Deciding which type of material to use on your driveway can be overwhelming. Every type of driveway has pros and cons, and you need to know what they are to make an informed decision.
When choosing between gravel and concrete driveways, deciding which is best for you will be a matter of knowing what it costs to install a driveway, how long it will last, and what maintenance is required. Both types of driveways are excellent choices, but it’s a big decision to make and one that can last a lifetime.
The Costs: Gravel vs. Concrete Driveways
Installing a gravel driveway is considerably less expensive than installing a concrete one. Even a plain, gray concrete driveway costs between $5 and $7 per square foot, and the average cost to install a gravel driveway is less than $3 per square foot.
Of course, the fancier you get with both types of materials, the more it will cost, but generally speaking, it is much cheaper to install a gravel driveway. The average cost to install a gravel driveway is about $1500, but it can be as low as $300 for a small driveway.
There is no comparison between a high-end gravel driveway and a beautifully crafted concrete driveway. Still, you might not even consider gravel if you can afford a hand-designed concrete driveway, which costs about $18 per square foot.
Maintenance: Gravel vs. Concrete Driveways
Many people consider the initial cost of installing a driveway as the deciding factor, which may be short-sighted. Considering a driveway can last 50-100 years, the initial cost is relatively low compared to the upkeep costs.
Even though it is often overlooked, maintenance is one of the most critical factors in deciding what type of driveway to install. While a concrete driveway requires little care beyond cleaning and filling cracks, gravel driveways need annual maintenance.
Because gravel driveways tend to develop potholes, you may need to grade your driveway yearly, which can be expensive. Gravel shifts and can be difficult to snowplow, too, and weeds are a big problem with gravel driveways. However, with a skid steer grader, you can grade your driveway like a professional and solve all your gravel maintenance issues.
Quickly and easily attach a 6’ or 7’ grader attachment to your equipment and scrape weeds and flatten areas with potholes. You will save money when you use your own equipment, and it will pay for itself in a few years. Skid steer grader attachments also work well for gravel parking lots.
Durability: Gravel vs. Concrete Driveways
Both gravel and concrete driveways are durable and can last for decades. When properly maintained, a concrete driveway can last 50 years or more, and a gravel driveway can last even longer.
On average, most concrete driveways last about 25-30 years before they need significant repairs or replacement. You can increase the longevity of your concrete driveway by taking proper care of it, but how long it lasts is more likely a factor in the conditions in your area. Heavy freezing and thawing cycles can damage a concrete driveway, and you don’t have control over that.
A gravel driveway can last up to 100 years with proper maintenance, but it is also vulnerable to the freezing and thawing cycles that affect concrete driveways. Over the last few decades, there have been innovations in the installation of gravel driveways, such as filter fabrics and plastic grid systems, which make them easier to maintain.
Curb Appeal: Gravel vs. Concrete Driveways
Curb appeal is important, and driveways are the essence of curb appeal. Whether gravel or concrete looks better depends on your home and location. In some areas, a concrete driveway would seem very out of place, and there are some locations where gravel driveways violate neighborhood covenants.
Both gravel and concrete driveways can be enhanced with borders and edging, such as flower beds, bricks, or pavers. Gravel driveways that utilize a low stone wall can help keep the gravel off the adjoining lawns, and concrete driveways can benefit from inlaid stone patterns on the edges to enhance curb appeal.
You can also choose from several different colors regarding concrete and gravel. Concrete can be stamped, stained, and sealed to produce various textures and designs to match any home. On the other hand, gravel is available in several earth tones, such as black, gray, red, and white.
With gravel and concrete driveways, you can achieve the look and style you want. The only limitation is your imagination.
Conclusion: Gravel vs. Concrete Driveways
No matter which type of driveway material you choose, both concrete and gravel are excellent choices. They are long-lasting driveway materials, and even though gravel requires slightly more maintenance than concrete, it is significantly less expensive to install. To choose, you need to consider several factors, including the weather in your location and the style you want to achieve.