Driveway TypesDriveways come in a variety of length, width and materials. A driveway can enhance and complement your house boosting its aesthetics and value. It is usually the job of an architect to design and specify the materials to be used in a driveway. Its style and type should be in groove with the style of your house. There would be no point in choosing a material that you prefer if it is not in harmony with the rest of the structure and the landscape.
With this in mind, if you are just about to have you house built, it is best to confer with the architect and the contractor about your preference. If you are about to re-pave or re-do your driveway, choose the material that would best set off the aesthetics of your existing house and its landscape. This is not saying that you throw all cautions to the wind and choose the most expensive material. If cost is an issue, there are ways and means around it.
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The architectural of a driveway is, again, part of the whole design process. The approach depends on the location of the garage or carport or even open parking. More often than not, driveway approach is short and straight to the garage. There are driveways that form a "U" where one end serves as the entry and the other end as exit. There are circular driveways too where the driveway is in perfectly in radius with exit and entry points at each ends like the "U" driveway. If you are lucky enough to have a big estate then your driveway could be long and straight or long and full of curves not to mention that driveway could have different elevation or a slightly rolling terrain.
Things to Consider when Choosing the Driveway Material
To keep it simple and short, here are the things to consider when choosing the right type of driveway for your house.
- Consider the general design of your house. If your house is large and has one of those Neo-Victorian period designs, surely an asphalt or gravel driveway would fit right.
- Consider your budget. Don't insist on a material that is way over your league. Choose the one that would go with the house design and that which you could afford.
- Consider the terrain or the elevation of the driveway. If your driveway is on a steep climb you can't choose loose gravel as driveway material for they be displaced every time rains.
- If you plan on doing the job yourself, make sure you know how. It would be such a waste of time and money if you can't do and finish what you started on.
Different Types of Driveways
There are not many choices when it comes to materials for the driveway. However, the limited material choices are good enough to answer the needs of different types and styles of structures.
Plain concrete is a very cost effective way to do your driveway. The downside is plain concrete is "plain". The gray and hard look of concrete will not do justice to your Neo-Mediterranean house. However, today there are master masons who can actually make your poured concrete look quite spiffy. Colour additives are put into the concrete mix while being mixed. The colour pigment is added to the concrete mix that even if chipping occurs, the colour is ingrained to the concrete. There is a whole wide range of choices: cobalt blue, terra cotta, Spanish gold, brick red, plum, pewter and more. You can even order custom-made pigments if you want. You can "stamp" or "texture" your plain pigmented concrete to make it more interesting.
This maybe one of the cheapest way to pave your driveway. It's a misconception that asphalt is an insubstantial material. Properly laid out and maintained an asphalt driveway could last up to 20 years. An asphalt driveway is perfect for houses located in cold weather as it will not break down when exposed to ice or salt. It might not be the best choice for houses in warmer climates and where there is a lot of rain for asphalt tends to breakdown in the hot sun and softens in too much rain. The secret in having a long-lasting asphalt driveway is to have a thick base course of gravel. Asphalt driveways need not be boring black as it can now be stained and stamped. You might also consider tar and chips for it's basically like asphalt but coloured stones are used to give the finished asphalt driveway a different colour. This material is best for long and winding driveways.
A gravel driveway or natural stone driveway could give your landscaping a general rustic look. This is best used for long driveways out in the country where you won't have to worry about loose gravel hitting other cars or people as your drive out of your garage. This is not a good material too for driveways that are inclined for the loose gravel will have the tendency to slide down a wet slope. The best way to lay down a gravel driveway is to start with fist-sized gravel as first base course, then the next layer is gravel that golf-ball-sized and then the top layer about the size of a thumbnail. The larger two under courses will make a good foundation to support traffic.
Block Paving Driveway
Brick is the natural choice for pavers. Paved roads dating back centuries are still intact and usable proving that brick paving is the most durable of driveway material. If a block breaks, then it's easy enough to change the busted piece. The downside of brick paving is that it's quite expensive and time consuming to do. However, if you have the resources for a brick driveway, why not?
See to it that the base course of any driveway material is well laid out and compacted. Any driveway material will be for naught if the foundation course is weak.