Driveway Improvement Ideas: Top Tips for Your Driveway Project!

An attractive driveway can really improve the overall appearance of your house. For that to happen, you must perceive this project as more than just a simple surface where you’re going to park your vehicle. Think of it this way: when guests or visitors come to your house, the driveway is the first thing they see. So, if you decided to initiate this project, I am here to help you with everything you need. In today’s comprehensive guide, you will find all kinds of useful things like types of materials, pattern driveway improvement ideas, costs, and other relevant aspects.

A Few Brief Ideas to What You Can Do with Your Driveway

If you already have a driveway and you want to update it, here is what you can do:

  • Lay another driveway on top of the existing surface. For quick work, you should opt for either concrete or asphalt. This can really increase the appeal of your house’s entrance. Overlaying a new driveway onto the old one is quick, so you will achieve fast results;
  • If you’re expecting a baby, I recommend you to cover the driveway with resin-bound paving as a safety measure. That way, if your child or toddler falls down, it won’t be on a hard surface;
  • Get creative and search for bold colors. You could opt for a hue that contrasts your house walls;
  • If you have other pavement projects or materials near or around the driveway, you could complement or harmonize them by using specific colors, shapes, and materials of paving slabs, gravel, bricks, patterned concrete, granite setts, or even decking. You will be amazed by how significantly you can transform, reshape, and beautify the entire external, residential space;
  • Feel free to personalize the driveway any way you want. You can do that through design and color. Some people include stars, words, paw prints, and many other patterns. It is something others don’t really expect which makes the driveway a lovely and appealing addition to your home;
  • If there are things or areas you want to hide, you can easily camouflage them so that the driveway looks seamless. One common example is given by drains that homeowners don’t want to be in plain sight;
  • Include pin curbs, wood or timber finishing, lawn edging structures, or marble setts to achieve a clean finish;
  • Think about all possible situations and create a ramp designed for bicycles, garden toys, and wheelchairs;
  • If you live in a colder area or your alley freezes during winter months, I would suggest installing under-floor heating right under the driveway to speed up the process of defrosting;
  • You could even incorporate lights right into the driveway’s surface to light up the entire area. This can be a great finishing touch that makes space look sleeker, not to mention that it will help you park your car at night;
  • Delimit your driveway by planting trees around it. Don’t forget to allow water to reach the trees’ roots while also allowing them enough space to grow. If I were you, I would select evergreen trees to enjoy their beautiful colors all year round.

Surface Options

Driveway Improvement Ideas

a. Asphalt and Concrete

These options cost less compared to other (more expensive) alternatives. Being cheaper means you shouldn’t expect too complex designs. Instead, these pavements have basic finishes. Still, more and more operators provide a wider range of patterned paving made from concrete. They look more appealing, but they also cost more, especially when placed on larger areas.

If you want, you can opt for the permeable asphalt or concrete version that allows water to pass through certain cleverly-placed gaps. These are made with aggregate materials.

Asphalt Concrete Driveway

b. Gravel

This is the most permissive driveway material to use. It is easy to handle and install, and it comes in plenty of sizes and colors. Gravel is very popular, especially in rural areas. Make sure your supplier offers you clean pebbles that are free from any dust particles. In my humble opinion, the best type of gravel is the self-binding one because it adheres to the surface it is placed on, and it stays in place for a longer time.

On the other hand, you should know that gravel-based driveways are hard work because they require you to lay no less than 3 or 4 different layers of stones. Moreover, its durability and stability depend a lot on how good the ground is beneath.

Gravel Surface Driveway

c. Permeable Block Paving

These blocks have wide joints which are filled with tiny aggregate. Then, this material is placed on a free draining surface. It depends a lot on the type of soil it stays on. For instance, sandy soils or sloping land can affect the installation. So, make sure this paving suits your living area. Another thing to consider is the level of rainfall.

Permeable Block Paving

d. Grass Paving

This type of paving is comprised of either plastic or concrete honeycomb form. Its measurements are usually 500mmx500mm. This kind of structure supports a vehicle’s weight but also allows grass and tiny plants to grow between the tiles. You could even mix gravel with grass paving because it doesn’t need self-binding.

In terms of patterns, you can choose from the following options:

  • A simple running bond;
  • A decorative fan pattern;
  • Basketweave;
  • Diagonal herringbone;
  • Soldier header;
  • Stack bond;
  • Diamond pattern;
  • Pencil Line Inlay;
  • Dutch herringbone weave; etc.

