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Asphalt vs Gravel Driveway (Comparison Guide)

See the differences between asphalt vs gravel driveway including durability, cost, maintenance, and which is better to use for your home.
country estate gates with asphalt and gravel driveway Driveways are more than passageways for vehicles entering and exiting the house. These oft-overlooked home elements can also impact the property’s curb appeal, increasing its resale value if one wants to put it in the market.

Unfortunately, choosing between asphalt vs gravel driveway can be intimidating for first-time homeowners. This article will help homeowners decide which driveway construction they would like to have in their homes.

Differences Between Asphalt Vs Gravel

There are no striking similarities between asphalt and gravel driveways, except budget-friendly alternatives to concrete pathways. However, choosing between the two requires an understanding of each option’s offerings and downsides.

Asphalt Driveways

The principal advantage of asphalt driveways is their refined look, turning any property into a stunning masterpiece on the curb. It is the perfect choice for houses connected by paved blacktops, creating a seamless continuity.

beautiful house with asphalt driveway leading to three car garage The beauty asphalt driveway imparts to the home can increase the property’s overall value.

With proper care and maintenance, asphalt overlays can last more than two decades. However, it is the perfect solution for people living in snowy and icy regions. Asphalt has excellent sunlight absorption properties, allowing it to melt ice buildup quicker than any other driveway material.  

Unfortunately, asphalt driveways are not ideal for homes in tropical climates. Intense heat can loosen the asphalt bonds, making them prone to damage. They also require more maintenance than gravel driveways.

Gravel Driveways

Having gravel blanketing the driveway is like having a rustic foreground to one’s property. It is not as refined and beautiful as asphalt driveways, but gravel can still add a touch of natural beauty to the home.

country mansion house with wrought iron gates and gravel drive Its main advantage is its affordability, both in installation and maintenance. Installation is as straightforward as dumping a truckload of gravel and leveling it to create a drivable surface. 

It is also more robust than asphalt, eliminating damage to the driveway. One can move a semi-truck, and the platform will never budge.

Unfortunately, gravel driveways are not ideal for homes prone to flooding. Rainwater or flood water can wash out individual pebbles because they lack the security of a bonding element. 

Vehicles and foot traffic can also displace the gravel. If one is not careful in driving the vehicle, gravel driveways can require more power from the automobile.

Asphalt Vs Gravel Driveway Durability

Homeowners will want a driveway that lasts them their lifetime to minimize maintenance and repair costs. Thankfully, both asphalt and gravel driveways are durable options.

How Long Does an Asphalt Driveway Last?

residential home with asphalt driveway surrounded with grass and trees

On average, asphalt driveways can last two decades or more, depending on installation quality, usage, and maintenance regimen observed. Poor-quality installation can reduce the driveway’s longevity by several years. 

Driving heavy-duty vehicles on the asphalt driveway every day can also impact asphalt’s durability.

The most important factor in an asphalt driveway’s durability is maintenance. While it is excellent for snowy and icy conditions, asphalt does not do well with water damage. 

That is why the correct drainage is necessary to prevent water from damaging the asphalt driveway.

Should cracks occur, one must fill it with an appropriate substrate immediately. Homeowners must also apply a regular coating of sealcoat, protecting the driveway from oxidation.

How Long Does a Gravel Driveway Last?

A gravel driveway can last up to a century., barring unforeseen circumstances.  Gravel is impervious to the elements, including frost heave and seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. 

big brown house fronting gravel yard with trees on the side It is hassle-free to repair and replenish, allowing homeowners to continue enjoying its many benefits for many generations.

Asphalt Vs Gravel Driveway Cost

In general, gravel driveways are more affordable than asphalt. However, both options are more economical than brick pavers or concrete driveways

The average cost of installing a gravel driveway is about two to five dollars per square foot if one seeks to employ contractors. Homeowners who want to apply the gravel on their driveways can buy gravel at $50 to $65 per ton.

A typical gravel driveway can cost anywhere between $1,500 and $6,000, depending on the property size, driveway thickness, and contractor use.

On the other hand, asphalt driveways can cost homeowners between $3,000 and $7,000. Installing asphalt on the driveway is never a DIY project because of the many preparatory activities it requires. Asphalt laying also needs special equipment that many families do not have.

One can expect to pay anywhere between seven and thirteen dollars for every square foot of driveway space. It includes labor costs of five to seven dollars per square foot and eight to two to six dollars for each square foot for the materials. 

Hence, if one has 1,000 square feet, the cost can run up to $13,000. Replacing asphalt can also cost homeowners eight to fifteen dollars per square foot.

Asphalt Vs Gravel Driveway Maintenance

Gravel driveways are more effortless to maintain than asphalt pathways. Rock fragments, pebbles, and small stones do not chip even under heavy load. 

Homeowners will never worry about getting potholes in their driveways because all types of gravel will never crack.

However, normal use can make gravel driveways uneven. That is why daily leveling is essential. 

man levels gravel with a shovel If craters form because of turning wheels or increased foot traffic, homeowners can refill them with extra gravel.

Maintaining asphalt driveways requires a good foundation during installation. It also needs adequate drainage to channel water away from the substrate and avoid water damage. 

Temperature fluctuations and heavy load can also undermine an asphalt’s integrity. That is why the periodic application of a sealcoat is crucial.

Filling cracks with asphalt or an appropriate substrate is also crucial to maintaining the asphalt driveway’s integrity. If the damage is severe, homeowners must be ready to replace the asphalt. 

Is a Gravel Driveway Better than Asphalt?

Asphalt and gravel driveways are affordable choices for budget-conscious families, although gravel has a slight advantage. 

The only real advantage of asphalt driveways over gravel materials is the refined aesthetics it brings to any property. It is durable, but still no match to gravel. There are also more maintenance requirements that add to the overall cost. 

These things make gravel driveways a better choice than asphalt. 

Conclusion

Homeowners who want an exceptional driveway that can increase their property’s value should pick an asphalt driveway. On the other hand, if the family wants a more rustic driveway, easy to maintain and can last a century with proper care, a gravel driveway is the hands-down choice.

To see more ideas visit the most popular types of driveways page for additional pictures and designs for your home.

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