A Concrete Patio Cost Estimate

One of the classic things to install at your home is a concrete patio. This is a popular option because of the concrete patio is strong, durable, and relatively inexpensive to install. If you are beginning your research process, you’re probably wondering about the concrete patio cost. This article cannot substitute for proper estimator working on your job, but it will give you some guidance as to what the price may be, as well factors that could affect the final price.

Factors That Affect Patio Cost

Obviously, one of the main benefits of the concrete patio and the reason why many homeowners install one is its price. Concrete patios are cheap options when compared to brick, concrete pavers, stone, tile, and other hardscape solutions. However, you don’t want to go with bargain basement concrete, as you’ll have to deal with horrible cracks and other damage in the long run. Thus, make sure you’re getting a good deal, but don’t immediately go with the bargain option. Going for the contractor with the lowest bid is the quickest way to ensure that you’ll have to get the patio reinstalled in a few short years.

There are number of factors that contribute to the overall price of the concrete. The first is, of course, the price of the concrete itself. In addition, there will be other materials that may need to be added to the concrete in order to reinforce it or make it look nice. For instance, wire mesh or rebar might have to be added to ensure that cracks don’t grow too large. In addition, some preparatory work on the foundation or subbase of your new patio may need to be done. The extent of this preparatory work will obviously depend on the particularities of your project. You also have to pay for the molds and forms that may be necessary to create your patio.

In addition, there are other specific factors that may affect the final price. For example, the location of your home, i.e. the standard of living in your area will obviously affect the final cost. To put it simply, contractors in richer areas will just charge more for the same type of work than contractors in a less expensive area. Other minor factors include the time of the year, commodity costs, and the particularities associated with different contractors. Note that a smaller area of your patio will usually cost more per square foot than if your project was a larger area, so it may pay to get multiple places poured or to enlarge the size of your patio, if desired.

All the above deals primarily with poured option. However, it is possible to get large concrete slabs brought into your home and laid like papers. This option will generally be cheaper, as you won’t have to deal with wet concrete, molds, forms, and other aspects of the installation that are somewhat time-consuming and expensive.

The downside to a concrete patio, however, is that it is somewhat boring to look at. The gray and drab concrete certainly does go with most house designs, but it is not the most ideal hardscape solution in most situations. However, for those who want concrete for its cheap price but don’t mind spending a little bit more to improve the look of patio, there are few options available, which will be discussed in the following section.

Other Kinds of Concrete Patios and Their Costs

There many other ideas you can use to spruce up your backyard patio without having to go with more expensive options like pavers and natural stone. For example, it is possible to get stamped concrete patio. This will allow you to create many different designs, such as the appearance of bricks, in your patio without having to actually get paver materials and other expensive options. However, the stamped concrete patio cost will be higher than a that of a typical concrete patio.

Another option at your disposal is to go with a colored concrete patio. You can either do this by having the color mixed into the wet concrete before it’s poured, or by using concrete stainer to color the surface of the patio. Both of these options will incur a slightly increased expense, but it could make your patio quite unique compared to the typical look.

Don’t forget as well that there may be other costs associated with your patio, such as maintenance and upkeep. (See a discussion of concrete patio repair here.) You may also want to get accessories for your new patio, such as a new set of furniture or patio enclosure. For discussion of some outdoor patio ideas and enclosed patio, see these articles that are linked here.

The Verdict

So how much does a concrete patio cost in the final analysis? Obviously, we can only give a rough estimate due to the many different factors at play we comes down to getting estimate. Thus, it’s best if you contact up to three contractors in order to get a proper estimate done for your job.

In general you should expect to pay anywhere from $2.50-$5 per square foot for plain, typical concrete, depending on how complex the job turns out to be. If you begin to get stamped variations, you’ll be in the range of $5-$10 per square foot. As you get more complex, with special designs, stamps, and colors, you’ll be in the range of $10-$15 per square foot and maybe even higher, and at this point it will pay to look into the paving stones option, such as a concrete patio pavers, unless you are dead set on a concrete patio for some reason.

It should be known that the price of concrete is increasing constantly, so you may not get the deal that you got a few years ago any more. Most people will have to settle with the job costing within the four figure region, most often between 2000 and $5000.

