Best Driveway Materials for UK Homes

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If you’re looking to increase your property’s value in the UK — or simply boost its curb appeal — a new driveway is one of the best ways to update your home. Both the end appearance and overall quality will depend on the what you choose. But with so many materials available, how can you make sure you choose the best and most suitable surface design for you? This is where the expertise of a local Birmingham driveway builder,  their knowledge and ideas will be of huge importance for your own situation.

The best driveway materials for UK properties will depend on various factors. Are you looking for a surface that has good durability, easy maintenance or looks very slick on the eye? Either way, imprinted concrete, resin bonded, tarmacadam, block paving or gravel all have their pros and cons. This might be in the budget, maintenance levels, or the overall style and design of your house.

In this blog post, we’ll be guiding you through some of the best driveway surfaces to use here in the UK. Whether you have a slopped garden or need to think about drainage access, we’ll cover what you need to know!

Block Paving Driveways

What is Block Paving?

If you’re keen to transform your outdoor living space, block paving could be the ideal driveway surface material. The actual effect is created by slotting identical paving stones together to build a tessellating pattern design.

Why Choose it for Your Home?

There are several benefits to choosing block paving. Here are 3 of the best:

  • Attractive & Affordable

    This driveway type is one of the most attractive, with it's range of patterns and complementing many property styles — it's also low maintenance!

  • Easy Repairs

    Because it is made up of individual stones, it's easy to replace small sections if it becomes damaged. Surface materials such as tarmac and concrete make it much harder to carry out isolated repairs.

  • Porous Materials

    Block paving stones are porous, which means they last well even in our infamous wet UK summers. Looking for a driveway material to surround a water feature or garden pond?

rustic cobble sett paving

Block Paving Driveway Costs UK

The exact cost of your will depend on the type of stone you choose. At £20 to £60 per meter squared, concrete blocks are typically the cheapest, while clay blocks are a bit more expensive (£50 to £100 per meter squared). Natural stone is the most expensive driveway material, ranging up to £105 per meter squared.

Labour cost’s will vary from contractor to contractor but a high-quality installation from any reputable business will be from around £45 per meter squared.

This Surface is Best Suited For

This type is best suited for surface areas that will see a lot of car traffic and it’s porosity makes it a sensible choice for the external part of your house. Moreover, if your drive is sloped, it can increase friction and provide a better surface for your tyres. This makes it much easier to control your car, particularly in icy weather.

Tarmac Driveways

What Is Tarmac?

It is a well-known brand of macadam, made up of finely crushed stones and tar. This results in a flat, smooth, and sometimes spongy surface. It will work wonders for your drive and increase curb appeal, too!

Why Choose it for Your Home?

Tarmac creates a comfortable and generally low maintenance drive. It’s commonly used on UK roads, so as you’d expect, it’s the perfect surface for car tyres. Because it’s flexible, it’s pretty resistant to different weathers. It will soften in hot temperatures, making it more durable than other driveway materials that can’t adapt to the heat.

black tarmacadam drive at a house

For example because Birmingham in the West Midlands is prone to hot temperatures and heatwaves, this is a suitable choice when deciding on driveway material. Either in a red or black sleek surface finish, it can look exceptionally good if done by a local expert contractor.

What Are the Downsides of Tarmac

One of the few downsides of choosing this as a driveway surface is that it can make it difficult to remove deep snow. This is because a shovel or spade can potentially damage the surface.

Tarmac Driveway Costs UK

Tarmacadam is one of the most economical and best driveway materials in the UK. The typical price is around £45 per meter squared, although this doesn’t include the tarmac installation cost for excavating your existing drive which will be in the region of £50-£65 per square meter depending on the contractor.

This Surface is Best Suited For

With all things done correctly by your builder, tarmac driveways are best suited for those who are looking for something slightly cheaper and quicker to install than others. With the surface base correctly laid you should not see cracks or any puddles on the surface and have a long lasting new driveway for your property

Imprinted Concrete Driveways

What Is Imprinted Concrete?

Pattern imprinted is a practical but striking choice for your drive way. To create its distinctive look, freshly poured concrete is imprinted with a pattern or design while it’s still wet. This can mimic the appearance of tiles, bricks, or paving.

Why Choose it for Your Home?

There are several benefits to choosing, among them are:

  • Durable

    It is a highly durable for a driveway . Unlike real tiles, imprinted concrete is resistant to weeds and mold. This is because there are no damp spaces between the slabs where unwanted matter can grow.

