How to build the perfect driveway. Whether it’s a new build project or an old home update, a quality exterior design is a must. While many people spend a great deal of time thinking about home colors and landscaping. Oftentimes, one very important focal point is often forgotten: the driveway.
The driveway is not only the first entrance to your home, it is the primary method for all vehicle traffic. Choosing the right driveway materials and making sure it is properly constructed is a need that no homeowner should ignore.
Types of driveways (and how they are built)
The earth, when it is not naturally reinforced by the roots, is a weak material and prone to erosion. As such, natural soil is unable to withstand the stresses even the most basic roadways are subjected to. To counteract this, roadways are built with several layers of various materials and supports.
Before building the road’s layers, the ground must be prepared. The most common is that the path is designated, cleared of plants, and excavated.
A common pitfall in this phase is not doing this initial clearing deep enough. Clearings that are too shallow will end up being built on soft soil. This causes problems with drainage, stability, and soil erosion. To avoid this costly mistake, make sure the path is excavated until hard soil or a layer of rock is reached.
At this point, you are ready to begin choosing your foundation materials and additional support.
Pavement types (and costs)
When choosing the right type of road material for you, there are many pros and cons to consider, with budget and longevity being top priorities. Here’s a quick comparison between common road types: gravel, asphalt, concrete, and pavers.
Among all the options, gravel is the most convenient. Materials are easy and affordable to purchase. Furthermore, any necessary maintenance (like filling gaps) can be done with minimal cost, time, and effort.
Additionally, gravel allows water to drain directly into the ground. Good drainage makes this option the least damaging to the environment.
The disadvantages of gravel reflect some of its advantages. For example, although gravel is easy to maintain and fill, it requires more maintenance than any other road. Gravel driveways are highly susceptible to weathering as well as settling. The base of the driveway compacts with time and use. This could mean an overall less uniform surface.
Asphalt is a petroleum-based substance that gives it an interesting set of characteristics to consider. Although more expensive per square foot than gravel, asphalt is much cheaper than concrete or pavers. Also, it is just as durable and has a useful lifespan of up to 40 years.
Unfortunately, asphalt can be quite problematic in certain climates. Extreme heat will cause the asphalt to crack and require regular maintenance.
This is because heat melts the material the asphalt is made of. This causes it to become rubbery and flexible. It then rehardens into a weaker state than when it started. Additionally, asphalt will need a professional sealing coat every 2-5 years, which can be incredibly inconvenient.
Concrete and cobblestone driveways:
Although the materials are related, there are a few differences between concrete and cobblestone driveways. Concrete is a bit more variable as its mix and curing depend on both its builder and the environment.
Cobblestones, however, are manufactured in controlled environments. They are all made in the same way and given ideal conditions to cure.
Aside from this, concrete options tend to be the sturdiest (and most expensive) that can be chosen for a driveway. Although this durability is a selling point, many cannot afford the increased costs when compared to other materials. In addition to high material costs, both cobblestone and concrete driveways are expensive to install. They require many hours of labor and additional material.
Why you have to reinforce roads
Before knowing what geocells are, we must understand why roads must be reinforced. The most common misconception is that because roadways are layered, they are already strong enough to do their job. This may seem logical, but it is not.
To begin with, road materials are not really solid. Driveways are constructed from multiple layers of aggregate stone and compacted sand. For this reason, there are actually small pockets of air throughout the base of the driveway. These are necessary for there to be a way for water to drain back to the ground.
When these gaps close over time and wear, we get what is called a “compacted” layer. This reduces the number of pockets in the substrate and makes it even more difficult to drain water from heavy rains. If the drainage is too severe, the water will begin to pool on the road, causing many problems from the erosion of the material to the collapse of the foundation.
Build a concrete driveway:
If you live in a house without parking, you know the slight inconvenience of having to park on the street, or of having to find a space for your car near your house at peak times. No one should have to walk a block away from their home to find a parking space, especially if they have space on their property for a driveway, carport, or garage.
Although carports and garages are ideal, they usually cost a bit and may not be possible on your lot. The good news is that you can still get secure parking at an affordable cost by building a concrete driveway. Simple concrete driveways are strong, aesthetic, and cost a fraction of the price of garages and carports.
Building a concrete driveway is a surefire remedy for those who want a place to store their boat or an unregistered vehicle, or for anyone who likes the idea of having dedicated parking at home. If this sounds like you, then building a concrete driveway is the affordable parking solution you’ve been looking for.
A simple concrete driveway offers residents an affordable and robust alternative to expensive residential parking options such as a garage or carport. Regular parking for long periods on public roads adds a risk of exposure to your car. Your car risks being scraped from the side or damaged by passing pedestrians.
Coincidentally, the way you park or store your car can also influence your car insurance rate. Depending on the insurer, parking in a designated driveway or garage could lower your bill.