Driveway Types and Costs

A driveway is a pathway that leads to your home. It is one of the first things that your guests will see upon arrival, and it makes up part of your home’s curb appeal. Whatever kind you choose for your driveway, you should consider its function (and safety) as well as how it fits with the rest of your landscaping needs. This article will give you the pros and cons of different types of driveways, as well as their estimated costs.


Concrete Driveway

Photo Credit - Pexels
A concrete driveway is made up of two layers:
  • A base layer to provide stability under heavy loads
  • An attractive surface layer that often contains aggregate, which provides traction.

The visible part of the concrete driveway can be stamped or coloured to match your home’s architecture for aesthetic purposes. It’s also possible to embed lights in this part of the concrete driveway to make it glow at night.

Cost of a Concrete Driveway

The cost of the two-layer system for a concrete driveway is about $5-$15 per square foot, depending on its design and finish. A poured-in-place concrete driveway can be anything from one inch to 13 inches thick, while precast slabs are typically 4-7 inches thick.

Pros of a Concrete Driveway:

  • Concrete driveways have many benefits that keep them popular with homeowners. Some pros of concrete include the following:
  • Durability
  • Resistance to chemicals or salt damage
  • Sound insulation capabilities (if properly designed),
  • Good in all areas because they don’t get slippery even when wet
  • Ease of maintenance compared to other materials.
  • Strong and can support even heavy vehicle traffic.
  • It can be either above or below ground level.
  • It is possible to resurface it with a new layer of concrete or other “finishing” material that can change its colour.

Cons of Concrete Driveways:

  • When improperly designed or installed, you can get significant problems with concrete driveways like cracking or settling. If this happens, you may need to replace the entire driveway – not just one layer – and your cost can increase dramatically.


Asphalt Driveway

An asphalt driveway is composed of three layers. The layers include:

  • A base layer to provide stability under heavy loads
  • An aggregate layer that provides traction
  • A surface layer that looks good and resists weathering. It will also have drainage systems for melting snow and ice away from your home’s foundation.

Cost of an Asphalt Driveway

An asphalt driveway costs roughly $25-$35 per square foot installed, with some jobs costing as much as $50-$60 per square foot. This number depends on factors like:

  • The size of your driveway
  • The type of asphalt needed
  • Whether or not you need to aggregate for traction
  • How thick each layer has to be.

Pros of an Asphalt Driveway:

An asphalt driveway is cost-effective compared to other driveways. It’s easier to repair than concrete driveways since all it takes is a sealer application under normal conditions. One coat can extend its life up to 10 years. And like concrete driveways, they are good at noise reduction (when properly installed).

Cons of an Asphalt Driveway:

  • Asphalt takes time before it becomes stable enough for vehicle traffic. This means that it will get very slippery during or when wet with dew or rain. Multi-use asphalt driveways (like those near a swimming pool) should be extra thick to support the weight of multiple vehicles and people.


Brick Driveway

Photo Credit - Adobe Stock

A brick driveway is composed of bricks that are attached in some way to each other. The most common ways include:

  • Retaining walls for straight or curved sections
  • Set stones laid out in a pattern
  • Stretcher bond (similar to how you lay brick on a wall)
  • Basket weave style, which has rows going every which way
  • American flag style, where segments of red and yellow form a stripe with white in between them.

Two kinds of mortar are often used with brick pavers, which include:

  • A softer mortar is used at the joints of a brick driveway to expand and contract.
  • A more potent, harder mortar can be used for structural elements like driveways or pool decks where a smooth surface is needed.

Cost of a Brick Driveway

The cost of a brick driveway varies, depending on its design. The three-layer system for asphalt is about $30-$60 per square foot installed, while concrete costs around $40-$50 per square foot installed. Retaining walls start at about $4 per linear foot for brick alone, while retaining walls with structures built in them could add several hundred dollars to this price tag. For some designs, you need multiple rows of bricks laid next to each other, which will add another 15-20% to the total price.

Pros of a Brick Driveway:

  • Brick is very durable, with some brick pavers lasting up to 100 years!
  • It is mildew and mould resistant, so you don’t have to worry about rotting or cracking when in contact with moisture or high humidity.
  • The colour options for bricks are endless, allowing you to get precisely the right shade of red.
  • They work well in any climate, from hot desert locations to colder ones that only see rare snowfall. They cool their surroundings through evaporation in hotter climates, much like how your body cools itself when you sweat. In cold weather areas, they do better than asphalt by holding heat from their surroundings inwards towards your home instead of outwards away from it.

Cons of Brick Driveways

  • The main disadvantage is the cost, sometimes thousands of dollars more than asphalt or concrete driveways!


