Choosing the Best Driveway, Guide to Choosing a New Driveway for Your Home
A new driveway is a visual and practical upgrade to any home, though it can be an expensive one. This Driveway Buying Guide provides you with driveway costs and other research about maintenance, durability, curb appeal, planning permissions and value – the kind of details required to make an informed decision about driveway installation.
Additionally, you’ll find links throughout the content on this page that take you to our driveway cost reviews on all popular driveway types including concrete (standard and imprinted), tarmac, asphalt, paving block and resin.
Our List of Things to Consider When Choosing A New Driveway
We’ve covered the general details in this UK Driveway Buying Guide. Each individual guide – the guides to each material type – go into more depth regarding the types, costs, options and other considerations as you choose the best driveway for your purposes.
What Are Your Options for Driveway Replacement?
Let’s get familiar with your driveway material options – what they are, costs, pros and cons, maintenance requirements and what they’ll do for the value of your home should you decide to sell in the next few years.
Driveway Replacement Overview
We’ll outline the steps momentarily, but your new driveway decision should begin months before the day labourers show up with their equipment and start making a mess of the place.
What driveway types are you considering? What’s your budget – driveway costs are shared below, so you’ll know which ones are options, given what you are happy spending.
What about style? Is your home traditional in appearance? Victorian? Modern? Some materials work better for each style, so you will want to take time to look at loads of driveway pictures and the houses they grace. Drive about your neighborhood. What’s popular with the various architectural styles common to your area? Which materials front homes like yours – and which do you find especially attractive? Your new driveway is designed to last 20-100 years, so take time to evaluate options and choose one ideal for your home.
Getting the Job Done
The majority of driveways are replacements, meaning that an old drive is removed and disposed of first. A general plan goes like this:
- Heavy equipment is used to remove the old driveway material, and it is loaded into a truck for removal (or a skip is brought in for the purpose).
- If the hardcore that formed the base of the original drive is in good condition, it will be compacted and perhaps built up a bit as needed.
- The new driveway is then installed step-by-step based on the specific material used.
- Expect a lot of noise, dust and havoc during the entire process.
Depending on driveway type, you’ll be invited to drive and park on it immediately – or may be asked to wait for several days or more to allow the material, such as concrete, to cure enough to withstand traffic.
Now, here are your primary options for driveway replacement with their basic features and cost.
A plain concrete driveway (we’ll discuss imprinted concrete next) delivers a clean, fresh look that will last for decades. This popular driveway type can be poured, which is a contemporary style, or produced with concrete blocks for a traditional look similar to brick or pavers.
- Cost: Poured concrete driveways cost is £50 – £60 per m2. When blocks are used, the higher cost of £55 – £75 per m2 is the result of significantly higher labour costs.
- Value Added: Poured driveways return about 70% of your investment. Spend £3,000 on one, and your home value, were you to sell immediately, would increase by about £2,100.
- Blocks have a slightly lower return of about 65%, which is a common theme in replacement driveway cost to return value. The more you spend on a drive, the lower the percentage of return.
- Maintenance: Concrete should be sealed once it is fully cured and then resealed every 2-10 years depending on the type of sealer used. Other than removing leaves and debris to help prevent stains, concrete is a low-maintenance option.
- Durability: Expect a concrete driveway that is properly sealed as needed to look good for 25-40 years. Cracks are addressed before they become significant, concrete driveways last 50+ years.
- Kerb Appeal: A freshly poured concrete or installed block driveway exudes quality and strength, especially when replacing an older version that is cracked and stained.
Pattern Imprinted Concrete Driveway
This is a next-level option created using a range of techniques to colour and imprint the surface. The end result is a poured concrete driveway with the look you want – cobble, paver, brick, genuine stone and other options. Learn more in our Imprinted Driveway Cost Guide.
- Cost: £70 to £125 per m2 with an average of about £100 per m2.
