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21 Alternatives for Concrete Used In Driveways, Fence Posts and Foundations

While concrete is fantastic, it is not the only material available for fastening, constructing, and paving. Concrete solutions for driveways, fence posts, and foundations abound.

This lengthy essay is divided into four parts and discusses tangible alternatives in two different ways. The first section discusses actual substances that can be used in place of concrete. The remainder of this section discusses additional alternatives for specialized uses. These uses include driveways, walkways, fence posts, and foundations.

A. Generally, Concrete Alternatives

This section discusses compounds that behave similarly to concrete yet are not concrete.

1. Greencrete

Water from hose dripping out on the concrete lawn grill.

While Geo-Green Crete or Greencrete is still in progress, it has become a more commonly used material for creating eco-friendly sidewalks and roads. This material is remarkably similar to concrete. You can always speak with a concrete builder to learn more.

What Exactly Is It?

Geo-Green Crete, or Greencrete, is a novel method of recycling waste and naturally existing minerals to create a low-carbon alternative to cement. The material is composed of aluminosilicates, which makes it recyclable and simple to produce. Greencrete may also relate to the way your garage is built since many homeowners are opting for perforated designs that enable grass to grow through. If used as a driveway, this is believed to be better for the surrounding flora and animals.

Advantages

  • Eco-friendly and environmentally friendly method of creating the ideal driveway
  • Outstanding performance with reduced carbon emissions
  • Meets the requirements for various international carbon credits

Disadvantages

  • Costlier than cement and other options owing to the scarcity of Geo-Green Cret

Cost estimate

For a typical driveway, Geo-Green Crete or geopolymer concrete might cost upwards of $2,000 per square foot. If you choose the Greencrete design, you will be responsible for the materials used to produce the pattern, which may include cement.

2. Mycelium

Mycelium from mushroom fungal root.

Mycelium is a sort of sustainable biomass construction material that has gained popularity in recent years as architects and engineers seek to design more sustainable buildings. While it is often referred to as a mushroom block or mushroom root material, you may really cultivate mycelium to make a natural sidewalk or driveway.

What Exactly is it?

Mycelium is a fungal root that may be planted in order to build a long-lasting driveway or pathway. These “mushroom roots” generate a living construction material that architects and engineers choose to utilize to construct pathways, playgrounds, and parking lots in environmentally friendly regions. If you’re considering using mycelium in a structure, just refer to it as a biomass green construction material.

Advantages

  • It’s part of a new initiative to live more sustainably and greener.
  • Mushroom roots may be developed organically to provide a long-lasting driveway surface.
  • Self-healing capability.

Disadvantages

  • Relatively new substance that may lack the strength of cement.
  • It may take some time for the hair to grow in.

Cost Estimate

At the moment, costs vary according to the kind of biomass material used and may be bought straight from the installer.

3. Ashcrete/ Ferrock

Ferrock and Ashcrete are sometimes lumped together due to the fact that both are byproducts that may be shaped into bricks and construction blocks. This material may be used to construct walls, pathways, and sub-level flooring.

What Exactly is it?

Ferrock is a composite material manufactured from industrial waste, generally steel dust, that performs better than regular concrete and can absorb more water. Ashcrete, on the other hand, is distinct because it incorporates fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion.

Advantages

  • Eco-friendly and sets more quickly than conventional concrete.
  • Material with a negative carbon footprint.

Disadvantages

  • It may be difficult to locate installers on a local level.

Cost Estimate

Ferrock and Ashcrete are priced between $5 and $10 per cubic foot.

4. Aircrete

Close-up of aerated concrete blocks piled for construction.

While Aircrete may be used in lieu of concrete cement, is it as durable or environmentally benign as some of the other alternatives? This material resembles cement driveways and may be used in the same manner. While it is more cost-efficient and environmentally benign, Aircrete blocks have a more fragile structure that is prone to cracking.

What Exactly is it?

Aircrete has increased in popularity over the last five years due to its cost-effective and ecological characteristics. Aircrete may be used to construct walls, driveways, floors, and sub-levels. Due to this material’s great performance, it provides a long-term, cost-effective alternative for any place where concrete was previously employed.

