First impressions count, and the state of a driveway can make or break when it comes to that important initial impact.
A driveway that’s showing signs of wear and tear does nothing to enhance the look or value of a property. Choosing the surface that’s best suited to the site, blends harmoniously with the house and garden, and gives the greatest value for your dollar, is essential.
Above all, a driveway needs to be functional – easy to navigate with simple access to and from the garage and an effortless flow between the driveway, house, and garden.
Other considerations may include drainage, edging systems, retaining walls or fences, adjacent trees that can cause soil movements, and the effect any proposed planting will have. Working with a reliable and recommended contractor will ensure you’re on the right path.
Concrete is typically used to provide a durable surface sloped to ensure water run-off; it can also incorporate a wide range of decorative finishes to complement the design and landscaping of a home.
Providing a concrete driveway is relatively straightforward, and an exposed aggregate finish is almost the default option for residential driveways, says Adam Leach of the Cement and Concrete Association.
But, he says, there are design and construction aspects that need to be considered in order to produce a finished product that is both functional and satisfies the aesthetic requirements of the homeowners.
As well as considerations already mentioned, the choice of surface finish (colour, aggregate type, etc), strength and thickness, and correct preparation and construction need to be taken into account, he says.
Concrete is getting a makeover as homeowners pay greater attention to landscaping when renovating. Coloured concrete is popular and Adam states there are many options available to ensure a rich, consistent and durable colour.
“Residential concrete driveways remain a very cost-effective option compared to alternatives, more so when the concrete driveways long-life is considered. There are, however, many variables in addition to the actual size of the driveway, which can influence the cost.”
For a typical residential driveway, on an accessible site, an indicative price would be around $200+ per m2, installed. Get more in-depth prices in How Much Does a Concrete Driveway Cost?
From $200 per square metre.
Concrete pavers offer a low-maintenance driveway solution reminiscent of centuries-old flagstones but with all the features demanded by today’s homeowners.
Paving specialists highlight the greater strength and safety of pavers plus a range of different colours, shapes and sizes; from small cobble-sized units to larger flagstone pavers, allowing for more stylish options to suit your home design and landscape.
Cracking is not an issue with pavers and, should access be needed to underground services, it’s a case of simply lifting them. Check with your supplier that the aggregate system is one that deters weeds and ants and that the pavers have a sealed finish that inhibits the growth of moss and algae.
Firth offers a range of sizes and styles, from the Holland Set which is designed to give you the look of traditional cobblestone, to the Holland and slightly larger Walkway pavers which also give you a range of popular colour choices. With a 50mm or 80mm depth to suit the project requirements, the angled, ‘Low Chamfer’ edging helps to reduce paver breakage and damage, helping your pavers look better for longer.
Concrete pavers also come in permeable and pervious options designed to allow rainwater to travel between individual pavers into a storage medium, something that’s being specified in areas where runoff from existing hard surfaces in extreme rainfall events causes overloading of stormwater systems.
The Firth EcoPave range of permeable pavers provides an excellent solution for stormwater management recognised by the council, and under the proposed unitary plan, with the Firth FlowPave paver offering the highest permeability rate of 3600mm/hr, as installed.
The EcoPave system is made up of Permeable Pavers overlaying a storage medium consisting of Firth EnviroMix concrete or a specifically designed drainage aggregate.
Geotextiles are used to separate the storage area from the bedding layer and the sub-grade. Together these elements create a highly functional system of permeability, without compromising on aesthetics. Permeable paving must be laid by trained paviours, and Firth offers free training on how to lay permeable pavers.
Premier pavers range in price from $300 per m2.
CCANZ has a number of leaflets available on its website explaining the design and construction of residential concrete driveways.
From $300 per square metre, installed.
Asphalt offers homeowners a number of advantages, says Graeme Wheeler at City Pavements. These include a ‘softer’ look and ride; cost is usually less than other options; and, providing it is worn rather than badly cracked, asphalt can be repaired or resurfaced more readily. Asphalt also contours more easily than most other mediums.
“A good asphalt surface will give upwards of 15 years of life before needing resurfacing. Money spent during the preparation stage will determine the life of the surface.”
However, he says, it’s not an ideal surface where there is an excessive grade or very tight vehicle manoeuvring – and, like the famous Model T, asphalt only comes in black.
“But we’re seeing a trend towards using granite and bluestone edging and strips, breaking the seal area into panels. While it adds to the cost, it does look effective.”
Recycled asphalt is also an option; one that’s popular for long rural driveways and it costs less.
As far as costs are concerned, Graeme says asphalt and concrete are ‘very similar’. The cost is in the excavation, removal of spoil, base course and any curbing or edging detail involved. A typical asphalt driveway installation would typically be in the vicinity of $150+ per m2, plus GST.
From $150 per square metre, installed.
Gravel may be an oldie but it’s still a goodie, as a low-maintenance driveway option, particularly for DIY homeowners. There’s no sealing involved, although over time it may be necessary to add additional gravel to ensure an even surface. This will depend largely on the choice of gravel, the amount of drainage, and how often it’s used.
Again preparation is key. The depth excavated will depend on the type of usage – family cars or heavy vehicles – and it’s also important that the base is clean and weed-free. Avoid stones that are too small as they move out of place more readily; too big and they can be difficult to walk on. Larger stones, typically 10mm to 20mm, will compact more tightly.
A new range of landscape products is solving the problem of stones scattering. Natural Paving is a honeycomb matting designed to stabilise pebbles and provide a driveway that’s permeable and practical, says account manager Justin Annerau.
It’s very versatile and best suited to 8 to 14 mm pebbles, with vehicle grade able to take loads well in excess of 100 tonne. “Adding edging will further contain the pebbles and give a visual border to the area, separating it from the surroundings.”
Vehicle grade natural paving mats are available through selected landscape supply yards, e.g. Natual Paving.
Cost of gravel depends on the size of stones, but installations generally cost around $140 per m2.
Geography also plays a part; beautiful South Island stones will obviously cost more when shipped north.
From $140 per square metre, installed.
For further guidance on the costs, duration and style of driveway installations - check out these recently completed driveway installations.
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