Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeHouse DesignOur New Driveway - A Gravel/Concrete/Asphalt/Regrind Debate

Our New Driveway – A Gravel/Concrete/Asphalt/Regrind Debate

Our New Driveway – A Gravel/Concrete/Asphalt/Regrind Debate

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Able to nerd out over driveways?? Consider me, I didn’t need to both six months in the past, however I discovered SO MUCH and y’all are asking. I clearly need to remind you all that I’m NOT a driveway knowledgeable and that is simply based mostly on my first-time expertise doing it with the recommendation from the contractors that we consulted in Portland (i.e. there may be different choices or very completely different pricing elsewhere). This isn’t a narrative that I ever wished to inform as a result of I by no means wished to redo the driveway within the first place, however now that it’s behind us I really feel very grateful that we have been in a position to do it because it’s simply so significantly better. We now have the world’s longest driveway so this wasn’t a enjoyable inexpensive “weekend mission”. No, No, NO. You’ll see…

our first journey with the youngsters

After we first visited the property, IN 2019, we LOVED the lengthy driveway, utilizing phrases like “magical” and “enchanted”. It immediately transported you into the nation (we stay within the suburbs) and also you rocked backwards and forwards a bit on the damaged items whereas in your automotive. It’s lined with bushes that bend over and meet within the center however most significantly it had this grass patch within the center giving it an outdated two-track vibe. Branches would slap your windshield on the way in which down the street and also you had to concentrate to the place the street was to not by chance get caught in a ditch. These have been all issues I cherished about it and jogged my memory of the place I grew up (rural Oregon), however fairly actually nobody agreed with us (in addition to Cali, our panorama designer who obtained our vibe). Brian wished it wider however cherished the vibe.

photograph by suraya barbee

Certain, perhaps the concrete round the remainder of the home was “very, completely, irreparably damaged,” nevertheless it didn’t actually hassle me. They’d patched among the tremendous damaged areas with gravel and when it was dry most individuals wouldn’t discover (edit: actually each man with a large truck would touch upon it, however none of my girlfriends even observed and I didn’t give a crap). I’ve so many different fish to fry, understanding that this residence renovation/restoration was going to bleed us dry already. We agreed early on that we’d focus our funds on the home, particularly the rooms that have been to be closely documented on the weblog for my job, with tasks that have been tied to partnerships. There are some elements of the development we are able to write off, and may really construct future enterprise. I’m not a “driveway influencer” so once we have been prioritizing building prices we actually, actually didn’t need to should redo the driveway. It was high quality!!! (ish)

Aesthetically I didn’t need to contact it in any respect as a result of I cherished the two-track nation vibe. However over the course of the development with so many massive vans and equipment coming out and in day by day + two years of heavy rain, it turned increasingly busted to the purpose of not having the ability to drive down it in any respect with out fearing that you just’ll pop your tire. The appeal was fairly ruined and never simply because it was cracked and in again form, however as a result of it was so slim and surrounded by mud. Nobody might actually flip round and each time anybody tried they’d get caught within the mud. It was beginning to turn out to be very clear that we must redo the driveway and she or he is LONG. So let’s speak by way of the precise challenges/state of affairs:

  1. It’s a protracted driveway to only get to the property, then a roundabout with a grove of fruit bushes within the center, and a large utility house that might park like 10 vehicles. She BIG.
  2. It appears to be a mixture of principally damaged concrete with some poured asphalt blended in and plenty of patches of gravel.
  3. All the pieces wanted to be widened so 2023 vehicles might navigate with out getting caught within the mud. It was that slim. I preferred the narrowness and located it charming, however explaining that to guys which can be caught within the mud was feeling more and more foolish/annoying.
  4. After which there was MUD. Simply a lot mud that I believe completely scarred us. We HAD to repair this downside and earlier than subsequent winter.

We didn’t actually have a devoted contractor on this a part of the job – ARCIFORM would weigh in as would our panorama contractor who had completed many driveways, nevertheless it was on Brian and I do to all of the analysis and to e book the work. So once more, this won’t all be correct in your state of affairs nevertheless it’s what we have been informed, based mostly on our analysis.


Everybody appears to like concrete and I agree that new concrete appears higher than new asphalt. I don’t know THAT a lot about this besides that concrete appears to be very costly – and shot up within the final couple of years. Based mostly on our sq. footage wanted it might be $75-100k. It requires an entire demo, grading, gravel base, metal rods, pouring, curing, pouring, curing, and no visitors for weeks afterward. It’s what everybody thought we should always do with this older residence. However y’all, to not take down the concrete world proper now, however all of the concrete pours I see are all the time tremendous cracked. Can it actually maintain as much as the rain and heavy vehicles? Between the worth, the size of time (3 weeks), and our doubt that it might actually final long run this was a very simple NO. We thought of simply doing it round the home, however then we’re reserving two completely different contractors and the place wouldn’t it begin/cease, and many others. It will be clunky and disjointed.

