Looking for a new driveway that won't cost the earth? There are several options for budget materials. Here's a rundown of the pros and cons of gravel, asphalt and tar and chip driveways:


If money is your top concern then gravel is the top option, as materials and labour costs are both extremely low. It's also one of the most ecologically-friendly options. Water tends to collect under gravel, rather than simply running off it like on most solid drives, meaning less waste water is produced. A gravel drive can even help you grow a greener lawn!

On the downside, gravel isn't particularly suitable for any drive that isn't on level ground. On hillsides, gravel will quickly accumulate in a heap at the bottom. Even on flat surfaces, you will need to regularly rake the gravel back into place. Over time some will inevitably get lost so your driveway will need topping up whenever the gravel gets too sparse.


For a permanent fixture without the maintenance needs of gravel, the cheapest option is asphalt. When properly laid and maintained, an asphalt driveway is highly durable and will last for up to 20 years. In cooler climates it's especially long-lasting. In its natural form asphalt is black but can be painted over to fit the look of your home.

Asphalt might not be the best choice for anyone who wants to do car maintenance on the driveway. It breaks down after repeated contact with diesel, petrol, and other solvents, so working on your engine will end up damaging the surface. Cracks and damage can be fixed quite effectively, and applying a sealant every two to four years will greatly increase the drive's lifetime.

Tar and chip

This last method is something of a combination of the latter two. Tar and chip mixes asphalt cement with stones, and combines some of the best things about the two materials. It needs no regular sealing, unlike asphalt. However, it's also much less long-lasting than asphalt, and will need replacing once every seven to ten years.

Tar and chip drives also have a rougher texture than asphalt which can be a pro or a con. In wet or snowy conditions, you have much less chance of slipping on tar and chip. However, if you have kids running around on your driveway, there's the potential for some nasty scrapes. Price-wise, tar and chip costs somewhere in the middle of the price range for gravel and asphalt, making it a safe middle ground option.

Contact a company like Melbourne Asphalt Contractors with any questions you have.