  • Functional

    If you like the look of block paving but want something a little more practical, this is the ideal driveway material for you.

  • Smooth Surface

    Over time, individual blocks or slabs can start to sink. This causes a dangerous trip hazard — not to mention a bumpy drive that your car tyres won't thank you for! Imprinted concrete, on the other hand, will maintain a smooth and even surface. To make your driveway even more practical, you can also elect to add an anti-slip coating to your imprinted concrete. This will increase the friction of your drive, which makes it a good choice for sloping drives.

home driveway with pattern imprinted concrete

Imprinted Concrete Driveway Costs UK

As with all of these driveway surface suggestions, the total price of installing an imprinted concrete driveway will depend on your house entrance size and your chosen design. In general, the raw materials involved in this type of driveway will cost between £25 and £125 per meter squared. Because it needs to be imprinted while wet, this material is more labour intensive than some others we’ve mentioned in the blog post.

For Example, you can expect a first-class concrete driveway in Birmingham, UK, from £1250 up to £6500 for a measurement of 50 meters squared.

This Surface is Best Suited For

Pattern Imprinted Concrete is a budget friendly option but depending on the design can be a real knockout. Because you can create any pattern you wish like a paving design for less cost. There is also the added bonus that you will not have to worry to much about those annoying weeds. However, to stay on top of maintenance our advice is to apply some sealant 2-4 years to keep it in the best condition.

Resin Bonded Driveways

What Is Resin Bonded?

A resin bonded driveway is made by mixing your chosen construction aggregate — for example, stones or gravel — with a transparent resin that’s made of polyurethane. This polymer can withstand very high temperatures while preserving the appearance of the stones or gravel it contains.

Why Choose it for Your Property?

If drainage has been an issue in your driveway, look no further than resin bonded. This driveway material is fully permeable, which means that it’s compliant with SUDS the Sustainable Urban Drainage System standards (SUDS). This has the benefit of meaning that you might not need to apply for planning permission when installing your new drive entrance.

resin bonded front driveway

Resin Bonded Driveway Costs UK

The cost of your resin bonded driveway will vary according to the resin used, the size and depth of your home entrance, and your chosen construction aggregate. This surface is often cheaper than stones, and is, therefore, more popular.

If you’re thinking about installing a resin bonded driveway, always double-check the type of resin used before booking anything. Some polyurethane resins can change colour due to UV exposure, which can ruin the whole look of your drive entrance to your property. The average cost of an installation depending on the company you choose and materials is £40-£70 meter squared.

This Surface is Best Suited For

As well as promoting drainage and being able to withstand extreme temperatures, resin bonded drives look great and are easy to maintain. However, it’s worth remembering that resin bonding generally requires a flat surface. This is because it’s poured on top of your gravel or stones as a liquid, where it then hardens. As a result, it’s not a practical choice for sloping gardens converted into a drive way.

Gravel Driveways

What Is Gravel?

It is made up of separate stones, flints, or fragments, or rock. It can also commonly contain sand or clay. This creates a natural and organic feel which complements a range of property styles, from classic to modern.

gravel drive

Why Choose it for Your House?

Thanks to its low cost of installation — and its impressive finished appearance — this is a good cheap, driveway budget option and a popular choice throughout places like Birmingham in the West Midlands. Depending on the look you want to create, gravel is available in a range of natural shades, including grey, cream, beige, or rust. This can significantly boost the curb appeal of your properties.

What Are The Downsides Of Gravel?

One of the biggest downsides of gravel is that it can be more difficult to maintain than the other materials on this list. Because the individual stones or fragments are loose, they can be spread around the entrance (and into the garden or road) over time, which means you may have to spend some time retrieving the pieces!

If you notice that your driveway is starting to look a little thin, you may need to replace the top layer of your gravel. If empty patches appear, these can develop into puddles or annoying pot-holes. Unlike imprinted concrete, gravel can also provide a good environment for weeds or plant matter to grow.

Another downside to gravel as a driveway is that it can be a little harsh on your car. Not only can gravel stones become stuck in your tyres’ treads, but it can also cause clouds of dust as your drive over it. This means you may have to wash your car more often than you would otherwise.

Gravel Driveway Costs UK

The price of your gravel is likely to be more than the cost of installation. Depending on the size of your driveway, you should expect to pay £1000 and £3000 for the gravel alone. 

If you want to ‘up’ your home curb appeal, choose a driveway surface that’s not just easy on your eyes but those wheels too! 

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