Does anyone have recommendations for permeable driveway/paving for cold climates? Not a fan of the plastic grids with grass. Here in Eastern Ontario (Canada), there is lots of snow and ice so it must be shovel-able and stand up well to freeze-thaw cycles.
We have -20 degree(C) or colder winters, as well as humid 30+ degree summers.

4 Answers 4


There are concrete grid and grass systems, if it's the plastic you don't like.

This page claims that porous asphalt systems stand up to freezing better than normal asphalt, and stand up to salt better than concrete systems.

This is a rather more in-depth review of various systems and maintenance issues, with one reult being a suggestion that regular maintenance is required to maintain permeability.


Throughout Northern Europe, Scandinavia and Great Britain the go-to paving solution for drastic weather variations is a combination of porphyry and a mortar called GftK. Porphyry (ancient greco-roman for "purple") is a tough and beautiful, naturally occurring cousin of granite. If you have been to Europe or South America and have seen the cobbled streets, you know porphyry. I believe the Road to Carthage (the actual road, not the movie) was built with porphyry in about 50 AD. GtfK is an epoxy-based mortar that can be applied at temperatures down to 3.33 degrees (C) and even in the rain. If done correctly this application--which, by the way is permeable--will last for decades with NO MAINTENANCE REQUIRED. It can bound unlike materials with differing expansion rates, it doesn't shrink so there won't be any mortar valleys, and it can withstand daily power-washings. It doesn't stain and water can actually be captured underneath and recycled. The only place in the US and Canada that sells this combination is Milestone Imports Inc. out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their site has a ton more information, including testimonials, specs and CAD drawings: www.milestoneimports.com.

  • interesting product, a permeable tough mortar. Sadly not stable in Eastern Ontario temperature ranges Manufacturers site gftk-info.de/english/vdw-800-epoxy-paving-joint-mortar says "ambient and material temperature min. 7°C, max. 30°C"
    – kevinskio
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 20:00
  • Kevinsky, according to Caroline Wanders, International Sales/Marketing for GtfK, vdw 800 can easily handle Ontario’s weather… it can even handle weather in Scandinavia…we have lot of customers in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark using our products without any maintenance what so ever. We also export a lot of grout to Switzerland and Austria. The ambient and material temperatures stated by you are only for the application only once the mortar is hardened, it is extremely durable and long-lasting as well as frost and de-icing salt resistant (see front page of the brochure).
    – Nic
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 12:31
  • Nic, it sounds like you work for them. The custom in this forum is that you must disclose commercial affiliation. Are you connected to this company?
    – kevinskio
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 12:50
  • I am so sorry, Kevinsky. This is my first time ever posting in a forum like this. I am an independent rep for Milestone Imports Inc. out of Santa Fe. We are the exclusive sales agents of GtfK Mortar in the US and Canada. And while others sell porphyry, we sell the best.
    – Nic
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 15:28

Ecnerwal has provided a most detailed study from Minnesota which has a similar climate to Eastern Ontario where you are. From a practical point of view your choices resolve to:

  • traditional gravel driveway
  • interlock driveway

These are the only two solutions which I know are available to homeowners and meet these criteria:

  • must be able to be cleaned by manual or power snow removal tools
  • must withstand loads from cars, sunlight, rain
  • can withstand the occasional salt, sand or other ice melting product. Eastern Ontario is notorious for now and again ice storms. Finding your driveway has become a skating rink overnight requires a surface that can be made safe quickly.
  • should be able to be repaired

Gravel is much cheaper but harder to shovel. Interlock is expensive but requires less maintenance. Both solutions require a deep stable base in order to last. A typical suburban driveway may have 12" of compacted gravel and then the top layer. For areas with heavy clay soils a base of 24" will cost more preparation but provide a longer life.

As a side note if the point of asking for a permeable surface was to reduce water runoff going into storm drains then you could accomplish a considerable reduction by redirecting downspouts from gutters into buried four inch drain pipe with sleeve and french drains.

  • what about resin bound surfacing, does that withstand the cold sufficiently?
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 23:34
  • @Bamboo I am not aware of any resin bound surface that is commonly used in Ontario. You go to the landscape and they offer you "Interlock with a strip of asphalt" or you go to the paving companies who offer you "Asphalt with Interlock on the edges". Sigh...
    – kevinskio
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 23:54
  • It's available here and resin bound gravel is permeable, not sure what temperatures it withstands, but maybe its just not available over there - yet.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 10:09

Looks like there is a company called Tar & Chip Ottawa that installs resin bound permeable driveways.

  • I am not sure if the question was about a company. You may want to clarify with the person asking the question before responding.
    – JStorage
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 18:33

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