The esthetics of a driveway makes a strong first impression as the entrance to a home and are an important consideration when undertaking a custom home building project. They are a reflection of the care and character of a home and should be regularly maintained to maximize a home’s “curb appeal,” and be on par with the quality of the home itself. There are several different options to choose from, each with their own advantages. The most common options found in Southeastern Wisconsin include asphalt, concrete and interlocking pavers.

Asphalt pavement is arguably the most common choice locally and perhaps nationally, with many appealing benefits related to climate, time invested and cost-effectiveness. It consists of an engineered mix of aggregate (stones and sand), with a petroleum-based liquid asphalt cement. It is strong, durable, provides a continuous surface, and is unaffected by salt in winter months. Asphalt’s added appeal in Northern climates is its pliable characteristics, making it forgiving to the freeze/ thaw cycle. It is designed to flex with naturally occurring slight ground settlements as well as with a frost heave. Its ability to expand and contract also makes it ideal for paving steep inclines or sloped areas in cold climates.

Asphalt drive construction also has a quick turnaround time and can be installed within a few days after sub grade preparation is completed. Newly constructed asphalt driveways can be driven on generally 24 hours after installation, although they may take up to a year to fully cure. They are susceptible to extreme heat, softening the surface, yet the black color’s absorption of the sun’s heat in winter months is an advantage with quicker snow melt. And while asphalt is one of the most cost-effective options initially, it does require regular maintenance with crack filling and re-application of a sealant every 3-5 years.

Concrete is highly regarded for its durability and quality, with industry estimates of at least a 30 year lifespan. Once it is properly cured and sealed, concrete driveways are generally impervious to weather and are not susceptible to potholes and rut formations. Nor is concrete affected by heat causing any softness or shedding of tar. While many are not drawn to the esthetic quality overall, some prefer the brighter surface area and its reflection of light. The real argument for concrete is that it requires minimum maintenance and withstands a great deal of wear and tear. However, once it does breakdown, repairs can be more involved, often requiring replacing entire slabs of concrete.

This leads into one of the advantages of interlocking pavers, the flexibility of repairing or replacing only damaged sections. However, for luxury home owners, perhaps the main reason to invest in interlocking pavers is sheer esthetics and the endless design and pattern options that they offer. Two predominant options for interlocking pavers are brick and concrete. Brick pavers are durable, withstanding exposure to Wisconsin’s extreme cold and moisture. They effectively block out weeds, their permeability allows water to flow through naturally, they are easy to repair or maintain and they create a refined statement. Interlocking concrete consists of a high density concrete, with a diverse palate of rich, distinctive colors. Like asphalt, interlocking concrete pavers are flexible; they won’t crack and heave with the freeze/ thaw cycle, are made to withstand dramatic shifts in temperature and humidity and are not affected by de-icing salts.

Interlocking pavers, both brick and concrete, allow for endless designs and patterns, yet concrete does open up more options with contrasting size, texture and color. They may be an impractical choice for long driveways, yet can be incorporated into the approach to the home, tying in with landscaping and a custom home’s exterior design elements. There are many durable options suited to enhance the curb appeal of a luxury home, and a custom home builder is the best resource for advising on which option would maximize the entrance to the home and property.