Chip Seal

A lot of you reached out to say chip seal and I had by no means heard of it. Thanks! So we lastly obtained a chip seal contractor to come back quote (which held up the entire course of for weeks since he was actually busy and there are solely a few guys on the town however we critically thought it might be price it). He gave it a strong “no approach” as a result of our driveway was on a hill. He stated with the rain within the PNW that he could be again in 3 years to redo it. And that’s actually coming from a chip seal contractor. It’s mainly glued gravel over a base coat of gravel (I’m positive there’s extra to it than that, however that’s how he defined it to me). We cherished the look of it on-line however we didn’t expertise it wherever in individual however that was a moot level – when the salesperson is saying “no approach, it is a dangerous product for you,” you don’t hold exploring or push again.

Permeable Pavers

On the final minute, ARCIFORM instructed these pavers which truthfully I believe is a GREAT thought. We did preliminary analysis which confirmed that it was going to be very, very costly however may very well be very fairly if thoughtfully designed. Suppose small stone or brick pavers which have house for grass rising in between – making a sample. After we introduced it as much as our panorama contractor he talked us by way of the method and y’all it sounded much more costly than all the opposite choices. I’ll say that it’s a nice choice for the planet because it permits crops/grass to develop by way of and rainwater to empty straight by way of it, however we merely couldn’t afford it (and didn’t have time to analysis partnership alternatives). Now if we ever have a small driveway (actually the place you may solely park two vehicles) I’d like to discover this, however for our scale of driveway, it simply didn’t really feel like a viable choice that we might afford.


We love gravel, y’all. We love the sound of the tires after they drive over, the crunch underneath our ft as we stroll, and the look that feels so informal for this outdated property. I’m not saying it’s proper for in all places (it’s not), however the vibe was what we wished. However we had added gravel within the winter of 2022 in a bunch of locations to ensure that vans to navigate the property with out getting caught within the mud and all of it simply become a mud pit – all of it (granted we didn’t have it correctly prepped or completed). Additionally for gravel, we have been going to should demo out all of the concrete, grade every part, line and prep after which put a gravel base, compact it, after which add a closing prime coat. All high quality and good however it might take weeks, price $60K+, after which we have been nonetheless very, very, very apprehensive that it might wash away in a number of winters anyway!! We additionally simply apprehensive that it might acquire mud and once more, we had felt held hostage by mud for a 12 months. We weren’t going to redo our driveway and have that be a threat. Our asphalt contractor stated it for positive would wash away (however clearly he’s promoting a unique product). Which brings me to…


Y’all. This was the place Brian and I felt like we have been going nuts as a result of everybody appeared so bummed once we stated we have been extremely contemplating asphalt. There was a “please don’t do that to this stunning property” look and whereas I kinda agreed, we have been like, “so are YOU going bankroll our concrete price?” We obtained three quotes, throughout $38k which after concrete and gravel appeared like our greatest choice. We actually preferred one of many firms – their information, customer support, and response time have been glorious, so we set it up. Among the professionals of asphalt are that because it’s liquid tar blended with rock (I believe) it may be poured over cracked concrete and even outdated gravel – so much less demo and prep time (and time is cash). There may be some prep work, however far much less. It additionally meant that the youngsters might rollerblade on the driveway and bike simpler than they may in gravel – which on the time appeared like an incredible perk. Nevertheless it’s black and positively says, “new building”. I assume it stinks for some time and may deliver black marks on footwear into the home. Nevertheless it takes only some days, price actually 1/2 of concrete (if not even much less) and the man, John, stated they may do it actually any time – like the following week.

We have been so unbelievably over the mud surrounding our home, at instances throughout the rain feeling like we needed to quarantine inside as a result of it might be that dangerous simply strolling to the automotive. I wore Bogs virtually solely and had to offer rain/mud boots for friends ought to they need to go to. I ruined numerous pairs of footwear – all high quality and good, nevertheless it informs our determination making which is why I’m bringing it up. So we in all probability weren’t within the headspace to make this determination as a result of we have been reacting to the mud and couldn’t be goal. However we talked about it for months, actually making an attempt to see it from a $30k foot view, and requested ourselves if that is what we’d need in 10 years for this property. Had been we simply doing the most cost effective choice that we might remorse??

After a lot debate we determined that asphalt was ok for us. The home is so fairly that you just gained’t actually even discover. You’ll see the beautiful home windows, the crops, the beautiful structure – solely sure old-house purists would suppose we took a budget approach out. And we began seeing asphalt in all places and it appeared high quality to us!! We all know that it all the time grays out over time, is simple/low cost/quick to redo in 15 years (only one layer and in the future’s work, no demo) and finally it’s simply not the place we might spend the cash. It was a call based mostly strictly on money and time and we have been shortly working out of each, truthfully.