Asphalt Prices: A Guide

Time to get a new driveway, huh? Well, you’re probably thinking about getting asphalt installed; why else would you be here, then?

It should be said straight out that the main reason people choose asphalt is due to cost. Among all the paving solutions you can have for your home, asphalt is the cheapest and most common. The only cheaper option really is loose stone, but this material comes with its own headaches (mostly maintenace) that makes it a relatively weak option for most homeowners driveway needs.

To that end, this article will give you a brief run down of the main factors that affect the price of asphalt, along with a very broad and general estimate of what you might pay for the material for your next outdoor hardscape project.

What Determines Asphalt Prices

Asphalt is a hot mix of ‘liquid asphalt,’ which is actually the stuff that is distilled from oil byproducts, and aggregate, which is a fancy word for stone. The price of these components together determines the asphalt paving pricing that you can expect.

The main causes for the changes in asphalt pricing depends on a number of factors. Those interested in the exact prices per ton can find an asphalt “price index” that shows how these prices have changed over time; for instance, check out this government resource. This resource gives you the price of the asphalt per ton; to figure out how much you’ll need will depend on the price of the asphalt per square foot. Note though that it’s the prices in California, and it’s somewhat old, but at least you can get a general idea – you can expect to be quoted anywhere from $80 to $130 per ton for your asphalt, and this number will continue to increase as oil prices increase. In addition, the thickness of your driveway will also affect the price; thus, you’ll come up with a ‘volume’, measured in yards or some other quantity, that you will need to purchase.

To do this, multiply your square foot measure by the thickness of the driveway in feet. This gives you cubic feet; multiply this by 145 pounds per cubic foot to get the weight of your asphalt. Divide this by 2000 to get tons, and then check the table (listed above) for a general price.

The exact amount you need will depend on your project; your contractor should give you an estimate on this. In addition, the price will also depend on the quality of the asphalt you purchase, as well as how much aggregate it contains relative to liquid asphalt.

The main factor that affects the price of asphalt is oil costs. Asphalt is made from oil-based products, so as the price of oil increases, the overall price of the asphalt will increase. The increase in oil pricing can also have secondary effects on the price of asphalt aside from the affect on the price of its components. For example, contractors who install asphalt may have to charge higher prices due to increased fuel costs and delivery costs for their work. Thus, oil price pressure can have a profound impact on not only the base price of the material but also on the overall costs of installing it.

Note that these costs will affect any other asphalt products, such as asphalt shingles. This just goes to show how critical oil prices are to our economy, and how increased pricing pressure can trickle down to all areas of the broader economic picture.

The second major component is the price of the aggregate. This depends on a number of factors as well, but also note that it is oil (e.g. fuel) dependent.

So How Much Will I Pay?

As we’ve seen above, the raw price you’ll pay will depend on many geo-economic factors, so whatever number we quote you will inevitably be wrong a month from now. In addition, there are other factors that affect the price of the material, factors that are particular to your local area and project. For more information on asphalt driveway cost, see the article linked.

We can, however, give you a decent range of the prices, or an average, that you may expect to pay for the material. A good measure for the full installation of your driveway is around $1 to $5 per square foot, though you’ll probably pay more towards the lower end of this range. Note that this may or may not include the $1 – $3 cost required to install a new aggregate base, if needed.

To get a more specific price, you’ll have to ask contractors for an estimate. This estimate should be free, so don’t think you have to pay for this service. You could also try to find cost calculators on the internet, though these too will only give you a rough guideline as to the costs associated with your project. Here is a cost calculator that may give you a good idea. Note, though, that they will also not give you any notion of the ongoing maintenance costs you’ll incur, so use them with care, just like you’re using the information from this page.

Additional Costs

Note that the installation is not the only aspect of the asphalt driveway prices that you have to worry about. To keep your new driveway looking nice, you’ll have to maintain it every year or so. This will require sealcoating, resurfacing, and overall repair of your asphalt driveway as it cracks, fades, and wears away. For example, you’ll pay somewhere around 8 to 30 cents per square foot for resurfacing. Granted, you could skip this maintenance, though the lifespan and overall appearance of your new project will greatly suffer in the short and long term.

