10 Driveway Terms You Should Know

Kristi Pahr
Written by Kristi Pahr
Updated December 22, 2021
home with cobble stone driveway
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

There’s a lot going on under your driveway’s surface

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Your driveway may seem like a big concrete slab, but believe it or not, it has a lot of components. Don’t take your driveway for “granite”—familiarize yourself with all the terminology you need to understand how complex your driveway actually is. Doing so will help you understand when to repair or replace your driveway and appreciate how deceptively simple it is. 

Driveway Terminology

You might be surprised to find out that there are names for pretty much every part of your driveway, from the road to the house and from the ground to the surface. A lot goes into a quality driveway, so here’s the driveway terminology you should know in case anything ever goes wrong.

Driveway Materials and Construction

home with asphalt driveway
Photo: pics721 / Adobe Stock

1. Asphalt 

Asphalt is a paving material created from aggregate minerals cemented together with asphalt cement. This type of material sets over crushed stone, slag, gravel, brick, paving blocks, or Portland cement concrete.

This will allow the asphalt to bond to the pre-existing surface for more desired results and a longer life for the paved area.

2. Aggregate

Aggregate is crushed stone used as a sub-base for concrete, cement, or asphalt driveways. The stone provides the necessary surface area for the top material to adhere to and forms a stable base for driveway materials.

3. Compaction

The process involves compressing soil and paving materials to reduce or remove air voids. This process creates a more structurally stable surface when compacted and aids in preventing premature damage to the completed paved surface.

Compaction requires large industrial equipment, which can place tremendous amounts of pressure to release trapped air.

4. Cement

Not to be confused with concrete, cement is a mixture created using various chemicals and Portland lime. This material is usually purchased in a dry form and mixed with water.

When the cement is spread out and allowed to dry, it creates a hard material with a strong density level.

5. Concrete

curb appeal home with concrete driveway
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock

Concrete is a paving and construction material created by mixing cement, sand, and crushed stone with water. When hardened, concrete will not break down under the pressures of driving or walking over the surface.

6. Pavers

Pavers are small, artificial blocks of stone, clay, or cement that form the driveway’s surface. They are placed in an interlocking pattern to increase strength and durability and increase visual appeal.

Driveway Parts

7. Apron

curb appeal apron driveway
Photo: ThomBal / Adobe Stock

The driveway apron is the section of the driveway that meets the street. This section can comprise the same material as the driveway itself or, for some added charm, if you have a cement or concrete driveway, pavers or paver mats work just fine.

8. Curb Cut

The curb cut is the section of your driveway where the curb ends, and apron access begins.

9. End slopes

Also called the curb return, these sections are located on either side of the driveway apron and cover the elevation change between the curb and the driveway surface. 

10. Trench Drain

An elongated tube or basin built into a driveway that diverts water away from a structure. Trench drains often sit in front of garage doors and other entrances.

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