What is the best material for a residential concrete driveway? There really is no one right answer. Many factors must be considered, including overall cost, durability, appearance, maintenance requirements, and longevity. The material that checks the most boxes for your particular circumstances is generally the best option, but it’s still important to do a side-by-side comparison. Not only is a driveway a big investment, it can also have a major impact on the curb appeal of your home.

To help you make an informed decision, here is a comparison of the most popular driveway options, including various types of decorative concrete.

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  • One of the most durable driveway materials, with a typical lifespan of 30 years or longer.
  • Versatile. Can be integrally colored, given a brushed or swirled finish, surfaced with colored aggregate, or scored with decorative sawcuts.
  • Low maintenance, requiring only occasional cleaning and resealing (see How to Maintain a Concrete Driveway).
  • Light-colored concrete driveways absorb less heat and stay cooler than dark-colored materials, such as asphalt.
  • Offers good light reflectivity at night.
  • Sustainable, because of its long lifespan and recyclability (see Concrete Sustainability).


  • Can crack or spall if not properly installed using a high-quality concrete mix (see Concrete Driveway Construction Basics).
  • Is vulnerable to damage by freeze-thaw cycles and deicing salts if not protected by a sealer.
  • Initial installation costs are often higher than for some materials, such as asphalt or gravel, but can be more economical in the long run because of lower maintenance costs (see Concrete Driveway Costs).
  • Must wait a week or longer for the concrete to cure before you can expose it to traffic (see How Long to Wait Before Driving on New Concrete).

Learn more about the different finish options for poured-in-place concrete driveways:
Integrally colored
Exposed aggregate
Broom finished

Color Cap Concrete Coatings, Inc. in Sherman, TX



  • Offers unlimited decorative options not possible with other paving materials.
  • Can be patterned and colored to closely resemble cobblestone, brick, slate or stone, often at a significantly lower cost than using the natural materials they replicate (see Flagstone Stamped Concrete).
  • Can be customized to complement a variety of home styles and color schemes.


  • Significantly more expensive than plain poured-in-place concrete (see Stamped Concrete Cost).
  • Repairs can be complex and potentially costly.

Learn more about stamped concrete driveways.

Sam Ives / Shutterstock



  • Typically less expensive than concrete and concrete pavers, but the cost can fluctuate widely depending on crude oil prices.
  • Resistant to frost heave and damage from salt and deicing chemicals.
  • Can be driven on soon after installation, usually within two or three days.
  • Relatively easy to repair by applying an asphalt crack sealer or patch.


  • Unlike concrete, asphalt driveways offer few decorative options and have limited ability to be customized.
  • High maintenance; needs annual seal coating.
  • Absorbs heat from UV radiation and can soften on hot summer days.
  • Poor light reflectivity.
  • Has a shorter life expectancy than concrete, typically 15 to 20 years (see Asphalt vs. Concrete Driveway).

Konmac / Shutterstock



  • Least expensive driveway paving material, costing as little as a few dollars per square foot, making it especially cost-effective for use on longer driveways.
  • Offers a rustic look that’s a good fit for rural or farmhouse-style homes.
  • Provides a permeable surface that allows for good drainage and reduces water runoff.
  • Available in different colors and sizes, but choices may be limited to the type of rock local to your area.
  • Not susceptible to freeze-thaw damage.
  • Requires no special skills to install, making it a good DIY-friendly option.
  • Gravel driveways can be driven on immediately after installation.


  • Needs to be regraded every year or two to fill ruts caused by tire traffic.
  • More difficult to remove debris and snow compared to smooth driveway surfaces.
  • Grass and weeds can poke through the stones if the gravel isn’t regularly replenished.

BR Landscapers, Concrete & Pavers in Pleasanton, CA



  • Great for recreating the look of natural stone or brick.
  • Come in a wide array of colors, shapes, and sizes.
  • Often less costly to repair or replace when compared to stamped concrete (see Stamped Concrete vs. Pavers).
  • Offer a lifespan of 30 years or longer when properly maintained.
  • Can be opened to foot or vehicle traffic immediately after placement.


  • Cost of installation tends to be higher than that of stamped and colored concrete because each unit must be placed individually.
  • Paving units can shift or settle over time, requiring releveling or replacement.
  • Sand in the joints must be replenished every 2 or 3 years to prevent weed growth.

Learn more about concrete driveway pavers.

Gino Santa Maria / Shutterstock



  • Made of compressed clay, paving brick is smoother and stronger than brick used for wall construction and is very durable when properly maintained.
  • Offers a timeless appearance that complements traditional architectural styles.
  • Can be placed in various patterns.
  • Individual units can be reset or replaced if they shift or become damaged.


  • Brick driveways are labor-intensive to install.
  • Fewer design options in color, shape, and size when compared with concrete pavers.
  • Requires periodic sealing to prevent stains and to keep the clay from flaking and peeling.
  • Susceptible to cracking or chipping over time, especially if exposed to freeze-thaw cycles.
  • Usually more expensive than concrete pavers, costing as much as $25 per square foot installed.


Every type of driveway material has its pros and cons. Although you may be tempted to choose the most budget-friendly option, you should factor in any upkeep costs that will add to the overall expense. Equally important is how well the driveway enhances the aesthetics of your home. Materials with the ability to be customized in color and pattern can be made to look like a natural extension of your home and will contribute to rather than detract from its curb appeal. In our opinion, concrete is the one material that does it all. It’s versatile, durable, looks great with most home styles, and offers the best long-term value.

Modern Concrete Driveways
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