Materials like brick are not too reflective or too absorbent.
The darker the color, the more heat it will absorb and the hotter it will become. White reflects the most heat and light -- it is the coolest to touch. A blacktop driveway may get hot enough to fry eggs. Stone and water absorb heat slowly and stay warm in the evenings. They cool off overnight and then heat up again slowly in the morning. This principle is important for dry-arid desert areas, where the days are hot but the nights chill rapidly. Warm pavements near the house mitigate the cold evenings. Then they feel cool during the hot mornings. The same principle applies to passive solar-heating systems, which use the retained heat of the day.
When deciding on surface materials near the house, consider which is more important: (1) conservation of warmth, or (2) providing a cooling effect during the day.
If daytime cooling is more important, then lawns, ground covers or the like are the choice. Sometimes where lawn maintenance is an unwanted burden, people turn to paving. Too often, however, they end up with a hot spot instead of the cool, easy-care area they had bargained for. A house or a terrace surrounded with paving or driveways will absorb the heat that reflects from the paving. The area will be much warmer than it was before the paving.
In southern areas, more air conditioning is required to keep a house near paving comfortable. In cold climates, the reflected heat in winter from paving is a cost benefit. In addition a blacktop driveway is always preferred to concrete in the North, because the black absorbs heat during sunny days and also melts snow and ice faster.
Around solar-heated buildings, it is especially important that the ground be as warm and dry as possible, so paving is useful. Even brown or black plastic sheeting can be useful on the ground near buildings that might otherwise be damp and cold. The plastic can be covered with wood chips for a better appearance. These techniques are most useful on the southern sides of buildings, where sun warming can occur in winter. A protective shield of shrubs and trees is still preferred for the north side and any other exposure subject to heavy winter winds.
Durable paving material should be set on a bed of leveled builder's sand or stone dust.
Paving Materials Paving can be of various materials. There is costly but durable bluestone, brick or concrete. Crushed stone costs less and is attractive and useful, particularly if laid over a weed-retardant film or fabric. Stepping stones are useful where passage is needed. If they are level with a lawn, they can be mowed over without any time-consuming special trimming.
If durable paving materials are used, they should be properly set on a bed of leveled sharp builder's sand or stone dust for permanence and to prevent heaving and settling. The most satisfactory material is bluestone. Slate is good but has a tendency to shale and split off in layers. Stone that splits and shales should not be used near swimming pools or anywhere people go barefoot.