Different types of permeable driveway

Permeable driveways avoid the issue of excessive rainfall and minimise ponding and puddles which can turn to ice in cold conditions. They are also an environmentally conscious decision because it returns rainfall to the ground where it belongs and doesn’t cause large volumes of run-off over surfaces which may be contaminated with oil and other chemicals.

Here are some of the most common types of permeable driveway surface.

What is a permeable driveway and what materials can they be made from?


Gravel is one of the most cost-effective permeable surface options available in a wide range of colours and textures. Gravel can be hand laid or tipped via a lorry and is literally an instant solution to a drainage problem.

Gravel is one of the cheaper permeable driveway options, however it does have some drawbacks. Because it is a loose surface, it can scatter and become displaced. Gravel is also well known for causing additional wear and tear to the underside of vehicles or their tyres. Gravel is noisy and it can be hard to keep a gravel driveway completely flat, particularly when the surface is first laid, and where cars are turning regularly there can be large accumulations of stone.

Dry-laid paving

Dry laid paving can create a flat and permeable surface which will last for several years. This option does cost more than a gravel drive and takes longer to install, but it does counter the main drawbacks that gravel has. It is easy to lift and replace blocks or large areas without having to dig up the whole driveway.

Resin driveways

Resin offers the perfect, permeable driveway solution. Resin is hard wearing, looks attractive and requires very little maintenance. It is fully permeable so will deal with any flooding or drainage problems and can manage regular surface water issues without any change or deterioration to its appearance. Resin has a natural look, its gravel without all of the disadvantages.

Resin driveways provide excellent value for money and a good return on investment over the long term when compared with other surfacing solutions. However, it is a more expensive initial investment. Resin driveways are very quick and easy to install, and they can be used within 24 hours, once fully cured. Water simply soaks through the surface and into the surrounding ground.

Permeable concrete

Permeable concrete is the answer to those who want concrete but don’t want old style concrete. Made from a mix of stones and concrete, this material looks like concrete but is porous to water. Installation is similar to concrete, but it does not require sand or gravel as a sub-base when it is laid. There is a maintenance requirement, to stop sediment from accumulating in the pores

Permeable driveways and planning permission

Planning permission is not required if your new driveway uses permeable or porous surfacing which allows water to drain through. This includes gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt or, if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain away naturally.

If the surface if more than five square metres and you want to lay a traditional, impermeable driveway that does not control rainwater run off then you will need planning permission. These regulations are there to minimise the risk of flooding from surface water run off during heavy or torrential rain.

Driveway drainage can be very discrete and integrated into the design of the drive, directing excess water away to a soakaway in your garden. You can harvest the water and direct it to other areas of the garden, for houseplants or other outdoor usages.

With the increase in flooding in the UK, permeable paving has become very popular. This is a natural way to manage heavy rainfall without having to compromise on the design aesthetic.

Checkout this short video explaining and showing how a permeable drive works:

Now we’ve answered “What is a permeable driveway?” why not find out more about the different types of permeable driveway materials, such as Resin for a hard wearing and low maintenance drive, Gravel for a more cost effective surface or permeable concrete to create a more modern look.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which driveway surfaces are not permeable?

Sealed or top-bound surfaces such as concrete, tarmac and some types of paving stone are not permeable. These materials are more likely to cause the accumulation of water or flooding in front of your house and freeze if the temperature drops during the winter. Additional drainage will be necessary, and this could be a requirement of the planning permission.

Do I need a permeable driveway surface if my driveway is on a slope?

A natural incline would provide some degree of natural drainage; however, a steep slope just causes the problem to accumulate at the bottom. Water will follow the incline but must always have somewhere to escape to. A garden with an incline might lead you to choose a non-permeable surface. Both permeable and non-permeable surfaces can be quite difficult to lay on a slope.

Are permeable driveways more popular than non-permeable surfaces?

Most householders are aware of problems with excess rainwater plus, permeable driveways have the added benefit of reducing the additional drainage requirement necessary for a non-permeable surface.

Are permeable driveways more expensive than non-permeable driveways?

There are some budget options for permeable driveways and some really expensive choices and the same applies to non-permeable driveways surfaces. Cost tends to reflect the base price of the material and how labour intensive it is to lay. Hand laying is very time consuming and will always cost more than pouring a concrete or tar driveway. Permeability is not really reflected in the price of the driveway.

Paul Robinson
Hi I'm Paul. After years in the mathematical field, I went on to help rescue a flooring and driveways company and spent 10 years building the company. I’m a property expert with extensive driveway and home improvement industry knowledge.
Mike Alexander
Hey there, I'm Mike - writer and part time home improvement expert at Refurbb. Since owning and refurbishing my own property in 2018, I've since been developing rental properties, writing about my home improvement endeavours, sharing what I've learned and connecting readers to reputable tradespeople in the UK.

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