What are the Different Types of Driveway Surfaces?

Jeri Sullivan

Driveway surfaces can add to the value of a property and improve the overall aesthetics. If incorporated as part of the landscaping, the driveway should be unobtrusive and blend in with the surrounding environment. Types of driveway surfaces include concrete, pavers, solid surface, gravel, and crushed stone.

Moss growing between cobblestones on a driveway.
Moss growing between cobblestones on a driveway.

Concrete driveway surfaces are poured in a solid slab with joints spaced several feet apart. The joints are to allow for expansion and prevent cracking. The least expensive option is usually traditional gray, which does not have any tint added. For a more decorative concrete, colors can be added to the mix before the slab is poured or decorative patterns are stamped into the concrete once it is poured but while it is still wet. For exposed aggregate surface concrete, gravel or pebbles are added to the surface before the poured concrete is set to create a textured instead of solid surface.

Some driveways are made of concrete.
Some driveways are made of concrete.

Pavers are another choice for driveway surfaces and can be made of concrete, brick, or natural stone. Concrete pavers are often the least expensive paver option and are available in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Brick pavers are a traditional choice and are still seen in many historic towns as street pavers. Natural stone is usually the most expensive option and can be either cobblestone or slate paving. Due to the expense, this option is often used for front walkways or patios instead of entire driveway surfaces.

Water may seep into an asphalt surface and cause the asphalt to crack.
Water may seep into an asphalt surface and cause the asphalt to crack.

Solid driveway surfaces, such as asphalt, are one of the more common driveway paving options. Asphalt only comes in black and must be sealed. If a sealant is not used, water can seep into the asphalt and freeze. The expansion caused by the frozen water can cause the asphalt to crack and break.

Interlocking pavers are generally ideal for use in driveways.
Interlocking pavers are generally ideal for use in driveways.

Gravel is also an inexpensive option for creating driveway surfaces. Often used for long driveways or for large parking areas, gravel is a surface of loose stones over a solid base. Gravel comes in many colors and sizes and allows water to run off into the ground instead of holding puddles on the driveway surface.

Crushed stone is similar to gravel in that it is loose stone over a solid base. It is different because gravel is larger stones that form an uneven surface. Crushed stone surfaces are made of much smaller stones that form a more solid surface than gravel. Crushed stones come in a variety of colors and can be either moderately or finely crushed.

Crushed gravel may be used as decorative gravel to fill driveways and walkways.
Crushed gravel may be used as decorative gravel to fill driveways and walkways.

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Discussion Comments


You can also use resin bound paving for your driveway. There are many suppliers of the product with varying terms of their guarantees.

The plus side to resin bound paving is that it is also permeable to will comply with the suds regulations and negates the need for planning permission.


@ GlassAxe- Another option for a blacktop driveway is to use recycled asphalt millings. Asphalt millings are not as environmentally friendly as crushed rock because they still must be sealed with tar or diesel, but they are recycled. The application process is as easy as any other aggregate driveway, but you should lay the millings on a hot spring or summer day. You want the sun to bake the petroleum into the rolled asphalt millings to create a strong, flexible surface.


@ GenevaMech- For those who are looking for an environmentally friendly permeable driveway surface, they should consider crushed recycled concrete. You can buy the crushed concrete with fine particles mixed in, and lay the stone down just as you said. The best part is you are re-using industrial waste to make a driveway that will last for years.


When working with alternative driveway surfaces, it is important to understand how different materials react to different conditions. A proper driveway should always be dug down and have large gravel or crushed stone for a base.

In climates where homeowners must have their driveways plowed, top layers of loose gravel are worthless. The plow blades will just push the gravel around, leaving a huge mess in the spring.

Staymat or crushed stone with fines should be rolled on top of the gravel layer. The jagged edges of crushed stone will allow the aggregate to pack better than the round shape of gravel. The fine dust mixed in with the stone will act as cement, creating a hard, smooth surface. If you want, you can add a thin layer of crushed stone or pea gravel to the top of the crushed stone mix to control dust.

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