Driveway options in Ireland: which is right for you?
- What driveway surface options are available in Ireland?
- Natural Stone Paving Slabs
- Outdoor Porcelain Tiles
- Concrete Driveway
- Asphalt Driveways
- Gravel (also known as Aggregate Stones or Decorative Stones)
- How to combine a driveway with your existing patio
- How to install driveways in Ireland
- A final thought on driveway options for the Irish market
- Why Tile Merchant?
Whether you’re here to learn about laying a driveway in Ireland for the first time, or you’re looking to renovate an existing drive on your property, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the best driveway surface options available on the Irish market.
If you need any further assistance after reading this article, remember that the team at Tile Merchant is always available and happy to help.
What driveway surface options are available in Ireland?
You can lay driveways in Ireland with any one of five base materials:
- natural stone (like limestone, sandstone, or granite paving slabs)
- outdoor porcelain tiles
Each driveway surface option has its own unique pros and cons, however, there are certain materials that tend to suit the Irish climate and homeowner, best.
Natural Stone Paving Slabs
Natural stone refers to any rock formed over millions of years somewhere on Earth, but here at Tile Merchant we are quite particular about the natural stone we select for our paving slabs. In order to be strong, resilient, and effective in a range of indoor and outdoor scenarios, our natural stone paving slabs are mostly made of the highest quality limestone and sandstone. Recently, we added some beautiful, authentic Egyptian Limestone to our catalogue [read our guide on Egyptian Limestone].
Natural stone paving slabs are a fantastic option for driveways in Ireland, as they have a naturally riven texture that ensures grip for your tires no matter the weather. What’s more, the variety of options of colour, size, pattern, and finish means that no two Irish driveways need to look the same. Whatever your preferred aesthetic for your home and garden, there are natural stone driveway options to match.
● Wide variety of attractive styles, shape, colours, and patterns of natural stone slab driveway options
● Offer a natural aesthetic to the home
● Significantly easier to clean and maintain than loose driveway surface options
● Durability and frost-resistance ensures natural stone slabs will retain their appearance over time
● Must be sealed post-installation and then resealed every few years to protect the slabs
● Require drainage to be installed below, usually via a suitable substrate
● Depending on the type of stone driveway slab you opt for, this can be a slightly more expensive option than others
● Well suited to Ireland’s climate
Natural stone paving slabs for driveways in Ireland can be cleaned with a power-washer and a pH-neutral soap, provided you take care not to damage the grouting. Brick slabs must be sealed following installation, and then resealed every few years to ensure their longevity.
Outdoor Porcelain Tiles
Porcelain isn’t the fragile material you maybe think it is. Our 20mm outdoor porcelain tiles have been rigorously tested to ensure their strength and durability, especially for use as driveways.
Porcelain driveway tiles are also available through Tile Merchant Ireland in a remarkably diverse range of colours, finishes, shapes and sizes, allowing you to marry the inside of your house to the outside.
See, for example, the variety of colours available on our website. Our 20mm outdoor porcelain tile ranges from “dark colours” to more “bright colours”. We also see a huge demand for grey outdoor porcelain tiles!
Though one of the more expensive driveway surface options to buy, the longevity, look, and ease of installation make outdoor porcelain a smart choice for anyone planning to build or renovate their driveway in Ireland.
● Lots of different porcelain tile driveway options to choose from to suit any taste in terms of colour, style, shape, and pattern
● 20mm outdoor porcelain tiles are easy to install [learn how to install outdoor porcelain tiles]
● Blends well with most outdoor patios and home aesthetics
● Highly-durable and scratch resistant material
● Tile Merchant 20mm outdoor porcelain tiles are moss-, mould-, UV-, frost- and salt-resistant and are R11 anti-slip-rated
● Porcelain tiles are well suited to Ireland’s climate
● Don’t require sealing, unlike natural stone driveway slabs
● One of the most expensive driveway material options on the market
As with natural stone paving slabs, maintenance and cleaning is simple: a brush, hose, and occasional lather with a neutral-pH soap will keep your porcelain driveway looking lush for many years to come. Since they have built in UV-resistance, their colour will never fade.
There’s a reason concrete is the go-to choice for 21st century construction projects: it’s relatively cheap, remarkably strong, and fairly easy to install. For driveways, concrete may not be the most attractive option, but it is budget-friendly and will last you decades if properly looked after.
● Fairly cost-effective driveway surface option
● Relatively easy to install
● Lasts a long time (up to 30 years if properly installed and maintained)
● Modernist, minimalist look
● Concrete driveways are susceptible to the cold, must be thoroughly de-iced in winter weather or it may crack
● Concrete driveways require 7 days to set post-installation
● Not many options for customisation of colour and pattern
Concrete is pretty easy to maintain, the only serious note, to repeat the above, being to thoroughly de-ice your concrete driveway during winter to keep it from potentially cracking. Otherwise, concrete driveways can be maintained with a regular cleaning from a power-hose.
