Discover the Best Material for Steep Driveways

Discover the Best Material for Steep Driveways

Setting your home on high ground just makes sense. Building on a hill affords better views, provides better access to the breeze, and removes the risk of flooding from local streets. But elevated homes require steep driveways.

Steep driveways present their own set of challenges when it comes to picking a driveway paving material.  You want a surface that is durable, drains well, and is suitable for all-season use.

Here are the materials to avoid and the best materials for steep driveways on Long Island. 

Problems Posed by Steep Driveways

Steep driveways pose unique problems all year long. In snowy and icy conditions, pulling in and backing out of a driveway with a 12% grade can be quite dangerous. You need a driveway material that provides maximum traction and is still easy to shovel or plow.

When designing a steep driveway, you may want to consider a circular drive, for safer entrance and exit in snowy seasons. Parking pads next to the garage and driveway not only add additional parking but also provide a way to turn around and drive down the steep driveway, instead of backing out.

Steep driveways also require a gradual slope or transition area at the base. This makes for an easier shift to the roadway for the car and a safer intersection with pedestrian walkways. 

In addition to driving considerations, drainage can also be a problem with a steep driveway. Unless your driveway is graded properly it won’t drain correctly. When it rains, water can run in rivulets and streams down the surface of the driveway or next to the driveway. Either way, erosion is the result. 

Materials to Avoid

Long Island homeowners have quite a few options when it comes to paving materials for driveways. Our climate allows for the use of many driveway paving materials. However, not all of them are well-suited for use in paving a steep driveway.

PALERMO PAVING recommends blacktop, and avoiding oil and stone.

Oil and Stone

The steep slope of your driveway poses a challenge oil and stone can’t overcome – gravity. Even though oil binds the stone, and the stone is compacted, it isn’t enough to overcome gravity. 

During rainfall, storm runoff will dislodge stones and wash them away. What may start as just a few stones here and there grows to larger bare spots. 

Also, in the winter months when you need the most traction, you’ll find it difficult to shovel or plow an oil and stone driveway. 


Concrete is a great option for many Long Island driveways. However, it isn’t one of the best materials for a steep driveway.

The surface of the concrete is smooth and hard. That makes it difficult to get up the driveway in snowy conditions, even with four-wheel drive. And backing or driving down a snow-covered driveway that is steep is perilous. 


Gravel is a popular paving option for Long Island driveways. It is low cost and low maintenance. However, it is low reliability when installed on steep driveways. Like oil and stone, gravel can’t resist gravity. The stones will continue to tumble down the slope and eventually the paving material will gather at the base of your driveway. In addition, stormwater run-off is even more damaging to a gravel driveway than oil and stone. 

Best Materials for Steep Driveways

The best materials for steep driveways offer a surface that’s easy and safe to drive on in all seasons. It sheds water from rain and can be safely plowed when it snows.  It should also require minimal maintenance to keep it structurally sound and looking good. 

The best material for steep driveways on Long Island is asphalt. Asphalt looks good and performs great on steep slopes. Even if your driveway has a long, steep slope asphalt will provide traction, drainage, and a safe surface for driving all months of the year. 

Benefits of asphalt for steep driveways

Asphalt offers a safe surface for driving in the winter. Unlike concrete which can be damaged by chemical snow melting agents, asphalt stands up to salt and calcium chloride. 

A steep asphalt driveway can be plowed or shoveled without the danger of damaging the surface. 

While the surface of an asphalt driveway looks smooth, it actually provides better traction than a concrete driveway. 

When the driveway bed is properly prepared, stormwater drainage doesn’t affect the driveway and runoff won’t wash the paving materials away.

About the Author PALERMO PAVING

PALERMO PAVING is a family-owned-and-operated Long Island paving company. As such, we have a vested interest in our work. This translates into your paving project being done correctly and professionally. We pride ourselves in our expertise in paving, as well as our dedication to honesty and treating all customers with the care they deserve.

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