Alternative Driveway Materials

A driveway that is well-kept and beautifully designed sets the tone for every other aspect of your home. Such a driveway offers visitors and neighbors a pleasant first impression; it says much about you and your home. 

So, whether you are installing a new driveway or repaving an existing one, choosing the right material is vital. 

The material you choose for your driveway should be appealing and long-lasting because your driveway will experience vehicle traffic nearly every day and requires you to stand up to oil drips, tire marks, and other stresses.

What are the available driveway materials?

There are wide ranges of driveway finishes and materials available to suit your design preferences, the lifetime you plan to have out of the driveway as well as how much upkeep you are prepared to devote. The list of driveway materials includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Asphalt
  • Concrete
  • Gravel
  • Tar and chip
  • Brick
  • Pavers
  • Permeable Pavers
  • Shell
  • Pervious Concrete
  • Cobblestone
  • Tarmac
The newly asphalt driveway with sunny weather.

So, which of the driveway materials is the best?

Many will depend on your preferences and situations. There are a couple of alternatives from which to choose; admittedly, each has its benefits and drawbacks regarding price, longevity, aesthetic appeal, and sustainability. 

For instance, some people will prefer gravel, while others will desire asphalt, and the same applies to every driveway material alternative we have on our list. All serve a useful purpose, but some will obviously be more desirable to you and your personal tastes and requirements.

The most common driveway materials

The two most common driveway materials used by many homeowners are asphalt and concrete.


Asphalt paved driveways are quite common, offering a long-lasting surface for parking your vehicles. Correctly designed asphalt paved driveways have an average lifespan of around thirty or even more years. It is, of course, mostly the preference for the public, municipal areas. 

Nevertheless, it can be a very inexpensive option for household environments, too. In high temperatures, asphalt functions well, rapidly melting snow and withstanding the sun effects. 

Aesthetically, the product is somewhat less attractive than those referenced above, but its life expectancy (up to 30 years) is lengthy, and maintenance is simple

Asphalt paved driveway or parking lots would need to be resealed after a few years of installation, so maintenance costs ought to be considered as well.


Concrete is a tough, durable driveway material alternative and can be finished in a remarkable variety of ways. When it comes to longevity and versatility, concrete is tops. 

Concrete is one of the alternative driveway materials that does not only readily move water it also tends to stay cool when exposed to the heat of the sun. The material is made up of varying sorts of stone aggregate held together by a lime-based binder and water; concrete creates a comfortable, stable, and secure base that offers resistance well in any climate and needs little to no maintenance. 

Nonetheless, there are some downsides connected with this material. Staining can be a concern, as can the cracking, which rogue tree roots and freezing conditions may trigger.

A gravel driveway that surrounded by plants and trees.

Alternative driveway materials to consider 

There are a couple of driveway material alternatives available for your consideration when preparing for your new driveway project. The list includes but not limited to:

  • Gravel
  • Tar and chip
  • Brick
  • Pavers
  • Permeable Pavers
  • Shell
  • Pervious Concrete
  • Cobblestone


Gravel driveways are very common all over the United States, and it is by far one of the least expensive driveway material alternatives, costing so little to install. The average gravel driveway is made up of angular, hard gravel placed throughout the driveway. 

While loose gravel can appear to shift, over time, away from your driveway due to traffic, this can be addressed by merely raking up the loose gravel and reapplying it now and then to your driveway. 

Although it cost a few dollars for initial gravel driveway installation, the ongoing maintenance needs are high, and it is not the best option for snowy areas.


  • Gravel driveways look incredible, winding up along route via the landscape to a home set back from the road.
  • Gravel driveway does not require frequent repair, only maintenance, compared to other alternative driveway materials.
  • There won’t be much ice that can build up on the driveway in the winter, leaving it very safe and secure to drive on.
  • There is less risk that gravel will be driven out into the yard, with an obstacle along the edges of the driveway.


  • It requires replacement every few years, making it a very costly driveway to maintain.
  • The gravel would have to be raked regularly, ensuring it is uniformly spread out so that there are no low points in the driveway.
  • Although gravel driveways initially look great, over time, they will wear and look dirty and untidy.
  • Though ice is not going to build up, It will tend to be challenging to have snow removed.

Tar and chip

An economical option to asphalt paving is tar and chip driveways. Even so, this driveway’s appearance may not be as pleasing and smooth as other paved driveways.

The tar and chip driveway surface can be improved using colored stones, although these stones can loosen with time. This driveway type can be repaved for almost half the price of an asphalt driveway and needs little maintenance. 