Gravel Driveway

Photo Credit - Adobe Stock

A gravel driveway is composed of various sizes of rocks that are laid over an area. It is not uncommon for gravel driveways to have deep potholes or ruts on them, including hardpack dirt areas where no rocks are present at all.

Cost of a Gravel Driveway

Gravel driveways can be as inexpensive as $2-$3 per square foot installed if you choose the cheaper options for aggregate material. However, it’s not common to see this kind of low-end type used with your brick pavers because they will look out of place next to its more polished cousins. For the average cost, they range from $10-$15 per square foot installed.

Pros of Gravel Driveways:

  • The cheapest option available for homeowners with high tolerances for noise and dust is gravel’s cheapest material.
  • Price is the main benefit over other options because gravel driveways are cheaper than concrete, asphalt, brick, and even dirt driveways.
  • This type is excellent for heavy traffic areas with many kids or pets that might track in mud or other messes. Regular cleaning is necessary to keep it looking nice and free from damage.

Cons for Gravel Driveways:

  • Gravel driveways are not very good at retaining moisture because their water absorption is rather poor.
  • If your home is near an airport and there are aircraft operating at low altitudes, you may experience noise problems depending on how dense your gravel material is.


Dirt Driveway

A dirt driveway is often an area where the site grading has not been completed yet. If you are looking to build a new home on vacant land, this would be your best option, since it allows you to leave the final grading up to excavators or heavy equipment specialists to suit your construction plans. Building a foundation over a dirt surface could result in cracks from settling and uneven ground later down the line. This type will cause all kinds of problems if you have drainage issues near the house because water will flow through everywhere, including into your basement! So always keep in mind how much time and money construction materials cost when building a new home because even though it may look nice now, it could cause problems later down the line.

Cost of a Dirt Driveway

This type of driveway can cost up to $10 per square foot installed because you will need to bring in gravel and other materials for compaction and erosion control. Also, this includes seed and fertilizer so that grasses may be established before the area is levelled off with dirt fill material for construction.

Pros of a Dirt Driveway:

  • No maintenance is needed since there are few cracks or potholes, allowing your car’s tires to ride smoothly instead of being caught up on imperfections on the surface.
  • Draining away from your home minimizes chances of basement flooding caused by rains washing sediment into concrete walls near foundation walls.
  • Dirt driveways can be as inexpensive as $2-$3 per square foot installed if you choose the cheaper options for aggregate material.

Cons for Dirt Driveways:

  • Any excavation work has to be done before construction starts, which means you are essentially paying the contractor twice.
  • Water is unlikely to run off in this type of driveway, so any rain will cause problems unless silt fencing or other methods have been put into place around your property because water can flow anywhere it wants when there is no pavement.


Crushed Stone Driveway

Using crushed stone aggregate in a layer less than 3 inches deep creates a chip seal. This works well because stones are longer-lasting, but they are not very decorative, providing little protection from winter road salts that cause corrosion on cars and trucks.

Cost of Crushed Stone Driveway

The average cost for both of these methods is between $3-$5 per square foot installed. The cost may vary depending on the quality of the crushed stone aggregate and whether or not you choose to hire a professional to complete the work.

Pros of Crushed Stone Driveways:

  • Nickel-and-diming your contractor, which means paying less because there are no decorative stones involved.
  • Good at preventing water run-off from your home’s foundation walls to prevent erosion and damaged drain pipes.
  • Lowest initial price among all driveways since there are no decorative options for this type of driveway.

Cons for Crushed Stone Driveways:

  • If not using a mixture of asphalt binder to bind the stones together, this type will erode very quickly since each stone is smooth with no sharp edges to keep it in place.
  • Not good at preventing winter road salts from causing car or truck corrosion if asphalt binder is not used.
  • Only suitable where there is no concern for water run-off around your home’s foundation walls because crushed stone alone will wash away when exposed to heavy rains or melted snow.
  • Depending on your budget and how much traffic goes through your driveway, tar and Chip Sealing may be required every 3-4 years.
  • Requires more maintenance than other types of driveways, which are suitable for ten years or longer.


Cobblestone Driveway

Photo Credit - Adobe Stock

This type of driveway is like a mixture between asphalt and concrete. Cost is higher than with gravel because it requires levelling the area with sand. But after that process, this drive stays relatively flat for years before needing to be redone again. It might seem costly, but cobblestones are very durable, so you won’t need maintenance later on down the line, which can save you thousands of dollars in maintenance fees since there are no cracks or potholes to catch your car’s tires on.

Cost of Cobblestone

Cost is $3-$4 per square foot installed when using layered cobblestones that range up to 6 inches thick for this type of driveway.

