Your driveway provides access to your home and is among the first things visitors see. But paving and maintaining a driveway is often just an afterthought during home improvement and landscaping projects. Gravel driveways can do the basic job, but by paving the driveway you can eliminate loose stones that end up in your yard and give your home a more finished, formal appearance.
Concrete is a very durable driveway paving option that can also be moderately expensive. Concrete comes in a range of colours, and professional installers can stamp patterns into the wet surface to give it the appearance of pebbles or bricks. Pervious concrete is a porous material that allows rainwater to drain through the surface and into the ground below. Another option for dealing with water on a concrete driveway is to leave a narrow strip of grass down the centre of the driveway, which also reduces the amount of concrete you need to complete the project and helps keep costs under control. Sealants can protect light-coloured concrete from stains, and a well-maintained concrete driveway can last for several decades.
Asphalt driveways are the most common option for homeowners. Asphalt, which produces a dark, smooth black surface, is relatively inexpensive. Because of the dark colour, spills and leaked fluids from cars won't show up as easily as they do on lighter concrete. Driveways paved with asphalt can expand and contract naturally, which makes them less likely to develop cracks. One drawback to asphalt is the fact that you'll need to apply a clear sealant layer every few years to keep it looking its best. Asphalt driveways also absorb heat and can be very hot to walk on during the summer months. According to the Bob Vila home-improvement website, an asphalt driveway can last up to 20 years before it needs repaving.
Pavers are the most expensive way to pave a driveway. They also give you the greatest number of decorative and material options. Pavers may be made of brick, natural stone or poured concrete. They fit together to form patterns, such as swirls, diamonds or stripes. Pavers don't need time to dry, so you can begin using your newly paved driveway sooner than if you opt for concrete or asphalt. You can also repair a driveway covered with pavers more easily, removing cracked or sunken pavers and replacing them while leaving the rest of the driveway intact. Pavers are very durable; the online technical guide of Meadowood, which produces paver drives, paths and courtyards, estimates that a typical paver driveway will last for more than 40 years.