As viewed from the street, your driveway can make a big impression on the look of your house. And certain materials complement certain architectural styles more than others. A gravel driveway, let’s say, would make a nice visual accompaniment to a farmhouse cottage, whereas a herringbone-pattern brick driveway would better suit a colonial-style residence. In short, think about what your choice of driveway will add to, or take away from, curb appeal. Driveways aren't just for cars. Many of the 75 million driveways in the U.S. do double duty as play areas and convenient work spaces for all kinds of projects. But an increasing number of driveways are showing their age: cracks, heaving, spalling and other signs of distress. Many of these surfaces can be renewed, but others will have to be replaced.
Although 90 percent of driveways in the United States are either asphalt or concrete, there are a number of other options including crushed stone, gravel, cobblestone and interlocking concrete pavers in a variety of patterns.
What's out there: Choices include plain hot-mix asphalt; chip seal with gravel pressed in for texture; pattern-stamped asphalt; and acrylic polymer colors. Asphalt resists cracks, because it flexes with minor ground movement. Asphalt is easy to contour, and usually lasts 15 to 20 years when properly maintained. Topcoats can often be applied over existing layers.
What's out there: Choices include plain concrete; concrete colored with pigments or acid-staining; colored and stamped concrete that mimics stone; and exposed aggregate that allows the top layer of textured gravel to show through.
Long-lasting. Depending on the weather, exposure to road salt and subsoil preparation, concrete should last at least15 years and often more than 50 years with biannual sealing and proper drainage. Precise edge treatments are a snap; its smooth surface is ideal for basketball and makes snow removal easy.
Like other types of pavers, clay brick pavers have been used as a surfacing material for centuries. Though bricks are somewhat fragile compared to cobblestone and concrete pavers, with a good base and regular maintenance, they can easily stand up to normal driveway usage.
Although standard bricks are clay-colored and rectangular, many shapes and colors of brick are now available. Depending on your choice, you can create a driveway that looks like it's been around for 100 years or one that fits right in with modern house and landscape designs.