Is a gravel or asphalt driveway better?

There are several options for paving a new driveway, and each has its unique benefits and drawbacks. Two of the most popular paving options for driveways on rural properties are gravel and asphalt. It’s challenging to say asphalt is better than gravel or vice versa because the best product depends on your needs, budgets, your property, and more.
To help chisel down your options we want to put gravel and asphalt head-to-head to see which is better in different situations and their unique pros and cons. With expert paving knowledge on gravel vs. asphalt, you’ll be sure to pick the best option for your next paving project.

Gravel vs. Asphalt

Advantages of Gravel Driveways

Affordable – Gravel’s biggest asset is its affordability. Gravel is affordable, and because you dump it and spread it, the labor cost is also minimal. If you have a large-scale rural property or driveway and need to save money – gravel is a great choice.
Toughness – Gravel is nothing more than crushed stone, and we all know that stone is tough. Gravel can handle everyday traffic but can also stand up to farm equipment and excess weight. If the gravel breaks, who cares? It just becomes more gravel. The durability makes gravel a popular option when excess weight like industrial equipment is involved.
Low Maintenance – There’s not much work that gravel needs. It can’t chip, it can’t crack, and you can’t get potholes in a gravel driveway. The low maintenance requirement makes it a popular option when you want to create a driveway or back road without tedious maintenance requirements.

Disadvantages of Gravel Driveways

Washout – Gravel isn’t set in place like asphalt, so it will inevitably wash out. Gravel paving is not a good option in areas that are prone to flooding unless you want to lose your driveway after a few good spots of rain.
Displacement – Weight from vehicles and equipment can displace asphalt driveways. Gravel driveways will need raking, shoveling, and grading to replace stone that’s been pushed off its path.
Appearance – A gravel driveway won’t look as good as the gleaming blacktop of asphalt. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but gravel isn’t the most beautiful of paving materials.
Rough on Vehicles – Gravel is more difficult on vehicles than asphalt. Depending on how much you use your driveway, the extra vehicle effort on gravel vs. asphalt can wear your vehicle and tires down sooner.

Advantages of Asphalt Driveways

Appearance – A beautiful, jet black asphalt driveway looks much more composed than a gravel driveway. Though some like the rustic appearance of gravel driveways, it’s tough to beat the beauty of the blacktop.
Still Affordable – Gravel is more affordable than asphalt, but asphalt is still an accessible paving material. Before sticking to gravel for its low cost, talk to your local paving contractor about asphalt and how much your project would cost.
Long-Lasting – With proper maintenance, asphalt driveways can last multiple decades. How long your asphalt driveway lasts depends on your local climate, but you should expect 10 to 20 years.
Suitable for Snow / Ice – Blacktops absorb the sun’s heat, which makes them an excellent option for cold weather environments. Asphalt driveways melt dangerous snow and ice much more quickly than gravel.
Home Value – Gravel won’t add much value to your home, but the beauty of asphalt will.

Disadvantages of Asphalt Driveways

More Costly – Because asphalt is a more complete product than gravel, it’s going to cost more. Depending on the project, asphalt might not be as expensive as you think, so always get a professional asphalt paving quote before making your choice.
Heat – Asphalt is much more flexible than gravel. This makes it versatile but can also cause issues during extreme heat. When the mercury starts topping out in the heat of the summer, your asphalt driveway can become malleable and more prone to damage.
Heavy Loads – Asphalt’s flexibility can handle most large loads like your municipal garbage truck. Still, heavy loads during extreme cold or extreme heat make your asphalt driveway more susceptible to damage.
Requires Maintenance  – Asphalt is low maintenance but can chip, divot, and requires regular sealing to keep it strong. Most homeowners can take care of asphalt maintenance or hire a local asphalt paving company to check and reseal your asphalt as necessary. The more blacktop you have, the more expensive it will be to maintain it.

The Best Paving Material for Your Job

Asphalt and gravel are both excellent paving materials, but which one you choose depends on the factors above and more. Asphalt is best for look and longevity but requires maintenance and costs more. Gravel is more affordable but doesn’t look as good as asphalt and will wash out over time.
Talk to a local professional paving contractor about your specific project to find out the pros and cons of using asphalt or gravel. With the above knowledge and the help of Colorado Pavement Solutions, you’ll make the perfect paving choice. Call us today.