A General Paving Cost Breakdown

Determining the paving cost you’ll have to pay for your new installation is difficult because it depends on many factors. The general factors that will vary from area to area include: where you live (some areas have higher standards of living and thus higher prices), the time of year you get the work done, the contractor you hire and his or her bid, and so on.

In general, the price you’ll get from a contractor’s estimate will be on a ‘per square foot’ or square unit area basis. Any additional work required, such as excavation and removal of debris, may require extra costs that are added on to the project estimate. Thus, what you’ll ultimately

However, a general estimate of paving costs can be made according to a number of factors. If you know the type of project, its size, its design, the materials used, and the labor required, you can at least get a ballpark range for your project. The more specific price you’ll pay will have to come from a contractor or from your own calculations if you are installing the project yourself.

Here is a general breakdown of the main factors that will affect the paving price you’ll pay.

What Kind of Project?

First, determine the type and extent of your projects. Most home paving is done to new driveways, though walkways and patios are also quite popular. Other paving projects may also be possible, including pool decks, garden paving, and retaining walls are not uncommon.

Though most projects are similar to each other, there may be enough differences between project types to warrant a discussion. For instance, given the same amount of square footage, a driveway paving cost may be different than that of a patio or walkway due to the specific requirements necessary for driveways (due to the need for the driveway to withstand vehicles) versus these pedestrian applications.

Which Paving Materials Will You Use?

Next, you need to determine what kind of material you’ll use. This will be one of the most significant factors in the price you’ll pay, matched only by the labor necessary to install the material. The most popular paving materials are loose stone, asphalt, concrete, concrete pavers (paving stones), brick pavers, and natural stone pavers. The general price you’ll pay for these materials is contained in that above list from cheapest to most expensive. Thus, you’ll pay the least for loose stone and the most for natural stone pavers (like flagstone pavers).

Incidentally, this is also the order of expense when it comes to installation costs. The further into that list you get, the more extensive, expensive, and intensive is the installation, either for you or a contractor. For instance, asphalt and concrete is simply poured and spread in an area as one slab. Interlocking pavers, however, must be installed individually by hand, making the installation process more expensive and time-consuming.

Another important factor related to materials is the base or sub-base you may have to install before laying the top layer. This can also be expensive or cheap depending on how robust the base needs to be. For instance, a paver project requires a base made of both crushed aggregate and a layer of sand. This can cost anywhere from $1 to $3 per square foot or more, depending on various factors such as depth, materials choice, location, durability, etc.

Design Decisions and Pricing

The design of your paving project will also have an impact on how much you’ll pay. The more elaborate, extensive, and complicated your decorative paving, the more you’ll have to pay in time and money. Thus, if you want to keep costs down, keep your projects simple and to the point. However, don’t settle for plain designs, as simple tweaks and tips can spruce up any hardscape design without breaking the bank.

Installation Cost

Obviously, if you install the driveway materials (or other project) yourself, you’ll pay less in financial terms. However, don’t forget that your time is technically ‘worth’ something, as are your efforts and your peace of mind at a job well done. In addition, you may not be able to actually do the DIY paving project due to its difficulty or expense; for instance, blacktop is usually best left to the pros. Most people, then, will want to hire a contractor; as an investment, it offers a high ROI.

The Verdict

The total cost you pay will thus be based on these factors. You’ll always want to get bids from multiple paving companies and contractors; don’t necessarily go for the lowest bid, but don’t settle for the highest, either. Find the bid that best balances value and quality.

For a closer breakdown of paving costs per square foot related to driveways (and indeed, by extension, all other projects), see this article on a driveway paving cost estimate. (You can also see a more detailed breakdown of pavers cost and asphalt driveway cost at these links.)

Ongoing Costs

One final note. Don’t forget that certain materials and projects will require more ongoing maintenance than others. For instance, your asphalt paving cost will be higher than the initial price over the term of its life, as you’ll have to pay for sealing and resurfacing to keep it looking nice.

In addition, if you have to replace your driveway, patio, walkway, etc. due to poor installation or poor materials, your overall cost will be higher than if you picked a more durable material. Cement, for instance, will crack, perhaps requiring you to repair or even replace the concrete well before its time. Thus, it’s usually better to pay more in the short term than to have to deal with more expense in the long term.