While rubber paving is nothing new, it is still not as popular as other paving options such as concrete and asphalt. Like any other type of driveway material, rubber has its pros and cons. We cover them all in this guide. We also discuss how rubber compares to other more conventional types of driveway.
What You'll Learn Today
- What Is A Rubber Driveway?
- How Is A Rubber Driveway Installed
- Advantages of A Rubber Driveway
- Issues & Limitations of Rubber Driveways
- Can Rubber Paving Go Over Concrete
- Does Rubber Paving Crack?
- Final Thoughts: Is A Rubber Driveway Worth It?
What Is A Rubber Driveway?
Rubber paving — specifically recycled rubber paving — is one of the most popular eco-friendly driveway options.
It’s considered eco-friendly because it’s made from recycled rubber products such as old tires. And when the paving reaches the end of its life, it can be recycled into new paving.
Rubber paving has been around for the last couple of decades or so, but it’s not yet as popular as asphalt and concrete paving. That’s partly because of its cost, something that we’ll discuss shortly.
How Is A Rubber Driveway Installed
The recycled rubber typically comes in the form of granules. It is then mixed with a glue or binder then poured onto the prepared driveway surface.
The rubber is often laid on an existing driveway surface, which can be concrete, gravel, or asphalt. It’s then spread, smoothed and compacted using a trowel or a machine.
The rubber surface can then be sealed or left as is.
You can see the installation process in the video below.
Advantages of A Rubber Driveway
All other driveway materials are affected by weather.
Rain can easily wash away gravel. Both asphalt and concrete are vulnerable to extreme heat and cold because. They can crack, break, buckle and suffer other kinds of damage.
Because rubber is a much more flexible material, it doesn’t suffer these problems. It easily contracts and expands with changes in weather.
And unlike gravel, asphalt or concrete, it doesn’t get eroded by flowing water.
This makes rubber driveways ideal for just about any climate from tropical areas with lots of rain to ever-freezing regions as well as desert climates.
The rubber used to make driveways usually comes from recycled tires. This keeps old tires from ending up in landfills.
That said, there’s no rock solid scientific proof that rubber driveways are eco-friendly. I could not find any analysis or research from experts regarding the eco-friendliness of recycled rubber driveways.
But there’s some research that recycling rubber products in general is good for the environment.
3. Wide Range of Color Options
Rubber driveways are highly customizable, particularly when it comes to color. They are available in a wide range of colors, so you can create whatever look and style you want.
Whether you are going for a classic stone look or a more modern concrete style, you can get recycled rubber that matches your preferences.
You can even mix different colors to create a unique style — e.g. one color on the main part of the driveway and a different color along the edges.
4. Great Traction In All Kinds of Weather
Rubber driveways are naturally slip-resistant. You don’t have to worry about cars or people slipping when it snows or rains.
You can get special rubber paving that’s mixed with rocks or aggregate to improve strength and traction.
While a rubber driveway is hard, it is not as hard as concrete or asphalt. Falling on a rubber driveway carries a much lower risk of serious injury compared to conventional driveways.
This makes a rubber driveway ideal for homes with young kids or elderly family members.
6. Easy To Maintain
A rubber driveway is incredibly easy to maintain. For one, it is more resistant to stains compared to other driveways. That said, it’s important to clean stains quickly before they get harder to remove.
For everyday cleaning, a soft broom is enough to clean dust and debris off the driveway. You can pour a solution of mild soap and water on the driveway and scrub it gently to remove stubborn dirt and stains.
Do not use any harsh cleaning products, especially acidic ones, as they can damage the rubber.
For a more thorough cleaning, you can use a pressure washer, but be careful not to use the high pressure setting.
Clearing snow off a rubber driveway is fairly easy. Unlike gravel, you don’t have to worry about damaging the driveway. You can use a plastic shovel, a snow blower or a snow plow.
When using a snow plow, set it slightly higher than the driveway surface to avoid scraping and damaging the rubber.
Issues & Limitations of Rubber Driveways
There are good reasons why rubber driveways have not taken off, despite being around for a long time. Here are some of the issues and limitations of rubber paving.
Cost is usually the biggest homeowner consideration when choosing what driveway they’ll install. That’s why gravel driveways are so popular. They are cheap.
Rubber driveways cost between $6 and $11 on average. That’s slightly more expensive or about the same price as a basic concrete driveway or concrete pavers.
Keep in mind, however, that a well laid and maintained concrete driveway can last well over 20 years, sometimes even 30 years. As we discuss below, the longevity of rubber driveways is questionable.
So overall, a concrete driveway is cheaper long term compared to a rubber driveway. The same is true for asphalt. You might spend more to lay a blacktop driveway, but it’s likely to last a lot longer.
I could not get a definitive answer on how long a rubber driveway lasts. That’s partly because there are so many formulations of rubber paving available. Some have additives like aggregate to increase lifespan.
How well the rubber driveway is laid also matters a lot, as does the quality of the base layer underneath the rubber.
But generally, experts say that rubber driveways last only a few years. That’s because the rubber degrades faster when exposed to high traffic.
Rubber paving on other areas like the patio, playground or walkways can last for a very long time. But on driveways, expect a lifespan of less than 10 years.
You may start seeing fading, chipping and other kinds of damage within a couple years or so.
If you want a driveway that will last a very long time, concrete and asphalt are still the best choices.
I’ve come across pervious rubber paving, but most of the rubber paving in the market is impervious. This is a big problem for drainage especially in urban areas.
All that runoff that doesn’t sink into the ground contributes to flooding.
If you can, see if you can find pervious rubber paving and use that instead. Alternatively, use other materials like gravel, grid pavers and porous concrete pavers to create a water permeable driveway.
Can Rubber Paving Go Over Concrete
Yes, it can. In fact, repairing old concrete, paver and asphalt driveways is one of the most popular uses for rubber paving.
Applying a layer of recycled rubber paving over an old driveway is often cheaper compared to resurfacing or completely replacing the driveway.
You’ll need to thoroughly clean the driveway before you put the rubber paving on it. It’s also a good idea to repair any cracks and potholes before you lay the new rubber driveway.
A rubber driveway can also be installed over gravel. But we recommend talking to a pro to see if you need to make any changes to the driveway before laying the rubber paving. They might recommend pouring a new layer of fine aggregate first to provide a better base for the rubber driveway.
Does Rubber Paving Crack?
Rubber paving doesn’t crack. This is because of its high flexibility.
Asphalt and concrete driveways crack as they expand and contract because of weather changes. Over time, these forces pull the driveway apart and create cracks. Ground movement because of weather or other reasons can also cause cracks.
Because rubber is not as rigid as these materials, it moves with the ground and readily expands and contracts without splitting or cracking. This is one of the reasons why rubber driveways are weatherproof.
That said, a rubber driveway can still sustain other kinds of damage from heavy traffic and poor maintenance. You may have to patch it regularly.
Final Thoughts: Is A Rubber Driveway Worth It?
A rubber driveway has several advantages over more traditional driveways, mainly its ability to withstand extreme weather. But don’t expect it to last long especially if it sees frequent vehicle traffic.
It makes more sense to use rubber paving on other areas such as walkways and the patio.
If you have an aging driveway, resurfacing and sealing it might be cheaper compared to laying a rubber driveway on it.
And if you are building a brand new driveway, proven materials like asphalt, concrete, stone and pavers are still the best options. They can withstand heavy traffic and they last a very long time.