SafeStepBlog > 9 Alternative Driveway Materials in 2023

9 Alternative Driveway Materials in 2023

MARCH 16, 2023

When it comes to building or renovating your current driveway, most people opt for asphalt as a driveway material. But did you know that there are plenty of other materials that can make for a more durable and stylish alternative?

In this article, we’ll explore nine decent alternatives to an asphalt driveway that can add a distinctive touch to your home’s curb appeal. From the modern look of concrete pavers to the rustic charm of gravel, these alternative driveway materials are sure to inspire your next home improvement project.

Which Of The Driveway Material Is The Best?

Let’s face it: there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, the choice of the material for your driveway surface should depend on your unique needs and circumstances, such as your budget, the climate in your area, the style of your home, and the amount of vehicle traffic your driveway will receive.

Each alternative material has its own pros and cons, so it’s essential to do your research and consider which factors are most important to you. Whether you’re looking for a low-maintenance option, a long-lasting solution, or a way to make a stylish statement, there’s a driveway material that can meet your specific requirements.

So, let’s delve in and discover the possibilities for your driveway.

9 Alternative Driveway Materials To Consider

While asphalt is a popular choice for driveways with affordability as its main benefit, it may not always be the best option. One of the major drawbacks of asphalt driveways is their tendency to crack and deteriorate over time, especially in extreme weather conditions.

Moreover, asphalt is not the most eco-friendly material, as it is petroleum-based and requires a lot of energy to produce. It also contributes to urban heat island effects, as it absorbs and retains heat from the sun.

So as of today rubber crumb driveways has been becoming more and more popular.

To top it off, asphalt lacks the visual appeal of some alternative driveway materials, such as natural stone or decorative concrete. Below are excellent alternatives to asphalt driveways to help you make a more informed choice.

1. Brick

brick driveways

Brick driveways offer a classic and elegant look that can add a stylish touch to any home. They’re made of clay fired at high temperatures, which results in durable and long-lasting brick pavers.

Pros:

  • A brick driveway is low-maintenance and easy to repair, as individual bricks can be replaced as needed.
  • Brick comes in various colors, shapes, and sizes, allowing for multiple design options.
  • This material provides excellent traction, making it a safer solution for rainy or snowy weather conditions.

Cons:

  • Brick is more expensive to install than other driveway alternatives.
  • Bricks may shift over time, resulting in unevenness and tripping hazards.
  • This type of driveway can be challenging to clean, and weeds may grow between the pieces, requiring regular maintenance.

2. Gravel

gravel

A gravel driveway could be your way to go if you seek driveway alternatives that can offer a natural look and can add a rustic vibe to your home’s exterior. This material is made of small rocks typically laid over a compacted soil base or crushed stone. Gravel is incredibly versatile and comes in a variety of types to suit any taste:

  • crushed stone, or angular gravel, made of crushed and graded rock fragments
  • pea gravel — small stones that resemble peas
  • river rock — naturally shaped stones that are collected from riverbeds or streams
  • jersey shore gravel — gold, yellow, brown, tan, and white stones resembling sand
  • quarry process, made from crushed stone and stone dust fines
  • marble chips, white and sparkling, favored for their aesthetic appeal

Pros:

  • Gravel is more affordable than other materials.
  • It ensures excellent drainage, preventing water buildup and erosion.
  • The material offers good traction, making it a safe option in slippery weather conditions.

Cons:

  • The loose gravel tends to scatter and shift over time, requiring routine maintenance and refills.
  • An average gravel driveway isn’t suitable for heavy traffic areas, as the rocks can dislodge and create potholes.
  • Gravel driveways are difficult to walk or drive on, particularly for those with mobility issues.

3. Tar and chip

Tar and chip driveways belong to the most cost-effective alternative driveway surfaces. They are made by coating a base layer of hot tar with a layer of small stones or gravel and rolling them out into a smooth surface.

Pros:

  • Tar and chip surfacing is more affordable than most other driveway options.
  • It’s durable and can withstand heavy traffic.

Cons:

  • The rough surface can be uncomfortable to walk on and cause damage to tires.
  • Stones are likely to come loose over time, calling for regular maintenance.

4. Concrete

Concrete driveway alternatives are a go-to option due to their durability and long-lasting nature, which makes them a popular choice for parking lots besides asphalt. They are made by pouring a mixture of water, cement, and aggregates, such as sand or crushed stone, into a prepared spot and letting it cure. A concrete driveway can be stamped or stained to create a unique look that complements your home’s exterior. 

Pros:

  • Concrete driveways are durable and long-lasting.
  • They require very little maintenance and are easy to clean.
  • They can be customized through stamping or staining.

Cons:

  • Concrete is prone to cracking, particularly in extreme weather conditions.
  • It’s more expensive to install than some other materials.
  • Concrete offers less traction than other alternative driveway materials, making it potentially hazardous in slippery weather.

5. Recycled materials

Recycled driveway materials are among the most popular driveway alternatives to concrete and asphalt. Recycled materials offer a sustainable and eco-friendly solution for your driveway — they are made by repurposing existing construction materials, reducing the need for new resources, and minimizing waste.

Pros:

  • It’s the most sustainable and eco-friendly option.
  • Recycled materials are more affordable than other driveway alternatives.
  • They’re durable and easy to maintain.