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.

A Definitive Driveway Paving Guide

The first thing visitors and passerbys will see when they look at your house – besides your house, of course – will be the driveway. A well designed and well installed residential driveway, made from quality materials, will accentuate the fine appearance of your home, even taking a modest home and turning it into something more. A pathetic driveway, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect – a crumbling mess can make even the nicest home look less valuable.

So, you’re probably considering a new driveway paving project, either for functional or aesthetic reasons, or perhaps both. Fortunately, and unfortunately, there are plenty of driveway paving materials available for you to choose from. Fortunately, insofar as you’ll be able to pick the perfect driveway for your home, given your budget, but unfortunately because the inexperienced homeowner may feel overwhelmed by choice. Paving a driveway is a complex affair: Which material should you use? Should you install it yourself as a DIY paving project? How do you hire a contractor? These and many other questions might be going through your mind right now. To help you out, this driveway paving guide will help you sort out the various aspects of this process, both to help answer questions you have and to better inform your ongoing research process.

A driveway is a huge investment in your home, both in your time and financial resources, so you’ll want to spend time doing your due diligence. The more research, the better. We hope that this article reveals and guides you in your quest!

BUDGETS AND COSTS

Before going further, you’ll need to sketch out your basic budget. Obviously, you’ll want to have a range, as sometimes costs can add up faster than you expect, especially if your job will require special work.

Which material is the cheapest? This is a different question from “which material is the most valuable?” You may pay more money, in absolute terms, for one material, but end up making more in the long run given the quality of the material and the potential to increase your home’s value. Thus, don’t necessarily think only in terms of sheer prices per square foot, but rather in short and long term costs and value.

If you’d like a general cost estimate to get you started, here is a general scale for price for the most common driveway materials for both materials and labor, all other things being equal: To

Stone < Asphalt < Concrete < Concrete Pavers < Brick Pavers < Natural Stone Pavers

To get a more specific estimate, you can read this article on driveway paving cost or you can find  a cost calculator for these products for a decent guide, but the only true measure will be an estimate from a local contractor.

Let’s talk about the relative merits of each material.

WHAT DO YOU WANT IN A DRIVEWAY?

After budget, the next questions you need to ask yourself are about performance and looks. First, performance – you’re going to be driving and parking on this surface, so you want to make sure it won’t break apart. Most driveway materials will have no problem standing up to this kind of abuse – as long as they’re installed in a proper manner. This is why it’s critical to find a skilled contractor – if you look for a bargain, you may get a disaster instead. Go with quality.

Next, aesthetics. This may be a very small concern of yours after the above two – paving cost and how well and long the driveway holds up – but it’s still important, especially considering you’ll be living with the driveway for many years. In general, go with the materials that have more design options – usually, these are your paving stone materials, as they come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, and thus give you more freedom to create.

Depending on your project and circumstance, you may have other concerns to consider. For example, you may have environmental concerns to balance; in this case, you’d want to avoid materials like asphalt that damage the environment or any driveway material that isn’t permeable in order to allow for proper water drainage. A good material to look into in this case are grass pavers or other permeable alternatives.

DRIVEWAY PAVING MATERIALS

As stated in the cost section above, the most popular materials for your driveway include loose stone (gravel, for example), asphalt, concrete, concrete pavers, brick pavers, and natural stone pavers. The material you choose will depend on a large number of factors, not least of which is your budget. This will probably be the main determinant of your final selection. Truth be told, if you had an unlimited budget, you’d surely go for one of the pavers options, and probably with the most expensive option – one of the natural stone pavers. However, most of us need to settle with more affordable options, which is why concrete and asphalt, in particular, are so popular.

For a long discussion of the relative merits of each material, check out this discussion on the merits of stamped concrete vs pavers and a comparison of all the other materials mentioned above in terms of strength, durability, maintenance, price/value, and more. Note, however, that there also other materials out there, from paving flags and concrete slabs to macadam and block paving and everything in between. Thus, this discussion isn’t exhaustive, but it will at least highlight the most common and popular material types available.

Even if we go with these inexpensive options, we still shouldn’t settle for “cheap” necessarily. There is a big, big difference between high quality and low quality asphalt driveway paving, for example, so keep this in mind when shopping around with potential driveway paving contractors.

