Gravel driveway costs

Here are some average shingle driveway costs based on size/area and split between labour and materials.

Installation Materials Cost Labour Cost
Gravel only 40sqm £850 £350
Small 20sqm £1,200 £500
Medium 40sqm £1,900 £600
Large 80sqm £3,000 £700

Factors which affect shingle driveway costs

When asking how much does a shingle driveway cost? The following factors need to be considered:

  • The size of area
  • The depth of coverage
  • The choice of shingle
  • Whether any boarding or edging is required
  • Access to the site
  • How much excavation is required
  • Adding a weed proof membrane
  • Removal of an existing driveway
  • Equipment hires such as a skip for waste disposal and a compactor for the base
  • Drainage considerations
  • Where you live in the UK – London and the Southeast are always more expensive

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The popularity of shingle driveways

Shingle driveways can add rustic charm to an old property and a sense of style to a contemporary home. Also, shingle is relatively maintenance free compared to other driveway materials.

One of the main reasons shingle is so popular is the price tag, it is hugely economic compared to other options. It is also something a DIY enthusiast can have a go at, making it even more budget friendly.

There is an immense choice of size, colour and texture so shingle can really work with any style of property and front garden design.

Planning Permission

You do not need planning permission for a shingle driveway as shingle or gravel is a permeable material which means it lets water pass through it. Most planning regulations are only concerned with non-permeable materials which puts pressure on existing drainage systems outside the property. Any non-permeable materials being laid to an area of more than five square metres will require planning permission.

Maintaining a shingle driveway

Shingle driveways are pretty low maintenance which is one of the reasons why they are so popular. They don’t wear out quickly and are relatively easy to keep topped up.

You may need to work a bit harder when the driveway is first laid as the stones can pile up in areas where the cars turn. If the surface is a little deep, then just rake the stones back to level them out.

Shingle spreading into areas where you don’t want it like lawn and flowerbeds can be resolved by installing kerbs or driveway edging material to act as a border and prevent the stones from rolling away.

It’s also worth spraying the driveway a few times a year with a weed killer. Despite the presence of a weed membrane, this doesn’t guarantee zero weeds and you may find the odd one gets through or even some grass or moss. Weed membranes work well for unwanted plants with a deep root system but this doesn’t tend to stop weeds taking hold which have a more horizontal and lightweight root system, like dandelions. Hand weeding is one way to deal with this and spot treating any plants which appear with a herbicide.

Keeping the driveway regularly topped up with more stone will stop undulations and hollows appearing plus those tell-tale tyre tracks that no-one wants to see.

How much does a shingle driveway cost? – Choosing the right stone

The cheapest stone is called pea shingle or pea gravel, so called because it is also the smallest. Pea shingle does tend to lodge in car tyres. As the price increases, the stone becomes more rounded and not so sharp, it is better graded in terms of colour and size and the shingle is more consistent.

Avoid excessively rounded stones as these are hard to walk on and sink too quickly or roll away underfoot. They are also more easily scattered by car tyres and can end up in flower beds, in the house or on the lawn. There they can get caught up in garden machinery.

There are all types of fancy shingle available including stones made from tumbled glass in all the colours of the rainbow. These shingles are designed to be decorative rather than functional and form part of a garden design. They are not suitable for vehicles to drive over although they can be used as a feature in an area which is car-free.

For a long driveway, self-binding gravel can be a better option. This is a shingle supplied in a form that’s dirtier than the usual stones, but the dirt will be to your advantage. The dust or debris, called ‘fines’ in the trade, is the residue cleaned from the garden shingle that is sold at garden centres. Self-binding shingle has the fines left in with the stones and sometimes, extra fines are added. Fines bind the larger gravel particles together to act as a sort of mortar meaning that there is less rolling and movement even with the weight of traffic on top of it. The stones bond together with downward pressure from the cars to provide a semi-hard surface over time, not as fixed and tough as concrete or tarmac but with more coherent structure than clean gravel.

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The disadvantages of a shingle driveway

Shingle cannot be laid on a surface with any sort of gradient or incline as the stones will simply all fall to the bottom.

Shingle does have to be raked regularly to maintain an even and attractive appearance, so it is best suited to properties which have fewer cars and vehicle movements.

Shingle will eventually flatten out and bed down and become invaded by dust, dirt and weeds. The weight of the car tyres compacts and breaks down the stone. A shingle driveway requires regular topping up to prevent this from occurring.

Some people love the noise of a shingle driveway, and it does help with security at night, but others just dislike the constant scrunching of car tyres against the stone and prefer a silent surface.

Shingles can be difficult to walk over in anything but a flat sole shoe so doesn’t always appeal to the ladies. It can also be potentially hazardous to someone with limited mobility or a disability as it is not a secure surface, there is too much mobility.

This video shows a typical gravel driveway installation:

Now you understand the costs, you may want to compare costs compared to other driveway types. Surfaces like Indian Stone offer a high quality finish but at the expense of a high price tag, whereas permeable surfaces like Resin and Asphalt offer functionality at a lower cost.

Shingle does have to be raked regularly to maintain an even and attractive appearance, so it is best suited to properties which have fewer cars and vehicle movements.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to install a shingle drive?

The actual installation process is quite quick, but you need to allow time for any preparation work and excavation. The overall time taken to install a shingle driveway is usually two days. However, this is if an experienced installer is doing the job, if you are doing it yourself then it may take up to a week.

Can I install a shingle driveway myself?

Most keen DIY enthusiasts can have a go at doing it themselves. Usually, the biggest challenge is working out exactly how much gravel you need to cover the area and to the appropriate depth. A handy ruse is to have a driveway contractor out to estimate. Their quote should include the quantity and type of gravel. As a rule of thumb, a tonne of shingle will cover around twenty-five square metres. You will also need a base layer and a weed blocking membrane or textile. You may also need the services of a specialist to help identify whether there are any underground services before you start excavating. The services of a driveway contractor and specialist will increase shingle driveway costs.

What is the best sub-base material for a shingle driveway?

The most common sub-base is MOT type 1 which consists of various sizes of crushed rock which will compact down whilst still remaining permeable for drainage. This is flattened using either a compactor or a roller. These are easy machines to hire if you are doing the driveway yourself.

What is the best shingle size?

Anything larger than 20mm. 20mm or smaller will get stuck in your car tyres.

Is a shingle driveway a false economy?

There is no doubt that laying a shingle driveway is not quite as simple as just arranging for a tipper lorry to turn up with a load of stones. Preparation is required and some regular maintenance as well to keep the driveway looking good and usable.

What is the alternative to a loose shingle driveway?

Resin-bound shingle is the modern answer to loose stones. Resin shingle offers all the colour and attractiveness of shingle without the maintenance or any loose stones at all. Consequently, the price tag is higher both in terms of preparation for the surface and the material charge, but the results are very attractive and highly practical.

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

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. I’m also head of marketing and technical at Raindancer Ltd

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