If you live on a large lot in the country and your driveway is a long dirt lane off the main road, you probably want to choose an affordable material when you're ready to install a more durable driveway. Some materials, such as pavers, are quite expensive and not a good choice when you have a tight budget. Gravel and asphalt are the least expensive choices, but you may not want to base your decision on price alone. Here's how gravel and asphalt compare.
Cost Of The Driveway
The cost of gravel can be as low as $0.50 a square foot and the low point for asphalt is about $1 per square foot. Compare that to $3 for concrete and $10 for bricks and you can see why gravel and asphalt are good options. In addition to the initial expense, you'll also want to figure in future costs. Gravel gets pushed into the soil or knocked away over time, so the driveway will need additional gravel added on a regular basis to keep ruts from forming. Asphalt will last much longer with less need for upkeep expenses. However, to protect the driveway and prolong its life, you'll want to have a sealcoat applied every few years.
It's possible you could install a gravel driveway yourself and further save money. However, if the driveway is long, you'll need to rent heavy equipment to cut down on the labor involved, so the savings may not be worth it when compared to the labor and time needed for DIY installation. Even if you spread the gravel yourself, you'll probably want to have a contractor create the base of the driveway since the soil must be leveled and compacted first. This is an important step for any type of driveway material you add.
Installing an asphalt driveway is quick and easy and doesn't require much downtime. Asphalt needs to be applied by a contractor with special equipment that keeps the asphalt hot until it is poured. Gravel is also easy to install for a contractor since all it entails is dumping the gravel onto the compacted bed and spreading it around. You can drive on a new gravel driveway right away, but it may take a day or two for the asphalt to dry depending on the weather conditions.
Gravel driveways require much more maintenance than asphalt driveways. Tires tend to form ruts and knock gravel to the side, so you'll need to rake the gravel occasionally to redistribute it. Weeds can also be a problem if they start sprouting up through the gravel. You may need to pull weeds and apply a herbicide to keep them from ruining your driveway. Gravel is difficult to clear in the winter. You can't really clear the drive with a snowplow unless you scrape away the gravel too. If you're looking for a driveway that you don't have to spend time maintaining and you want the driveway to always look nice even if you neglect it for long periods, then asphalt is the better choice.
Contact a company, like Lien Transportation Co, for more help.