MAINTENANCE AND YOUR DRIVEWAY

The sticker price you pay at first installation may not be the only money you lay out over the lifetime of the driveway. Consider what maintenance costs, both in dollars and in your time, may also come with that material. It may be prudent, for example, to invest more now for a low-maintenance material (concrete) than to pay a little bit now for a material that won’t hold up as well over time and will require more maintenance and repair (e.g. asphalt).

Blacktop, for instance, will require periodic maintenance to keep it looking fine. Over time, it will fade and crack, showing the aggregate within the structure, and will thus not look as nice. To keep it looking great, you’ll probably have to get some sealcoating or resurfacing work done; if you don’t, that’s fine, but be ready to deal with a less than optimal driveway. Even paving stones will require occasional concrete paver sealer; usually homeowners will be able to go on sealing pavers themselves, so it usually is not much more of an added expense aside from the time spent working on the project.

TEN DRIVEWAY PAVING IDEAS

To finish this article, we’d like to leave you with ten design ideas and construction tips that you may want to consider when getting your new driveway. Of course, these are just suggestions, but hopefully they’ll spur your own ideas and thoughts when it comes time to craft designs and plan your own outdoor creation.

1. If you’re going with the traditional materials, like concrete or asphalt, don’t limit yourself to the standard iteration of these materials. For instance, you can get stamped concrete to look like paving stones at a fraction of the cost. You can also use stains and finishes to make your concrete look totally different from the typical drab, grey appearance.

2. Consider adding a walkway, patio, or pool deck at the same time as your driveway. You can have an integrated project while also saving more money overall if you get it all done at once.

3. Watch out for scams, especially for companies that will come in, excavate your old driveway, and leave you hanging for weeks or even months while they get other jobs in the area, all just to save them a few bucks. Read reviews, do your research – for instance, here’s some information on how to hire the best paver contractors. These questions can be asked of any contractor, as well.

4. Consider matching your new driveway with new landscaping.

5. Don’t just automatically copy the old design for your new driveway. Consider making the driveway bigger or smaller, depending on your needs, and think about the design flairs you can add, such as curves and sections.

6. You can mix and match options – if you can’t afford driveway pavers, for instance, consider mixing an asphalt or concrete driveway with a paver apron, border, or walkway. Thus, you can capture some of the beauty of this material without the full expense.

7. Don’t balk about hiring professional design services if you need the help. For a small investment up front, you can have a driveway created for your that will go best with your decor and your home’s style and theme.

8. Consider adding other flairs to your driveway, such as fans, circle kits, benches, retaining walls, and more.

9. Pick a color that complements, not necessarily matches, your home’s colors.

10. Finally, if you really need to save money but want to use a brilliant material, consider the driveway a do it yourself project. If you know how to pave a driveway yourself, and have the skills and experience and tools to do the job safely and correctly, you can save money on labor, making a job more affordable, though of course you’ll be paying some of the ‘cost’ of the driveway in your time.

Brick Pavers Prices per Square Foot

Brick pavers.

If you’ve decided to use clay brick pavers for your patio, walkway, driveway, pool deck, or other home installation, you’ve made a good choice. However, pricing and budget is probably a big deal for you, and brick pavers aren’t the cheapest option available. Thus, the more work you do to find a good deal on these pavers, the more you’ll save overall, so it should be worth your time to do a little research. To help you out, here is some information on brick pavers prices – what you’ll usually pay and ways to get a good deal or discount on your next paver project.

Note that none of the below takes into account installation costs – this is just a discussion of the cost of the material itself per brick or per square foot.

A General Brick Pavers Price Estimate

Brick pavers are usually bought in pallets, so the cost is usually described in units of per square foot. In general, you’ll pay anywhere from $5 to $15 per square foot; this works out to $.50 to $3.00 per brick or more. Remember, this is just for the material – tack on another $5 – $10 per square foot for installation. In general, you’ll pay more for interlocking brick pavers than you will for concrete pavers, as the material and method to make the brick is a bit more expensive than for concrete.

