Brick Driveways Pros & Cons
Brick driveways offer a timeless look that readily complements traditional architectural styles. If you are considering brick pavers for your driveway or other hardscape project, use this guide to learn how bricks are made, how brick driveways are laid, the pros and cons of choosing brick, and four solutions to brick driveway issues that might have you second-guessing your first choice of hardscape materials.
What Are Brick Pavers?
Brick pavers are made from compressed clay and are a man-made product used in driveways, walkways, patios, and roads. Brick pavers have a smoother surface than bricks used for building walls. Additionally, they do not have holes like wall bricks. This makes pavers stronger and better suited for hardscape use.
There are also brick pavers that are made from concrete. These are usually dyed to achieve the look of natural brick pavers.
How Are Brick Pavers Made?
Natural brick pavers are made from prepared clay that is cast in molds (usually rectangular), and then baked at a high temperature in a kiln. Clay bricks made in this may will have a smooth surface on each side.
Alternatively, brick pavers can also be made by extruding clay through a die. This process creates a column-like length of brick material that is then cut with a wire to create individual bricks. These bricks are called extruded bricks or wire-cut bricks and have more surface texture. This texture makes extruded bricks more slip-resistant than molded bricks.
Some brick pavers are crafted with ridged edges to create an interlocking paver system for easier installation.
How Are Brick Driveways Made?
The first step in laying a brick driveway is to prepare the area. Existing structures or hardscapes must be demolished, and weeds, grass or other landscaping must be removed. The area must be excavated to the proper depth, graded to create a two-percent slope for drainage, and tamped to compact the sub-base.
It is generally recommended to install a geotextile fabric before laying and compacting road base. Bedding sand is then poured and levelled over the compacted base. Brick pavers are then laid in the desired pattern and cut to fit as necessary. Although the majority of the bricks are set in sand, the border is set in concrete or mortar to establish a sturdy edge.
Joint sand is then poured over the brick driveway and tamped down. The driveway is swept and watered and may be sealed to finish the process.
Pros & Cons of Brick Driveways
Natural brick pavers offer a distinctive style that is well suited for folks who want a rustic or traditional look. They retain their natural color well, are stain resistant and are made from all-natural clay.
On the downside, there is less variety in terms of color, shape and size when you are working with bricks as opposed to concrete pavers, which come in a seemingly endless array of colors and styles. Because of the limited sizes and shapes, you are also limited in the patterns you can create when designing a brick driveway.
Natural bricks are more likely to break or crack from heavy traffic or if you live in an area with hard freezes.
Solutions to Issues with Brick Driveways
1. Weeds growing between bricks
If you are concerned about weeds growing up through the bricks in your driveway, make sure to include geotextile fabric in the installation process. You can also pull weeds individually as they grow through, spray them with a store-bought herbicide, or use one of these 17 ways to naturally kill weeds.
2. Limited color choices
If the limited color choices of natural brick pavers are making you question your plan for a brick driveway, you might want to consider concrete brick pavers. You can get the traditional look you want with rectangular pavers that look like bricks but are available in a wider range of colors.
3. Looking for an eco-friendly solution
Natural clay bricks are made with natural materials and are considered an eco-friendly hardscape option. However, if you are looking for an even greener choice, source salvaged bricks to reuse for your project. You may find that salvaged bricks cost more than new bricks. This is due to the labor involved in cleaning them up for resale.
4. Cracking and breaking over time
Natural brick pavers are more likely to crack or break than concrete pavers. So, if you are interested in a brick driveway but are concerned about damage over time, there are a couple of things to consider. The first thing to consider is that although your bricks are more likely to chip, crack and shear over time, they will wear well overall, can last for generations, and you might actually like the rustic charm that weathering reveals.
However, if you would prefer an option that is less likely to break or chip or is at least easier to repair if damage does occur, consider interlocking concrete brick pavers for your driveway design. Interlocking pavers go together like a zipper, which means they can be more easily taken apart and put back together if you need to replace one or two damaged pavers.