Crushed Stone and Gravel Driveways: Choosing the Right Material

If you’ve been toying with the idea of installing a gravel or crushed stone driveway, you’re not alone. Loose-fill driveways are becoming more and more popular for many reasons and the most common stone used for this type of project is crushed stone and gravel.

Gravel and crushed stone aggregate materials provide homeowners with infinite and exciting possibilities for designing a driveway that speaks to their own personal sense of style. Its also beneficial for contractors to look at this material for construction projects for walkways, driveway and roadways. Those who go this route have the ability to design front drives that are attractive, unique, affordable and simple to maintain.

However, because there are so many different options, some homeowners struggle to determine which type or types of stone are right for their properties. The goal of this guide is to help you to choose the right materials for your upcoming crushed stone driveway project.

Types of Materials Required

When planning your new crushed stone driveway, it’s natural for your mind to be focused solely on the surfacing material. After all, this is the stone that you will look at every day. It’s important to realize, though, that other materials will be required in order to complete your work. You’ll need:

  • Subgrade (Optional) – The subgrade of your driveway is the compacted soil situated at the bottom of the area excavated for the drive. Here in NJ, most homeowners will find that their soil is in decent condition and can act as the sub-grade. On the other hand If your soil isn’t healthy, is crumbly and loose, or has other issues, you may need to apply a layer of soil to be compacted and act as a firm foundation for the drive.
  • Sub-base – The sub-base is the bottom layer of crushed stone that sits on top of the sub-grade. This layer is comprised of larger crushed stone aggregate and helps to provide structural strength and integrity for the driveway.
  • Base – The base layer of the driveway is made up of slightly smaller crushed stone than the sub-base layer. Sometimes stone dust or fines will be intermixed with the aggregate to reduce voids and better hold this layer in place.
  • Surfacing Material – The surface layer of gravel is poured on top of the base layer and completes the crushed stone driveway. This is the material that you select not only for its positive functional properties, but also for its appearance and esthetic value.

Choosing the Right Materials

Now that you know which types of aggregate materials are required for the construction of a crushed stone driveway, it’s time to start thinking about which types of stone are correct for your project needs.

When it comes to the base and sub-base, you’ll find that you can successfully complete your project with standard crushed stone ranging from 1 1/2″-2 1/2″ in size, sometimes mixed with stone dust or stone fines. Some homeowners will also consider using quarry process (QP) for a base layer.

Ultimately, when you come to the desired surfacing material is when you really have to work through your options. Here’s a closer look at each:

Crushed Stone

Standard crushed stone is the kind of gravel that you are most likely to be familiar with, or envision in your mind when you first think of a crushed stone driveway. This type of material has been pulverized from limestone, trap rock, gneiss or granite, depending on the quarry in which it was harvested and manufactured. When surfacing a residential driveway, homeowners will typically choose to work with crushed stone that’s 3/4 inches in size. At this size, the driveway is safe to drive upon, comfortable to walk over, and the stones are heavy enough that they will remain in place.

Washed Clean Stone

Washed clean stone is very similar in nature and composition to standard crushed stone with the difference that it is – you guessed it – washed and clean! The purpose of this process is to remove any stone dust or fines as well as any other unwanted debris that might be included with the stone in its original crushed form. People who are very concerned with the purity and integrity of stone will go this route. You will generally want to work with washed clean stone that’s 1/4″ or 3/8″ in size. This size is ideal for driving, walking and drainage.

Pea Gravel

Over the past couple of years, we’ve really see pea gravel boom in its popularity as a crushed stone driveway material. For starters, pea gravel offers a smooth, rounded surface that is very easy to drive and traverse upon. Secondly, the stones feature an array of attractive colors including brown, tan, yellow, blue, white, and rust. The combination of these lovely hues and the interesting textures of the pea gravel make it very appealing to users. This stone is perfect for all types of homes, from rural to city, from classic to traditional and from modern to chic.

White Marble Chips

White marble chips are another interesting and sophisticated choice for any crushed stone driveway. White marble chips tend to be a white or off-white color with gray streaks. In addition to this, the stones have a “shimmery” quality that adds a sparkle while reflecting the sun’s light away from the surface. This is great for deflecting heat away from certain areas of the property. The material is also easy to work with and maintain.

Quarry Process

Although QP can also be used as a base, it’s also a great option for surfacing a crushed stone driveway as it creates a semi-permenant surface. The careful blend of crushed stone with stone dust helps to compact the surface and hold it in place. It offers a unique and sophisticated look while also being very low maintenance.

Calculating Your Materials Need

Once you’ve settled on the materials you’d like to use for your crushed stone driveway, you need to figure out how much of each type you’ll need to purchase. If you’re not so great with math, don’t worry – a crushed stone calculator will do all of the hard work for you. All you need to do is measure the length and width of your coverage area, and decide on the depth of each layer (surface, base and sub-base).

Keep in mind that each layer of your driveway should be approximately 4″-6″ in depth for a total depth of 12″-18″. Enter these numbers into the corresponding fields of a trusted materials calculator for each layer.

This will tell you how much sub-base, base, and surface material you’ll require in both cubic tons and in cubic yards. In the event that you’re working with a circular, winding, curved or irregularly shaped coverage area, it’s best to seek assistance from a professional for materials calculations.

Buying Materials for Your Crushed Stone Driveway in NJ

Braen Stone is a top supplier of crushed stone in northern NJ and its surrounding areas. With over 110 years of industry experience, Braen Stone has built a reputation upon being fair, honest and reliable. We manufacture high quality crushed stone from our locally owned and operated quarries.

The crushed stone that we sell is available at competitive wholesale prices and can be picked up or bulk delivered to areas throughout parts of NJ, NY, PA and CT.

Crushed Stone Driveways | NJ & NY

By | 2020-04-01T13:31:45-04:00 May 20th, 2017|Crushed Stone, Gravel|0 Comments

About the Author:

Dirk is a Project Manager at Braen Stone. He's an expert on a variety of construction materials and prides himself on helping the company meet the needs of companies large and small.