In addition, this price will depend on the exact kind of brick you select. There are many brands, types, and colors out there, as well as different shapes and sizes that can be used to make certain brick paving patterns. The most common and popular option is the standard brick size that you’ll find with standard red brick in other applications, but other options are available if you’re willing to pay. The color and style of brick paver you select will depend on the designs you have in mind for your next brick paver project, but be open to changing your design if it can save you money in the end.

How to Save Money on Brick Pavers

If you really want to install a brick paving project but have a limited budget, there are ways for you to save money when you buy brick pavers. Most of the time, if you have a contractor come in and do the work for you, he will buy the material for you. However, you can skip this step and purchase the material yourself in order to lower overall costs. Here are some ideas:

(1) Price shop. Obviously, you’ll want to visit as many supply yards and home improvement stores as you can, or at least call, to get a quote on the price per square foot. You might even get lucky and happen upon wholesale brick, which can be significantly cheaper.

(2) Brick paver prices ultimately depend on the specifics of your job – what kind of project you’re building, the design, and so on. Thus, consider making the job simpler or smaller if it will lower your overall materials design.

(3) Don’t rule out going the ‘used brick paver’ route. You may be able to find brick pavers that other homeowners are trying to get rid of for bargain basement prices – or in some instances, even free. Check sites like Craigslist and freecycle for local leads. As always, make sure you personally inspect the material before paying for it – you want to make sure the color and strength of the brick is still good. Of course, you won’t be getting pristine materials, so be ready to compromise, but don’t compromise too far.

(4) Note as well that there are other materials you’ll have to pay for in addition to the brick. Of course, the brick will be the most expensive part, but mortar, sand, edging, and the material to form the aggregate base and foundation will all cost. Don’t skimp when it comes to a base or proper installation, but you may be able to find some cost cutting measures here to help defray the total cost of the project.

(5) Visit home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot and other mason supply yards to see if you can get bricks for sale. They may have salvage or left-over material that you can get for a steal. The more legwork you do, the more likely you’ll find inexpensive materials.

(6) Your last resort is the internet. Since you are pretty much limited by your geographical area, you should use the internet to do research on suppliers in your area that you can call or visit.

(7) When getting bricks from used sources, make sure they are the right kind of brick! Some bricks are not made to go into the ground, as they will not stand up well to water or to the abuse of vehicles, foot traffic, and weather. So make sure you’re getting proper ‘clay brick pavers’ rather than the pavers used to build walls, stoops, and homes.

The Verdict

To get a firm price for your project – which will depend on many factors such as availability, labor, and your area – you’ll need to get an estimate from paver contractors. There are cost calculators out there that can give you an estimate, but since the exact cost is so dependant on many factors, you’ll have to take the cost on a case-by-case basis. Follow the link for a discussion of more brick pavers cost information, particularly those costs associated with installation and labor.

An Asphalt Driveway Cost Estimate

If you want to get a new asphalt driveway installed in front of your home, you are probably going with this material due to its low cost. Let’s face it – blacktop isn’t the most unique material in the world, and it doesn’t look as great as other options like concrete pavers. It is strong and durable, however, and it is very cheap because it is so common.

General Asphalt Paving Pricing Estimation

So how much will you pay for your new driveway? The asphalt driveway cost will depend on a number of factors, many of which will be detailed and described below. Note, in general, that the main paving costs will derive from two main sources: the materials and equipment needed to lay the new driveway, and the contractors and laborers needed to actually do the work. It is these two main factors that will ultimately determine the asphalt driveway cost per square foot.

In general, the price for your new driveway will be between $1 to $5 per square foot. If you get any special type of asphalt, such as stamped or colored, expect to pay more. For isntance, the stamped asphalt driveway cost can be nearly double the unstamped variety. This may or may not include any excavation that needs to be done or any other special preparatory work that has to be done. Prices will be lower per square foot if you have a larger driveway – the more work done, the less you will pay per unit area, as it will be more efficient for the blacktop contractor to come in and do a larger project than a smaller one. (The fixed costs are much the same regardless of the size of the project, and these fixed costs will be diluted more if they are associated with a larger project.)

However, as stated above, these costs will depend on more specific factors. Let’s take a look at some of the important ones.

