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What’s the Best Driveway Material? – Types, Options and Cheapest

Your driveway will have plenty of work to do over the coming years. We know everyone has a budget to stick to, but it’s important not to skimp too much. With cars rolling on and off daily, you want your new driveway installation to last. Below we look at the best driveway surfaces that you can have installed this year.

There are many things that will affect your new driveway installation, such as how big it is or how much do you need to maintain it.

We will also show you the most common driveways and how to find out the average price for the type of surface you want.

Below we’ve linked to the best driveway materials in the UK and what you can expect to pay.

Driveway Materials are Expensive

A driveway is a significant investment for most UK homeowners, so it’s important to know what your options are before you start looking for quotes.

A new drive can provide an attractive entrance to your property and will increase the value of your home appreciably. 

The type of surface you choose depends on many factors, including budget, durability, practicality and attractiveness.

The driveway of a house can be one of the most overlooked features that a homeowner has to decide on.

Most homeowners do not know how much driveway installers charge and what options to choose for surface type.

Fortunately, we are here to help you with this decision by discussing the different types of driveways.

We will also show you some examples so that you can compare your options!

The Cheapest Type of Driveway

If you are on a budget or selling your home and you want a save money, then the option below is not only the quickest but is easily the best for people on a budget.

Gravel Driveways

Our gravel driveway cost page breaks down prices clearly but below is a summary.

A gravel driveway is relatively cheap due to the low-priced materials and minimal labour time required for installation. These driveway surfaces have a very long lifespan of around 25 years if regularly maintained during this time – so not too expensive overall! 

You can expect to pay around £40 – £50 per square metre for this type of driveway material. That would include:

  • Excavation of old driveway surface
  • Skips and waste
  • Base-work and associated aggregates
  • Weed control fabrics
  • The stones themselves

Pros And Cons

The pros are the cheapness, attractiveness, and quick installation times, a major plus.

The downside is no matter how well installed this driveway is, you can expect weeds and moss growth. Not from underneath but from airborne seeds nestling in the stones. 

Block Paving Driveways

Our block paving driveway cost page breaks down prices clearly but below is a summary.

Also known as brick paving, block paving represents an affordable and durable option for homeowners to update their driveway. Prices can vary depending on the size, shape and location of your new block paved driveway.

With the average install starting from as little as £70 per square metre, they are a great way to add a fantastic hard standing area to your home for less than you may think! What’s more, with so many different colours and styles available, your driveway is sure to be one of a kind.

Pros And Cons

The pros and cons of block driveways are that they are very durable, easy to keep clean, and relatively inexpensive compared with other materials.

However, the main drawback is that these driveways do not provide a good grip for vehicles during wet weather conditions. Without sealing, you can also expect weeds to be a frequent visitor. 

Concrete Driveways

The overall expense of concrete driveways falls in the mid to high-end range. With the existing driveway removed, a new sub-base installed, and an all-new surface poured.

Alternatively, you could opt for a resurface, which involves pouring concrete over the existing driveway. This has its drawbacks and you must ensure there is no damage to the bottom layer as this will result in cracks or an uneven finish.

Pros And Cons

The pros are that it is extremely hard wearing and can last for decades; it’s easy to install and requires minimal maintenance.

However, this driveway type has some disadvantages; concrete can suffer from cold damage and is not resistant to oil stains, so you need to apply a sealant. Drainage also needs to be taken into consideration as concrete is only porous, not permeable.

Imprinted Concrete Driveways

Our imprinted concrete driveway cost page breaks down prices clearly below here is a summary.

You may know concrete can be dyed in different colours, but did you know it can also be patterned. An imprinted driveway looks fantastic and is often used as an alternative to more expensive driveway options.

It boasts a host of benefits, being durable and weed resistant as well as improving the kerb appeal of your home.

The materials themselves are relatively cheap; however, it isn’t a simple job. The labour will significantly increase per square metre as it takes longer than the average concrete block driveway.

A ballpark figure for an average driveway would be between £4000 to £6000, but of course, this depends on which professional installers you choose and any additional expense such as needing driveway foundations, the hire of specialist tools such as a compaction plate or digger and a drainage system.

Pros And Cons

This has all the same benefits as regular concrete but has a more pleasing aesthetic, as there are endless patterns from herringbone and wood grain to a cobble effect.

Obviously, the more complicated the design, the more your driveway construction will be. You also need to avoid parking on it until the concrete blocks have cured which takes at least 1-2 weeks. 

Tarmac Driveways

Our tar driveway cost page breaks down prices clearly but below is a summary.

One of the most popular driveway materials in the UK, a tarmac or asphalt driveway cost is less per square metre than other driveways on this list; it’s easy to install and is ideal for large driveways.

