What's the difference between porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces?

Understanding the three main types of surfacing material

contact usWhat's the difference between porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces?

As businesses and residents look to address growing environmental concerns, more and more people are coming around to the idea of porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces. These 3 distinct surface types have a range of benefits to protect the environment and offer an aesthetically-pleasing solution, under foot.


Here at Permeable Surface Australia, we want to keep you well informed about porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces. Get in touch with us for answers to any questions you have about your permeable surface needs.


Before we get into the specific definitions of porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces, let’s take a look at some of the benefits that underpin all 3 types.

What are the benefits of porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces?

There are many benefits that extend to porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces and solutions. These are largely focused on improving stormwater management and protecting the environment.


  • Paving solutions allow water to filter into the ground below, rather than immediately enter stormwater systems. This reduces the risk of flooding.
  • More water into the ground and grass allows local fauna to benefit from additional hydration, leading to stronger roots and more healthy plants.
  • By cooling stormwater before it enters the ground, pervious paving reduces the urban heat island effect that places undue stress on the local environment.
  • Paving solutions also work to filter pollutants from stormwater and other liquid runoff. This ensures that the water going back into the ground is as clean as possible.
  • Flexible, tailored, and changeable solutions that can work with a range of design options. 
  • Very resilient to ice, frost, rain, wind, and movement of earth.
  • Cost benefits from reduction of need for deep excavation for drainage.

What are the disadvantages of porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces?

It wouldn’t be a fair article without some discussion around the disadvantages of porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces. There are not many disadvantages, but consumers should be aware of some of the risks of using these products.

  • There is a risk of areas where large sediment loads maybe be washed and carried across the surfaces. These include at the base of rocky hills and mountains.
  • Some products have limitations of load levels and speeds. For instance, there may be limitations of low axle loads, and speeds of less than 60km/h,
  • If poorly maintained, there may be a risk of weed growth and sediment clogging.


Now that we understand why porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces are important, let’s take a look at the differences between the terms, and what they mean for you as a consumer.

What are porous surfaces?

Porous surfaces have a topmost layer composed of cellular grids, usually made of plastic. Within these grids are porous materials like sand, dirt, and gravel (also including resin bound gravel). 


Stormwater filtration and permeation begins on this layer and filters through the porous material. Below this lies the ground, which will receive the water once it has finished filtering through the material. This ground level can host grass, tree roots, and other biological highlights which can benefit from the filtered water.


The uses for porous surfaces include:

  • Driveways
  • Paths
  • Industrial areas
  • Agriculture
  • Events and festivals

What are permeable surfaces?

Permeable surfaces consist of a top layer of brick, concrete, or clay. This material is not porous like sand or gravel. Instead, the water lands on the surface layer of brick and moves around the impermeable material to the gaps between the surface.


The water then reaches the second layer of the permeable product. This layer features aggregate, like crushed gravel, which works to filter pollutants from the rainwater. The rainwater can then be directed straight into the ground, or to a water-holding location.


The uses for permeable surfaces include:

What are pervious surfaces?

Pervious surfaces can be both permeable and porous. They either allow water to gather on the surface and then bypass the material to end up in another drainage system, or filter through the topmost layer to the ground or organic material below.


Now that you understand the difference between porous, permeable, and pervious surfaces, you can go ahead and check out our selection of products. If you have any further questions about anything related to eco-friendly surface materials, get in touch with us.




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