Finding the best driveway material will depend on three essential factors: Looks, efforts, and budget.
- The look you want to achieve
- The effort you want to put into installation
- Your budget for the driveway project
If money is no issue and you want to create a grand, historic looking driveway, then the best driveway material might be something like old English cobblestones.
If you want a contemporary feel with minimal installation, a simple asphalt driveway material may be the best option.
The best driveway material all depends on the type of driveway you’d like, along with a few other important factors to consider.
What are the different types of driveway materials?
When it comes to driveways and patios, there are many different types of materials and surfaces to choose from.
The most commonly used driveway surface materials in the UK are:
- Block paving
- Stone paving
- Gravel or lose stones
Each of these have both pros and cons, depending on the kind of driveway you’d like.
There are a few other materials to consider, but they are usually a lot more expensive or a lot more impractical, and you may struggle to find both the raw materials and skilled tradesmen to install them.
To find out which material is best for your driveway or patio, we’ve broken down the options by use case and consideration, rather than specific types of surfaces.
The best driveway material for those on a budget
If you want a low-cost driveway that simply serves its purpose, then you’ll want to consider the materials that are the cheapest.
The cheapest driveway cost per square metre is usually asphalt.
Tarmac – the brand name asphalt is commonly known as – is widely used for roads and other public areas because of its low cost. It’s practical, it’s easy to install and it’s a good material for those on a budget.
But it’s not without problems. It’s bland and basic, definitely not for those looking for a visually appealing drive. It can also have drainage problems and it is prone to melting under hot temperatures, creating a sticky residue.
Gravel is also a similarly low-cost driveway material for those on a budget, if you only have a small area to fill. But costs can rise if you have a long driveway – as you’ll need a lot of stones – and you will have to factor in the cost to replace those regularly.
The best driveway material for those in period properties
It might surprise you that gravel is a low-cost material, because it can often be associated and seen on the driveways of large country estates and big period properties. It has a feeling of grand elegance, the crunch under tyre as you arrive at a stately home.
Gravel is quick to lay too, so installation is fast if that’s on the top of your checklist. And if you want to prevent thieves having a nosey around your manor house, the loud noises gravel makes is a great deterrent.
However, that noise may be a negative factor for you when considering materials. It’s also high maintenance, with weeds an immediate issue and ‘topping up’ a constant requirement. You won’t be able to clean your drive or create a snow-free path during the winter months unless you want to push all the gravel to one side in winter months.
Instead, to help you create a rustic look for your period property, natural stone pavers – or classic cobblestones could be a good option.
But the material is expensive and installation is labour-intensive, which means costs will rocket. There is also an environmental consideration given the amount of on-going quarrying for natural stone.
But with pattern imprinted concrete, you could create the look and feel of natural stone or old fashioned cobbles, without the expensive costs. Installation is quicker and maintenance a whole lot easier too.
The best driveway material for those living on a hill
Of course if you want to achieve the classic rustic look to complement an older property, and your driveway is sloped, then gravel is almost certainly out.
All the loose rocks would simply pool at the bottom of the hill.
Instead, you’ll need to look at the best surface material for a sloping drive.
Pattern imprinted concrete comes out top again here, since you never have to worry about wobbly paving slabs or loose cobblestones. It’s built to last and can be installed with extra anti-slip chemicals to minimise the risks associated with sloped driveways.
The best driveway materials for those who want to make a statement
There’s no doubt that natural stone flags and pavers look stunning. They’re extremely aesthetically pleasing, naturally beautiful, but that comes at a big cost.
Resin driveways are a popular option here for a great looking drive, and they’re slightly more budget friendly than cobbles or natural stone. The material can be bonded or bound, and comes in a range of colours to really stand out.
But resin is still an expensive material, and installation can be tricky, with cracks and streaking a potential problem.
Block paving is another option here, because it still looks impressive if you’re going for a traditional feel.
If you want something more modern though – and want to avoid the risk of loose bricks and weeds popping up – pattern imprinted concrete is another good option.
More cost effective, printed concrete can be poured in several different colours, and you can mix and match, creating unique patterns to really make a statement. Go ultra-modern or keeps things classic and rustic, the choice is yours.
The best driveway material for those who want flexibility
Pattern imprinted concrete driveways offer much more flexibility too. If you want pathways, curves or any unique features, it can be easily poured to any shape.
Asphalt and resin are other options here if a unique shape is a key consideration for your choice of material.
It might be best to avoid any kind of stone or block pavers though, as it’s more time-intensive to fit them into unusual shapes, pushing the costs up.
The best driveway material for those who want longevity
If you want a driveway that stands the test of time, then you’ll want to look at the materials which weather most effectively and last the longest.
Rule gravel out, since that regularly needs replacing.
Any block or stone pavers might be best avoided too, as they will start to wobble and loosen over time, shifting around with use and opening up gaps for weeds. They will need a lot of maintenance.
Tarmac/Asphalt has a good lifespan as long as use isn’t too heavy (e.g. large vehicles, spilt oil). It should last around 20 years.
Pattern imprinted concrete should also give you over 20 years of life, if not more, if you re-seal the top layer every 5 or so years. It’s extremely durable and long-lasting, with very little maintenance.
So what is the best driveway material for almost every home?
Ultimately, it comes to your needs, your budget and the look you want to achieve.
But there is one material that stands out here, that delivers on almost every front.
It balances ease and practicality with good looks and a bank-friendly price. It’s long lasting and flexible. It can be used for period properties and modern homes, for those living on hills and those who want to make a statement.
That’s pattern imprinted concrete. It can be used to create any number of different looks, in different styles and different colours, re-creating and mimicking other types of materials – and adding on the benefits, without the cost.
Our recommendation for the best type of driveway material is pattern imprinted concrete, but see what works best for you.
Why not arrange a free design visit from one of our team to discuss the different materials, your requirements, and the best options available?