- Value Added: As one of the pricier driveway options, PIC, as it is termed in the trades, has a lower return value of around 50-60%.
- Maintenance: The concrete will be allowed to fully cure before it is sealed – and then expect to reseal it from every few years to once per decade depending on the sealer used.
- Durability: As noted, concrete is durable for decades when sealed and when minor repairs are made before they become major damage.
- Kerb Appeal: These are gorgeous driveways – and you have enough choice to produce a custom look for your home.
A gravel driveway is an affordable and viable option where they are commonplace. They are ideal if you’re wanting one that fits Sustainable Urban Drainage System, or SuDS, requirements that avoid the need for costly underground drainage.
- Cost: £45 – £60 per m2.
- Value Added: Where a gravel drive isn’t out of place, return can be 70%.
- Maintenance: You’ll have higher-than-average maintenance with gravel. This will, at very least, mean picking gravel out of the garden along the driveway. It will need grading every few years, and if hit with heavy rains and running water, a washout requiring additional material and grading is possible. Sloping gravel driveways are especially susceptible to erosion and sudden washouts.
- Durability: When maintained, a gravel driveway lasts indefinitely. Weeds and will take root, so there will be effort in keeping it looking its best.
- Kerb Appeal: Gravel driveways look at home in rural areas, but can be a detriment in a suburban neighbourhood.
Tarmacking offers excellent value – an attractive and functional new driveway at a competitive cost. This material is also called macadam, shortened from tarmacadam, or tar and macadam (crushed stone).
- Cost: £35 for resurfacing; £50 to £65 per m2 for a new driveway. The differences in options are explained in our Tarmac Driveway Cost Guide.
- Value Added: Where tarmac driveways are common, the return is close to 70%.
- Maintenance: There’s very little to do to maintain a tarmac driveway. This is one of its advantages. If cracks develop due to settling soil, a possibility with any material, then they’ll need to be filled. If a section of the driveway sinks, it must be torn out and replaced – again, true of any material. It should be noted that tarmac is less susceptible to serious cracking than concrete.
- Durability: Expect that you’ll have to consider driveway replacement in 15-25 years if you choose tarmac.
- Kerb Appeal: The appearance is bold and strong. If that’s what you’re after, tarmac should be considered.
An asphalt driveway and a tarmac driveway share many characteristics. Tarmac is a gravel and tar mixture whilst asphalt is gravel, bitumen, refined crude oil and additives for strength. There are multiple formulations. The result is a slightly more expensive and durable material.
- Cost: £50 – £80 per m2
- Value Added: About 65% for most homes.
- Maintenance: An asphalt driveway should be sealed every 3-5 years or as needed. Cracks should be filled as they appear to maintain the appearance and maximize durability.
- Durability: 20-30 years.
- Kerb Appeal: An asphalt drive is a crisply handsome addition to any home.
A resin driveway offers you many options for stone size and color that affect the finished appearance. Your choice of construction aggregate is mixed with polyurethane resin. There are permeable installation methods that meet SuDS standards.
Resin bonded (less expensive) vs resin bound (more durable) driveways are discussed in the Improvement Costs Resin Driveway Cost Guide.
- Cost: £40 to more than £80/m2 with an average of about £65 per m2.
- Value Added: Expect a return of about 60-70% depending on how much you spend. The rule is that the more you spend per m2, the lower the return.
- Maintenance: This is a low-maintenance choice needing only an occasional jet wash to keep it looking like new.
- Durability: 15-25 years, with resin bound driveways lasting longer than bonded ones.
- Kerb Appeal: Resin driveways offer a homey, casual aesthetic that looks good in all but the poshest neighbourhoods.
Brick is a classic driveway material that offers elegance and good durability, but at a higher cost and with its share of maintenance issues.
- Cost: £60 – £100 per m2. Cost factors are the specific bricks used, design patterns that can raise installation labour costs and size of the driveway.
- Value Added: About 60% – as one of the most expensive types, return on investment isn’t as high.