Advantages

  • More affordable than the majority of other concrete choices.
  • 8% less expensive than wood frame and SIPS.
  • Resistant to fire, damp, and frost.
  • Eco-friendly.
  • Serves as a thermal insulator

Disadvantages

  • Aircrete is a material that is more suited for walls than for a driveway or ground cover.

Cost Estimate

You may acquire Aircrete by purchasing a detergent and foam mixer or by purchasing installation. Typically, the Aircrete machine costs $500. Independent blocks range in price from $50 to $60.

5. Hempcrete

Close-up of hempcrete on floor.

Are you looking to construct naturally? Hempcrete is a relatively new product derived from the hemp plant. It is ecologically friendly and has an attractive look.

What Exactly is it?

Hempcrete is a composite material manufactured from industrial hemp. It is also known as Hemp lime. It is a bio-composite material composed of shives and lime, which may include naturally occurring hydraulic lime, pozzolans, or sand. It is marketed under the trade names Canobiote, Canosmose, and Hempcrete and is utilized in a range of building and insulation applications.

Advantages

  • Environmentally friendly, since no petrochemicals are used.
  • Year-round little maintenance.
  • Fire resistance, pest resistance, and earthquake resistance are all built-in.
  • Provides your house with watertight insulation.

Disadvantages

  • Lacks the strength of conventional concrete.
  • May include salts that are soluble in water and produce efflorescence
  • May be more expensive than other materials because of the high cost of hemp.

Cost estimate

Hempcrete is available in bags or pallets. It is usually between $16 and $20. You will spend around $20.99 for a 33-pound bag of hempcrete.

B. Alternatives to Concrete Driveways and Walkways

Fortunately, driveways and walks come in a variety of styles. Here is a list that is devoid of concrete.

 1. Gravel

Brick home with gravel driveway bordered with manicured plants.

Are you seeking for a flexible and cost-effective material for your next paving project? Gravel may be an excellent material for walks and roads around your property. There are several sorts of gravel, ranging from marble to clay rocks.

What Exactly is it?

Gravel is a popular alternative to concrete. There are many sorts available at home improvement stores that may be used in lieu of concrete cement in driveways and pathways. Among them are pea gravel, crushed stone, and quarrying.

Advantages

  • Less expensive than alternative surface materials and easy to install
  • Made of an environmentally safe substance that may be absorbed into the surface without causing harm.
  • Low maintenance; more gravel may be required during snowy and wet months.
  • Easy to install and may be completed on your own.

Disadvantages

  • Climate change has the potential to erode rocks and produce spots.
  • You may need to replenish gravel if any of the rocks disappear or sink into the earth
  • The surface may acquire flaws and gaps.
  • Gravel may get filthy, causing particles to fly upward.

Cost Estimate

While pricing varies depending on the project, 13 tons of gravel costs around $1,300 to $1,600, which is roughly the amount required for an ordinary driveway. However, if your space is smaller, you may not need as much gravel, bringing the cost down to between $300 and $1,000. Typically, workers will charge an hourly rate for installation. Expect to spend at least $500.

2. Pavers

Paver driveway in multicolored hues lined with flowers.

Paver driveways gained popularity as home prices started to place a premium on curb appeal. The tiled appearance and multi-colored style of driveways sparked a landscaping and structural design craze. You may either buy pre-made tiles and designs or construct your own bespoke paver design.

What Exactly is it?

Paver driveways are not the same as those made of poured concrete or asphalt. They do not need curing. Once installed, it is immediately usable. Pavers are utilized in an interlocking pattern for driveways. Although they are referred to as cement pavers, they are really constructed of sand, gravel, and water.

Advantages

  • Very appealing to the eye, excellent curb appeal.
  • Little care is necessary; however, weeds that penetrate the surface may need to be trimmed.
  • Has a typical lifetime of up to fifty years.

Disadvantages

  • Stains similarly to cement driveways; however the stain may be removed.
  • Easily cracked in inclement weather and as a result of weeds or tree stems protruding from underneath.

Cost estimate

A paver cement set, foundation sand, and paver foundation are commonly available at home improvement retailers such as Lowe’s. These vary in price, but you may expect to pay $3,000 for a lengthier driveway.

