I agree with your assessment of weed barrier cloth. AND I learned it the hard way. I used it for my walkway and than covered it with gravel. Now I have weeds growing all over my walk way and am having trouble getting them pulled as they have grown thru the cloth. So now I'm back to weed spray and I'll just be very careful where I spray it. As a disabled person, getting down on the ground to pull weeds is a no-no and impossible to do.
I did the same thing. Bought a house where the fabric was torn up, rocks were covered with weeds coming through the fabric and rock. I wrecked on thumb digging up this mess, cleaning the rock with a bucket and hose, sieving the dirt from the weeds and fabric. Then, like an idiot put it all back fresh. In three spots. Yup, you got it. In a few years I was almost back to square one. I thought I could control it. Maybe if I had sprayed it with weed control each year it would have worked. I replaced it with sidewalk, grass and flower beds. The beds are much easier to control and the weeds don't grow in the concrete or asphalt. At least not many.