Factors that Will Affect Paving Costs

The main factors that will affect the blacktop driveway cost estimate include:

*Oil and other commodity costs. Blacktop is an oil product, so as oil prices increase, you’ll pay more for blacktop. That’s just the reality of the chemistry and economics and is largely unavoidable. And with the continually increasing cost of oil, don’t expect this to decrease any time soon!
*The thickness of the asphalt. Some climates may require thicker asphalt in order to protect against frost and other damage. Obviously, this would cost more money.
*The depth of the base. 4 inches of gravel is usually the standby, but more or less may be needed depending on the environment.
*Your location. If you live in a richer area, you’ll have to pay more for the work. But you probably already know that you’re paying more for products and services, so this is most likely expected.
*The contractor you hire. Expect to pay for quality, and be ready to suffer the consequences if you look for and receive a ridiculous bargain. Anyone doing work for bargain basement prices will give you a bargain basement driveway, so buyer beware. However, there is some leeway in the price here, especially if you can team up with your neighbors to get driveways done at the same time. You could get a nice discount this way.
*The square footage of your driveway. This is obvious, but remember that a large project may enjoy lower prices per square foot due to increased efficiency of laying the blacktop.
*The season. If you get your driveway done during the busy season (spring to early summer), expect to pay more due to increased demand.
*The specifics of your job. If you want curves, or if your driveway is sloped, or a myriad of other design features, you may have to pay more for the privilege.
*If any problems or issues pop up during the installation, expect to pay. For instance, if the contractor has to deal with utility lines at all and needs to hire a subcontractor, you’ll be footing that bill. A general rule: The smoother the job, the less you’ll have to pay, so try to be open about any potential issues before the work begins.
*If you want special kinds of asphalt, such as stamped or colored, you’ll pay more.
*If you combine asphalt with other driveway materials, you’ll obviously have to pay for the installation of those materials too. For instance, many people get concrete pavers or natural stone pavers (cobblestones) as an apron and border for an otherwise asphalt driveway. This will cost you more than a plain blacktop drive.

Getting an Estimate From a Contractor

Ultimately, it’s hard to give an exact price given that costs depend so much on local factors. For an exact measurement of your cost, you’ll need to get an estimate done by a local contractor. You can also use an asphalt driveway cost calculator to help give you a more focused estimate, though it won’t always be entirely accurate. Always get more than one bid or quote, as you’ll want to see what different contractors will offer you for the job. Don’t necessarily take the lowest price – balance out the quality of the work with the price you’re willing to pay. Substandard work will always come back to bite you.

Repair, Maintenance, and Other Costs

Note that your expenditure won’t end when the asphalt is newly installed in your front yard. You will also have to pay repair and maintenance costs down the line if you want your driveway to last long. Consider it part of the fixed cost of the driveway – the consequences of not maintaining your driveway could be getting a whole new one, a very expensive endeavor. Periodic sealing, sealcoating, and resurfacing will help keep your driveway looking great. Expect to pay anywhere from 10 to 20 cents per square foot for these services if you don’t do it yourself.

A Rough Estimate of Driveway Paving Cost

If you want to install a new driveway at your home, you are probably most concerned with the cost. Due to the high square footage of most driveways, and the need for a base that can handle vehicular traffic, driveway paving costs are usually higher than for other hardscape projects (like walkways, patios, and the like). However, this large square footage can decrease the total cost per square foot, simply because it’s more economical to install the driveway over a larger area (the fixed costs are more widely distributed.)

Before we draw out all the different costs for different materials, there are a few general factors that will affect the driveway paving cost estimate.