It doesn’t require sealing, and less heat will be absorbed by the lighter color, making it more convenient to walk on during hot weather.


  • This sort of driveway can be built right on top of the current driveway, as long as it is in reasonably good shape.
  • Various stones and colors can be utilized to build a distinctive driveway and complement the home’s exterior.
  • This material generally costs less than other  alternative driveway materials 
  • It is a perfect choice for homes that get a ton of ice and snow due to the surface’s noticeable rugged texture.


  • The tar and chip surface will only last for around 10 years at most before it becomes appropriate to add an extra layer of stones and tar.
  • Finding a professional who can build this kind of driveway can be very hard. Implying that you will need to pay more for labor cost than you might for other driveway options
A worker busy for the installation of bricks driveway


Brick driveways provide a timeless appearance that easily complements conventional styles of architecture. They are are designed from compacted clay and are used in driveways, patios, walkways, and roads. 

Brick pavers come with a smoother surface than bricks that are used for wall construction. They are devoid of holes like wall bricks, making the pavers tougher and more appropriate for use with hardscape. 


  • Brick driveways can significantly increase the curb appeal of a home when appropriately built and then maintained regularly.
  • There are varieties of colors and hues of bricks that homeowners can choose to fit the exterior of their home and the landscaping.
  • Brick driveways will last over 2 decades when appropriately built.


  • Maintaining this type of driveway can take lots of time and be costly, but this is important to keep the brick driveway looking at its finest. Besides that, ground frost can even make the driveway heave and buckle.
  • A brick driveway is very costly to install in a home. This driveway material is more costly than other alternative driveway materials, taking a long time to have the project completed.

Interlocking Pavers

Usually, interlocking pavers are composed of concrete or cement and shaped so that they can interlock with the same form as other pavers. This also makes their installation simpler without the use of mortar. 

The interlocking pavers mimic cobblestone paths’ appearance and can be manufactured with patterns and color schemes to produce unique and customized effects.


  • Pavers come in all shapes, types, and colors, and they can easily be laid in a variety of patterns to make your driveway as stunning as it is special.
  • There is very little maintenance needed for this type of driveway.
  • Paver driveway will usually last for 30-40 years since the pavers interlock and are very flexible but solid.
  • With paver driveways, all types of homes look fantastic.
  • Some ardent DIY homeowners can install a paver driveway, but most individuals opt for a professional to guarantee no issues in the long run.


  • It can be very expensive to install a paver driveway as the driveway is laid by hand and the materials used are so solid.
  • If not properly mounted, then the interlocking pavers will not be as solid, resulting in buckling and shifting issues for homeowners.
  • Owing to wind and water replacing it, the sand between the pavers may have to be replaced periodically.
  • If they’ve not been laid correctly, weeds may grow between the pavers.
A beautiful permeable driveway with plants

Permeable Pavers

This is another type of alternative driveway materials paving system that is porous, allowing water to penetrate the surface and flow beneath into the soil or sub-base rock. These paving systems are as efficient and robust as standard paving materials like asphalt, concrete, or compressed gravel.

Permeable pavements typically have a reservoir filled with gravel or rock under it to retain the water that flows through. The water kept in this reservoir may be released slowly into the storm drain system if the soil does not let the water absorb in or it soaks in relatively slowly.


  • This driveway type is less likely to be affected by severe weather causing damage.
  • It prevents water from pooling on the driveway in low spots
  • This type of driveway allows air and water to reach the ground below, helping the trees grow as their roots will be more healthy.
  • It will bring to the driveway a great deal of visual appeal.
  • They come in a range of choices that can be chosen to fit the rest of your home’s appearance. 


  • A very sloppy area is not ideal for permeable pavers as they will become even less efficient whenever the slope is 20 percent or more.
  • They usually cost more to get installed.
  • Ice on the pavers’ surface will chip off and damage the driveway’s appearance and structure.
  • This type of driveway requires frequent sweeping to ensure its clean surface.


Shells are used as excellent alternative driveway materials across the world. They split into smaller parts that scatter equally as the shells are stepped on or driven over, providing a solid surface that is not susceptible to the holes and ruts you get with crushed stone toppings.

A natural crushed-shell driveway is typically very cost-effective and can be quite beautiful. This kind of driveway, which offers excellent drainage, is an eco-friendly option as long as the shells are sustainably sourced.


