When it comes to driveways, there are many options to choose from. Gravel and asphalt are two of the most popular materials. Each has its own set of pros and cons that you should consider before making a decision.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at both gravel and asphalt driveways so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for your home in Somerset County.
What Is the Main Difference Between Having Gravel and Asphalt Driveways?
The main difference between gravel and asphalt is that gravel is a loose material made of small rocks, while asphalt is a solid, dense material. Asphalt driveways are made by mixing aggregate (crushed stone, sand, and bitumen), which is then compacted to form a solid surface. Gravel driveways are simply created by excavating the ground and spreading gravel over the area.
Another noteworthy difference is that an asphalt driveway is much easier to keep clean than a gravel driveway. This is primarily because gravel can easily be displaced by wind or rain and can end up on your lawn or in your flower beds.
Meanwhile, gravel driveways are much cheaper to install than asphalt driveways. Gravel is also more eco-friendly than asphalt because it is made from natural materials.
To add, gravel driveways offer better drainage than asphalt driveways. Gravel allows water to seep through, while asphalt can cause water to pool on the surface. This is especially important in areas with high rainfall or flooding.
Gravel driveways are also easier to repair than asphalt driveways. If a pothole or crack develops, you can simply fill it with more gravel. With asphalt, you will need to patch the area and then compact it again.
In terms of life span, asphalt driveways can last up to 20 years, while gravel driveways can last up to 30 years.
Pros of Having a Gravel Driveway
Easy to Maintain
Many property owners agree that a gravel driveway is generally easy to maintain. It should be noted, though, that gravel may sink due to rainwater, snow and other types of precipitation. So, you may need to fill these sunken areas several times a year to keep your driveway looking pristine.
Gravel is simple to install since it’s a loose mixture of tiny stones. Laying a gravel driveway can be done in just a matter of hours. However, the stones need to settle for a week or two before they are compacted.
Gravel is easy on the pocket. It is one of the most affordable surface materials available, especially for homes with long access roads. Basically, the cost of installing a gravel driveway is cheaper compared to other types of driveways like concrete. However, top-dressing the gravel is usually necessary after a few years.
Gravel can be a good choice if you’re looking for a natural look for your driveway. It may enhance the beauty of your outdoor landscape considerably more than other materials, depending on the design of your home. Furthermore, gravel comes in a variety of styles, so you’re sure to find one that complements your house.
Gravel is more eco-friendly than asphalt because it is made from natural materials. Moreover, since gravel is permeable, it is an environmentally friendly product that allows the replenishment of groundwater.
Other advantages are:
- Gravel driveways can last up to 30 years.
- Gravel allows water to seep through, which helps with drainage.
- Gravel is easy to repair.
Pros of Having an Asphalt Driveway
Asphalt is one of the most durable materials for driveways. It is hard and strong and can withstand the elements, including extreme heat and cold, as well as heavy traffic. Extreme weather conditions are no match for the tensile strength provided by asphalt.
Easy to Clean and Maintain
The surface of an asphalt driveway is easy to clean. It is relatively low maintenance compared to other types of driveways. It does not need to be painted or sealed as it does not fade or chip easily.
Low Maintenance Costs
Asphalt requires little upkeep. So, you won’t have to pay for repairs or replacements as often as you would with other materials like concrete or stone.
Asphalt pavements are more cost-effective than concrete or paver surfaces. They have a more industrial look and appeal, yet they are still less expensive than concrete or paver drives. Plus, they last many years.
Asphalt driveway construction costs between $5 and $7 per square foot. This is more than gravel but less than many other choices. However, asphalt driveway costs can go up when oil prices are high since asphalt is oil-based.
Long Service Life
The lifespan of asphalt is quite long. Depending on the installation, weather, usage, and other factors, an asphalt driveway can endure for 20 years. The more you care for it, the longer it will last.
Other advantages are:
- Asphalt driveways are less likely to develop potholes and cracks over time.
- Asphalt is a solid, dense material that is less likely to be displaced by wind or rain.
- Asphalt is less likely to be damaged by freezing and thawing cycles.
Cons of Having a Gravel Driveway
Difficult to Remove Snow
The difficulty of snow and ice removal is a major disadvantage of using gravel driveways (particularly in New Jersey).
Ploughing or shovelling can disturb and displace the rocks. Salt or sand applied over the snow and stone might often be the only answer to make the surface slip-free.
Ruts and Sinkholes Easily Develop
Gravel driveways that are frequently used are susceptible to ruts. In case you didn’t know, ruts are depressions on the surface that must be filled for the area to maintain its smooth appearance.
Produce More Dust and Dirt
Driving over a gravel driveway may generate dust, debris, and mud – especially in the summer months. These things can end up in your yard or adjacent spaces and make your home’s exterior filthy.
Require Regular Maintenance
Gravel is easily displaced by wind or rain and can end up on your lawn or flower beds. This means that you would have to clean your driveway and adjacent areas regularly.
Moreover, the gravel in the driveway will shift over time and may even become uneven or move out of place. So, you will need to check on your driveway on a regular basis to make sure that no large rocks are getting into the way of traffic and that no small rocks have shifted out of place.
Other disadvantages to consider are:
- Gravel driveways are not as smooth as asphalt driveways.
- Removing weeds needs to be done regularly.
- Gravel is not as eco-friendly as other driveway materials.
Cons of Having an Asphalt Driveway
Limited Design and Color
If style and color are essential factors in your exterior landscape, an asphalt-paved driveway may pose certain challenges. Although it looks great with most homes, you have no other option in terms of color and tone except black.
Regular Maintenance Required
It is recommended that property owners sweep and power wash their asphalt driveway at least twice a year to remove dirt and debris thoroughly. The pavement’s seal coating must be renewed every three to five years. Meanwhile, cracks and gaps should be repaired immediately to prevent them from worsening.
May Not Withstand Extreme Heat
During extremely high temperatures, the driveway can get damaged. This is because asphalt becomes soft and pliable when exposed to scorching heat. As a result, indentations and scratches may form.
Asphalt driveway repairs can be costly, around $400 to $1,200. To add, asphalt driveways must be resealed every few years to prevent damage from the elements. Depending on the size of the driveway, sealing may cost anywhere between $350 to $700.
Other disadvantages to consider are:
- Asphalt is a petroleum product, which means it is not eco-friendly.
- Asphalt driveways are more susceptible to damage from freezing and thawing cycles.
- Asphalt driveways can develop cracks over time.
As you can see, there are both pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to install a gravel or asphalt driveway in Somerset County, New Jersey. Weigh the benefits of each option to determine which is best for your home.
When choosing, you should also consider the following:
- cost of material and installation
- soil type where the driveway is to be installed
- climate, specifically what is the water table in your land
- what you aesthetically like
- what level of usage it is likely to get
So, which is the best material for your driveway? The answer to that question depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you are looking for a durable, long-lasting driveway, then asphalt may be the better option. However, if you are looking for a more affordable option, gravel may be the right choice for you.
Are you choosing between a gravel or asphalt driveway? Let us help you pick the perfect driveway material for your home. Contact us today at +1 732 402 7902 or click here to get a free quotation.