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How to choose aggregate for a driveway

A driveway is one of the first things visitors see when they arrive at a house. An attractive, well-maintained driveway creates a good first impression. But it also needs work for the vehicles that’ll regularly drive on and off it and the people who’ll set foot on it.

That’s why choosing the right aggregate for your driveway is really important. If the stones are too small, they can get lodged in tyre treads or disappear into the earth below. Too big, and the driveway will be uncomfortable to step foot on.

Let’s look at the different driveway aggregate types out there so you can help your clients make the right call.

Different types of aggregate for driveways

When choosing the best surface for your driveway project, you have a few options. Asphalt, concrete and resin are all popular. However, loose gravel and stones also have a really good look and are cheaper. 

Stones for driveways must be hardwearing to handle high foot and vehicle traffic, and sometimes heavy loads. Knowing the different types of driveway stone is essential, so any driveway not only turns heads but is functional too.

pea gravel

Pea gravel

Also known as pea shingle, pea gravel consists of smooth, pea-sized stones (10mm in size) it is only suitable for the top layer of a driveway. Its compact size also means it is easy to walk on.

Pea gravel has a round shape, so it easily moves when driving across it. You will need to stabilise the stones through some form of edging to prevent them shifting under the weight of vehicles.Pea gravel can provide a lovely contrast to any surrounding concrete, lawns or other surfaces.

Golden gravel

Golden gravel is made of yellow, brown and cream stones that bring aesthetic appeal to the top surface of a driveway. Comfortable to walk on, hardwearing and easy to maintain, it’s similar to pea gravel in shape and size. This means it requires driveway edging or stabilising pavers to prevent it from spilling out.

marble chips

Stone dust

Stone dust is the finest type of crushed stone available. It’s made from stones crushed into a fine powdery form of dust. It can be used on its own to create a water-resistance surface. It’s also used alongside other stones to create the top layer of gravel driveways.
Also called ‘stone screenings’, stone dust is flat and smooth once laid out. The level surface can support the weight of vehicles. Remember that stone dust needs to be sloped towards the sides of the driveway for efficient drainage. 

Marble chips

Marble chips have a shimmer effect in the sunlight and have a modern look. They are made by crushing white marble into small rocks.

They have a tangibly sharper texture and grey streaks and are one of the best top layers. Use driveway edging to hold them in place and stop them from migrating or being washed away. Marble chips are usually more expensive than other driveway aggregate types, but they are popular because of their look. 

What size aggregate is best for driveways?

The most suitable size of aggregate (gravel) depends on how the driveway is going to be used. If the driveway regularly has vehicles driving on and off it, a size of between 14mm and 20mm is often recommended. Anything smaller can get caught in the tyre treads of the car.

Stones bigger than 20mm or more can be tricky to walk on and are more liable to shift and move following vehicle impact. This also applies to stones that are more rounded, such as pebbles.

If the driveway doesn’t have to worry about having cars on it aggregate sized between 6mm and 10mm can be considered. 

How to choose your driveway aggregate colours

Driveways need to complement the home you’re working on and its surroundings. Darker stones will hide any dirt or dust accumulating over time, but spraying water on a gravel driveway at least once or twice a week is still recommended.

White aggregates need to be regularly maintained to prevent stains from car tyres. On the other hand, cream and golden-coloured aggregates like jersey shore gravel look stunning against darker brickwork.

The good news is there are many aggregate colours to choose from. This allows you and your customers to be creative and design the driveway that best works with their property and personal tastes. 

Benefits of using an aggregate for driveway

There are many benefits to choosing aggregate for your next driveway project:

  • Low maintenance – Laying down a fabric membrane under the gravel prevents weeds growing. A simple rake, where necessary, will keep the stones compact.
  • Easy to install – Gravel surfaces are easy to lay and can be enjoyed immediately.
  • Excellent durability – The performance of gravel driveways isn’t affected by the weather. They can last for decades if cared for properly.
  • Improved drainage – If the rain does pour, water moves more quickly through the stones than it can through soils and other materials. This prevents puddles from forming on the surface.
  • Enhanced security – Loose aggregate provides a distinct crunching sound, so it’s easy to hear if someone is on the property.
  • Cost-effective – Driveway aggregates are much cheaper than other materials such as asphalt, concrete or tarmac.

Stones with sharp and irregular edges are ideal for driveways. Their compact nature makes the surface more durable, and they don’t move as easily when starting a car. Think about your driveway project needs — broken or crushed aggregates are usually a good option.

The information on this website is intended to be for general guidance – however every project is different which could affect the suitability for your particular project or circumstances. References to a product, service or material should not be considered a recommendation or any indication of fitness for any specific purpose. Where applicable work must be carried out by a qualified professional. Seek appropriate specialist advice if needed and always follow manufacturer’s instructions advice and ensure compliance with any applicable laws or regulations.

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