Insight To Help You Choose The Right Driveway Paving Material

If you are considering paving a dirt driveway on your property, there are several paving options you can choose from. Depending on your budget, the pavement's look, and durability, you can choose from gravel, asphalt, or concrete as your driveway's surface. Here are some details and insight about choosing each paving method to help you choose one that is right for you.

Gravel Surface

Installing a gravel driveway on your property is one of the least expensive paving options, as it can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 to install an averaged-sized 12 x 25-foot driveway. And by using gravel, you can choose from several different types of rock to get a different look for your driveway and add to your landscaping's appearance. 

To lay a well-built gravel driveway, keep in mind it is recommended to install the appropriate base layers of rock to give your driveway its stability and durability to last. One professional recommends installing anywhere from four to eight inches of gravel for a solid gravel surface. You should also install the gravel foundation and its layers over a base layer of landscaping fabric. This fabric is spread over the excavated, compacted, and leveled ground to prevent weeds and other vegetation from growing up through your asphalt driveway.

Over the landscape fabric, it is recommended to install large, soft, ball-sized, crushed angular rocks in a single and compacted layer, followed by a four to six-inch layer of golf ball-sized gravel. The last layer is the top four-inch layer of thumb-sized gravel.

Maintenance is pretty easy with a gravel driveway. It is important to keep a rake nearby so you can smooth out any holes and gravel movement from traffic to keep the drive's surface smooth. If you live in a climate that has winter snow, be careful when removing snow from its surface, as a snow plow can push the gravel from the driveway. 

Asphalt Surface

You can also install an asphalt driveway on your property, which can last up to 20 years when you take care of it properly at a less expensive investment than concrete. A basic asphalt driveway can cost anywhere from $2 to $5 per square foot and should be installed over a four to eight-inch layer of gravel to provide a solid foundation.

Asphalt is a solid surface, unlike gravel, but will be flexible to provide durability without the chance of cracking as concrete can. Because asphalt is made of a mixture of tar emulsion and gravel, its flexibility prevents freeze-thaw cycles in your area from causing extensive damage to its surface. However, you can use ice-melt products on your asphalt without the threat of damage.

To maintain your asphalt driveway, it is important to watch its surface for signs of drying-out and oxidation from the sun and weather. Oxidation occurs as the tar emulsion dries out and loses its black color, causing the asphalt to begin cracking. As this occurs, it is important to reseal your driveway with a protective seal coat, which will restores its flexibility. And when your asphalt becomes cracked or forms a pothole, you can repair it in patches instead of removing the entire surface to repave it.

Concrete Surface

Installation of concrete is a bit more expensive option, at $3 to $10 per square foot, but it can last up to 30 years. If your concrete forms any cracks, it can be more difficult to repair them, and you may need to remove and replace the entire concrete surface.

Concrete is a harder surface and is not flexible as asphalt is, and it can form cracking easier. For this reason, it is important to install the asphalt over a base layer of drainage soil or sand. This is to help moisture move from beneath the concrete and prevent base soil from washing away and freeze-thaw cycles that can cause heaving in the winter.

Snow and ice removal from concrete is easier with the use of a snow plow, as the plow won't damage the surface as it can with a gravel driveway. But using some types of ice melt can damage the surface of your concrete. You can use sand to help provide traction over ice covering your concrete.

Use these tips and information, or contact a residential asphalt company to help you choose a paving surface for your driveway.