Cons:

  • Recycled materials can be inconsistent in texture and color.
  • They might not be available in some areas.

6. Cobblestone

Cobblestone driveways make for a classic, rustic look that can add irresistible charm to your home’s exterior. They’re made by placing individual stones or bricks in a pattern over a compacted base layer.

Pros:

  • Cobblestone is one of the most durable alternative driveway materials and can withstand heavy traffic.
  • It offers excellent drainage to prevent water buildup.

Cons:

  • Cobblestone driveways are expensive to install.
  • They’re difficult to maintain, with individual stones becoming loose or requiring replacement.
  • The uneven surface can make it difficult to shovel during winter months.

7. Interlocking pavers

Interlocking pavers are frequently chosen as a driveway material due to their versatility, durability, and aesthetic appeal. Paved driveways are made by placing individual concrete or stone pavers in a pattern over a compacted base layer, with sand or gravel filling the gaps between the pavers. Interlocking pavers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing for customization to match your home’s exterior.

Pros:

  • Paver driveways are versatile, with a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors available.
  • They’re durable and can withstand heavy traffic and extreme weather conditions.
  • A paver driveway is relatively easy to maintain with periodic sweeping or power washing.

Cons:

  • It’s more expensive to install than most other alternative driveway materials.
  • Gaps between pavers can become filled with weeds over time, calling for periodic cleaning.
  • A paver driveway may require regular re-leveling if settling or shifting occurs.

8. Permeable pavers

Permeable pavers are designed to let water pass through them rather than to collect on the surface. A permeable driveway is made by placing individual concrete or stone pavers in a pattern over a compacted base layer, with larger gaps between the pavers than traditional interlocking pavers. The gaps are filled with a permeable material, such as gravel or sand, allowing water to seep through and return to the soil below.

Pros:

  • When installed correctly, permeable pavers provide excellent drainage, helping to prevent water runoff and erosion.
  • They’re environmentally friendly, reducing the impact of stormwater runoff on local waterways.
  • They’re customizable, with a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors available.

Cons:

  • A permeable driveway is more expensive to install than traditional interlocking pavers.
  • It requires regular maintenance to ensure the gaps remain permeable and debris-free.
  • It’s unsuitable for heavy traffic areas or areas with high snowfall, as the gaps can become filled with snow or ice.

9. Shell

The last on our list of alternative driveway materials, the shell driveway, is made by placing crushed seashells over a layer of crushed stone or gravel. Such a driveway offers a unique coastal aesthetic and can be a good choice for homes near the beach or in coastal communities.

Pros:

  • It’s a natural, sustainable material abundant in many coastal regions.
  • This highly porous material enables excellent drainage, helping prevent water runoff and erosion.

Cons:

  • This material is more difficult to maintain than other driveway alternatives, as the shells can get displaced or crushed under heavy traffic.
  • A shell driveway requires the periodic addition of fresh shells to avoid giant ruts and maintain its appearance.
  • It’s unsuitable for high snowfall areas, as the shells can become slippery when icy.

What To Consider When Deciding On Driveway Material

When deciding on the best material for your driveway, there are a few key factors to consider.

Cost

One of the prime considerations is cost, as different driveway alternatives can vary widely in price. Still, keep in mind that while some materials are more expensive up front, they may offer greater durability and require less maintenance over time. 

Durability

Durability is another decisive factor, as driveways are subject to heavy wear and tear from vehicles and foot traffic. Given that, you should choose the material that can best meet your unique needs.

Aesthetic

Aesthetic considerations are also vital since your driveway can make or break your home’s appeal, so it’s crucial to choose a material that complements the style and color of your home’s exterior. For example, a cobblestone driveway may be a good choice if you have a traditional home with brick or stone accents. On the other hand, a sleek concrete driveway may be a better fit for a modern minimalist home.

Things Involved In Driveway Maintenance

Once you’ve installed a new driveway, it’s critical to keep up with regular maintenance to ensure its longevity and appearance. Maintenance requirements may vary depending on your chosen material, but there are a few general things to remember.

One of the most important aspects of driveway maintenance is keeping it clean and debris-free. This can involve sweeping or power washing to remove dirt, leaves, and other debris that can accumulate over time.

Sealing your driveway regularly can also help to protect it from damage caused by weather, UV rays, and automotive fluids.

Some materials, such as gravel or interlocking pavers, call for additional maintenance, such as filling in gaps or replacing individual pieces.

Finally, it’s essential to remember the impact of weather on your driveway, especially during the winter months. Timely snow removal is crucial to prevent buildup and minimize the risk of damage to your driveway. You can also consider installing snow-melting technology to make winter maintenance easier and more efficient.

Drainage Systems — Is It Important For Driveways?

The answer is yes. Without proper drainage, water can accumulate on the surface of your driveway, leading to erosion, cracking, and other damage. In addition, standing water can create a slip hazard, which can be especially dangerous in cold months.

Final Words

Selecting the suitable material for your driveway is vital for your home’s curb appeal and functionality. While asphalt has long been a popular choice due to its affordability and durability, there are many alternative driveway materials that offer their unique benefits.

From the timeless look of brick or cobblestone to the eco-friendliness of recycled materials, there are plenty of options to choose from.

When deciding on the best material for your driveway, it’s essential to consider cost, durability, aesthetics, and maintenance requirements.