Driveways And Different Types

Permeable paving or driveways is a form of Sustainable Urban Drainage System (Suds). Basically it refers to (usually) a hard surface that water can drain through. Asphalt and concrete are impermeable, which means water runs straight off them onto the neighbouring land, causing flooding and potentially pollution problems.

Benefits of permeable paving

  • Reduced flood risk
  • Reduced demand for irrigation
  • Benefits for tree roots
  • Reduced urban heat island effects

Types of permeable paving

Permeable paving falls into three main categories; monolithic, unit, and fluid construction paving. Over the years I’ve used them all, and can tell you there is no real one size fits all approach. Let me explain what these different types are. Basically monolithic paving refers to paving that is laid in one smooth continuous layer like Tarmac. Unit paving is made up of individual units like concrete or block paving. Fluid construction is any product that is poured into place and remains fluid, or movable, like gravel, we will not be discussing gravel in this website

Here I shall list the main types of permeable paving, before discussing them in more depth later.

  • Tarmac  (monolithic paving)
  • Resin Driveways gravel (monolithic paving)
  • Permeable block paving (unit paving)


Tarmac is generally considered to be the cheapest method of laying a hard surface. But it’s a time-consuming job which requires specialist tools, machinery and, not least, knowledge. This means that it only becomes the cheapest method once the driveway is up to a suitable size, where the economies of scale kick in.

For these reasons, tarmac driveways are not something that can reasonably be considered as a DIY job, unless you have friends or relatives in the trade who are going to help you out, particularly with the machinery. If you’re going to talk to contractors, you’ll need to know that tarmac is more properly called bitmac.

Bitmac or Tarmac?

The name tarmac was original derived from John MacAdam, who developed the process in the West. He used tar, which can be found naturally, to hold the small stones together, hence the name tar macadam, or tarmac for short. Nowadays, as the binding agentTarmac driveway companies for the aggregates is bitumen, a by-product of the oil refining process, rather than tar, it is known as bitumen macadam, shortened in the trade to bitmac.

Consider Where you use Tarmac

You do need to think hard before deciding on tarmac for a driveway outside your home, particularly if you like to work on cars or motorcycles as a hobby. Petrol or diesel spills, or splashes of other solvents like penetrating oil, will break down the hardened top surface then eat their way through the lower layers. This process can’t be reversed and soon the aggregates begin to spill out of the resulting hole every time a car tyre passes over it. The hole will grow, look very unsightly, and it can only be fixed by Patching, which doesn’t look great.

 You need to consider the affect on your neighbourhood area, too. If all the other drives in the street are tarmac, perhaps because they were all done in one go when the houses were built, then obviously it will fit in beautifully. But if that’s not the case, and all the other drives in the street fit in with the period of the property, then yours will stick out like a sore thumb, and possibly make the house a little harder to sell. Your neighbours won’t thank you for putting down an eyesore either.

It’s not really a good surface for a recreational patio or other garden area, as it’s not that attractive and can get hot in summer, which is when you want to use that space. Having said that, you might want to have an area in the garden for kids to play ball sports or games on, if you have the space. If you’re going to get a drive laid anyway, the extra cost of doing part of the garden won’t be a great deal more, since the people, machinery and supplies will be coming to you anyway.

Tinker with the Size and Colour of your Driveway Materials

If you do decide to go for tarmac driveway (or bitmac), it’s worth knowing that there are many different types and even colours. This might make it a bit more palatable for a residential property or in a garden. The main differences are in the size and type of aggregate used, and the type of binding agent.

A different size of aggregate to that normally used for roads can do a lot to set your tarmac driveway apart from just another piece of road, and coloured aggregates are available that can help tarmac driveways blend into its surroundings. Although the choice of binding agent is best left to the professionals, to be taken on functional grounds, there are coloured binders available. If they can be used in your situation and match, or get close, to the colour of the aggregate, then the effect can be very pleasing.

Resin Bound or Resin Bonded Gravel

Resin bound gravel is simply gravel that is bound together with a resin. The resin can be either clear to show off the natural colour of the gravel, or it can be coloured to give a more uniform appearance. Like permeable asphalt, resin bound gravel must also be laid on a permeable surface.

There is an important (if pedantic) distinction to be made between resin bound gravel and resin bonded gravel. I used to get these two mixed up all the time, much to the amusement of fellow colleagues and contractors. Resin bound gravel, like permeable or porous asphalt is made up of (relatively) large pieces of gravel held together with resin, with void in between the gravel stones. Resin bonded gravel is simply gravel that has been stuck to a surface using resin, and is not necessarily permeable.Resin Bound Driveways

Resin driveways are a relatively new product on the UK market. They aren’t used domestically a great deal because they are fairly expensive and not that well known. But resin bound surfaces are very flexible, particular in terms of colour, and can be laid on top of an existing surface if it’s in good enough condition.

Often where you see colour being used on the streets, that will be done with a resin bound or resin bonded surface. Red bus lanes, green cycle paths and other designs marked out on existing roads are likely to be resin based.

