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

Able to nerd out over driveways?? Consider me, I didn’t need to both six months in the past, however I realized SO MUCH and y’all are asking. I clearly need to remind you all that I’m NOT a driveway skilled 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 had been in a position to do it because it’s simply so a lot better. We’ve got the world’s longest driveway so this wasn’t a enjoyable reasonably priced “weekend venture”. 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 forwards and backwards a bit on the damaged items whereas in your automotive. It’s lined with timber that bend over and meet within the center however most significantly it had this grass patch within the center giving it an previous two-track vibe. Branches would slap your windshield on the best way down the street and also you had to concentrate to the place the street was to not unintentionally get caught in a ditch. These had been all issues I liked 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 bought our vibe). Brian wished it wider however liked the vibe.

photograph by suraya barbee

Positive, possibly the concrete round the remainder of the home was “very, completely, irreparably damaged,” however it didn’t actually hassle me. That they had patched a few of 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, figuring out that this residence renovation/restoration was going to bleed us dry already. We agreed early on that we’d focus our price range on the home, specifically the rooms that had been to be closely documented on the weblog for my job, with tasks that had been tied to partnerships. There are some elements of the development we are able to write off, and might really construct future enterprise. I’m not a “driveway influencer” so once we had been prioritizing development prices we actually, actually didn’t need to need to redo the driveway. It was high-quality!!! (ish)

Aesthetically I didn’t need to contact it in any respect as a result of I liked the two-track nation vibe. However over the course of the development with so many huge vehicles and equipment coming out and in day by day + two years of heavy rain, it grew to become increasingly more busted to the purpose of not with the ability to drive down it in any respect with out fearing that you simply’ll pop your tire. The allure was fairly ruined and never simply because it was cracked and in again form, however as a result of it was so slender 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 develop into very clear that we must redo the driveway and she or he is LONG. So let’s speak by means of the precise challenges/state of affairs:

  1. It’s a protracted driveway to simply get to the property, then a roundabout with a grove of fruit timber within the center, and an enormous utility house that might park like 10 vehicles. She BIG.
  2. It appears to be a mixture of largely damaged concrete with some poured asphalt combined in and many patches of gravel.
  3. Every little thing wanted to be widened so 2023 vehicles might navigate with out getting caught within the mud. It was that slender. I appreciated the narrowness and located it charming, however explaining that to guys which are caught within the mud was feeling more and more foolish/annoying.
  4. After which there was MUD. Simply a lot mud that I feel completely scarred us. We HAD to repair this drawback 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 executed many driveways, however 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 to your state of affairs however it’s what we had been advised, based mostly on our analysis.


Everybody appears to like concrete and I agree that new concrete appears to be like 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 could be $75-100k. It requires a whole demo, grading, gravel base, metal rods, pouring, curing, pouring, curing, and no site visitors for weeks afterward. It’s what everybody thought we must 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 at all times 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 could 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 would it not begin/cease, and many others. It could 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 bought a chip seal contractor to return 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 could be value it). He gave it a stable “no manner” 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 principally 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 liked the look of it on-line however we didn’t expertise it wherever in particular person however that was a moot level – when the salesperson is saying “no manner, this can be a dangerous product for you,” you don’t preserve exploring or push again.

Permeable Pavers

On the final minute, ARCIFORM instructed these pavers which truthfully I feel 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 means 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 means of and rainwater to empty straight by means 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’ll be able to solely park two vehicles) I might 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 below our toes as we stroll, and the look that feels so informal for this previous property. I’m not saying it’s proper for in every single place (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 vehicles 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 executed). Additionally for gravel, we had been going to need to demo out all of the concrete, grade all the things, line and prep after which put a gravel base, compact it, after which add a ultimate prime coat. All high-quality and good however it could take weeks, value $60K+, after which we had been nonetheless very, very, very fearful that it could wash away in a number of winters anyway!! We additionally simply fearful that it could gather mud and once more, we had felt held hostage by mud for a yr. 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 had been going nuts as a result of everybody appeared so bummed once we stated we had been extremely contemplating asphalt. There was a “please don’t do that to this lovely property” look and whereas I kinda agreed, we had been like, “so are YOU going bankroll our concrete value?” We bought three quotes, throughout $38k which after concrete and gravel appeared like our greatest choice. We actually appreciated one of many corporations – their information, customer support, and response time had been wonderful, so we set it up. A few of the professionals of asphalt are that because it’s liquid tar combined with rock (I feel) it may be poured over cracked concrete and even previous gravel – so much less demo and prep time (and time is cash). There’s some prep work, however far much less. It additionally meant that the youngsters might rollerblade on the driveway and bike simpler than they might in gravel – which on the time appeared like an ideal perk. However it’s black and undoubtedly says, “new development”. I assume it stinks for some time and might carry black marks on sneakers into the home. However it takes only some days, value actually 1/2 of concrete (if not even much less) and the man, John, stated they might do it actually any time – like the subsequent week.