Driveway Materials

1. Aggregate Driveways

An aggregate driveway costs between $0.50 and $5 per square foot. The price varies based on how many layers you want, the quality of the material, drainage systems, and other factors. It needs periodic resurfacing, but the lifespan is indefinite. A driveway made from aggregate materials is low-maintenance, and many people dare to build it themselves because it normally doesn’t take more than a couple of hours to install.

Gravel is both durable and cheap, so that’s why it became a very popular choice. However, it is also prone to erosion which is why many installers recommend homeowners also to create a good drainage system.

Pros

  • It is quite affordable. In fact, it is one of the cheapest driveway materials on the market;
  • Aggregate materials are durable as long as the driveway comes with a proper drainage system. It may need regular maintenance, but these materials tend to last decades at a time;
  • The material is low-maintenance. Once you have settled it, you will only have to fill or spread it here and there, to smooth bumps;
  • It is environmentally friendly because it comes from nature, being derived from crushed rocks;
  • You can install it yourself and make it your personal DIY project. Building an aggregate driveway doesn’t require many construction skills.

Cons

  • These driveways won’t look very good. They aren’t very appealing when it comes to their aesthetics. Although you can choose a bold color or a more interesting texture, you won’t achieve a high-end look;
  • It may be tricky to remove snow from a driveway made from gravel. Actually, it is quite hard to plow this kind of surface without spreading gravel all over the place;
  • In time, this material will rut because of elements such as ice, mud, and snow.

2. Paving Stone Driveways

Paving Stone Driveway Improvement Ideas

A paving stone driveway costs between $7 and $14 per square foot, based on many elements, including the material. It lasts more than 30 years, but this depends a lot on the maintenance and the climate of your living area. It is very easy to install while also being low-maintenance. On the other hand, this type of driveway material is expensive, but it looks great. Stone normally blends great with other elements of design like fountains and landscaping.

Pros

  • It is very appealing. Driveways made of bricks or stones look very good, and they truly beautify the outside part of your house;
  • These driveways are incredibly durable. They last for a very long time. Occasionally, you may need to replace some of the stones, but you won’t have to resurface it periodically;
  • It provides a high level of stability. Stone is both clean and stable, including in wet conditions.

Cons

  • It is the most expensive type of driveway material out there. Both brick and stone are very pricey;
  • They may get slippery because these two materials aren’t high-traction options. If you live in an area where it snows a lot, you may want to reconsider this choice;
  • Brick and stone make storm runoff almost unavoidable because they aren’t impermeable;
  • Unlike other materials, this one is not suitable for a DIY project so you will need to hire a professional team.

3. Concrete Driveways

Concrete Driveways Improvement Ideas

A concrete driveway costs between $5 and $10 per square foot. Based on how well you maintain it, it can last between 20 and 40 years. Concrete driveways are durable, and they are easy to install. Most people believe that concrete is basically the same as asphalt. Still, the first alternative is way more durable. Concrete, unlike asphalt, is also DIY-friendly. Still, I would recommend you to opt for professional installation just to make sure you cover all the necessary steps.

In terms of maintenance, you will probably need to wash, seal, and refill any cracks when they appear. Heavy use required yearly maintenance. You may think that basic concrete isn’t very attractive, but there are upscale choices so you can purchase one of those if your budget allows it.

Pros

  • It is a very stable material. Concrete isn’t prone to slop or mud;
  • It offers ample traction. Although it may not be the ideal choice in cold or wet weather, it still works better than polished stone;
  • This material is easy to maintain in the winter because you can easily treat or plow it. Not being porous make concrete suitable for chemical treatments to melt the ice;
  • It has a pretty long lifespan, lasting several decades;
  • Concrete is pretty low-maintenance. All you have to do is reseal it periodically.

Cons

  • This material is prone to several environmental issues, including runoff which can be costly to solve;
  • It is pretty expensive to install, although it’s less costly than paving stone driveways;
  • It is best to hire a professional team of experts to install it. So, I wouldn’t recommend a DIY project.

4. Asphalt Driveways

Asphalt Driveways

Compared to most other materials, asphalt is quite affordable. A driveway made of this material costs between $4 and $8 per square foot. Based on how you use it and your area’s climate, this type of driveway can last up to 20 years. Compared to other materials, asphalt is harder to maintain. Still, it remains a highly functional option. If you don’t have experience in installing driveways, I would suggest finding a professional construction firm.

