When friends and family visit, your driveway is one of the first things they see as they approach your home. So why is the driveway often an afterthou ght when it comes to planning for curb appeal? If your driveway is stained, worn, cracked, or simply doesn’t complement the aesthetic of your home any longer, it may be time for a driveway facelift. After reviewing the descriptions and benefits of the three most popular types of driveway materials, you may find a solution that is a perfect match to your needs and style.
An asphalt driveway contains a mix of tar and gravel, which is poured while hot and cools to form a smooth, durable surface. This method, by far the most popular and cost-effective, requires a significant amount of maintenance in order to keep up its appearance and functionality over time. If neglected, the tar that holds the stones in place will eventually begin to wear down causing the stones to come loose. To avoid this, asphalt driveways should be resealed every one to five years with a high-quality acrylic or asphalt-based sealer. This will help to maintain its integrity and prevent cracks from forming. Many recommend avoiding sealers made with coal and tar, as they often contain toxic ingredients that can be tracked into the home by common foot traffic.
Concrete is a versatile, aesthetically-pleasing driveway option that can be colored, shaped, textured, and even embedded with stone for a customized look. It’s also one of the most durable paving materials, holding up well against varying temperatures and heavy use. While concrete is generally more expensive than asphalt, it typically requires less maintenance over time. In general, concrete driveways need to be cleaned and sealed only once the finish begins to show wear – typically every 2 years or so. Stamped or colored concrete, however, may require painting/sealing more often due to wear and tear through high-traffic areas. It is also important to note that concrete does not hold up well to stains, so if your car has sprung an oil leak or you’ve accidentally spilled some house paint on it, one should clean the area as soon as possible to avoid any long-term damage.
Pavers have recently increased in popularity since they require little maintenance and come in a wide variety of colors, materials, and patterns to suit the aesthetic of any home. They are easy to repair and replace, as their installation allows for individual broken or stained pavers to be removed, replaced, or (depending upon the shape of the paver used) even flipped over without disrupting the entire driveway. However, pavers do eventually show wear-and-tear in high-traffic areas, as is the case with almost any driveway solution. While the cost of pavers is significantly higher than that of asphalt or concrete (they can range between .50 cents and $3.00 each), their ease of maintenance and overall durability make them a good long-term investment. Before you choose a new type of driveway, it’s best to do a bit of homework to figure out the optimal solution. Do your teenage kids live for basketball? A smooth concrete driveway will provide the best “court” on which to play. Do you live in an area with a lot of snow and ice? Some types of concrete can be stained by salt that is added to the roadways. Or, if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option, perhaps ‘permeable’ concrete or pavers are right for you. These versions permit rainwater to soak into the earth below, reducing harmful runoff that damages area streams. Understanding the specific limitations and benefits of each type of driveway material will help you to identify the best option for your home and family.