Gravel, what is it and how is it different from crushed stone?

Gravel is one of the most widely used earth products in the world, and the good old United States is the world’s leading producer of gravel. It comes in many shapes and sizes and has numerous uses. Because of the wide variety, many homeowners believe the term is interchangeable with crushed stone. We are here to help set the record straight.

Many of our topsoil providers also sell sand and gravel as well as crushed stone and mulch. When placing an order, make sure you know exactly what product you need. If you have a driveway made of crushed stone, the last thing you want is a supplier to show up and dump a load of sand and gravel on top of it. Unfortunealty, the common names for the product don’t always offer guidance. For instance, “pea gravel” and “pea stone” are essentially the same product.

To help better understand the difference between gravel and stone take a look at the pictures below

Crushed sized stone
Crushed stone
Gravel and Sand Road
Gravel Road

Gravel comes in many different types and sizes.

A job may call for

  • Processed – a material that has been run through sizing equipment such as a crushing plant and is normally available in sizes ranging from 3/8 inch to 3.5 inches.
  • Bank Run – a material naturally occurring along river beds and streams forming a gravel bank.
  • Recycled – a mixture of stone, concrete, and asphalt typically sized from 3/4 inch to 3.5 inches

The list goes on. All of these products make for great driveway materials. Additionally, the material is often used as a compaction material to put at the base of new buildings and for use underneath paved roads and parking lots. It is important to note that it is not always suitable for drainage. If you are putting in a septic system or need drainage for your project, “washed sand” is far superior.

For all you homeowners out there, remember if you have a stone driveway and order gravel, there is a good chance you are purchasing the wrong product. If you order crushed stone, you will get a beautiful product for your house. If you order anything else, you may not like all the sand that comes with it. One last tip, crushed stone is generally more expensive. If you don’t mind the dirt road look, save yourself the money.

For a more in-depth look at gravel check out the Wiki page.  It is probably more than anyone ever needs to know to put in a driveway but it offers a technical overview of the product.

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