3. Timber slats

Timber is an ecologically friendly material since it is derived from trees. Refurbished or new sleepers may be buried and mixed in with the soil to create a casual, rough effect. They have the ability to turn our driveways into something more traditional but sturdy.

Advantages

  • They have the potential to be cost-effective.
  • From an environmental and aesthetic standpoint, timber sleepers may give our driveway the appearance of being permeable. In comparison to hard surfaces, the permeability surface slows down.
  • Compared to concrete driveways, their naturalistic surface makes them more suitable for rural regions.
  • They need little upkeep.
  • The stones prevent them from seeming unkempt, even when the pathway contains some leaves.

Disadvantages

  • Timber sleepers are more prone to weather and vermin assault.
  • They are susceptible to assault by fire.
  • They have a limited usable life of around 12 years.

Their rates often fluctuate according to the size we want. For instance, one measuring 200 x 100 x 1200mm costs around £16.80.

4. Asphalt

Brick home with asphalt driveway framed with lush lawn and plants.

Asphalt is a substance similar to concrete, except that it is adhered to using tar rather than cement, as concrete is. While asphalt is less expensive, it often has a harsher appearance owing to its texture, odor, and dark hue.

What Exactly is it?

Asphalt is a kind of construction material used to pave roadways, driveways, and walkways. Asphalt is often avoided due to its propensity to fracture and disintegrate. While it is less expensive than cement, it may not endure as long if not properly laid.

Advantages

  • Extremely affordable in contrast to other materials, including concrete.
  • Simple to fix.
  • Retains its integrity for at least 20 years.

Disadvantages

  • Generally considered to be less durable than cement.
  • Tends to break and soften when exposed to extreme heat.
  • Predominantly dark in hue
  • Re-sealing may be necessary every three to five years

Cost estimate

Asphalt driveways are typically priced according to their length and width. It may be different in the case of narrow paths. Asphalt cannot be utilized to construct residential constructions or the majority of other structures. You’ll spend between $2.50 and $4.00 per square foot for asphalt.

5. Resin

This driveway was constructed using a combination of resin and aggregate stones. It has a high degree of adaptability and is a permeable paving option.

Advantages

  • It requires minimal to no maintenance.
  • It is resistant to cracking.

Disadvantages

  • Caution should be used when mixing to avoid contact with the polyurethanes.
  • Each square meter may cost £40. Prices may vary depending on the aggregate, the size of the space, or the existing floor.

6. Sand

If you’ve never worked with sand before, it’s one of the most environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional concrete. Sand may be used to construct pathways. However, it may not be as suited for walls, tall constructions, and roads as cement or other options.

What Exactly is it?

While everyone is aware of how simple sand is to deal with, is it the greatest concrete substitute? This is dependent on the sort of sand purchased. You may simply make a pathway on your own with items like All-Purpose Sand Quikcrete. While pouring and spreading sand is quite inexpensive, you may need to dig the area and replace it with flagstones.

Advantage

  • Installation is simple and fast, even without the assistance of an expert.
  • Less expensive to install than other options.

Disadvantage

  • A sublevel of gravel or tarps will be required to hold the sand in place.
  • May be tough to keep clean and maintain.
  • It is possible that this is not the ideal material for driveways.

Cost estimate

Because sand or traction sand costs less than a dollar per unit, you can often buy large amounts to build pathways and other places around your house that would need concrete otherwise. However, labor expenses must be included if you want to build a sand driveway.

7. Mulch

If you want to create very eco-friendly walks around your house or manicured areas, mulch has a plethora of advantages. You may build wood walks that connect your gardens to your patios and driveways using a natural look. Mulch is also an excellent strategy to reduce carbon emissions by obviating the need for concrete roads.

What Exactly is it?

While you may choose a wood alternative, mulch is a highly practical and cost-effective option for creating a lovely and low-maintenance driveway or patio area. Wood mulch is one of the items that you may buy and apply to make the ideal concrete-free walks. Additionally, acquiring used mulch products is environmentally beneficial.

Advantages

  • Installation is simple and inexpensive.
  • Mulch may be obtained at a lower cost and spread without the assistance of a professional.

Disadvantages

  • May be more easily scattered than gravel, resulting in the loss of your driveway
  • If you have inclement weather throughout the year, you may need to repair your driveway many times.

