8 Driveway Terms You Need to Know


Altering or getting a new driveway can be a tricky task. You’ll need to decide on its location, which surfacing material to use, when to get the work done and who to do it.

Doing your driveway research will help you to work out what you want. But even researching can be hard work if you keep coming across words and phrases you don’t understand. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of 8 driveway terms and definitions you need to know.

1. Topsoil

Topsoil is the layer of soil on the surface of the ground. It’s usually about 5-20cm thick. Topsoil is the section of soil that has the most air, and plant and animal matter. It’s typically loose and dark-coloured. Topsoil is the layer of soil you should remove before laying your driveway.

2. Subsoil

Subsoil is the layer of soil directly below the topsoil. It has less plant and animal matter than topsoil, but usually has more nutrients. Subsoil is also generally lighter and more compact than topsoil. It’s the layer of soil that you need to expose before laying your driveway.

3. Sub-base

The sub-base is the layer of your driveway that sits between the subsoil and the driveway surface material. It’s laid in an even layer and comprises of compressed, crushed rock. The sub-base acts as a solid foundation for your driveway.

4. Permeable

If a surface or material is permeable, it means that gases and liquids can pass through it. Permeable driveway surfaces let rainwater run through them and soak into the ground. This is instead of the water running into the drainage system, which can become overloaded during times of heavy rainfall.

5. Tarmac

Tarmac is a surfacing material that contains tar and crushed stone. It’s often used to surface roads, carparks and runways. Tarmac is very similar to asphalt, but it’s a trademarked product rather than a type of material.

6. Compaction

Compaction involves putting pressure on materials to remove any air inside them. It’s performed using purpose-built industrial equipment. Soil and some driveway surfacing materials need compacting to create a structurally stable driveway.

7. Sealing

Sealing is the process of applying sealer to your driveway surface. Sealer will protect your driveway and prolong its life. Different types of sealer are usually coated on asphalt and concrete surfaces.

8. Dropping a kerb

Dropping a kerb is the act of lowering part of a kerb to ground level, so vehicles can pass over it. You may need to drop a kerb if you’re installing a new driveway at the front of your house. If you want to drop a kerb, you’ll need to get permission from your local planning authority.

Hopefully knowing and understanding these 8 driveway terms will help you get your driveway done. If you’re looking for a contractor to do the work, you can fill in our online form. We’ll put you in touch with up to 4 local professionals, who’ll be able to give you a quote.

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Evy Coe

Evy works for Quotatis as a Content Marketing Executive. She loves to write about interior design and help homeowners with their DIY projects.