Local experts say some materials
for driveways exceed others
SPECIAL TO HOMES PLUS
MILWAUKEE Wisconsin driveways are
asked to survive four seasons of weather,
to be economical and green, to support
outdoor recreation and look good doing it.
While its difficult to find the perfect
driveway, some materials are better than
others, according to local experts with the
Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement
How do different driveways react to the
summer heat? Which material will sur-
vive next winters frost? When will cracks
appear? What about parking a boat or
recreational vehicle? What is a good drive-
way for families who play basketball, use
sidewalk chalk, ride bicycles, skate or
Crushed gravel driveways are the least
expensive option. Frost heaves arent a
problem and theres less repair because
theres no paved surface to break no
sealing, patching, or cleaning. With little
maintenance, gravel driveways can have a
long life. However, gravel driveways are
less appealing because of ice, mess and
Jim May of Wolf Paving Co. Inc,
Oconomowoc, said that in winter, gravel
will ice up, and it wont be a flat, clean
surface for the shovel or snow blower.
Homeowners are at the mercy of the
weather. In summer, a lot will drag in the
house. Gravel driveways also develop pot-
holes, he added.
Gravel has an additional role. The secret
to long-lasting driveways is a good founda-
tion and strong concrete and asphalt
driveways are typically built using
crushed gravel as a 6- to 12-inch thick base
underneath. This gravel base should be
installed over good soil sub-grade, com-
pacted, and set up six inches beyond the
width of the driveway.
Asphalt and concrete are better for Wis-
consin homes, especially in winter,
according to May. Asphalt will not break
down when exposed to salt or other de-
In winter, the dark color helps melt
snow, May said. Like anything in Wis-
consin, the extremes in weather and win-
ter frost will eventually produce cracks
regardless of what material is used for
Fixing cracks doesnt have to be difficult
Asphalt is easily crack-filled using hot
pour materials. Sealers also can be
applied to extend the life span of the
drive, he said.
On new driveways, homeowners should
allow at least six months for the oils in the
asphalt to evaporate before applying the
first coat of sealer. If properly main-
tained, the driveway should last at least 25
Asphalt is a great choice for families
who want to play on their driveway.
Asphalt is a bit softer as a play surface,
and there are no seams to trip on, May
said. It is most often the choice for school
playgrounds and makes an excellent play
surface for home sites. The seamless,
smooth surface is excellent for wheeled
toys, basketball courts, and as a chalk-
board for young artists.
One problem is the summer heat, which
can make asphalt soft. During the sum-
mer, ruts and cracks can develop from the
weight of parked vehicles.
Concrete driveways are common for
their attractiveness and durability.
According to Anna Baird-Luedke of Coel-
lo & Associates in Waukesha, concrete
driveways should last 25 to 30 years if
properly installed and maintained.
We do suggest routinely sealing con-
crete driveways to protect them from the
harsh salts and chemicals used on the
roads in winter, she said.
If water does not bead on the surface,
then the sealer has worn away and its
time to seal again.
Sealing the concrete will also keep
water from penetrating the surface in the
winter, which can cause concrete to pop or
chip if that water freezes beneath the sur-
face, she said. Baird-Luedke recom-
mendes getting commercial-grade sealers
from local concrete suppliers.
While asphalt driveways can break
down along the edges, concrete is more
rigid and will maintain its strong lines,
Baird-Luedke said. Concrete has seams
and is a hard surface bad for skinning
knees, good for making it through hot
Additionally, while asphalt gets hot and
soft in high heat, concrete is light in color
and doesnt get as hot in the summer
May added, Being light in color, it does
not allow much for melting in winter.
Winter can be hard on unprotected con-
crete, which is prone to cracks during
temperature swings and, unlike asphalt, is
damaged by salt and other de-icing chemi-
If properly installed and maintained, concrete driveways can provide homes with last-
Follow these tips to keep your home safe
SPECIAL TO HOMES PLUS
There are more than 2.15 million bur-
glaries each year, more than 65 percent of
which are residential break-ins, with the
majority occurring in the peak vacation
months of July and August, according to
an Insurance Information Institute
Follow these 10 tips to ready your home
and keep it safe when youre away:
1. Ask someone you know and trust to
keep an eye on your house.
2. Stop delivery of your mail and news-
papers or have a friend or neighbor pick
them up for you.
3. Keep bushes and shrubs near your
homes entrance and walkway well-
trimmed. Use timers on lights, televisions
and radios to provide sound and illumi-
nate the inside of your home.
4. Keep shades up and blinds and cur-
tains open to make it appear as if youre
5. Keep the outside of your home well
lit. Would-be thieves prefer not to be seen.
6. Arrange to have your lawn main-
tained if you will be gone for more than a
7. Leave the air conditioner on. A silent
compressor on a hot day is a good indica-
tion you arent home.
8. If your home has a land line, turn
down the ringer on your phone. A con-
stantly ringing phone is a good sign no
one is home.
9. Before you leave, unplug everything
except the refrigerator, freezer, and the
lights and radios you have set on timers.
Check to be sure the oven and stove, as
well as small heat-generating appliances,
such as hair dryers and curling irons, are
10. Where possible, turn off the water
to your sinks, toilets, dishwasher, wash-
ing machine and hot water heater.
Source: ARA Content