Almost all homeowners want their property to look beautiful, both inside and outside. The driveway is just one of the many amenities of your home and plays an important part of the “curb appeal” if you are planning to sell it. The condition of your driveway can either be an asset or drawback. Flaws such as cracks, patches or ruts, can make your driveway look old or unkempt. If this describes your driveway, or if you simply want to add a new one, then here are some things that you might want to consider.

Check first to determine whether your driveway is otherwise sound. Cracks can be filled with concrete or asphalt sealant if you are not meticulous about the appearance, as the patch will probably not match the driveway exactly. Likewise, if there are ruts or flaws brought by wear and tear, patch up the eroded area. However, if the overall appearance of the driveway matters to you, consider refinishing the entire area. For driveways made of asphalt, you can apply a new layer of asphalt or re-seal it with asphalt sealant or tar.

If you would rather replace your driveway or are creating a driveway where there was not one previously, you have several options. In evaluating the options, consider:

  • the initial cost,
  • the frequency and cost of future maintenance,
  • the location of the driveway in relation to existing trees,
  • the drainage in your yard, and
  • the appearance of the various driveway materials.

The cost of materials varies. Installing cobblestones and pavers in your driveways will cost you roughly $6 to $13 per square foot. Concrete, on the other hand, will cost you between $5 and $10, varying with the amount of preparation needed and your choice among plain concrete, colored concrete, or concrete with exposed aggregate. Asphalt costs less, at only $4 to $8 per square foot. Another choice is crushed rock, costing you about 1$ per square foot for every 2-inch-thick layer.

In terms of materials, if all the driveways in your neighborhood are made of concrete, you might want to match them. Your neighborhood may even have covenants that specify a specific material for your driveway. If you use concrete for your driveway, place expansion joints between the sections of concrete to help prevent cracking. Expansion joints provide a space for expansion and contraction during weather changes. Aside from protecting your driveway from cracks, these joints will also make your driveway look better. You can use these joints decoratively to make the driveway look as if it is made of tile, or to visually separate a walkway from the parking area.

Another choice is decorative pavers. The use of pavers has exploded in the recent years, since they are readily available from home improvement stores and offer an visually stimulating alternative to concrete. Paving bricks, cobblestones, and other similar materials have been used for some time, though a greater variety of pavers is now available.

The advantages of using pavers includes:

  • the interlocking style reduces the installation requirements,
  • there is a greater variety in appearance,
  • they are easy to replace when damaged, and
  • and they are larger and faster to install.

Crushed rock driveways are usually granite, limestone, concrete, or shale. Installing this type of driveway typically involves dumping the rock and spreading it around. If you want to keep it out of the grassy area, you could use a barrier of brick, landscaping stones, or metal.

If you are constructing or replacing a driveway, you will get the best result if you consider all your options, considering not only the appearance, but also both the initial cost of installation and future maintenance costs.