Photo by Anthony Crider

Update: An important part of making the exterior of your home look good is making sure your driveway is in good condition. Many homeowners spend a lot of time and money making sure their homes are painted regularly and their lawns are well cared for without thinking about one of the biggest features of the front of their property! Driveways suffer from wear and tear the same as any other part of the house so need regular maintenance. This is especially true if you’re looking to sell your home; confronting potential buyers with a cracked, unattractive driveway creates a bad first impression and may blind them to the good features of the rest of the house.

Most homeowners want their property to look good. Your driveway is part of the total appearance of your home and an important part of the “curb appeal” when you are selling your home. The simple fact of life is that driveways need maintenance and, often, repair.

In terms of your landscaping and the external appearance of your home, the condition of your driveway can be an asset or a drawback. Cracked, patched, or rutted driveways are the signs of age and use of the driveways. If your driveway is showing signs of age, or if you are adding a driveway, here are some things to consider.

1. You can refinish a cracked driveway instead of completely replacing it. Whether your driveway is concrete or asphalt, it is likely that it will eventually develop some cracks over the years as a result of weathering and use. You might also see the effects of the ground settling over time or of tree roots reaching under your driveway. Cracks are unsightly, but, more importantly, they create a point of access for water. Water seeping into cracks will erode your concrete or asphalt and cause more damage.

  • Check the concrete or asphalt to be sure it is otherwise sound.
  • If you are not concerned about appearance, you can just fill the crack with concrete or asphalt sealant.
  • If you have ruts or significant wear and tear, and the appearance is not important, you can patch the eroded area.
  • If you want to make the driveway look better, you can probably refinish the area instead of replacing a whole area of concrete or asphalt.
  • If your driveway is asphalt, consider simply applying a new layer of asphalt over the top of the surface or re-sealing with a coating of asphalt sealant or tar.
  • If you are building a new driveway, you can prevent a certain amount of future cracking by placing expansion joints between the sections of concrete. This allows space for expansion and contraction in changing weather. These joints mot only can protect your driveway from cracking, but can also make the driveway look better! Instead of placing the joints across the center, cuse the joints to make the appearance of tile sections or to divide out areas for the walkways beside the cars.

2. You have several options when constructing or replacing a driveway. Whether you are constructing your first driveway or updating your drive and landscaping, there are a number of options in terms of the material you use, the cost of the new driveway, and the final appearance of the property. Your choice will probably be based on initial cost, amount of needed maintenance in the future and its cost, the location of the driveway in relation to trees, drainage paths and the like, as well as the finished appearance you want.

  • If all of the homes in your neighborhood have concrete driveways, you might want to be consistent. If your neighborhood has covenants and rules about the exterior appearance of homes, you might be required to use concrete.
  • Cobblestone and pavers will cost $6 to $13 per square foot to install.
  • Concrete will cost between $5 and $10 per square foot, depending on the amount of preparation (gravel base) needed and whether you choose plain concrete or colored concrete or concrete with aggregate exposed on the top layer.
  • Asphalt will cost $4.00 to $8.00 per square foot, and also needs a concrete base.
  • Crushed rock will cost about $1 per square foot for a 2-inch-thick layer. Crushed rock may be granite, limestone, concrete or shale. In most cases, installing crushed stone is as simple as dumping and spreading it. If you choose crushed stone and want to keep the stone out of surrounding grassy areas, just purchase and install a barrier of brick, landscaping stones or metal.

3. Decorative Pavers are also an option. The varieties of pavers available in home improvement stores have exploded in recent years. Paving brick, cobblestone and other similar materials have been around for a long time. Today, there are simply more options. Why consider pavers for your driveway?

  • They are larger and faster to install than paving bricks.
  • They are easy to replace if damaged.
  • They offer more options in appearance – for example you can buy the colors, designs and patterns you want from the many available choices.
  • Some styles interlock, reducing the amount of work required to install them.

If you are building or replacing a driveway, you will do well to consider all of your options, not only to create the finished appearance you want, but also to save time at installation and to save cost, both initial and maintenance cost.