Typically around £60m2 but expect another £1000 to be added if you need foundations. There are extra driveway maintenance expenses to consider, such as applying a sealant if you want it to last.

Pros And Cons

This is a fantastic option for a durable driveway, which is low maintenance. You can also resurface your existing driveway with tarmac, which generally will set you back £40 per m2. It’s quick and easy to install and looks stylish, especially when laying edging stones.

The disadvantages are that it’s a messy business installing a tarmac driveway; they require regular sealing, do not last as long as some other options, and are the least environmentally friendly option for a replacement driveway.

Resin Driveways

Our resin driveway page breaks down prices per m2 clearly but here is a summary.

These driveways are a great way to give your home that modern, clean look. They have many practical qualities, such as being easily maintained and offering durability in all types of weather conditions.

However, the money involved in having a resin driveway installed can mount up, especially for a large driveway project. You can expect to pay around £70m2, more if excavation work is needed or a drainage system needs adding, for example, if laying on top of an existing driveway.

Pros And Cons

One of the main advantages is that they are permeable and SUDS compliant, making them an environmentally friendly option; plus, there are lots of styles to choose from and they are suitable for drives on an incline.

Some negatives are the initial outlay and the quality can vary depending on which driveway contractors you choose. If the mix isn’t correct, it can result in cracking. Also, they are not really suitable for heavy vehicles. 

Cobblestone Driveways

Our Cobblestone driveway cost page here breaks down prices clearly but here is a summary.

Cobblestone driveways are a popular option for adding the traditional and authentic look of stones without sacrificing durability.

They are pricey, though, so they are better for a small driveway. You can expect to pay between £20-£50 m2 for the cobbles themselves and roughly £80-£140 total, per metre square, for installation, more if you need to hire a skip and mini digger you may also need a sub-base and weed membrane.

Then there’s the pattern, if you want a complex design, the job will naturally take longer and the project outlay will increase.

Pros And Cons

They look charming, especially with older style properties, are weather-resistant, stain-resistant and can last a lifetime. However, they do have some disadvantages; they do not provide a flat surface, weeds can be a problem without regular driveway maintenance. As we’ve mentioned, the average driveway installation is expensive. 

Other Factors to Consider with a New Driveway Installation

Adequate Drainage

Some driveway materials are porous, but if you are building a driveway over 5m2 and the surface isn’t porous, you will need a drainage system. 

Access

Whatever driveway you have installed the materials will need to be delivered and if access is tricky, this may also be an additional problem you need to factor in.

Gradient

The slope of your drive may also impact driveway prices, areas may need to be built up or more materials used.

Driveway Gate

Gates provide security and privacy. Whether you opt for wrought iron, traditional hardwood or fancy electric gates, it will increase the final bill significantly.

Manhole Covers

An ugly manhole cover can completely ruin the look of your driveway; a metal tray system allows the manhole cover to be filled with your choice of driveway material, creating a seamless, professional finish. However, this is another thing that bumps up the price. The best option is a recessed manhole cover; these are between £40 – £50 each to buy and around £200 to install.

Additional Labour

One of the most important things when installing a new driveway is ensuring that you prepare your ground. This will be between £15 and 20 per square meter, depending on how much needs to be done. You also need to factor in hiring any specialist equipment such as a digger and skip hire.

Drop Kerb

If you’re building a brand new driveway, make sure to factor in kerbside drops. This will involve lowering them so that cars can park safely on your property and get out easily with no issues when needed- if it’s located on the main road, then planning permission may be required by the local council beforehand.

It’s expensive to drop kerbs, with the average job being around £300. However, this will depend on how many you need and what depth they are lowered at; so it could be quite a bit more

Do I need Planning Permission for a New Driveway?

A new drive should not require planning permission, as long as it’s made of permeable materials (which most driveways in the UK are). However, if you do need planning permission, expect to fork out around £200

Will a New Driveway Increase My Homes Value?

Answering this question is not easy. The short answer: maybe

Replacing your old driveway with one of equal size will not increase the value of your house. If you live in an area without much off-street parking available, the value-added will almost always exceed the outlay.

On top of providing more space for cars, adding another spot by increasing its width can also add value. See this guide on does a new driveway add value to a house, where we explain in depth the sort of value increase you can expect and whether the upfront money is worth it in the long run.

Last Word

Conclusion paragraph: We have analysed the best driveway material types and resurfacing options to give you a clear idea of what will work for your household.

Take our advice on which surfaces are most durable, cost-effective, environmentally friendly or aesthetically pleasing.

You can also find out about different materials like concrete pavers, asphalt driveways and decorative bricks before deciding on your next home improvement project!

Choose wisely with these tips in mind when looking into the best type of driveway material that suits your needs. The time is now to get started planning for this exterior update that may end up being one of the smartest investments you make.