If you live in a harsh climate, this may not be the best option. You must seal it in the first year since the installation. Then, you must also reseal the driveway once per every couple of years. You should be aware of the fact that reseals are pricey. The average cost is approximately $400. Like I’ve mentioned before, asphalt driveways don’t have a long lifespan.

Pros

  • This is a solid and stable material. You can walk on this driveway and park your vehicle without worrying about issues like messy residues or mud;
  • Asphalt is aesthetically pleasing. It has  a finished and professional look;
  • It’s easy to maintain this driveway during winter because the surface is easy to plow and it is not prone to damage;
  • It offers a higher level of traction compared to other materials.

Cons

  • You must resurface the driveway every couple of years which will definitely increase the overall investment cost;
  • It may be less expensive than other materials, but it isn’t exactly budget-friendly;
  • Asphalt is prone to runoff;
  • It has a relatively short lifespan;
  • You will need to hire a team of experts for the installation process.

Main Driveway Ideas and Types

Your house needs a beautiful driveway because it plays the role of a good first impression. I’ve covered the phase of choosing the right material that suits your living area, the design of your house, etc. Now, it is time to show you some cool models and ideas.

Gravel Driveway Ideas

Main Driveway Gravel

This is a popular choice, especially in rural areas. You can create a beautiful effect by using different patterns or color. This material is perfect if you want to build narrow pathways surrounded by grass. Here are some driveway Improvement Ideas you can use:

  • End the pathway with a circular focal point. I would suggest including a pond right in the middle area;
  • You can lay a surface of gravel and delimitate it by brick borders for a more finished effect;
  • Another great and interesting idea is to mix different colors of gravel chippings which will create a decorative aspect;
  • I personally love a curved driveway. This will look particularly good if you own a cozy country cottage.

Brick Driveway Ideas

Using Brick For Driveway

  • Circular or fishbone patterns are the most popular choices;
  • You can create a driveway as well as a narrower pathway that leads to your doorsteps;
  • Lately, more and more people prefer the diamond pattern which gives the alley a more sophisticated look;
  • Despite the new trends, most people opt for simple yet consistent patterns;
  • Another pattern that never goes out of style is the herringbone one.

Resin Bound Driveway Ideas

Resin Bound Driveway Ideas

  • You can create a wide range of patterns because this material is highly versatile;
  • If you want to avoid a dull surface, you should insert flower beds as borders;
  • By using borders and flowers or bushes, you could shape up some nice-looking curves;
  • Incorporating different colors is another way to create an out-of-the-ordinary driveway.

Tarmac Driveway Ideas

Tarmac Driveways

  • This is a very affordable material that enables you to achieve a smooth surface that’s free of bumps. On the other hand, it can be a tad plain, so you need to come up with interesting or original ideas;
  • You could break up the area in front of your house by creating a narrow pathway next to a grassy area that’s installed right near the driveway;
  • Build borders of different materials or colors;
  • Again, this is another situation in which a central focal point can come in handy;
  • For a more original look, you could combine tarmac with colored aggregate.

Driveway Improvement Ideas – FAQ

Do You Need Planning Permission?

As long as the surface is permeable, you don’t need a planning permit. This is what government legislation states. Another rule that helps you avoid needing this kind of permission is to keep the driveway smaller than 5 square meters. Following these two rules keeps the process easy, quick, and stress-free.

Is the Driveway Easy to Clean?

A driveway is normally easy to clean. It’s true, however, that some materials are easier to clean than others, so keep that in mind when you choose the type of surface you want to use. As long as the material is not a pretentious one, the maintenance will be very easy, and you won’t have to clean it very often.

How Long Does It Take Until You Can Use the Driveway?

Usually, you can walk on the surface after 6-8 hours since the installation, but this time varies, based on the material. When it comes to vehicles, you can drive on it or park your car after 12 to 24 hours since the pavement was done.

How Long Does a Driveway Last?

Based on the material, a driveway can last 15-25 years. Some of them, especially those made from durable elements like concrete, can have a lifecycle of up to 30 years. Make sure to choose a contractor that provides a long-term guarantee. It also depends on how you maintain the driveway.

Based on the upkeep, it can last longer, or it may need you to replace it sooner than expected. Still, most driveways, regardless of how they are installed, last between 12 and 20 years.

What Can You Lay Your Driveway on?

Under reasonable conditions, you can safely lay the new material on the existing surface. On the other hand, softer alternatives such as resin-based ones might need a sturdier and smoother base like concrete or asphalt. There is a suitable base that matches each material. Lately, the most popular materials are the permeable ones which come in handy, especially if you live in a rainy area. Also, these are both practical and low-maintenance.