Factors that Affect Driveway Paving Costs

  • Your location. If you live in a more expensive area, your price will be higher, and if you live in a lower cost area, your price will be lower. This is a factor that’s obviously out of your control. However, if you are able to combine with other homeowners on your street to get multiple jobs done, you may be able to save money as a whole due to the convenience you offer a potential contractor.
  • The contractor you hire will have an obvious effect on the price you’ll pay. If you consult with different contractors, you’ll get different bids for the job. Usually, quality will correlate with cost – in other words, you’ll get what you pay for. When searching for contractors, make sure to get three bids. Most people default to the middle bid, but don’t necessarily do this without carefully evaluating what the contractor is offering – and, more importantly, what he may be leaving out!
  • The driveway materials you choose. This will be discussed in more detail below, but your driveway paving cost will depend on what kind of material you want to pave your driveway. In addition, there can be some variation even within materials, depending on the manufacturer and type of material you choose within a certain category. Don’t forget that there may be maintenance costs associated with the material and project. For instance, asphalt will require periodic resealing to look nice; concrete pavers, on the other hand, are near maintenance free.
  • Obviously, square footage will matter. The more you want to get paved, the higher the price, of course. (See the note above about large v. small jobs and the effect on the prices per square foot.)
  • The design/pattern. The more complex the design, the higher the price, as it will require more skill on the part of the contractor. Let’s take concrete pavers, for instance – the more complex the pattern, the more cuts need to be made (usually). Cuts take FOREVER to complete, just because they need to be marked, cut, and replaced individually. This will add to the expense of your project.
  • Time of year. The paving driveway cost will be lower if you get the work done during non-peak times of the year. Shoot for the fall and winter if possible, as the spring and summer are quite popular (especially after tax season when everyone is flush with checks).
  • Details of installation. If there are some difficulties in excavation, or if something else makes the job more difficult than a standard job, you may have to pay more. For instance, if your driveway area needs to be regraded in order to prevent flooding, this will be an extra expense on top of what you’d normally have to pay.
  • How much you do yourself. If you are able to do steps of the process by yourself, you’ll save on labor costs. In addition, if you can obtain the materials yourself, you might be able to get a better deal on the materials, thus saving you money overall.

Given these general factors, a number of estimated conclusions can be drawn about the price of driveway paving:

First, you’ll have to pay to have the sub base excavated and installed. This will cost anywhere from $1 to $3 USD per square foot, obviously with some regional variations. This is also subject to how difficult or easy this step of the process is. This does not include any other work (like grading) that may have to be done in special circumstances.

The next major factor that determines the price is the material you select. The more expensive materials will look nicer and will also require much more labor on the part of the contractor and his or her team. The most expensive kind of driveway paving material is cobblestones or other natural stones. These are very expensive to purchase individually, and also must be laid by hand. These can run you anywhere from $10 to $50 USD per square foot or more!

Brick and concrete pavers are next. Driveway pavers must also be laid by hand, but since they are manufactured they are cheaper, running about $8 to $20 a square foot.

Next comes concrete, both regular, stamped, and colored. If you go with regular concrete, you could pay anywhere from $3 to $10 a square foot. If you want to get the concrete stamped or colored, expect to pay a few dollars more.

Asphalt paving driveway cost is next – look for around $1 to $6 per square foot for this.

Finally comes stone and gravel driveways. These are the cheapest, running from $.50 to $4.00 a square foot. (A more detailed discussion of the pros and cons of different materials, such as stamped concrete vs pavers, may be found here.)

You also need to factor in replacement and durability. If a driveway cracks easily, requires heavy maintenance, and needs to be replaced more often, it may still cost a lot of money even if the initial installation is cheap due to all this additional work down the line. It may be worth it to pay more up front for a product that will last a long while.

The Verdict

The final estimate you get will have to come from a contractor, as there are too many factors involved (as you see above) for me to give you a specific price on your job. A cost calculator can help you get a rough estimate, but it’s not something to totally rely on.

In addition, a funny thing often happens when you want to get a simple driveway installed – other things and projects have to be done sometimes in order for the original project to be completed. For instance, the installation of retaining walls, changing of grades, and other adjustments may have to be done to ensure that the project is done right. This is impossible to predict without being able to see your particular job. That’s also why it’s so important to get a honest contractor who will be up-front with you on this – you don’t want to find out that you have to add a retaining wall before it’s too late!

Pros and Cons: Pavers, Concrete, Asphalt, and Other Choices

If you are thinking about a new project for your home, garden, or landscape, you might be having trouble deciding among the various material choices at your disposal. Should you use concrete, asphalt, brick pavers, paving stones, natural pavers, or stone? The list of potential materials, and all the various permutations and variations that are possible, can be very confusing and overwhelming for the uninitiated.

