You probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about your driveway, but maybe you should. It turns out -- like everything in your home -- there are more ways to pave a pathway to your garage than you might think. In fact, different types of driveway surfaces can update your curb appeal and change the whole look of your home. On the other hand, the wrong style could be making your house look drab and dated.
So how do you tell what's right for your home? With this handy guide to types of driveways, of course.
Concrete is the old standby for driveways. Most suburban homes opt for this material for two big reasons: Concrete is typically the longest-lasting driveway surface, and, if installed properly, it is practically maintenance-free. But it isn't all upside. Concrete can stain easily -- if, say, you work on your car in the driveway and you wind up with large puddles of spilled oil. You may also run into problems if you live in a cooler climate and need frequent de-icing, which can break down the concrete.
Cost: $3 to $10 per square foot
The best fit: Concrete works best if you're looking for a low-maintenance option and most other homes in your area are already using concrete.
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Asphalt driveways are a combination of sand, rock, and asphalt cement. Typically, these driveways come in a basic black (like that used on most highways), but we've seen some models stamped with designs to make the driveway stand out. Asphalt is popular because it is cheap to install, but if you go this route, plan on doing some maintenance. The surface is known to crack fairly frequently.
Cost: $2 to $5 per square foot
The best fit: Given the cheaper cost, asphalt works best if you have a large driveway to cover.
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These driveways are made of loose gravel, typically poured into a barrier to keep things contained. Gravel can be a great-looking choice if you have a long, winding country driveway with plenty of landscaping, but what it brings in looks may not be worth it. Because the gravel is loose, things get shaken up easily. Plan on replacing the gravel at least every few years and raking it up frequently.
Cost: $0.75 to $3 per square foot
The best fit: Rural areas or properties with oversize lawns
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Brick driveways have a classic feel (and they should -- brick was used in ancient times). To make the driveway, a base with a solid perimeter is put down and bricks are layered across, similar to how brick homes are made. The result is a timeless look that adds a lot of character to the front of a home, but that character comes with a price. Brick is one of the more expensive surface types, but if it is installed right, it could potentially last for decades.
Cost: $10 to $30 per square foot
The best fit: Upscale neighborhoods and historical areas
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Cobblestone has more of an Old World feel than brick. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an Old World price tag to match. Like brick, a well-installed cobblestone driveway can last for decades and even a little wear and tear will only make it look more detailed and interesting.
Cost: $20 to $70 per square foot
The best fit: Upscale neighborhoods and historical areas, especially if you have a short driveway
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Glass driveways aren't really sheets of glass -- they're more like a mosaic of thick tumbled glass sealed with resin. These driveways have a few pros. For one, most manufacturers use recycled glass, saving it from the landfill (ideal for environmentally conscious homeowners). You'll also have some wiggle room when it comes to color schemes, because different colors of glass can be blended together. If installed right, the driveway won't require much maintenance thanks to the lasting power of resin.
Cost: $8.50 to $18 per square foot
The best fit: Small to average-size driveways
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Another environmentally friendly option, a green driveway comes in two shapes. One is an entire grass surface over a plastic base; the plastic makes the grass safe to drive on and helps the driveway hold its shape. The second option is a grid, typically made from concrete. The grid has small holes that allow grass to peek out, creating a unique look and giving you more green space.
Both options look great but have one big downside: Unlike other driveways, you'll have the added worry of keeping the grass alive. This means added costs and maintenance.
Cost: $4.50 to $8 per square foot
The best fit: Areas where grass grows easily (desert landscapes and hot climates may make it harder to maintain)
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