Asphalt paving is a popular way to finish your driveway, providing a durable and affordable surface to park and walk on. Asphalt paved driveways are fairly low maintenance and durable, although they will require resealing every four to five years in an average climate. But if the lack of color and design choice or the short lifespan of asphalt has you looking for another alternative one of these top five choices may be right for your home.
1 – Poured Concrete
Inevitably more expensive than asphalt, concrete pads are extremely durable and require nothing more than a wash down to look as good as new. Think of the sidewalks in your neighborhood. They will last for decades without many issues and are easy to clear snow and ice from.
Concrete driveways are poured in squares or sections, allowing for natural shifting and movement. This tactic helps to avoid cracking and premature degradation. Concrete can also be used for the walkways and porch of your home, providing a complete solution to your exterior hard surfaces from the road to your front door.
2 – Stamped Concrete
A dressier alternative than poured concrete, stamped concrete can mimic the look of cobblestone or any other pattern you desire. Essentially laid out in the same fashion as poured concrete driveways, the stamping process is done near completion to provide a particular pattern or profile on the sections. It is an exacting task and the concrete must be mixed to a certain consistency to allow for the best set.
Colors can also be mixed into the concrete for an added decorative touch. Try a dark border with a lighter colored interior or use the color to help your garden path stand out. It is important that you hire an experienced paving or concrete contractor for this task as stamping is a skill that takes time to perfect.
3 – Interlocking Pavers
Interlock pavers, a traditional form of finishing the driveway, is still popular in many municipalities today. Set on a sand and gravel base and laid in any number of attractive patterns, this type of driveway is a higher maintenance alternative to either asphalt or concrete. The pavers themselves can shift with the frost or be knocked out of place by snow blowers, vehicles, shovels and trailers. Repairs are simple enough and small sections can be easily relaid with the proper base.
Interlock pavers are not mortared down as they may be on a patio, although in some climates that may be possible. Most contractors will excavate in the same way they would for a poured concrete or paved driveway, but spread more sand in order to support the individual paving stones.
Selection of color and pattern is almost limitless and this type of driveway can be easily extended into your paths and porch. Many people have the pavers laid on their rear patio as well, providing a seamless, appealing look for the property. Be aware that some find this style of driveway busy. Although pavers do not need to be sealed, they will need to be reset when movement occurs.
4 – Tar and Chip or Chip Sealed
A driveway finished often used in rural areas, chip sealing or tar and chip is much less expensive than asphalt paving but will not provide the smooth and attractive finish of the other options. Basically a chip sealed driveway starts with a gravel base. Hot tar is poured over the gravel and stones (or chips) are thrown on the top of the tar. The whole surface is then pressed with roller equipment.
Some homeowners opt for colored stone on the top layer, giving their driveway an interesting appearance. These stones will come loose with time, but a tar and chip driveway can be repaved for around half the cost of an asphalt driveway.
Another plus for chip sealed driveways is the maintenance. There is little to be done on this driveway besides gathering up the loose stones now and then. No sealing is necessary and the lighter color will absorb less heat, making it more comfortable to walk on in sunny weather.
5 – Exposed Aggregate
Strangely similar to a chip sealed finish, exposed aggregate uses a concrete base along with attractive aggregate additives and a buffing technique to create a unique and beautiful finish. Very popular for porches and walkways, this is an expensive choice for a large driveway but will provide a durable finish that is easy to clear and charming to look at.
The aggregate that is mixed into the concrete base is generally shiny or colored in some way. After the driveway is poured, a high pressure hose is used to take off a thin layer of the concrete, leaving the aggregate partially exposed. The whole surface is then buffed and sealed with a clear coat to provide the protection and durability necessary for driveways. Homeowners are left with a surface that is completely unique and sparkles in the sunshine.
All of these alternatives will provide a driveway that is safe to park and walk on. From asphalt to tar and chip, poured or stamped concrete, interlock pavers and exposed aggregate, each of these options are better than graded gravel. Difficult to clear snow off of and treacherous during muddy wet weather, gravel driveways are bearable for a short time, but most homeowners find paving in some form to be a wise investment.
Prices range depending on your location, but generally the tar and chip method is the cheapest, with asphalt paving coming in somewhat higher. Poured concrete is next in costliness and stamped and exposed aggregate are similar in price just above poured. Interlock pavers are often the most expensive choice, but this depends entirely on the type of paver that you choose. Genuine stone pavers, such as slate or limestone, are incredibly beautiful and natural but come with a much higher price tag than imitation pavers.
Investigate the different options to decide how you would like to finish your driveway. Asphalt paved driveways will always be popular, but the concrete finish is now seen more and more on both large and small homes. Interlock pavers are an attractive choice and exposed aggregate is stylish and unique. Tar and chip may be a good choice economically and also provides an environmentally friendly option. Hire a professional and ask for their opinion on which paving solution is best for your home.