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Gravel Vs. Asphalt Driveways

Homeowners can use this article to answer the question, “gravel vs. asphalt driveways, which is the best?”


Table of Contents

The driveway is often the most overlooked part of your home, yet it’s the first thing people driving by or coming to visit will see.

A beautiful, well-maintained driveway can increase your property value by $5,000 – $10,000. When you think of it that way, there’s no reason to let your driveway deteriorate and make your home appear ugly next to your neighbors.

However, how do you know which material is the best? Is it better to have a gravel vs. asphalt driveway?

The answer depends on cost, climate, location, appearance, and usage.

That’s why Richard’s Paving scoured the internet and interviewed customers to discover the public’s most frequently asked questions about gravel vs. asphalt driveways.

Our guide will provide the information you need to make the best choice for your driveway. First, we will list some of the basic pros and cons of gravel vs. asphalt driveway.

Then, we will dive deeper into some of the different kinds of gravel and asphalt driveways plus their pros and cons.

Introduction to Gravel Driveways

Gravel driveways have been popular in the United States for decades. New homes are often constructed with gravel driveways thanks to the material’s low cost. Many homeowners feel the pros of a gravel driveway outweigh the cons. Gravel is easier to maintain, has a lower cost, and is easier to install. But, here’s a full list of gravel driveway pros and cons:

Pros of Gravel:

  • Affordability: Gravel is more affordable because it’s readily available and doesn’t require a lot of specialized equipment, nor does it require complex techniques to install. Gravel is great for homes with very long driveways but it needs a top layer added every few years since gravel will be washed away.
  • Easier Installation: A gravel driveway is easier and faster to install vs. an asphalt driveway. After you pick out the proper gravel, you need to measure your driveway, dig out the area, lay the subbase, and add a layer of weed prevention. and then your layer of decorative gravel.
  • Style Versatility: Your home’s architectural style doesn’t matter, nor does your landscaping design. Gravel is very flexible and can complement your home’s beauty. A gravel driveway can give your home a rustic or modern feel.
  • Less Maintenance: As mentioned in the introduction to gravel driveways, gravel is much easier to maintain. Although you will need to periodically add gravel to the top layer, it’s less labor-intensive and won’t require the technical expertise of a professional.


  • Weather & Climate Disturbs Gravel: Gravel can make snow and ice removal more difficult. Snowplows and shovels can scoop up gravel and displace it, increasing your need to replenish the rocks. Furthermore, blowing snow away can further move rocks into your yard, resulting in more intensive cleanup.
  • It’s Not As Stable: Gravel is not as stable as other driveway paving materials. Rainwater, wind, and other conditions can destabilize the gravel resulting in displacement, potholes, and uneven surfaces. Plus, who doesn’t have kids that love to kick and dig into the rocks? Potholes can damage a car’s steering alignment and uneven surfaces can be a tripping hazard.
  • Gravel is Dusty: Driving on gravel driveways can turn up dust and debris. This dust and debris can stick to your car, vehicle’s windows, outdoor furniture, and house. Furthermore, gravel driveways can collect leaves, branches, and other debris that have fallen from trees or been moved by animals.
  • Lower Property Value: Even if a gravel driveway is beautiful they don’t necessarily increase a property’s value. Many people dislike gravel and the maintenance that comes with it. Plus, it is seen as a lower-cost material that doesn’t appeal to people who want a premium-looking home and driveway.
Gravel Vs. Asphalt Driveway

Introduction to Asphalt Driveways:

Asphalt is considered an economical driveway paving material because, like gravel, it is cheaper and easier to install than concrete. Yet, asphalt is very different from gravel. Its price is more likely to fluctuate because it is an oil-based material. If an asphalt driveway is installed properly, it behaves much like a concrete driveway and can last a long time. Yet, asphalt has its pros and cons, so let’s go over them now:

Pros of Asphalt:

  • Asphalt is Affordable: Although more expensive vs. a gravel driveway, asphalt is a more economical option than concrete. Many other paving materials like concrete and brick can cost twice as much as asphalt. Finally, an asphalt driveway can increase your home’s property value by $5,000 or more.
  • Durability: When asphalt is properly installed and maintained it can last between 15 – 30 years. Asphalt won’t be displaced by gravel due to heavy use, large vehicles, children and animals, or weather. Plus, it won’t be easily damaged by snow shovels and snowplows. 
  • Asphalt is Smooth: An asphalt driveway provides a smooth surface to walk and drive on. If it’s maintained, the asphalt won’t develop potholes, making it less of a tripping hazard. Without potholes, your vehicles won’t risk steering alignment damage either.
  • Flexibility: Asphalt is a great option here in Virginia because of the climate. An asphalt driveway can adapt to minor ground movement without cracking or breaking. The material can also adapt to heavily fluctuating temperatures.