- Maintenance: Brick is permeable, so it meets SuDS standards. However, as a permeable material, it is prone to weed growth, so keep that in mind as you consider options. A poured, pattern-imprinted concrete driveway that looks just about the same won’t allow weed growth.
- Durability: Brick roads have endured for centuries, and your driveway can too when kept up.
- Kerb Appeal: If you’re looking for classic good looks in a driveway, then brick is a smart choice.
Exposed Aggregate Driveways
These are concrete drives constructed using large aggregate, and the concrete is finished to leave the stone visible rather than hidden within the mix. The appearance is unique, and a wide colour range gives you options.
- Cost: £65 – £85 per m2.
- Value Added: This material offers increased value around 65%. Spend £5,000 on an exposed aggregate driveway, and your home’s value will rise by around £3,300.
- Maintenance: Concrete should be sealed regularly to keep cracks from forming or becoming larger if they are present. Remove debris and leaves as needed to prevent stains.
- Durability: Expect 35-50 years from an exposed aggregate driveway. It costs more but offers twice the longevity of resin driveways.
- Kerb Appeal: You’ll turn heads with this robust, hard-wearing driveway material. Again, because of the many choices of stone aggregate, you’ll find a look that matches your home beautifully.
Paving Stone Driveways
Concrete pavers are also available in many colours that allow you to customise the appearance of your driveway. This permeable driveway meets SuDS standards, so planning permission might not be needed, and installation costs are lower than for poured concrete.
- Cost: £45 – £70 per m2 based on the specific pavers used and the design you choose for your drive.
- Value Added: The return for paving your driveway is about 65% to 70% when a paving stone drive is a good fit for the neighbourhood.
- Maintenance: As with all permeable options, weeds will have to be removed. The occasional loosed or broken paver will have to be replaced. Pavers should be sealed every 3-5 years to protect against the elements.
- Durability: This driveway type lasts indefinitely with ongoing maintenance.
- Kerb Appeal: The appearance is traditional and smart.
Budget / Cheap Driveway Materials
For affordability, we recommend these driveway materials along with a few tips:
- Gravel: The cheapest option, but gravel isn’t suitable for many neighbourhoods. Consider tarmac instead when few homes in your area use gravel.
- Tarmac: This material combines good looks, low cost and decent durability. That’s one reason it remains a popular option.
- Bonded Resin: This is the cheapest of the resin driveway options. It delivers a budget-friendly blend of lower cost and good longevity, but it won’t hold up as long as bound resin or one of the concrete driveway options.
Mid-Range Driveway Materials
Our top driveway choices in this price tier are:
- Bound Resin: The durability is better compared with bonded resin since the aggregate is fully “sunk” in the resin. It’s low-maintenance too and lasts about 25 years.
- Asphalt: Choose an asphalt driveway contractor with a good reputation, and you’ll likely be provided with an asphalt mixture that delivers excellent durability. Maintenance requirements are about average, but they need to be met in order to keep the driveway looking good.
- Pavers: Choosing more affordable paving materials keeps the cost low, but durability will suffer. If your driveway gets a lot of traffic and traffic from large vehicles, you might need to choose more expensive, beefier pavers, and then your cost will be in the Premium Driveway range.
Expensive / Premium Driveway Materials
All the rest? Once you begin to hit the £80 per m2 mark, we consider that an expensive driveway. Your premium driveway materials provide a wide spectrum of appearances, so you’ll want to view a lot of pictures and see as many as possible in person before deciding.
Your top choices are:
- Concrete: A poured concrete driveway without enhancement delivers excellent value – good looks and durability for the price.
- Exposed aggregate: This is a poured concrete driveway with an appealing twist – stones you can see. If you’ve got a “premium driveway” budget and want something more interesting than plain concrete, consider exposed aggregate.
