The 5 Best Driveway Materials and How to Pick the Best One for You

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated January 17, 2022
grey and beige house with concrete driveway
Photo: Iriana Shiyan/ Adobe Stock

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Your driveway’s design should never be an afterthought. Choosing the right material for the look of your home and your city’s climate can boost your curb appeal and make the segue from home to street elegant and eye-catching. 

Here are the best materials for a driveway and the factors you should consider before committing to one.

1. Concrete

beige home with concrete driveway
Photo: Steve Holderfield/ Adobe Stock

A concrete driveway is durable and cost-effective. You can use this material to design a driveway in virtually any location, as it stands up well against harsh weather conditions. However, you should note that it can crack in extremely cold environments. Select a simple, traditional driveway design or choose colors, patterns, and texture to make things more interesting. 

As for drawbacks, oil, grease, tire marks, and more can leave stains, so expect to power wash your driveway often. A concrete driveway will cost you $8 to $18 per square foot and should last you 40 years.

2. Asphalt

brick home with asphalt driveway
Photo: pics721/ Adobe Stock

Asphalt is a great option for those who live in colder climates and are on a tight budget, as it only costs $7 to $13 per square foot. It’s relatively affordable, and its dark color retains heat, helping snow to melt quickly. 

We don’t recommend it if you live in a warmer place, as it softens when temperatures rise, sticking to shoes and tires. It will last approximately 15 to 20 years, but an asphalt driveway contractor must seal it every three to five years.

3. Bricks or Pavers

white house with brick paver driveway
Photo: Photographee.eu/ Adobe Stock

Costing an average of $10 to $50 per square foot, pavers come in a variety of colors and styles, and you can arrange them in an endless array of patterns, giving your driveway extra flare (and boosting your curb appeal). 

Besides brick, they are commonly made from materials such as natural stone, marble, and cobblestone. They are easy to maintain, as you can replace pavers individually instead of redoing the entire driveway, and they can last as long as 50 years. 

That said, because there are more individual pieces required to complete a driveway, paver installation can take a long time, the labor costs can be higher than other materials listed here, and weeds can grow between the cracks.

4. Gravel

brick home with gravel driveway
jeremy45510/ Adobe Stock

Virtually indestructible, gravel can last 100 years or more. Over time, however, you might find some of it scattered onto your lawn or in other places, it isn’t supposed to be and will need to top or level it off to maintain your driveway. 

It’s a very affordable option, coming in at $1 to $3 per square foot, and you can purchase it in different colors to create unique designs. It’s a natural material, making it a good choice for those concerned about environmental impact, but it isn’t right if you live in a snowy region as it’s very difficult to clear the powder off.

5. Turf

entrance with turf driveway
Photo: Monteleone/ Adobe Stock

A little of Column A mixed with a little of Column B, a turf driveway pairs pavers with grass. Turf pavers are designed in such a way to leave gaps, often in decorative shapes, where grass can grow. Turf doesn’t fare well in places with a lot of snow or drought, and it will need to be watered regularly, just like a lawn. A turf driveway is a sustainable option and will cost you $10 to $15 per square foot.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Driveway Material

Now that you’ve learned more about the materials themselves, you can narrow down your perfect driveway material further based on your biggest priorities. Consider these important factors before making your final decision.

Style

Which material will look best and pair well with your home’s design? Some materials, such as pavers or turf, offer many design options, while others like concrete are more limited.

Maintenance

If you want to set it and mostly forget it, concrete is a solid low-maintenance option. The beauty of turf is alluring, but it will require frequent watering and grass care. Decide how much maintenance time you’re willing to commit to your driveway.

Price

If you’re on a budget, you might be somewhat limited in your options. Gravel, asphalt, and concrete are some of the most affordable options.

Climate

Some driveway materials are not suitable for the cold, and some get sticky or uncomfortable under the summer sun. Select a material that will withstand the harsh temperatures you experience in your neck of the woods.

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