Sensory Trust factsheet

Outdoor access guidance - materials
2. Materials for paths and routes

Materials for paths and hard surfaces should be carefully chosen to ensure safe and comfortable access for ambulant disabled people and wheelchair users. Surfaces should be well constructed and should give firm, non-slip, level access. Loose materials, such as gravel, are unsuitable and should not be used for main circulation routes.

There is a wide range of materials available and the main ones are outlined below:

In-situ concrete:

Low cost, durable and low maintenance. Unattractive in its raw state but wide range of exposed finishes available. Surface should be textured to give extra grip. Non-slip finishes can be applied.

Asphalt and Tarmac:

Low cost and low maintenance. Good durability as long as preliminary consolidation and weed elimination are carried out. durable and easy to maintenance. Unattractive in its raw state but can be surfaced with other materials to give attractive finish. Should be laid between solid edges. 'Stickiness' in hot weather can be a problem.


Low cost, depending on local source. Informal appearance. Provides good grip and level firm surface as long as it is well prepared and constructed. Has a tendency to rut easily, particularly under wet conditions and can be muddy. Not recommended for wet areas.

Self-binding gravel:

Low cost, depending on local source. Notes as per hoggin.

Brick paviors:

High cost. Attractive with range of colours and grades. Useful for introducing contrast into hard surfaces, or for edging. Products may vary in quality and performance. Avoid ones that are slippery, uneven or foot vulnerable. Good construction is essential - poorly laid bricks are a hazard.


Medium - high cost. Attractive, natural appearance. Main limitation is short life and risk of becoming slippery. Can be coated with hot bitumen and sharp sand or netting to improve grip. Must be well laid, and at right angles to direction of travel so as not to trap wheelchair wheels.


Expensive, difficult surface for most disabled people. Can be slippery. Can be useful for defining no-go areas. Can be set low to provide a smoother surface.

Epoxy-bonded resin aggregate:

High cost. Attractive with range of colours and grades. Can be a useful contrast material.

Further outdoor access guidance

1: paths and routes

2: materials for paths and surfaces

3: gradients and ramps

4: steps

5: handrails

Do you need more access advice?

Sensory Trust offers consultancy on access to outdoor spaces. Read more about our consultancy services >>

Our aim is to make the outdoors accessible and enjoyable for all people, regardless of age, ability or social circumstance.

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