How Resin Based Products Work

The resin acts as a top surface layer to which Gravel, or another aggregate, can be laid. Being effectively a glue, the aggregate will stick to that layer. There are two main categories of resin drive systems, resin bonded driveways and resin bound driveways, and the difference is in the method of applying the aggregate.

In resin bonded systems, the gravel is scattered onto a pre-applied resin layer before it sets. In resin bound systems, the aggregate and resin are mixed together and then applied to the surface together. Either way, the drive or path will set pretty quickly and be able to accept light traffic in an hour or two. Of course, this also means that the job needs to be planned properly so that everything goes smoothly and the surface can be completed before the resin dries out.

Domestic Usage

The main reason why resin based driveways are more expensive than other drive coverings is that it has to be laid on a solid base like Concrete or Tarmac. So you have to lay a driveway and then lay the resin product on top of it, which for many people is a waste of time. But if you want the look, which can be very professional and smooth, then that’s what you have to do.


Of course, if you have an ugly concrete or tarmac drive but it has no cracks or other structural defects, than you can lay resin on top of it. This is where resin bonded or resin bound products really do score. Not only can you cover up the old surface, but you can mix colours, create patterns and other designs. Application is a specialist job but can be done by someone who’s a dab hand at DIY.

Laying a Resin Bonded Drive

Resin bonded products are easier to lay and cheaper as the resin layer is thinner. Assuming the base is in good condition and has been prepared, the resin, which comes in two or three parts, is mixed thoroughly then poured on to the base and spread out evenly. Many manufacturers provide specialist tools for applying and spreading the resin.

The aggregate can then be spread over the resin. Some manufacturers supply spreaders but it can also be scattered on by hand from scoops. Aim to put on more than you think you need, as you can always sweep off the excess once the resin has set. Applying more if there’s a bald patch is not so easy. After an hour or so, depending on the weather, the loose aggregate can be swept off, and then it’s ready for use, although some systems then require a sealing layer.

Resin Bound Driveways

Resin bound products have a deeper resin layer, at least a centimetre, so there is a need to put an edging course around the area of the drive. This can really be anything you fancy. Once this has been prepared, empty the various parts of the resin mix and the chosen aggregate into a mixer using the proportions dictated by the manufacturer’s instructions. After mixing for the prescribed amount of time, the mix can be turned out into a wheelbarrow and poured over the drive site.

The mix is then spread over the site, working side to side and backwards and forwards to ensure even distribution, using a spreader known as a ‘lute’ (also used in tarmac laying). It is then rubbed smooth with a float trowel and dries in about an hour.

Be Careful when Selecting Contractors

Finally, if you decide on a resin based drive and want to get contractors to do it for you, make sure they have done this type of work before. Many of them have training and accreditation schemes so you will know that the staff are not complete newcomers to the method.

Block Paving

Interlocking permeable pavers (block pavers) are pavers that tessellate together in such a way that permanent voids are left in specific places between the blocks. Some are quite intricate tessellating shapes, whilst others are simply rectangular or square, but have small spacers on their sides to keep the blocks apart (to allow for drainage).

Block paved driveways are laid on a specialist base and sub-base material of open single sized gravel. This allows the water to drain away. Personally I find it a bit tricky to get this type of bed to be ‘level’ or fall to the correct gradients. I must admit I prefer the old fashioned non-permeable method of laying on a bed of consolidated sharp sand. However, this might just be because I’ve laid more driveways with the old method, and I just need to adapt to survive.

In the same way as for permeable or porous asphalt, block paving pavers can either be free draining to the subsoil (if its free draining enough), or the water can be captured in perforated pipes and taken away to a drain or stored for future use.Block Paved Driveways

Interlocking permeable pavers are visually attractive, and sometimes can be matched by manufacturer to existing adjacent products on site.

Safety/Ease of Installation

Bricks and similar materials have abrasive surfaces that are more resistant to slipping and skidding. In addition to being a very popular alternative for driveway construction, paving materials are also used to make outdoor walkways easier to navigate when it is raining or icy. Compared with the five days it typically takes for concrete to be ready for use, pavers can be installed much easier and faster.


When a driveway made of concrete begins to crack due to age, it can be extremely expensive to fix. Stone and blocks, on the other hand, can be repaired quickly and affordably if any damage should occur.

Choosing a Contractor

Regardless of how many advantages block paving can deliver, they won’t mean a whole lot if you don’t pick the right block paving company to install your new block paved driveway. A well-constructed driveway is not only convenient, but it can also mean a great deal when it comes to the appearance and the value of your home. It is extremely important that you choose a contractor with a great deal of experience and a track record of success.

Simply looking in the Yellow Pages or selecting the first company that pops up on an Internet search isn’t enough. This is a very important job, so you should devote the time to do a little homework before making your choice. Call three companies to provide bids so you can choose from a range of prices. Once you receive a bid, make sure the contractor provides thorough details of what the job will entail so you know exactly what to expect and how much you will pay.

If you are overlaying the driveway on a previously constructed base, the contractor will need to carefully look for any potential weak spots and determine why that weakness occurred before beginning any work. Any trouble spots or holes will need to be repaired or patched before the overlay can take place.