  • Affordable
  • Visually appealing
  • Provides outstanding drainage and prevents water runoff
  • Natural product
  • Durable
  • Won’t crack or break, needing repairs
  • Light colors imply cooler surface in hot weather conditions
  • Low maintenance


  • They are the rough surface that is not friendly or comfortable for barefoot, bikes, trikes, and other toys and activities on the smooth surface
  • Not a decent cover for steep drives or paths
  • Difficult for snow removal
  • Not readily accessible in all regions, and it may be costly to ship
A beautiful and peace home with clean concrete driveway.

Pervious Concrete

Pervious concrete is a paving system for both pathways, driveway, parking lots, and more. It consists of thickly covered aggregate particles with an air-trained water paste and cement, consisting of very little or no sand to improve its permeability. 

These concrete systems let snowmelt and rainwater spontaneously and efficiently settle back into the soil since they are carefully built with patterned structures.


  • Pervious concrete reduces the concern of puddles, muds, holes, and loose tiles.
  • Natural rainfall collection gets back to the soil and recharges the groundwater, minimizing runoff and erosion of the soil,
  • Alternative driveway materials like Pervious concrete prevent stormwater buildup, reducing the need for swales, water retention ponds, or related installations.
  • Sidewalks and roads made of permeable concrete are open to individuals who use mobility aids.


  • It requires lots of time to cure
  • It is not a DIY installation option
  • Pervious concrete is more costly than other options for hardscape, patio, hardscape, and garden route.
  • Permeable concrete appears to require daily sweeping and periodic pressure-washing to remove dust or plant growth that may clog the pavement.


Cobblestones are small blocks of material paving manufactured from natural stone. They are a common alternative for a wide variety of outdoor applications, including driveways, parking lots, etc., and can take control of the overall design and layout.


  • They are very durable
  • They add to home value
  • Water-permeable surface
  • Attractive “old-World” aesthetic appeal


  • The material is costly, hence expensive to install
  • The installation is labor-intensive
  • They have a rough, uneven surface
  • Removing snow from the surface is difficult
  • Weeds tend to grow in cracks


Tarmac (short for tarmacadam) is created when a granular stone or aggregate coating is covered and mixed with tar. This combination is placed and then compressed, using a vibrating roller to form a smooth finish.


  • It is durable when installed correctly
  • It is easy to repair
  • Quick and easy to install
  • It requires low maintenance


  • Weeds, moss, and algae can grow on driveway surfaces made with Tarmac
  • Tarmac surface can deteriorate under UV light, leading to crack and potholes
  • Alternative driveway materials such as Tarmac is susceptible to damage from diesel or petrol spills
The road is under construction for installation of new asphalt.

What to keep in mind when deciding on a materials

The following are the things you should consider when deciding on materials for your driveway project:

  • Cost
  • Aesthetic
  • Durability


Some paving alternatives are more costly than others, but if you have a limited budget, that doesn’t mean that you can’t build your driveway. You ought to set your budget first prior to everything else. Ascertain the amount you can spend on the pavement, and you will determine what material you are going to use from there.


Do you want a driveway paving that provides a curb appeal? Then, you have to choose a material that is going to stand out. You have to question yourself what you want to accomplish with your new driveway and take into account a couple of points, however. 

Evaluate yourself to determine if you would like your driveway to look different from the rest in your neighborhood. Do you prefer, or do you want a lavish design, something basic and neat but exquisite? 

All of these should be considered, and your selection will rely on your personal needs and desires.


Durability must be taken into consideration when selecting the material for your driveway. The majority of materials are designed to be durable, but it also relies on the use of your driveway. Will you park your car on it for long periods? Is the driveway going to experience lots of foot traffic? Determining all these will help you choose the correct alternative driveway materials for your next driveway project.

What are the things involved in driveway maintenance?

Upkeep of driveways can involve, among other things:

A worker busy for digging to clean a water drainage for driveway

Is Installing drainage systems on the driveway important?

Drainage systems on your driveway and landscape can help preserve your driveway’s surface integrity, leading to a long-lasting option with sustainable characteristics. You will improve your investment’s longevity and value by avoiding water and residue runoff to fragile areas or dangerous locations.

When you install a professional drainage system for stormwater at your property, it also enhances pedestrians’ safety. Besides, a good drainage system prevents the degradation of your driveway surface and maximizes your investment’s sustainability and lifespan.


When planning a driveway project, it is crucial to select the right material that would work best for you. There are a couple of choices available for you to decide, with each alternative having its pros and drawbacks regarding durability, price, eco-friendliness, and aesthetics.

It is also necessary to consider your budget and what you would expect from your driveway before deciding. This will guide you in choosing the correct option that would suit your preference and needs.

Furthermore, you can contact a professional paving contractor and discuss your needs with them to analyze your requirements and driveways and advise you on the alternatives you can opt for.