How to Give Your Driveway and Front Walk More Curb Appeal

Prevent injuries and tire damage while making a great first impression by replacing or repairing front paths

By Laura Gaskill / Courtesy of Houzz.com

They’re the first thing visitors see when approaching your home (even before they get to the front door), which makes the driveway and front walk the keys to maximizing curb appeal. Here we’ll give you all the details on updating your front walk and driveway, from material choices to costs.

Project: Updating the walkway and driveway.

Why: Having a beautiful, well-maintained front walk and driveway increases curb appeal, adds value to your home and makes coming home each day a more pleasant experience. Cracked and damaged walkways and driveways can be dangerous, causing falls and damaging tires; improving this area of your home will add beauty and increase safety.

Repair, enhance or replace? Repairing an existing driveway or path costs far less, and takes less time, than replacing it. Cracked asphalt can be filled and a new layer of asphalt added over the old. For badly cracked concrete drives and walks, however, repairing is not an option.

If your existing driveway and front walk are in good condition already, consider adding a decorative edging made from brick or pavers to boost curb appeal.

Materials:

  • Crushed stone and gravel are inexpensive and easy to install, though the gravel will scatter and need replenishing from time to time. Gravel paths and driveways are also difficult to keep cleared of snow.
  • Concrete is long lasting (15 to 30 years and beyond) and smooth, and has a modern look. It does tend to crack in cold conditions and does not take well to patches and repairs. 
  • Asphalt has more give than concrete, making it a good choice for cold climates, and is easily patched and repaired. However, asphalt breaks down more quickly, sometimes requiring repairs or replacement within five years, even in a mild climate.
  • Cobblestone and pavers are the longest-lasting option — a cobblestone driveway or walk can last 100 years or more! They are also by far the most expensive options and require the most work initially to prepare the area and lay a foundation for the stone. Repairs are fairly easy with both; you can replace individual stones as needed, making upkeep costs relatively low.

Costs: They vary by region, but this list can help you compare materials’ relative costs:
 

  • A path or drive made of gravel alone costs about $1 per square foot. 
  • An asphalt topcoat runs about $2 per square foot; a new asphalt driveway (including a base layer of gravel and several coats of asphalt) costs $3 to $6.50 per square foot. 
  • A new poured concrete path or driveway costs around $3 to $4 per square foot. 
  • Pavers cost $6 to $10 per square foot installed, and a cobblestone path or drive costs $12 to $30 per square foot installed.

Who to hire: A paving contractor, landscape contractor or landscape architect will best be able to help you complete this project. Ask the pros you are considering hiring about their experience with the type of driveway or path you would like to have installed  brick and stone especially require a pro with experience to lay it properly.

Good to know: Your driveway and front walk designs should take both beauty and safety into account. Keep the driveway slope modest and have it properly graded to allow water to run off instead of pool. A gently curving drive or path will take up a bit more real estate, but it can be worth it if you love the look.

Best time to do this project: Warm, dry weather is ideal. In most regions late spring or summer is the perfect time to lay a new driveway or path.

How long it will take: 

  • Crushed stone and gravel can be installed in a single day. 
  • Both asphalt and concrete can generally be installed in one weekend. You can use your new asphaltdriveway within 24 hours, but concrete takes about seven days to cure before you can drive on it.
  • Cobblestone and pavers take longer to install than the other options — up to a week for a large cobblestone drive. Mortar between stones is usually set and ready to be walked on in about 24 hours.

First steps: Look at your existing driveway and front walk with an impartial eye — taking a photograph or asking a friend’s opinion can help. Decide whether you want to repair, enhance or completely replace what you have. Begin gathering inspiration in an ideabook or folder, and make a short list of pros to contact. By the time warm weather rolls around, you will be ready to get started on your home’s new look.