How Much Does a Driveway Cost?

Every project is unique. Therefore, it is individually priced. There are many factors involved like size, materials, location, etc. Nevertheless, the average cost ranges between $3 and $10 per square foot. If you want to remove the old surface and replace it with an entirely new one, the price can start at around $3,500 and reach up to approximately $7,000.

Obviously, if your project is more complex, the driveway area is larger, and the materials are of premium quality, the overall cost will increase. In other words, those driveways that also have decorative elements can have a price of $10,000 or even bigger.

Driveway Improvement Ideas

Things to Consider Before Installation

1. Budget

Your budget is one of the main things to keep in mind when deciding to create a home improvement project. The total cost of a driveway depends on the following elements:

  • The size of the area that needs to be covered;
  • The features of the drainage system and how complex it will be;
  • Any adjacent landscaping;
  • Elements of design like lighting or curbs;
  • The paving material and its quality;
  • Paid assistance, if necessary.

Gravel is the cheapest material, while paving stones are the most expensive option. In between, there’s asphalt and concrete, in this exact order. So, if you’re relying on a shoestring budget, then you should choose to use gravel. You can pay for the driveway with one of the methods listed below:

  • Personal savings – if you have enough funds to cover the expenses of the project, then you shouldn’t take a bank loan;
  • Low-interest credit cards – you can use this method as long as you have good credit;
  • Unsecured personal loans – you can go to a bank, an online personal lender, or a credit union for an unsecured personal loan if you don’t have enough equity;
  • Line of credit – this method or a home equity loan provides an optimal mix of relatively low financing costs and concentrated borrowing power;
  • Other home loans – the most common examples are rehabilitation loans, cash-out refinance, and renovation loans.

2. Local Regulations

Before spending any money in this project, make sure you’re allowed to do it by consulting the local regulations of your municipality. Most of these laws are strict, so don’t expect homeowners’ associations to be forgiving if you fail to follow any of their requests.

3. Maintenance

Your investment doesn’t end after the surface is covered. Once that’s done, you will have to seal the driveway, install a proper drainage system, assure proper maintenance once per every few years, replace broken or damaged stones or pieces of concrete, etc. The upkeep varies a lot based on the material you use. For instance, the easiest to maintain is gravel while asphalt or stone requires you to pay more sustained attention.

4. Aesthetics

This aspect is a combination of the following elements:

  • See what your neighbors have in order to fit with the style of your neighborhood. From what I’ve seen, gravel is the main choice in working-class urban areas while fancy precincts use stone driveways;
  • Decide the proper fit for your house. Brick or stone can     genuinely increase your house’s appeal, but concrete and gravel have better utility;
  • Don’t forget about your personal preferences and taste. Figure out what your “inner designer” wants. If your budget allows it, you can choose whatever material speaks to you.

5. Shape and Dimensions

If you don’t already have a driveway, you must start from scratch, which means you will need a plan and a course of action. When planning, you should consider every aspect of the driveway, such as size or dimensions, shape, materials, additional landscaping elements, the type of soil underneath the driveway, etc.

If you live in a rural area, then you’re lucky because you will be able to choose from a wider variety of patterns or models. Urban residents must comply with the local regulations and the neighborhood’s style.

Driveway Improvement Ideas

Driveway Maintenance – How to Take Good Care of Your Driveway

  • Don’t allow cracks to form and clear the driveway from weeds;
  • Fill cracks immediately to smoothen the surface;
  • Depressions caused by heavy vehicles should constantly be filled as well;
  • Don’t forget to seal the driveway while also filling any existing potholes;
  • Clean the cracks before filling them by using a pressure washer.

How Can You De-Ice Your Driveway? – Simple Ideas

  • Shovel the snow and don’t allow it to cover the driveway;
  • Gently break the ice with the shovel but be careful not to damage the material underneath it;
  • Lay down a deicer if the shovel method doesn’t work. You can purchase deicer bags at the closest hardware store;
  • Choose deicers that are pet-safe and environmentally-friendly;
  • Spread gravel or sand on the driveway to protect yourself against potential accidents or injuries.

Driveway Improvement Ideas – Coming to a Conclusion

Maybe you’re satisfied with the way your house looks as it is now or maybe you think about adding a driveway to it. Either way, this type of addiction usually boosts the overall value of your property. In other words, if you decide to sell your house in the future, you will be able to ask for a higher price. Decide how much you want to invest and what kind of materials or patterns are you more attracted to.

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