How to revive your drive
Ideas to transform old and tired looking driveways – and bring the kerb appeal back to your property.
If your driveway is looking tired, it might be time for a makeover. An attractive driveway gives a great first impression of a property and can add value.
Block driveway - photo supplied by The New Driveway Company
It’s only as good as the base it’s on
If your existing driveway has severe cracks or subsidence, complete removal and replacement may be the only option. It is important the sub-base provides the right support before you lay a new surface. If the original base is not fully stable, your beautiful new surface can soon develop cracks. The hardcore needs to be a minimum of 100-150mm to take cars. This can be DT (Department of Transport) Type 1 which contains crushed rock from dust up to 4cm. Increasingly, DT Type 3 is used (with more large particles) to improve drainage and meet SUDS (Sustainable drainage system requirements). The stone base should be laid on top of a geotextile membrane to prevent mixing with the subsoil while allowing rainwater to drain through.
Traditional gravel is a classic choice and suitable for a wide range of properties from stately homes to suburban semis. It is low-cost (especially for long driveways), quick to install and relatively easy to maintain. Plus, it’s naturally permeable and can have a security benefit as you hear people crunching up the drive. Gravel comes in a wide variety of sizes and colours, including cream, golden yellow and blue slate to suit most home. However, gravel has several disadvantages. It is unsuitable for sloping drives as the gravel will move. Pushchairs, wheelchairs and bicycles can get stuck. If vehicles are parked on it for some time, the displaced gravel results in tyre tracks, unsightly pits and puddles. It can also look unkept as weeds push up through the gravel.
Pavers can be made from traditional clay or cement (less pricy). There’s a huge range of sizes, shapes and colours. The patterns you can create are almost endless. Pavers are ideal if you want a unique driveway that’s individual to your home. The small shapes are suitable for curves and slopes. On the downside, paver driveways will take longer to lay than other materials and can be an expensive option. Plus, you are likely to need additional drainage with a paver driveway. There are, however, permeable block paving solutions. These involve the use of specially engineered blocks, foundation and bonding materials to allow absorption of rainwater.
A resin-bound drive gives the look of gravel but a firm surface that’s wheelchair (or pushchair) friendly, low maintenance and durable. Resin-bound simply means that an aggregate stone of your choice is mixed with resin and then applied to a pre-prepared sub-base of concrete or tarmac. The gravel comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Resin-bound is similar to a paver driveway in terms of cost. The result is a more modern look than traditional gravel. Because they’re engineered, they’re solid and fully permeable.
Be wary of resin bonded driveways (there’s a difference) which are literally bonded to the surface below whether its concrete, tarmac or even paving stones. This means any dips or cracks in the existing driveway will remain. And if it’s laid on old tarmac, it won’t let water pass through, so it won’t comply with SuDS regulations. So, if you’re looking for a permeable, long-lasting solution, resin-bound driveway is the better option.
Concrete is a low maintenance and hard-wearing driveway material. If you think concrete is grey and boring, think again. Concrete driveways can be imprinted with joint patterns to give the appearance of stone, slab, brick or even cobbles. The material can also be pigmented an array of different colours from terracotta red to slate blue. Concrete drives will need power washing from time to time to keep the surface clean and occasional resealing may also be necessary.
Tarmac & asphalt
Tarmac, also known as asphalt, is a cost-effective, hard-wearing and practical surfacing solution. It costs less than concrete and can have a long lifespan anywhere from 12-35 years depending on installation, climate and usage. Tarmac has a utilitarian look (it’s used on roads) but can be mixed with different aggregates to improve its appearance, for example white granite chips rolled into the surface. There is also coloured tarmac – red, green and blue – to provide alternatives to the usual black. Tarmac can also be used in combination with other materials, such as paver block edging.
Repair and restore
Some companies also offer repair services to restore your drive to that nearly new look. This may involve removing oil stains, weeds and moss or sorting more structural problems, such as areas of puddling, damaged edgings and broken or loose block pavers. Tired tarmac can be resurfaced with hot tarring of cracked areas and gravel drives redressed. Even jet hosing an old concrete driveway can work wonders in terms of brightening it up.
Do I need planning permission?
A replacement driveway doesn’t need planning permission so long as it meets the rules for permitted development – see planningportal.co.uk. To be classed as permitted development, it must have a surface, such as gravel or permeable block paving, that allows water to drain through to the ground below. Soakaways can be located along the edges of impermeable driveway to collect water and allow it to soak in the ground.
Reviving your driveway is a great way to enhance a property. If you’re sprucing up your home to sell, a few simple repairs may suffice. But if you plan to stay put, it may be worth investing in a new driveway of distinction. Check the length of guarantee offered by companies to get an idea of the quality of their work. It’s best to steer clear of cheap fly by night operations as it there’s a problem, such as cracking, they will be long gone with your hard-earned cash.