Your driveway is probably not at the top of your to-do list, but maybe that’s just because you haven’t been that explorative with it. Just like most aspects of homeownership, there’s more than one way to pave your pathway. Different types of driveway surfaces can boost your curb appeal and give your home the fresh, updated look it craves.
How do you know what’s right for you home? We’ll cover 7 surface styles with average cost, pros and cons to guide you in the right direction.
Concrete is the ‘old reliable’ for most suburban homes. And we can see why: concrete is the longest lasting surface (25-50 years depending on how well built it was and how well it has been maintained), and requires little regular maintenance – just a bit of TLC!
Keep in mind, your typical shade of concrete stains easily. You can opt for a colored finish (see examples of ‘silver’ concrete below) to deter this, but it is usually much more costly. If you reside in a region that experiences ice and snow, you will need to be mindful of which deicer blends you use, as many calcium chloride and calcium magnesium types are corrosive to concrete.
But don’t let this sway you, Snow Joe has an environmentally friendly deicer that guarantees it won’t break down your concrete surfaces. Shop for it here.
Cost: $4 to $10 per square foot. These costs can nearly double, however, if you decide to go with a colored or stamped finish.
The best fit: Concrete works best if you’re looking for a low-maintenance option, and don’t mind breaking out the pressure washer (shop the best pressure washers for concrete here) and being considerate with ice melt.
- Expensive compared to gravel and asphalt
- Easily stained (see pressure washers here)
- Requires deicing with non-corrosive blends (check out our top blend here)
- Can be dull in appearance
Maintenance: To best ensure long life, it does pay to keep the driveway clean and sealed. A good scrubbing with a hose and stiff brush attachment on your pressure washer will handle regular cleaning, while concrete sealer will add a layer of protection. Sealer should be applied at least once a year, usually in the fall, as an added layer of protection against road salt and harsh winter weather.
Asphalt driveways are a mixture of sand, rock, and asphalt cement. These driveways come in basic black, but they can be stamped with designs for a more high-end appeal. Asphalt is popular surface choice because it is cheap and otherwise performs similar to concrete (lasting 12-35 years depending upon the installation, climate, usage and maintenance). If you are leaning towards this material, know that you will need to perform some annual maintenance, as asphalt is prone to cracking due to its flexible nature.
Cost: $2 to $5 per square foot. This double the cost of gravel, but half what concrete typically runs.
The best fit: Given the lower install expense, asphalt works best if you have a large driveway to cover.
- Conceals stains
- Requires immediate action for repair when holes or cracks occur
- Must be sealed every 2-5 years
Maintenance: Sealer should be applied every 2-5 years. Any cracks or holes will need to be filled rather quickly to prevent further cracking and fractures from spreading.
These kinds of driveways are comprised of loose gravel, typically poured into a barrier to keep the material contained. Gravel can be an aesthetically appealing choice if you have a long, winding driveway with bountiful landscaping. But, because the gravel is unattached, things get shaken up easily.
Plan on replacing the gravel at least every few years and raking it frequently.
Cost: $0.75 to $3 per square foot
The best fit: Rural areas or properties with oversized lawns
- The most most-effective surface type
- Reduction of ice build-up in winter months
- No repair since there is no surface to break
- Snow removal becomes very difficult
- Portrays a dirty appearance rather quickly
- Gravel will need to be replaced every few years (may not be worth it in the long run compared to more expensive applications)
Maintenance: the amount of maintenance largely depends upon how well your base will shed water, as things can get muddy pretty quickly. The gravel will eventually settle or become displaced and need to be replaced every few years. It can be difficult to remove leaves and snow without dispersing the stone onto surrounding lawn.
Brick driveways have a traditional feel and are installed similar to how brick homes are made. You can choose from standard, clay-colored brick for an old-world feel, or fit right in with modern times by opting for other colors and shapes.
The result adds instant charm to your home (and lasts at least 25 years). Brick is one of the more expensive surfaces, but it is also easy to install yourself if you’re the handy type.
Cost: $10 to $30 per square foot, though fancier designs and bricks can drive that cost higher; As low as $5 if you choose to install on your own.
The best fit: Upscale neighborhoods and historical areas
- Beautiful appeal
- Low maintenance
Maintenance: The key to a good brick driveway is a well-prepared base. Post-installation, you may need to use a pressure washer to remove any stains, but other than seasonal cleaning, brick driveways do not require much work. Of course if a brick happens to become fractured, it would be wise to replace. After some time, the joints between the bricks may need a little repair you can perform on your own with a sand-topping mortar mix.
Cobblestone (AKA Belgian block) is a perfect choice for those wanting the most durable driveway out there (lasting as long as 100 years!). Cobblestone pavers are made of granite, which is stain resistant, weather resistant and does not crack or split.
What’s even better is that a little wear and tear just adds to the charm and makes this surface more interesting.
If you’re in love with the look, but can’t afford the price tag, consider using cobblestone pavers as a decorative border or inlay.
Cost: $15 to $30 per square foot
The best fit: Upscale neighborhoods and historical areas, especially if you have a short driveway
- Most durable material
- Beautiful appeal
- Virtually zero maintenance
Maintenance: Cobblestone pavers generally don’t require any maintenance. At most, you will need to wash them once a year and do some weeding of any intruders that grow through.
Contrary to your immediate perception, glass driveways aren’t really sheets of glass. They are more like a mosaic of thick tumbled glass that is sealed with resin. Color options are endless, as you can have different hues blended for a custom look. Those who are environmentally conscious will be drawn to this surface, since most manufactures use recycles glass to save it from ending up in the landfill.
installed right, the driveway won’t require much maintenance thanks to the lasting power of resin.
Cost: $8.50 to $18 per square foot
The best fit: Small to average-size driveways
- Customizable color
- Low maintenance
- Specific look may not appeal to other buyers if the property goes up for sale
Maintenance: If installed correctly, glass driveways won’t require much maintenance; resin is long lasting.
Green driveways are another environmentally friendly option. They come in two formats: one is an entire grass surface supported by a plastic base that makes the grass safe for driving on, the other is a grid that is poured from concrete and allows the grass to grow in between.
Both options look great but have one big downside: Unlike other driveways, you’ll have the added worry of keeping the grass alive. This means added costs and maintenance.
Cost: $4.50 to $8 per square foot
The best fit: Areas where grass grows easily (desert landscapes and hot climates may make it harder to maintain)
- Environmentally friendly
- Modern appeal
- Requires regular attention to keep the grass live
Maintenance: While green driveways are a back-to-nature approach, they do get costly when you consider the time and maintenance it will require to keep the grass alive.