  • Maintenance: The maintenance is more complicated vs. a gravel driveway. An asphalt driveway requires sealcoating, crack filling, and regular cleaning. We recommend you clean your asphalt driveway a few times each year to keep the surface clean and debris-free. If it’s not well-maintained, potholes and large cracks can form, resulting in more expensive repairs.
  • Stains and Discoloration: Asphalt is susceptible to stains from oil and other fluids. These fluids can leave marks, resulting in an ugly appearance. Tire treads, mulch, and food/drink all need to be cleaned ASAP before permanent discoloration.
  • Extreme Heat Damage: Asphalt driveways are great for fluctuating climates, but it does not perform well in extreme heat. Asphalt absorbs and retains the sun’s heat which can make it uncomfortable for people to walk on. Finally, when your driveway absorbs heat it softens, making it easier for vehicles to cause indents and holes.
  • Environmental Heat: Have you heard of an urban heat island? As stated before, asphalt absorbs, retains, and radiates heat. It also raises the temperature of runoff. This heats the air around it, making things more uncomfortable for humans.

Conclusion To The Pros and Cons:

Thanks so much for reading this far. We hope this article has helped you make a decision. In the end, gravel is more economical, easier to install, versatile, and requires easier maintenance, while asphalt is more durable, smoother, and flexible in multiple climates. Finally, asphalt will increase property value whereas gravel generally won’t.

Below this section, we are going to dive even further. You will find information on gravel driveways vs. crushed asphalt, the average costs of gravel vs. asphalt, asphalt millings vs. gravel, and more.

The Cost of a Gravel Driveway Vs. Asphalt

According to Today’s Homeowner, the average gravel driveway costs between $1,200 and $1,500, while an asphalt driveway costs between $2,500 and $10,000.

A gravel driveway’s cost per square foot is $1 and $3, while an asphalt driveway’s cost per square foot is $7 – $13.

These numbers aren’t set in stone, because many factors influence the final cost of a driveway’s installation.

Required Material: The larger the driveway, the more material that’s required. This can make the cost of both an asphalt and gravel driveway higher than the average.

Project Site Preparation and Accessibility: Your driveway’s location can increase the costs associated with installation. The area might require excavation, grading, existing material removal, and soil stabilization. Further, difficult-to-reach locations will require extra labor and more specialized equipment.

Labor: Larger and more complex projects will require more labor or more time to complete, increasing the cost.

Drainage Requirements: Sometimes, your driveway will require grading and installation to address problems with water runoff. This will further increase costs.

Asphalt Millings/Crushed Asphalt VS. Gravel Driveway

Asphalt millings are also called crushed or recycled asphalt. Essentially, paving contractors crush asphalt from old projects into gravel, severely lowering the cost.

Driveways paved with asphalt millings can last just as long as driveways paved with fresh asphalt, given you properly maintain your driveway.

Paving with asphalt milling is more sustainable than paving with gravel. The materials won’t shift around, are eco-friendly, and are great for paving large areas like parking lots.

You won’t need to maintain asphalt millings like a gravel or asphalt driveway. Asphalt millings harden over time instead of weakening, produce less dust and mud, and are less susceptible to the elements.

Finally, asphalt millings are better adapted to the weather. Snow melts off it faster and it’s harder for ice to form.

Asphalt Milling might be the right material for your project!

Asphalt Millings

Conclusion: Asphalt Vs. Gravel Driveway

It’s our hope this guide was able to assist you with your decision-making process.

Here are some final thoughts just in case you’re still undecided.

If you want the cheapest option that can look good with any style home, gravel is your best option. However, if you don’t want to maintain it regularly, asphalt is a better option.

If you like the smooth, dark color of asphalt then we suggest choosing asphalt. Asphalt requires maintenance but fewer times a year. Yet, asphalt usually requires a skilled professional whereas gravel does not.

Finally, if you want to look for asphalt but the low cost of gravel, we suggest giving recycled asphalt/asphalt millings a try.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Richard’s Paving at 804-614-4099 or use our contact page.

We are a gravel and asphalt paving company that provides service in Richmond, VA, the surrounding areas, Virginia’s Middle Peninsula, and Northern Neck.

Our paving company has been in business for 15+ years and has plenty of references. 

We’d love to help you out.

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