What Is The Best Driveway Surface For The UK?

What Is The Best Driveway Surface For The UK?
What is the best driveway surface for the UK? It’s an interesting question that throws up plenty of potential answers.

Naturally, the weather in the UK is a factor when considering different driveway materials. That said, most of the commonly available UK driveway materials are suitable for our climate, that’s why they are commonly available!

Still, each choice has its own pros and cons and which one is the best driveway surface for you will depend on a number of factors, not least which one you think looks best.

Types Of Driveways And Costs:

Here are the main options most people would consider as being the best driveway surfaces for the UK:

Concrete

Approximate Cost = £875 (Based on 25sq metres)

The most basic type of driveway available. Once the surface and foundations have been prepared, a concrete mixture is simply poured over the area to create a hard-wearing, long-lasting concrete driveway.

This type of driveway is more about functionality than looks. In fact, it’s probably the least aesthetically pleasing driveway material of them all.

However, what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in the fact it’s relatively cheap, will last for many years, and needs almost no ongoing maintenance.

Imprinted Concrete

Approximate Cost = £1,300 (Based on 25sq metres)

If you like the idea of having a concrete driveway that will last for years but would prefer something a little more attractive, imprinted concrete could be a good option.

A concrete mixture is still poured onto a firm base, but, you can choose the colour of the concrete and also have a pattern imprinted onto it.

This gives the effect of a stone driveway but with all the benefits of concrete such as it’s longevity and ease of maintenance. 

However, imprinted concrete does need resealing around once a year and repairs can be difficult to carry out without affecting the look of the driveway.

Gravel

Gravel Driveway UK

Approximate Cost = £750 (Based on 25sq metres)

The cheapest option on the list, a gravel driveway is simply small stones or gravel laid and compressed onto a hard-wearing foundation.

It looks reasonably attractive and has the added benefit that the noise it makes when walking on it can deter potential intruders!

However, it may not last as long as other surfaces and weeds will often grow between the stones, making it more time-consuming to maintain. You’ll also find it hard to clear snow in winter!

Tarmac

Approximate Cost = £1,000 (Based on 25sq metres)

Tarmac is actually a brand name so this type of driveway should actually be called ‘asphalt’. It’s the same surface as the one used on many UK roads and paths and therefore is well-suited to our climate.

It’s a relatively cheap option to install and can easily last 20 years or more which is why it’s so popular.

On the downside, it does become sticky and can become deformed on very hot days and it isn’t the nicest looking driveway surface. That said, the looks can be improved by creating a block paving border around the edges.

Resin

Approximate Cost = £1,000 (Based on 25sq metres)

Resin driveways have become a popular choice for homeowners over the last few years because of their relatively low cost, excellent durability, and reasonable looks.

There are two types to choose from, bound or bonded. Bonded is the cheaper of the two as a layer of aggregates is simply scattered over the top of the resin and can become loose over time.

Bounded, on the other hand, mixes aggregates and resin together before they are laid, creating a more durable, permeable surface. Bounded is, therefore, the better choice if you can afford it.

Block Paving

Block Paving UK

Approximate Cost = £1,500 (Based on 25sq metres)

Despite being one of the more expensive options, block paving remains one of the most popular choices for UK homeowners. This is greatly down to how good it looks when properly laid.

Consisting of lots of small brick-like blocks, the layout of block paving can be customised to your preference.

It’ll last a long time and individual blocks can be replaced easily when one becomes damaged.

The disadvantage is that, over time, high-traffic areas can sink and weeds and moss will start growing between the blocks.

Crazing Paving

Approximate Cost = £1,250 (Based on 25sq metres)

Now we’re going old-school! Popular in decades gone by (in fact the technique dates back to ancient Rome!), crazy paving is making a comeback!

That’s partly thanks to the recent movement towards a more sustainable, environmentally friendly future.

As crazy paving is essentially lots of broken bits of paving arranged randomly, it’s a good way of using up otherwise useless bits of stone.

Despite this, it’s time-consuming to lay and so it’s not the cheapest option. You do however get a totally unique look as no two crazy paving driveways are the same.

On first glance, that should help you answer the question ‘what is the best driveway surface for the UK?’ although you can also see that it’s as much down to personal preference as anything else.

There are, however, a couple of other things to consider…

Best Material for Sloping Driveways

If your driveway is on a slope, that may affect the best type of driveway for your property.

For instance, it’ll probably be best to avoid anything loose, such as gravel, as over time the stones will tend to move towards the bottom of the slope.

Concrete and tarmac drives are also difficult to lay on steep slopes and can slip over time so are probably best avoided.

A resin driveway is, therefore, an excellent choice for a steep driveway, particular as it can be combined with a special anti-slip additive to make your driveway safe in all conditions.

Driveway Soakaway Regulations

ACO Drainage

One final thing to consider when answering the question ‘what is the best driveway surface for the UK?’ is the regulations that exist when it comes to laying a driveway.

It’s a commonly overlooked but some types of driveway actually require planning permission before they are installed.

This is all to do with water, and more specifically, where it will go once your driveway has been laid.

If your driveway slopes towards the road, and is over 5 square metres, you’ll need to either apply for planning permission or use a permeable or porous surface such as block paving. Another option is to add drainage that diverts water run-off into a soakaway on your property.

If your driveway slopes towards your property, you won’t need planning permission but should still look at installing drainage into a soakaway to avoid causing water damage to your property.

You can learn more about planning permission for driveways on the Planning Portal website.

So, What Is The Best Driveway Surface For The UK?

As you can see, the question ‘what is the best driveway surface for the UK?’ doesn’t have a clear and definite answer.

The best type of driveway material for you will depend on factors such as your attitudes toward maintenance vs looks, cost of installation, and whether your driveway is on a slope or not.

You’ll also need to consider whether your driveway could be subject to planning permission and therefore require a permeable surface or additional drainage.

Whatever you decide, keep in mind your driveway can have an impact on the value of your house. Therefore, choosing the right surface is vital when it comes to reselling your home.

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