Cost estimate

You should expect to spend $27 per cubic foot for pine mulch, but there are other different types of mulch available. Additionally, recyclable mulches such as Ground Smart or Rubber Mulch are available.

C. An Alternative to Concrete Made Fence Posts

There are two factors to consider when considering concrete alternatives for fence posts. They are as follows:

  1. For the purpose of fixing posts in the ground
  2. The actual material used to construct fence posts.

When most individuals hunt for a concrete alternative, they are looking for non-concrete methods of anchoring posts in the ground. If you’re looking for alternative fence post materials, check out our page on the many kinds of fence posts.

Some say that concrete is an inadequate material for fastening fence posts because it accelerates wood post decay and makes it more difficult to repair damaged posts. These two issues are addressed by the following choices.

The critical point here is to use some kind of hardpack to fasten the post. Among your alternatives are the following:

1. Gravel

You may drill a hole for the post, insert it, and then surround it with gravel. Here is a video demonstration of how to achieve this.

2. The Keying of the Posts

The term “keying posts” refers to the process of fastening a post underground using perpendicular boards. Here is a link to a video:

3. Foam Securing

Other than concrete, another alternative is to use some kind of securing foam. This is some very fantastic stuff. Here is a video demonstration:

D. Alternatives to Concrete Foundations

1. Wooden Skeleton

Wooden foundation in house construction.

Traditional wood foundations continue to outperform modern steel or concrete foundations. Wood is derived from naturally occurring trees that are highly advantageous in terms of carbon dioxide absorption. Similarly, processing trees into wood or lumber for building uses less energy. Timber foundations are most often seen in light-colored wooden buildings. In this example, wood provides a more affordable alternative to a concrete base. If the wood is pressure-treated and coated with chemicals, it may endure an extended amount of time.

Advantage

  • It may be used to enhance the aesthetics of a garden.
  • It is very simple to assemble.
  • It has the potential to be cost-effective.

Disadvantages

  • It might be difficult to maintain.
  • Wood is prone to decay and insect infestation.

The cost of constructing a wood foundation is often variable, depending on the kind and quantity of wood utilized. However, it often costs between £10 and £100 per square foot.

2. Foundation for crawlspaces

This raises the house a few feet above the ground. Then a footing is poured, and blocks are set to provide support for the home’s walls. While creating this form of foundation is less expensive than constructing a basement, the two frequently take the same amount of time to complete.

Advantages

  • It improves our ability to access our home’s pipes, ducting, and wiring, making repairs and improvements reasonably simple.
  • Because the crawlspace is conditioned, the first floor of a house built on a crawlspace foundation often has warmer flooring and does not feel as though it is constructed of concrete.

Disadvantages

  • Even with fresh vapor barriers installed, fungus and mold may develop in the crawlspace foundation.
  • Crawlspace foundations provide almost little protection against ever-changing weather conditions, such as those seen during storms.

Typically, the cost of constructing a crawlspace foundation is between £4 and £7 per square foot.

3. Granite Base

Granite stones are appropriate for residential usage and have been utilized effectively throughout Europe for ages. Numerous structures that have benefited from their usage still survive today.

Advantages

  • It is long-lasting.
  • It often seems to be attractive

Disadvantages

  • They need expert installation.
  • They cost around £5 per square foot to install.

4. Asphalt footings

Basement and foundation construction using asphalt.

Although it is used seldom, asphalt may also be used to make foundations. Asphalt is either found naturally or produced to match user specifications.

Advantages

  • It may be rather comfy.

Disadvantages

  • It may be expensive.
  • Installation costs around £7 per square foot.

5. Foundation Made of Bricks

Piled red bricks ready for house construction.

Bricks have been around for a long time and continue to be a feasible alternative for certain individuals. The blocks are often set above ground to construct the foundation.

Advantages

It’s simple to install.

  • Bricks are inexpensive and readily accessible.

Disadvantages

  • It is rather frail.

6. Foundation of Rubble

Worker mixing cement and rubble for house foundation.

This method makes use of debris to minimize the amount of concrete utilized and to enhance drainage.

Advantages

  • Increased drainage capacity.

Disadvantages

  • They often decay.

Installation should be performed by specialists and will cost around £4 per square foot.