A Gravel driveway is common in residential and commercial settings due to its many advantages to property owners. Gravel has gained so much popularity in the construction industry since it is not only used to build roadways but also real estate.
This type of driveway construction is well known today because they’re cheap and not difficult to maintain. In the countryside, gravel is used chiefly for constructing minor and major roads. Usually, gravel driveways are often linked to concrete garage floors in most residential areas.
But what is a gravel driveway?
The term gravel refers to any loose stone or rock that is smaller than cobble but bigger than sand, with a diameter ranging from 1/10 inch to 2 1/2 inches. Gravel for driveways is mainly a processed product composed of rocks, clay, and sand. This mixture is well compacted to form a sturdy driveway surface.
Gravel is by far the most accessible material to work with when it comes to driveway materials. If you have the time and desire, a gravel driveway can be constructed as a do-it-yourself project. However, before you commit to laying the gravel yourself, you should think about a number of things, such as the right size, how to mark off the driveway area, and so on.
Gravel driveways, when correctly designed, can be less expensive and endure longer than other options for driveway construction. Ultimately, to guarantee that your driveway performs effectively and lasts as long as possible, there is a need to choose the proper gravel for your environment.
Who Is a Gravel Driveway Good For?
Gravel driveways are ideal for residences in rural locations, but they can also be used in urban settings. Besides, since this driveway type is adaptable and overly flexible, they are perfect for property prone to movement or having huge tree roots close to it.
In addition, gravel driveways are generally preferred by large property owners over asphalt or even concrete as they’re more cost-effective to install.
Nevertheless, this driveway type does not perform well for homes that necessitate constant scraping or snow plowing since there is a probability that the plow can scrape up the gravel as well. Before constructing this driveway type in the city, ensure you inquire from your local department the kind of rock to be used because not all gravel is fitted on the particular land meant for the project.
Maintaining a Gravel Driveway
You will need monthly maintenance for gravel driveways more than concrete or asphalt driveways. For maximum utilization, always take care of the gravel driveway, as this will cut down avoidable costs for repairs and replacement.
Try to regrade your gravel driveway at least once annually. However, the number of times you regrade your driveway is dependent on the climate and condition and the number of vehicles plying the road every year.
Even when it is well maintained, grooves, dips, and potholes are prone to cause damage to driveways constructed with gravel. Besides, reckless activities like a rash way of driving cars will make the gravel driveway lose out quickly.
The good news is that even with damages caused by potholes and dips, it can be easily repaired with little effort. Many landlords can effortlessly fill the potholes with extra gravel they have left by using a shovel. And the earlier this is done, the better because the dips and potholes are controlled from getting worse. In a case where there are larger potholes, a bigger implement is used and not a shovel.
Tractor, grader, and bucket are the suitable tools used for regrading. The grader is used to level the surface, extend it, and neatly fit in the gravel.
The major challenge of using gravel driveways is the difficulty that comes with plow or snowblower. As earlier highlighted, the gravel is coarse and doesn’t have a smooth surface, making it really hard to remove dirt, unlike the concrete that can be scrapped without any displacement.
Furthermore, gravel is not winter-friendly, which means regardless of how careful the scraping is done, it is expected to displace during this season. However, a replacement is often recommended to be on the safer side.
How Long Will a Gravel Driveway Last?
The pleasing thing about gravel is that you can regrade and restore it on a regular basis. This means that if it is well maintained, gravel driveways can last for ten decades.
However, asphalt and concrete are difficult to correct or restore when they wear out. They require a considerable amount of money to repair when compared to driveways built with gravel.
How Much Does a Gravel Driveway Cost?
As said earlier, gravel is cost-friendly and can be affordable by any homeowner. It doesn’t have a fixed price, but it ranges from $1 square foot to more than $3 per square foot. The distance the gravel has to be trucked to the project site is a significant factor contributing to the price disparity. Another consideration is the driveway’s thickness; the more thick the driveway, the more the price.
However, no matter the amount, gravel driveways are the cheapest driveways you can ever get.
The Pros and Cons of a Gravel Driveway
There are many advantages of using gravel as a driveway construction and a few drawbacks associated with it. So, whether you are considering replacing your existing driveway or installing a new one with gravel, the following pros and cons will help you with your decision against that next project.
- Cost-friendly: You can easily purchase this material without boring holes in your pockets. It’s a pocket-friendly material which you can always find available. Although it’s pretty cheap, you’ll have to spend a few bucks for the annual maintenance of your driveway.
- Easy Maintenance: You don’t have to go through a lot of hassle to maintain the surfaces of your driveway. If it sinks because of the effect of environmental factors like rainwater or snow, it’s easy to fill up. The nature of gravel makes it accommodate reflowing of water from the ground.
- Diversity of design: Gravel is one of the best bets for the sophisticated design of the exterior structure of your residence. It’s suitable for everyone’s taste, be it classic or modern!
