Are you building a new home, renovating your existing home, or just looking for a little more curb appeal? The driveway, front door, fences, lawn, and landscaping are the most important elements of your home’s curb appeal. When selecting the best driveway materials for your driveway, you must balance function with appearance and factor in maintenance requirements too.
For our Long Island climate, PALERMO PAVING recommends the following driveway materials.
You are probably familiar with asphalt as a material for building roads. But asphalt makes a sturdy and attractive driveway as well.
Asphalt is created by combining aggregate (a mixture of small pebbles and stone) with hot bitumen. Bitumen is made from crude oil. It binds the aggregate together to create a strong and flexible smooth surface.
Site preparation is key for a lasting asphalt driveway. The surface must be graded for proper drainage and the sub-base compacted for stability.
Asphalt Driveway Maintenance
Asphalt maintenance is simple. Remove ice and snow to prevent accumulation in the winter. Every other year, apply a sealcoat to protect the asphalt surface, prevent moisture intrusion, and restore the lustrous black finish.
Pros and Cons of Asphalt for Driveways
In the pro column, asphalt is one of the best driveway materials for our climate. It is winter-hardy and is much less likely to be damaged by salt and snowmelt materials. It is one of the least expensive driveway materials and can be used in just a few days after it is installed.
On the con side, it requires sealcoating every other year and is only available in black. Because it is flexible, it is more prone to damage from tree roots.
Concrete driveways are popular with people seeking a hard surface driveway that will last for many years.
Like asphalt, concrete is made by mixing an aggregate with a binder. But instead of bitumen, dry-powdered Portland cement is used as the binder. The strength of the concrete depends on the expertise of the company mixing the concrete, so make sure to hire a company with experience pouring concrete specifically for driveways.
Concrete is an extremely durable building material, and a concrete driveway can last 30 to 40 years. It may be left smooth or can be stamped, stained, or finished in a variety of patterns.
Maintenance of Concrete Driveways
Concrete driveways require little maintenance. In the winter, use calcium chloride to control ice and snow (regular salt damages concrete). Every 3 to 5 years, a waterproofing topcoat should be applied to protect from moisture damage.
Pros and Cons of Concrete
On the positive side, concrete is hard and extremely durable. It is more expensive than asphalt but lasts much longer making it very affordable over the life of the driveway. Because it is strong, you can park heavy vehicles such as motor homes without fear of cracking.
On the downside, you must be careful about the products you use to combat snow and ice. If you do not keep the concrete sealed, it is easily stained and damaged by leaking automotive fluids. Concrete requires time to harden. You cannot drive on a concrete driveway for at least the first 48 hours, and it takes up to a week for concrete to gain 70% of its strength.
Oil and Stone
Oil and stone are popular materials for Long Island driveways because they provide exceptional traction in wintery conditions. Oil and stone driveways look like gravel driveways, but instead of loose gravel, the aggregate is held together with oil.
Like asphalt, surface preparation is key. In addition to proper drainage, the subbase must be properly compacted before the first layer of oil is applied. This creates a strong foundation for a lasting driveway.
Maintaining Oil and Stone Driveways
Oil and stone require more maintenance than asphalt or concrete driveways. Because some aggregate will loosen, it requires periodic re-raking and top dressing. If installed on a slope, you may lose aggregate as water drains. Weeds and other plants can push through oil and stone, so they must be removed immediately.
Pros and Cons of Oil and Stone
There are many positive benefits of oil and stone driveways. To begin, they cost much less than asphalt and concrete driveways, making them an affordable choice for Long Island driveways. You have your choice of aggregate color, so the driveway can be decorative as well as functional.
On the con side, care must be taken when plowing or shoveling the surface. The blade must not come in contact or aggregate will be removed along with snow and ice. In addition, oil and stone driveways do not have a long lifespan.
Other Driveway Materials to Consider
In addition to asphalt, concrete, and oil and stone driveways you may consider driveways made of brick or cobblestone pavers. These materials create a lovely driveway, but they aren’t as practical as the other materials for our climate.
Brick and cobblestone pavers are more expensive to install, don’t last as many years, and are difficult to clear of ice and snow. These materials are susceptible to heaving damage from our freeze and thaw cycles each year. In addition to repairing heave damage, you’ll need to seal bricks and cobblestones each year.