I often times get customers asking about fixing their gravel driveway, parking area, etc. One of the things I ask each customer is "what kind of rock do you want to use?" This question is usually followed up by the customer with, "what do you suggest?" This article is meant to pass on the knowledge I've gained over the years and hopefully help you make this decision in the future if maybe you're on the fence or maybe even had your mind made up already.
I would say that typically my customers have been folks that have existing gravel driveways and/or parking areas that were put in using a 5/8" minus grey crushed rock. Pretty standard for us in the Northwest. One of the common problems we all face is what happens to that gravel area during the fall/winter/spring months with the constant vehicle traffic and inclement weather. Typically these areas become reminiscent of an abandoned battlefield where giant craters and ruts have formed, making you reconsider your purchase of any vehicle other than a monster truck.
Now with any good driveway or parking area, the prep is just as (if not more) important than the rest of the process. Taking your existing gravel down to a hard base and removing those craters and ruts is essential. This process involves a lot of scraping, scratching, and grading. One more thing I'll typically do is compact all of the prepped areas with a vibratory roller, prior to any new rock going down. Additionally, if you're putting in a new road or parking area, the base layer of what you put down AND the compaction will be key as well. More on that in another article.
And now to the rock. If color is important to you, such as sticking with grey, then this option is certainly out. But if you're open to it, utilizing Recycled Asphalt Product (RAP) is what I try to recommend to my customers. Not only is this material cheaper. But when it's laid down and rolled (minimum 3 Ton vibratory roller), it looks so much like freshly laid asphalt that it'll make you want to go grab your roller skates. With the amount of Fine in material laid down and when utilizing water to assist with the compaction, the RAP looks less like a gravel road and more like a paved area. However.... keep in mind, this IS gravel. Over time the Fine will settle and the RAP will appear to be back to looking like a graveled area. But because we've compacted it, and because of the size of this material, it maintains its smoothness and the breakdown of your parking area or road will be significantly reduced, compared to a typical 5/8" minus crushed gravel.
I think all of our customers would agree, it was a good decision on their part to make the switch!