- Easy installation: Within a week, you can construct your driveway using gravel. You don’t have to wait for so long before you can start using your driveway if the construction material is gravel.
- Resistant to weather: Gravel driveways are often unaffected by extreme weather and do not require additional drainage to handle run-off and surface water during severe rainstorms. Besides, if you utilize the highly suggested driveway grids on your drive, you’ll be happy to hear that they’re also porous, allowing water to run down into the ground.
- Water drainage: A gravel driveway also helps with water drainage. It permits the water to escape into the air and drain away into the ground without affecting the driveway.
- Snow and ice removal: The difficulty associated with removing snow and ice is one of the biggest challenges of using gravel for driveway installation. It takes extra effort to remove snow and ice from a gravel driveway when it’s winter season. To make the surface less slippery, you may have to use salt and sand on the driveway surface.
- Formation of ruts: ruts can form on a heavily used gravel driveway, which is unsightly. To keep it looking nice, you’ll need to fill in the ruts on a routine basis. Any driveway constructed with gravel is more likely to develop ruts over time.
- It tends to become dirty: don’t be surprised when you see dust and dirt in the air while driving over this type of driveway. This occurrence mainly takes place during the dry season, and it may make the exterior of your residence dirty. Besides, if not careful, the dust from the driveway can fill up the stuff in your rooms.
Gravel vs. Asphalt Driveway
Both gravel and asphalt driveways have advantages and disadvantages. So, when deciding which driveway option to use, it’s critical to evaluate both.
So, the following are some things you need to know regarding gravel vs. asphalt driveway. The below points will help you make an informed decision about which option to consider for your next project:
- Appearance: A gorgeous, jet-black asphalt driveway has a far more polished esthetic than a gravel driveway. Although some people prefer the rustic look of gravel driveways, the beauty of blacktop is hard to compare.
- Cost of installation: although gravel is less expensive than asphalt, asphalt is still a viable paving option. So, before opting for gravel due to its low cost, consult with your local paving specialist about asphalt and the project cost.
- Durability: both gravel and asphalt driveways can survive for decades if properly maintained. Your local climate determines the lifespan of your asphalt or gravel driveway, but you should expect 10 to 20 years for asphalt and much longer for gravel.
- Snow/Ice suitability: blacktops absorb the sun’s heat, making them a great choice for cold climates. So, asphalt driveways melt hazardous ice and snow faster than gravel driveways.
- Property value: gravel won’t contribute much to the value of your property, but asphalt’s beautiful appearance will.
- Load-carrying capacity: gravel is little more than crushed rock, and we all know how tough rock is. And so, it can withstand daily traffic as well as heavy farm equipment and heavy loads. Gravel is a popular choice when there is much weight in consideration, such as industrial equipment. On the other hand, while asphalt’s flexibility allows it to carry most big loads, such as your municipal garbage truck, heavy loads during periods of extreme cold or heat, it can render your asphalt driveway more vulnerable to damage.
- Roughness on vehicles: gravel driveway is harder to drive on than asphalt. The increased vehicle exertion on gravel vs. asphalt might wear your vehicle and tires out earlier than expected based on how often you use your driveway.
- Displacement: gravel driveways can be displaced by the weight of vehicles and equipment; as a result, raking, shoveling, and grading will be required to replace stone that has been moved off its route. If adequately laid, asphalt, on the other hand, will stay compacted for a long time.
- Washout: gravel isn’t as well-fixed as asphalt; therefore, it will eventually wash away. So, if you don’t want to ruin your driveway after a few strong rainstorms, gravel paving isn’t a suitable option in flood-prone areas.
How to make a gravel driveway
Below are a few of the steps you can follow a gravel driveway:
- Stake out the driveway’s path using landscape stakes with string or wine.
- You ought to clear the topsoil or any grass from the marked-off area to make way for the gravel.
- After you’ve cleared a route for the gravel driveway, you’ll need to figure out how much stone you’ll need.
- Plan gravel delivery and level the soil along the driveway’s path before the first gravel delivery truck arrives at your home.
- You should have the base layer of gravel spread out and compacted
- Proceed to add a middle layer of driveway gravel. In an ideal world, the gravel delivery truck would have this done for you, and whether that is feasible or not, the edge of the gravel driveway will need some TLC first.
- Lastly, add the surface layer of gravel.
As a property owner planning to install a new driveway for your residence or commercial area, gravel is an excellent choice to consider. However, it depends on what you intend to get out of the driveway project.
For example, gravel is your best bet if you need a more viable, affordable, durable, sturdy material. On the other hand, you want a more esthetically pleasing surface that will contribute to your home value, then think asphalt.
In a nutshell, it would be best to consult with your driveway contractor to discuss your need to get informed advice to guide you in your decision.