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Providing access to your home and off-road parking while potentially enhancing the curb appeal of your property, your driveway is potentially a valuable asset. 

But only if has been correctly installed using appropriate materials.

There is much to consider before proceeding with contracting driveway installers or undertaking your driveway installation yourself.

Settling upon the right material for your driveway is important. Making your choice will involve thinking about a range of factors including aesthetics, durability, maintenance, drainage and cost.

Which material would be right for your property and your budget? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each driveway material.

Gravel driveways

Gravel is a relatively inexpensive material that drains well, and one that can boast pleasing aesthetics. This cost-effective material is suitable for use in a variety of settings but does have significant downsides that should be considered.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Variety of size and colour options
  • Relatively DIY friendly – you may not require a driveway installer
  • Quick to lay when compared to the various paving options
  • Never slippery

Cons

  • Labour intensive to lay – the best gravel driveways feature three or more layers, each rolled before the next is laid.
  • Require edging to be laid
  • Can be dusty
  • Require regular maintenance
  • Should be replaced every few years
  • Make snow clearance difficult

 

Block paving driveways

Providing an attractive, neat finish and classy look, block paving can definitely enhance the visual appeal of your property. Damaged pavers are easy to replace, and a paved driveway will stand the test of time. However, block paving can be costly and time-consuming to install.  Installation will demand the expertise of a professional driveway installer.

Pros

  • High-end finish
  • Damaged pavers are easy to replace
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Easy to maintain
  • Choice of colours and style

Cons

  • Time consuming to install
  • Require the skills of a professional driveway installer
  • Fewer style options than with pavers
  • Costly
  • Require sub-layer for drainage
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Paver driveways

Durable and attractive, paver driveways enable you to choose from diverse styles and colours. Pavers also allow you to get creative and form patterns, giving your driveway a unique look. However, a paver driveway is a long-lasting choice but one that can be expensive to install.

Pros

  • High end look
  • Choice of styles, colours and patterns
  • Long lasting
  • Low maintenance
  • Damaged pavers are easy to replace

Cons

  • Require the installation of drainage solutions
  • Necessitate significant works before installation
  • Costly (particularly stone)
  • Time-consuming
  • Require professional installation

 

Concrete driveways

Durable and low maintenance, concrete driveways can be great options and suit a variety of properties, but drainage will be an issue and poorly installed concrete may crack.

Pros

  • Will stand the test of time
  • Hard-wearing
  • Low maintenance
  • Choice of colours
  • Surfaces can be painted in the future
  • Contemporary

Cons

  • Water runoff could be problematic
  • Prone to discolouration especially when contacted by oil
  • Prone to cracking if poorly laid
  • Relatively costly

 

Tarmac driveways

Cost-effective and durable, tarmac driveways may last for up to 20 years. But they must be well-drained and are often less than aesthetically pleasing.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Cost effective
  • Low maintenance when properly sealed
  • Can be resurfaced and repaired
  • Suitable for cold climates

Cons

  • Few colour options
  • Little scope for styling
  • May soften and become sticky in hot weather
  • Require regular sealing

 

Bonded resin driveways

Resin bonded gravel involves spreading resin across the base of the driveway and then scattering aggregate (gravel) onto it. Most of the gravel will adhere to the resin but some will remain loose. The resulting driveway will boast the appearance of gravel but there will be less aggregate to replace in the future.

Pros

  • Easier to maintain than gravel driveways
  • Non-slip
  • Fade-resistant
  • Weed-resistant

Cons

  • Not permeable
  • Not frost-resistant
  • Relatively costly

Bound resin driveways

Terminology can be confusing! Bound resin is not the same driveway material as bonded resin. With bound resin, aggregate is mixed with resin before laying. Bound resin provides a stylish, even finish and complements diverse properties.

Pros

  • Even finish
  • Stylish
  • Variety of colours available
  • Slip, weed and frost-resistant
  • Permeable
  • Low maintenance
  • Quick to install

Cons

  • Costly

 

Reinforced grass driveways

Reinforcing systems (concrete or plastic honeycomb) that can be filled with grass are freely available and enable you to create a low-cost driveway that drains well. But reinforced grass driveways have significant drawbacks.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Can be DIY projects
  • Drain well

Cons

  • High maintenance (require feeding, watering and mowing)
  • Allow weeds to grow
  • Uneven
  • Not suited to accessible garden design
  • Limited lifespan

 

Driveway regulations in the UK

Before finally settling on your driveway material or searching for a “driveway installer near me”, give careful consideration to drainage. Housing developments and renovations often negatively impact the local ecosystem and can increase the likelihood of flooding. Poor drainage will also contribute to the overloading of the mains sewerage system.

In 2008, the government introduced Sustainable Drainage Systems (or SuDS) standards. The intention was to address the stress being placed on the mains sewerage network by rainwater runoff from commercial and domestic properties. Hard surfaces between the front elevation of the property and the highway require planning permission if the surface area is greater than 5m2 and is not SuDs compliant. 

The easiest way to achieve a SuDS compliant driveway is to surface it with a porous system (both top surface and sub-base). Porous surface materials include, porous concrete paving, porous tarmac, resin bound stone, gravel in a gravel stabiliser grid, loose gravel or grass reinforcement systems.

It is worth consulting with a local driveway installer who can advise you regarding SuDS compliance and how that compliance might influence your choice of materials. 

Your budget will always be a serious consideration and you may be thinking about installing your driveway yourself. But most types of driveway installation require expertise. Mistakes and failures to properly address drainage will prove to be expensive in the long run. Any driveway installer cost you incur could save you time and money overall.

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