Regrind (A.Ok.A. Recycled Asphalt)

So our asphalt firm was prepping, about to begin once we lamented that we actually wished the look/really feel/sound of gravel. He instructed shortly, “What about recycled concrete” – a product he additionally did. I used to be busy in conferences so Brian tried to relay the data as finest he might which was primarily this: regrind is recycled asphalt that’s damaged up into gravel bits however because it nonetheless has the tar in it so it could compact to be more durable and with much less motion than gravel. He stated that the prep could be extra (an extra $10k) as a result of they must demo out extra of the bigger damaged concrete chunks however the product (regrind) is cheaper than asphalt by round $8k. They nonetheless compact it so it’s a lot more durable than gravel, nevertheless it’s a bit free on prime and never this new asphalt look/really feel. It’s a $2k distinction, however if you find yourself speaking about $38k-$40k then you definitely actually simply determine what you suppose you’ll need extra long run, not making an attempt to avoid wasting $2k.

We made the choice – REGRIND IT IS, with an enormous thanks to a couple of you who DM’d me and gave me confidence that it was the appropriate factor to do. They started demo’ing out among the concrete and widening the driveway with prep work after they…

It had rained closely the weekend earlier than, which I believe was in between the prep work. As they have been prepping the lengthy driveway and widening it, the water from our hillside property was flooding the gravel and it was unattainable to maneuver the vans round or to compact it. Cool. So I pulled up my “dangerous information script” and requested, “okay, what are our choices and the way a lot will they price?”

Possibility #1: Wait til it dries out, extending the development by a few weeks (relying on climate). However all of them suggested that with out correct drainage it wouldn’t matter WHAT floor we had selected – this driveway was going to get flooded and could be compromised once more inside a number of years. It’s because we had deeply disturbed the hillside by grading it for building vans and “disturbed soil” doesn’t retain/drain water like “established soil”. This was proving to be true in all places there was disturbed soil. He additionally stated that that is why the driveway appeared so patched within the first place – that there was try after try to repair this downside for many years, however with out correct drainage, we might be in that very same boat (haha) in a number of years. Basically if we don’t cope with this now we may be drowning in mud once more quickly.

Possibility #2: Put in a protracted perforated tube that will primarily line your complete size of the driveway on the hillside aspect and act as a French drain, taking the water away earlier than it hits the driveway. This could prolong the job by two days and price $13k. This was clearly the advice, nevertheless it wasn’t $13 {dollars}, $130 {dollars}, or $1300. It was $13k gone similar to that. Did we technically have it? Sure, in our financial savings from the sale of our LA home, which we’re grateful for. However oof.

I begged him to get it underneath $10k and if that’s the case I’d simply do it, rip the bandaid off in hopes of by no means having to cope with it once more. He agreed they usually completed it. They walked the property with us and confirmed us how a lot water there was. It’s simply insidious and except we handled it now we’d have a much bigger downside later.

We had ZERO expertise with this and didn’t have time to take a driving cruise round Portland and attempt to discover some regrind. I put it on social and had sufficient of you say that you just thought it was a good suggestion. So with the data we had on the time we went for regrind.

After I got here residence after it was completed I’ve to confess I used to be like, “okay. positive?” Because it’s looser it isn’t this tremendous clear concrete or asphalt clean look. There are areas which can be tremendous compact and strong and different areas that we puzzled if it was too free. However as we’ve settled in (it’s been about two months) Brian and I each agree that we really LOVE it. It’s that excellent mixture between gravel and asphalt. It feels informal and farm-like, however actually appears to be extra compacted and has extra longevity than gravel with the hillside + rain mixture. I clearly can’t say something about that for years, so please know this isn’t a evaluate (but).

It’s tremendous darkish, however not black like asphalt. It appears like darkish small gravel rocks glued/compacted along with a layer of semi-loose to free gravel on prime (however very angular, so not that free and settles in simply to the decrease layer). It’s about 6″ in whole depth (it looks as if it anyway). I stroll on it in my naked ft however I’ve working troll ft that may deal with rather more than others – so I suppose that most individuals would say it’s like strolling on gravel and never advisable with naked ft. However after I’m strolling the canines or driving up the driveway has that grave crunch that I like!

I simply checked in with Brian about it – as a result of two months in the past we have been each like “effectively, we hope we made the appropriate determination”. And now, he stated the identical factor – that he has come to adore it, too. We’re so joyful. The entire thing ended up being within the low $40k vary (paid over time in funds which all the time helps) and it’s behind us. However once more, I need to stress that the product itself isn’t that costly, we simply have an exceptionally lengthy driveway so when you’ve got a shorter one, all of those quotes could be far much less.

If you happen to guys have extra perception/expertise go away it within the feedback. I actually hope that we made the appropriate determination however solely time will inform. We love the feel and appear prefer it doesn’t compromise the general vibe of the home, whereas hopefully giving us the long-term operate, sturdiness, and “NO MUD” that we so desired.

Thanks for listening to my driveway ted speak. I actually hope to not should ever do that once more 😉

*After Set up Photographs by Kaitlin Inexperienced


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