However, if you are having a completely new block paved driveway built using paving, the contractor needs to make sure the area drains properly and that any soft or low spots are corrected. In addition, the company will need to apply soil sterilizer to keep weeds or grass from growing up through the driveway.

It is always important you get customer references and ask their opinion of the quality of work they received. You should also make sure the company belongs to an industry trade association so its employees are aware of the latest advances in technology and efficiency.

Weigh your options and perform a little diligence in picking the right contractor. Once you see the final results of your driveway paving construction project, you’ll find that the work you did beforehand was well worth it.

Another type of finish for a driveway which we have not discussed is:

Pattern Imprinted Concrete

Enhancing your home’s curb appeal does not have to break your bank. If it is a more beautifully-laden driveway or patio or porch you want, opting for imprinted concrete may be a lofty choice for you home improvement initiative.

Pattern imprinted concrete driveways, patios, porches, and pool outlay is quite the rage nowadays.

As more and more technology-driven improvements are being done to the method and features of imprinted concrete, so does the number of homes aiming to add texture, design, and wow factor to the exterior portion of their homes.

To give you an idea, here are the top 7 advantages to reap when you use pattern imprinted driveways, walkways, patios, porches, and pool or garden outlays.

Increase Face Value of Property

No doubt, imprinted concrete driveways or patios as well as porches and other exterior outlays and walkways of home add instant curb appeal to it. Not only are the artistic design and patterns add aesthetic value to a property, it also creates a sense of unique “personality” to an exterior that delineates it from the rest of the neighbourhood.Pattern Imprinted Concrete

Most home buyers look for a certain level of uniqueness, and customized imprinted concrete designs on your own abode will add that magnetic pull hence, increasing your ROI without spending too much.

Freedom from Slipping Hazards

Wherever you are in the world, the snow or the rain will hound your driveway, walkway, and other exterior portions to no avail.

Slipping can be dangerous to homes with children and oldies. With imprinted concrete driveways, patios or walkways, you can guarantee freedom from the usual hazards of slipping and falling on your behind.

Most professional pavers use anti-slip guard as standard on their paving projects to keep home dwellers safe whatever the weather.

Work of Art Results

Think: elegant brickwork and acid-stained borders.

Paving specialists who do your imprinted concrete driveways, walkways or patios are highly qualified bricklayers who can design and create stunning brickwork that complement the installed driveway.

Not only brickwork but also striking borders that added contrast to the whole design.

This will not only cut your budget to a half, it also saves the hassle of finding a separate contractor to do the job.

Complimentary Features to Home

There is a humungous range of designs and patterns for imprinted concrete. From intricate circle and compass patterns, to fan, stone, and geometric designs, there is so much to choose from to compliment the exterior portion of your home.

You can choose to blend colours, mimic natural stones endemic in your place, or simply generate amazingly unique colour, stone, border, slate, and so on patters to add flair to your design in mind.

Some concrete paving specialists also offer extra-mile service of adding flower or gravel beds to add wow factor to your landscape. Some also create attractive rails, access ramps, or step features in contrast or to compliment imprinted concrete driveways, patios, porches, and walkways.

Crack Control Feature

Homeowners concern has always been directed at the eventual cracking of concrete due to a multitude of reasons such as freezing and thawing of moisture within the concrete slab, shrinking of concrete over a period of time, and/or dropping of heavy objects on them.

Cracks can largely create a blunder to the intricate patterns and designs. Today, however, more and more paving companies add crack control joints to supplement it from undue cracking.

These joints are integrated skilfully to the patterns making them indistinguishable. Not only do these joints prevent cracking on the foundation of the imprinted concrete driveways, patios or walkway’s, it also strengthen them from wear and tear due to frequent traffic.

Hassle-Free Drainage System

Like everything else, drainage is an important feature that should not be taken for granted.

Drainage, however, must be carefully designed in such a way that is blends harmoniously to your chosen pattern imprinted driveway.

Most paving companies specializing in imprinted concrete driveways, patios, and walkways create good drainage without compromising style and aesthetic appeal.

Outdoor Lighting Integration

Lighting elements add sizzle to any dreary exterior. To add dramatic flair to your imprinted concrete driveways, pathways, patios, and porches, some paving specialists will incorporate lighting to the surface.

This could be to highlight a specific feature, or to simply add wow factor to an area.

On top of all these benefits, choosing imprinted concrete on driveways, pathways, patios, and porches or pool outlays are renowned for their cost-effectiveness and low maintenance benefits.

The key is to find a reliable driveway service provider that uses highly specialised concrete mixes, provides huge selection of colours, patterns, and designs, and houses reliable pavers and bricklayers to thoroughly deliver top-of-the-line imprinted concrete driveways or walkways.

Of course, a written insurance is a must to guarantee quality, longevity, and peace of mind.

Please choose the type of driveway you are interested in below

Resin Driveways | Tarmac Driveways | Pattern Imprinted DrivewaysBlock Paved Driveways