We had been so unbelievably over the mud surrounding our home, at occasions in the course of the rain feeling like we needed to quarantine inside as a result of it could be that dangerous simply strolling to the automotive. I wore Bogs virtually solely and had to offer rain/mud boots for visitors ought to they need to go to. I ruined numerous pairs of sneakers – all high-quality and good, however it informs our resolution making which is why I’m bringing it up. So we most likely weren’t within the headspace to make this resolution as a result of we had been reacting to the mud and couldn’t be goal. However we talked about it for months, actually attempting 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 simply received’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 manner out. And we began seeing asphalt in every single place and it seemed high-quality to us!! We all know that it at all times grays out over time, is straightforward/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 had been shortly operating out of each, truthfully.

Regrind (A.Ok.A. Recycled Asphalt)

So our asphalt firm was prepping, about to start out 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 knowledge as finest he might which was basically this: regrind is recycled asphalt that’s damaged up into gravel bits however because it nonetheless has the tar in it so it might probably compact to be more durable and with much less motion than gravel. He stated that the prep could be extra (a further $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, however it’s a bit unfastened on prime and never this new asphalt look/really feel. It’s a $2k distinction, however when you find yourself speaking about $38k-$40k you then actually simply resolve what you suppose you’ll need extra long run, not attempting 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 precise factor to do. They started demo’ing out a few of the concrete and widening the driveway with prep work after they…

It had rained closely the weekend earlier than, which I feel was in between the prep work. As they had been prepping the lengthy driveway and widening it, the water from our hillside property was flooding the gravel and it was inconceivable to maneuver the vehicles 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 value?”

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 is because we had deeply disturbed the hillside by grading it for development vehicles and “disturbed soil” doesn’t retain/drain water like “established soil”. This was proving to be true in every single place there was disturbed soil. He additionally stated that because of this the driveway appeared so patched within the first place – that there was try after try to repair this drawback for many years, however with out correct drainage, we might be in that very same boat (haha) in a number of years. Primarily 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 basically line the complete size of the driveway on the hillside facet and act as a French drain, taking the water away earlier than it hits the driveway. This might lengthen the job by two days and price $13k. This was clearly the advice, however 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 below $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 an even bigger drawback 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 simply thought it was a good suggestion. So with the knowledge we had on the time we went for regrind.

Once I got here residence after it was executed I’ve to confess I used to be like, “okay. positive?” Because it’s looser it isn’t this tremendous clear concrete or asphalt easy look. There are areas which are tremendous compact and stable and different areas that we questioned if it was too unfastened. 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 good mixture between gravel and asphalt. It feels informal and farm-like, however really 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 assessment (but).

It’s tremendous darkish, however not black like asphalt. It appears to be like like darkish small gravel rocks glued/compacted along with a layer of semi-loose to unfastened gravel on prime (however very angular, so not that unfastened 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 toes however I’ve working troll toes 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 toes. However once I’m strolling the canine 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 had been each like “effectively, we hope we made the precise resolution”. And now, he stated the identical factor – that he has come to find it irresistible, too. We’re so completely satisfied. The entire thing ended up being within the low $40k vary (paid over time in funds which at all times 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 if in case you have a shorter one, all of those quotes could be far much less.

In the event you guys have extra perception/expertise go away it within the feedback. I actually hope that we made the precise resolution 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 perform, sturdiness, and “NO MUD” that we so desired.

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

*After Set up Photographs by Kaitlin Inexperienced

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