    • Low maintenance required
    • Fits rural area style
    • Can be reused for other purposes

    Cons of Crushed Stone Driveway

    • Gets very hot during summer
    • Can be messy after many drives
    • Hard to remove snow and ice

    Buying crushed stone and installing it on your driveway is as easy as it gets. Similar to other rough materials for Driveway discussed in this post, only small tools like shovels, dolly and buckets are required to spread it on the road. The cost of crushed stone driveway is between $4 and $6 per square foot from professional local contractors that can finish the job in several days.

    5. Brick

    The same brick we see being used in wall construction can be installed as top driveway surface. Brick is manufactured by compressing clay with plastic mass. It is heated to extreme temperature and dried up to become as solid as you know it.

    Pros of Brick Driveway

    • Variety of selections in shapes and shades
    • Bricks are recyclable
    • Slip resistant with rough top part

    Cons of Brick Driveway

    • Needs regular maintenance
    • Change color over time
    • Old fashion looking

    Installing brick on driveway costs $10 per square foot, which is not too far from masonry brick laying as part of the wall. To save money you can use or purchase old brick, that was part of a wall before. Do not mix these two jobs and contact landscaping professionals instead of masonry contractors that work with bricks.

    6. Seashell

    Rare seashell drivway surface
    House walkway and care driveway with seashells.

    This material is popular on the coast line where shells can be found near the water. Construction companies use seashells to add in other materials as well as spread them on driveway in rough condition, without adding anything else. It usually comes in white or pearl color and darkens within year because of mixing with sand and dirt.

    Pros of Seashell Driveway

    • Environmentally friendly
    • Has natural drainage
    • Creates worm vibe of beach house

    Cons of Seashell Driveway

    • Break and crack under light weight
    • Sharp and very hard to walk on
    • Gets stuck in shoes and tires

    To deliver and spread seashells on driveways costs below $4, which is only slightly more expensive than rough gravel. As you go further from coast line, cost of material increases due to delivery. This material is elegant and very soft. We recommend adding edge lines with darker color landscape material to create visual path.

    7. Gravel

    Rough gravel driveway for home
    Simple gravel driveway in rural home.

    This material is used in other construction mixes and underlayment systems. It’s literally fragments and small crushed stones that are put on top of soil. It is easily spread out by hands and anyone can do it.

    Pros of Gravel Driveway

    • Cheapest of them all
    • Easy DIY Job
    • Can install another material on top

    Cons of Gravel Driveway

    • Needs to be graded very often
    • Will mix with dirt and leaves
    • Washes up with heavy rains

    It is rough material and can be purchased in bulk (by metric tons or cubic meters). The cost of driveway with gravel should not exceed $3 per square foot, but you can save tons of money by purchasing materials for driveway and doings installation by yourself. You do not require specific tools or heavy equipment for the job and delivery of gravel can be arranged directly to your project.

    Conclusion – Materials for Driveway Surface

    To properly finish any and all of these driveways requires skills and experience. There is no way you can complete any of these projects without heavy equipment and tools that regular home owner’s just store in their garages.

    Most of those who will read this post will prefer to install asphalt driveway, because of its popularity and low costs. We want to encourage home owners to go for personal preference and what matches your house, rather than getting the most affordable and popular items.

    Driveway jobs have to be completed fast; otherwise you will need to park elsewhere while the project is running. To not overpay, ask us for quotation sample on material you prefer in specific region where the work need to be done and our team can provide some numbers.

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    Steven H.
    Steven H.
    General Contractor and Home Builder with over 20 years of experience. Write and Edit educational posts for several Remodeling Blogs. Specialize in trade management and technical construction details.