Asphalt is a bituminous pitch mixed with sand or fine gravel, often used to lay school playgrounds, public roofs, and roads. As a driveway surface option, it is affordable, easier to maintain than concrete (if, for example, concrete were to crack), and built to be durable. The downside of course is that, like concrete, asphalt doesn’t carry much aesthetic appeal.
● Relatively easy to install
● One of the most affordable driveway options on this list
● Highly weather-resistant
● Takes very little time to set post-installation
● Requires careful maintenance of the holes and cracks which will appear over time
● Lower longevity than concrete (lasts around 20 years if properly installed and maintained)
● Doesn’t have much of an aesthetic appeal
Asphalt can be fairly easily repaired by patching the holes and cracks which appear in it over time with more of the original material.
Gravel (also known as Aggregate Stones or Decorative Stones)
The cheapest of the cheapest driveway options, gravel can cost very little indeed to install as a driveway in Ireland. And, unlike concrete or asphalt, there is some wiggle room on the appearance front: you can choose between different shades or colours of gravel.
One of the major problems with gravel driveways in Ireland is that the rainy weather can cause slippage, and may lead to, or at the very least worsen potholes as and when they appear. Maintenance is a little tricky, despite the ease of installation.
● Relatively easy to install driveway surface option
● The most affordable driveway option on this list
● Can last a lifetime if properly maintained
● Different colour options available
● Maintenance of gravel driveways can be tricky
● Driving over gravel whips up dust and dirt, so cars will require more regular cleaning
Gravel gets distributed by the weight of cars driving over it, meaning you may have to regularly re-rake the gravel driveway to ensure its surface is spread easily. What’s more, if near your garden it will need de-weeded regularly.
Over time, the top layer of gravel driveways must be entirely replaced (or topped-up) to ensure potholes don’t form at well-worn areas.
How to combine a driveway with your existing patio
For those of us who want to build a driveway beside, or leading to an existing patio, it’s important to know how you can blend the two together. Your best bet, in our opinion, is to opt for a natural stone slab or porcelain tile driveway option, as both of these materials can also be used as patio options, thus ensuring continuity in the look and feel of your home.
Extend your patio to include a driveway
With paving options for your backyard being plentiful, and often crossing over into driveway surface options, you may find it handy to know that many Irish homeowners we’ve worked with choose to extend their patio into a driveway, or vice versa.
Separate your patio from the driveway
Alternatively, of course, you may prefer to create two distinct and separate areas: a driveway and a patio. To do so, you should think about what patio edging options will create a nice border, whilst marrying the two materials together. You could opt for a slightly different shade of natural brick slab from those used for your patio and driveway, for example, or use porcelain tiles to
edge your patio.
How to install driveways in Ireland
If you opt instead for concrete, asphalt, or gravel, then make sure you consider the following:
● Does the material require a drainage substrate foundation layer?
● Is the material durable enough to withstand Ireland’s weather?
● What’s my budget?
● Do I want to opt for durability (concrete), ease of maintenance (asphalt), or aesthetics (gravel)?
If you’ve got any questions about installing any of the Irish driveway surface options listed above, remember that we’re always here and happy to assist!
A final thought on driveway options for the Irish market
Irish homeowners considering a new driveway should give serious thought to the two most diverse, unique, durable and attractive driveway options on Ireland’s market today: natural stone paving slabs and 20mm outdoor porcelain tiles, both available in a wide range from Tile Merchant.
If you’d like to see what any of our natural stone or porcelain driveway options or patio options might look like at home, don’t forget that you can order free cut samples of all of our tiles and slabs to try before you buy. We have three gorgeous showrooms – two in Dublin and one in Ashbourne, Co. Meath – for you to pop-in in person, and we also deliver to any postcode in the country for those who can’t make the trip to us.
Considering a new driveway? Contact Tile Merchant’s dedicated team today for some free, warm, expert advice.
Why Tile Merchant?
We offer extremely competitive pricing on our entire range of tiles and likewise. We stock a huge range of wall and floor tiles and our prices are competitive for retail and trade. Our stock is widely available in our tile store in Dublin and Ashbourne (Co. Meath) which are open 7 days a week.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to shop our tiles online, we can supply you with samples delivered for free.
Article written by Calum
Cal Bannerman is a freelance writer, editor, podcaster and voice actor from the Scottish Borders. He runs the storytelling podcast "Stories from the Hearth" and lives in a wee Glasgow Flat with his partner and their cat".