Weighing in on Driveways
What does a driveway say about a home? Many things, actually. A driveway is the pathway to a residence — an invitation to what awaits inside. A poorly maintained driveway gives the impression of a poorly maintained home, just as a smooth, clean driveway implies a home that is clean, comfortable, and welcoming.
First impressions aside, driveway maintenance is of practical importance as well. Driveways must be durable and level to handle the weight and movement of vehicles. When choosing a driveway, then, both aesthetics and functionality should be kept in mind.
The two main driveway materials are asphalt and concrete. Asphalt pavement first came to prominence at the very end of the 19th century. Then, with the rise of the automobile in the 1920s, asphalt become the most widely used material for roads and driveways. Today over 94% of the 2.6 million miles of paved roads in the U.S. are asphalt roads. Why is asphalt so popular? When and why is concrete used?
For one thing, asphalt is easily recycled, making it an extremely cost effective and economical material. In 2013 almost 100% of the 67.8 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement material was reused. Another benefit of asphalt is its darkness, which allows for road markings to be clearly defined and reflected at night. As far as driveways go, asphalt is the cheaper option, as opposed to concrete, and therefore more commonly used. Asphalt is also designed to be flexible, which helps prevent excessive cracking from the force of the weight on top of it.
The other common driveway material is concrete. Though somewhat more expensive to have installed, a well-maintained concrete driveway can have a lifespan of 25 to 50 years (more than the average lifespan of an asphalt driveway). Aside from durability and longevity, concrete driveways are appealing for their aesthetic features. There is more room to be creative with concrete driveways. Whereas asphalt driveways are simply black and flat, concrete can come in over 250 hues and shades, allowing for artistic and elegant designs.
What are Sunken Driveways?
Driveways are meant to be driven and parked on, therefore they are built to sustain an incredible amount of weight. Still, nothing is immune to the wear and tear brought on by weather, humidity, and gravity. As a result, cracks, bends, and holes can form over time. With proper attention and maintenance, these issues can be easily and fairly cheaply resolved. However, sometimes a larger problem occurs that needs serious attention.
Sunken driveways are exactly what they sound like: driveways that have sunken into the ground in certain areas. There are several possible causes for sunken driveways. As previously stated, gravity and erosion from harsh weather usually play a role, but the soil underneath the driveway might also be causing problems. If the soil becomes too soft from burrowing or water infiltration, the driveway might begin to sink into the earth. Both asphalt and concrete driveways can sink into the ground, so the material in this case doesn’t make much of a difference. If a driveway starts to sink, the problem can be resolved by reinforcing the ground beneath the driveway and repairing the parts that have bent and/or cracked.
Taking care of your driveway is more important than it might first appear. Whether it’s asphalt or concrete, not only does a healthy driveway increase your home’s curb appeal, it’s also safer and easier to drive and park on.