Brick driveways offer an attractive and aesthetically pleasing entrance to your home, yet this beauty comes at a cost. They are used for: walkways, patios, driveways and as edging. Despite proving popular with landscaping contractors, when it comes to matters of utility, the problems with a brick driveway start to show almost immediately.
Brick driveways: where form isn’t matched by function
So what first entices the average homeowner to consider bricks in the first place? It could, perhaps be due to the fact that they come in a diverse range of colours and patterns, enabling them to fulfil even the most niche and bespoke of stylistic requirements.
Although standard bricks are clay coloured and rectangular, many shapes and colours of bricks are now available. Depending on your choice, you can create a driveway that looks like it’s been around for 100 years, or one that fits right in with modern houses and landscape designs.
Yet although undoubtedly easy-on-the-eye, one of the main problems with a brick driveway is that its impressive form is not matched by its overall function.
The two main brick driveway patterns
The running bond pattern of brick paving
The running bond is the most common example of brick paving. This pattern is commonly used for walkways as well. Bricks are laid out side by side with an offset.
Herringbone pattern for brick driveways
The ‘herringbone pattern’ is a smart technique for use on driveways, and is also adept at filling irregularly shaped areas.
This pattern sets the bricks out at a 45 degree angle from each other. Such spacing enables the pavers to carry a heavy load, by distributing the weight over the largest possible surface area.
Common issues with brick driveways
-Water stays in the clay bricks, so you can find algae and lichen mounting up on the outside of the bricks.
-A brick driveway has a decreased load-bearing capacity; bricks can easily chip and flake, making your driveway prone to eventual subsidence.
-Dirt and spillages will slowly fade the beautiful façade of brick paving.
-The process of creating clay bricks involves not only kilnwork, but also requires extra vehicles to help install it, using a far greater amount of energy in both the production and installation process combined.
-Hard to clean
-Prone to cracks and everyday wear and tear
-Porous bricks susceptible to weather damage. The composition of clay bricks also results in impaired drainage capacity, with rain pooling and puddling, making for an uneven and slippery surface.
-Expensive for homeowners.
-Uneven and time-consuming; clay bricks have to be laid by hand. As a result, the installation process is far more time-consuming, resulting in a much more expensive driveway project than you may have initially imagined.
Cleaning a brick driveway
Routine cleaning of a brick driveway includes: sweeping off dirt and debris, as grit will slowly deteriorate driveways over many years. You can use an absorbent, or even an everyday product, such as cat litter, to mop up any oil spillages that occur over time. Yet it should be noted that these unsightly and inevitable spillages are almost impossible to remove completely.
Clay bricks are also at the mercy of the freeze/thaw process, and with our Winter often lasting right up until March, this can prove to cause ongoing concern for homeowners, making them hard to clean and take care of.
After a thorough cleaning of a brick driveway, applying a layer of sealant to brick paving is vital for maintaining a clean surface and preventing future weed growth. All-in-all a very time-consuming and challenging endeavour!
Are sealed bricks a sensible solution?
Brick pavers can be set in either sand or mortar. As with any driveway material, the key to a good brick paver driveway is a well-prepared base.
Sealed bricks repel stains far more effectively, so this seems like the best choice if you opt for brick.