Pros of Cobblestone Driveways:

  • Low maintenance once installed, at around ten years before needing to be redone again.
  • Decorative enough for many homeowners because cobblestone designs are readily available in a variety of colours and sizes.
  • Durable, so no cracking or potholes that catch your car’s tires on.

Cons of Cobblestone driveways:

  • The cost is higher than other driveways because this type
    requires sand levelling first to create a flat surface before laying down
    the cobblestones themselves onto either asphalt or concrete.
  • High initial price means monthly payments might seem high until
    it comes time to pay for repairs later on down the line when some cracks
    or potholes go unnoticed over time.


Crushed Basalt Driveway

Crushed basalt driveways are built like cobblestone, but more durable and with a higher price tag than either asphalt or concrete. This type of driveway is common for areas where there is heavy foot traffic and vehicle use.

Cost of Crushed Basalt Driveway

The average cost for this type is $4-$5 per square foot installed. Multiple colours of crushed basalt are available, so they can be mixed to match your desired colour scheme. The cost may vary depending on the quality of the material used and whether or not you choose to hire a professional to complete the work.

Pros of Crushed Basalt Driveways:

  • Durable with very little maintenance needed after this type of driveway is installed.
  • Easier to maintain than other types of driveways because crushed basalt can be reground if needed but won’t need that treatment for at least 20 years.
  • A high initial price means small monthly payments rather than one big lump sum payment upfront. You might even pay your contractor in full before he finishes the work, using the same process you would use with a credit card company to get paid early for completing installation faster than expected.

Cons of Crushed Basalts:

  • Cost is higher than other driveways because this kind will require levelled sand or levelling concrete first, depending on whether or not it is installed over asphalt or concrete.
  • The overall appearance isn’t as attractive compared to other driveways because it is made of crushed rock.


Recycled Glass Driveway

When it comes to driveways, you might think of glass as the opposite of stone, so why would it work together? That’s because recycled glass can be used for decorative purposes to create colourful patterns. It resembles crushed basalt but is an even cheaper alternative to achieving similar results if money is your primary concern.

Cost of Recycled Glass Driveway

Cost is $2-$3 per square foot installed for this type of driveway. The price isn’t much more than gravel driveways because it requires little to no levelling before installation like some other types do. This makes it an affordable option, even with its initial cost.

Pros of Recycled Glass Driveway:

  • Low maintenance makes this type of driveway great for busy homeowners on the go or people with small children who will be tracking in dirt, mud, and grass all the time, rather than older individuals who like to keep their homes clean and free of messes.
  • Cost is relatively low when compared with other similar materials.

Cons of Recycled Glass Driveway:

• The price might seem high for some who would balk at the idea of paying so much for a driveway.

• The process is cumbersome because you have to find a company that can sort through the glass and installs it correctly, limiting what contractors will agree to do.


Resin Driveway

Asphalt, concrete, and other materials used as driveways are porous, meaning water seeps into them after it rains or snows melting snow from shoes and shovelled snow from ploughs. This leads to potholes that damage your car’s tires and sinkholes where ice melts unevenly thawing in spring, leading to ugly black spots on otherwise pristine white snow cover surfaces. Resin is a material similar to epoxy but less expensive because it is made from recycled materials, as the name implies.

Cost of Resin Driveway

The typical cost is $3-$4 per square foot installed, which is about average for driveways. This type doesn’t require much more than a simple levelling before installation, making it an affordable option and easier and faster to install than other types requiring more work and technical knowledge to complete the task correctly.

Pros of Resin Driveway:

  • Resistant to water damage makes this type great for heavy traffic areas with lots of vehicles, kids, or pets running around because it won’t erode or break apart as asphalt or concrete might do under such conditions.
  • Resistance to pothole damage means you don’t have to worry about ugly sinkholes when it starts to snow in winter.
  • Compatibility with asphalt, concrete, and other driveway surfaces.
  • This type won’t crack as other pavers might under heavy loads, common in busy areas.

Cons of Resin Driveway:

  • Sensitivity to heat can mean cracking if temperatures rise above a particular range.
  • Staining can also be a problem due to oils from your shoes and dirt getting trapped in the surface.
  • The reaction time varies due to temperature fluctuations, so you have to wait longer during hot months for resins mixed with epoxy modifiers to cure before driving over them because they could stick and cause damage to your tires.
  • Resin can be expensive because of its high demand, mixed by professional contractors who work on the material daily.

Now that you have all the information, you need to make an informed decision on what your next driveway is to be made from! We always recommend getting in touch with a professional installer to install your new driveway. While you are here, why not take a look at our blog section that covers a range of topics including 12 materials ever architect should know and what is chintz!

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