- PIC – Pattern Imprinted Concrete: If you want a driveway that stands out, and you like the lower maintenance needs of concrete combined with durability, a PIC driveway is a good choice compared with brick and pavers.
- Brick: On the other hand, if you prefer the genuine article, there is no substitute for brick.
- Paving Stones: These driveways are much like brick but with a wider range of colours, styles and sizes offered.
Eco-Friendly Driveway Materials
When discussing driveways, friendliness to the environment isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Several of the options are petroleum-based. A lot of energy goes into making concrete.
To limit impact on the environment, choose a permeable material that allows rain to pass through it and filter into the ground. Solid driveways like poured concrete cause water to run off, taking petrol and other pollutants with it that can get into waterways.
So, that’s the basic recommendation – choose gravel, a permeable tarmac or paver driveway.
Which Driveway Material Is Right For You?
In this Driveway Buying Guide, we’ve covered the main topics to consider.
- Cost: Gravel and resurfacing a tarmac driveway begin below £60 per m2. High-end choices exceed £100. Consider your budget, and use the information in this Guide and our specific driveway material cost reviews to narrow your choices to those that meet your costing requirements.
- Maintenance: The range is wide here. If low maintenance is a top priority, then poured concrete, whether standard or PIC, bound resin and tarmac. Steer clear of gravel and bricks/pavers if you don’t want to deal with weeds.
- Aesthetics: It’s really up to you, of course. Just remember that the material you select should fit neighbourhood standards to maximize the value it brings your home.
- Durability: Concrete is the most durable option, whether poured or in pavers.
How Much Time Will a Driveway Replacement Take?
Typical schedules are 2-5 days.
- Day 1: Remove the old driveway material
- Day 2: Prepare the bed for the new driveway
- Day 3-4: Install the new driveway
- Day 5: Clean up the site – last touches
This process can go faster, and sometimes slower, depending on the size of the driveway and site conditions that must be addressed.
How Much Does a Driveway Replacement Cost?
Expect to pay £40 to more than £100 per m2 for a new driveway. The most common driveway types range from about £60 to £95 per m2.
|Drive Replacement Cost by Type|
|Driveway||Cost / m2||50 m2 Driveway||Durability||Planning Permissions|
|Concrete||£50 – £75||$2,500 – $3,750||40-60 years||Probably|
|Imprinted Concrete||£70 – £125||$3,500 – $6,250||40-60 years||Probably|
|Gravel||£45 – £60||$2,250 – $3,000||20-30 years||Probably Not|
|Tarmac||£35 – £65||$1,750 – $3,250||15-25 years||Probably|
|Asphalt||£50 – £80||$2,500 – $4,000||20-30 years||Probably|
|Resin||£40 – £80+||$2,000 – $4,000||15-25 years||Probably|
|Brick||£60 – £100+||$3,000 – $5,000||50+ years||Probably Not|
|Exposed Aggregate||£65 – £85||$3,250 – $4,250||35-50 years||Probably|
|Pavers||£45 – £70||$2,250 – $3,500||50+ years||Probably Not|
The Proper Driveway Foundation
Every driveway needs a stable, firm foundation that won’t be subject to sinking or erosion.
And most are built with very similar materials: 100-150mm of hardcore. The materials are installed in several layers, with each layer tamped down to compact it tightly and create stability.
Most new driveways – where there hasn’t been on, in other words – require planning permissions.
For driveway replacement, permeable driveways like those discussed above that meet SuDS standards might not need permissions. We say, “might not,” because circumstances for each project vary. Your driveway contractor will provide guidance in this regard.
Have you narrowed your options to a few favorite materials? Hopefully the research has been useful to you – and there is plenty more information. To access it, browse our individual guides to specific driveway types including pattern imprinted concrete, resin, tarmac and other popular choices.
If you’re ready to get quotes on new or replacement driveway cost, consider the Free Quotes tab on this page. After filling out a short form, you’ll receive estimates from driveway contractors in your area that are licensed, insured and experienced.