To help you out, here is a brief paving guide that will help you weigh the pros and cons of each material type. There is no one “best” material, as the material you use will depend on a lot of factors. In some circumstances, stone would work best; in others, concrete; in others, pavers. What we can tell you, however, are the various features of each material so that you can make an educated decision.

The Comparisons and Categories

We will begin with the least expensive material and continue through the more expensive options available. Each material will be evaluated according to the seven following metrics:

  • Strength
  • Durability
  • Design Options
  • Installation
  • Beauty
  • Maintenance
  • Price/Value

At the end of the article, we give our basic comparisons for each material across these dimensions. You can thus compare the relative merits of concrete vs pavers, stamped concrete vs pavers, and any other comparisons you may need to make. While our decisions are arbitrary, and may differ with those of other experts and contractors, we hope at least to give you a rough guide on this topic.

STONE:

A stone driveway.

This is loose stone that is spread in the area. They are used most often for driveways, though they can also serve as parking areas or as landscaping materials. There is a large variety of stones available, from small to large, and in a variety of colors.

Strength
Obviously, these stones won’t break or crack. Stone withstands vehicular traffic, weather, sun, water, and other effects well.

Durability
You won’t have to worry about replacing this material due to damage as long as it all stays in place. Stone is a great long-term option. However, it will get thrown around, so you’ll probably have to touch the project up once in a while.

Design Options
You are relatively limited when it comes to the design options at your disposal. Obviously, you can mix and match colors and types of stone, and you can make your projects any kind of shape, from rectangular to circular and anything in between. Otherwise, however, you’re relatively limited with your design possibilities.

Installation
Installing stone is very easy. Simply clear an area, fill it in with stone to the appropriate depth, and you’re done.

Beauty
In the right contexts, stone can look nice. However, it an also look boring. In addition, it can often get spread out throughout your lawn and home, making a big mess and a nuisance.

Maintenance
This is an area where stone suffers. You will probably have to deal with stone being scattered around your lawn and yard, making it a pain to clean up. You’ll also deal with weeds. Over time, the stone may have to be refilled as it inevitably wanders off. You may have to level it out if it ever gets distributed unevenly – this might happen if you drive on it, for instance. It’s also impossible to plow or shovel snow off it without disturbing the surface.

Price/Value
Stone is very cheap. Combined with how durable the material it is, stone is a good overall investment, though the property value of your home won’t be seriously changed.

ASPHALT:

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/91584996@N00/3710038320.

An asphalt driveway.

This ubiquitious, oil-based product is very popular for driveways, parking lots, and other outdoor projects that require vehicle traffic. Also known as ‘blacktop.’

Strength
Asphalt is very strong yet flexible, as it will stand up to both heat and cold. However, if it gets too hot, it could get soft – this could be especially problematic if you drive on it. However, asphalt will withstand stains, the sun, water, and general wear and tear.

Durability
Asphalt will last you for decades, as long as it installed and maintained properly. However, you will have to deal with cracks and fading, so you’ll probably have to do repairs along the way. Otherwise, expect to replace this after a decade or two of service.

Design Options
You’re very limited with your design options. While colored or stamped asphalt is possible, it will increase the cost of your project. Otherwise, you’re limited to the standard black driveway. You can create your own shape and dimensions, but otherwise you’re pretty locked in, unless you add a cobblestone or paver apron and border, or some other embellishment.

Installation
An asphalt driveway and other projects are usually out of the reach of most homeowner’s skills, so it’s not a great DIY project. You’ll have to hire a contractor to do it; unfortunately, asphalt contractors are notoriously unreliable, making getting the job done quickly a pain in some circumstances.

Beauty
Asphalt is very common and it doesn’t look as great as other options, especially when it cracks and fades.

Maintenance
You’ll have to seal it to maintain its strength and color. In severe circumstances, patching and resurfacing may be necessary as well. Snow can be easily removed from this surface.

Price/Value
Asphalt is relatively cheap, hence its popularity. In terms of value, it is a good buy, as the material will last you a long time, assuming it’s installed well.

CONCRETE:

An incredibly popular material due to its strength and low cost, concrete is most often used for walkways, driveways, and patios.

Strength
Concrete is incredibly strong. You won’t have to worry about force from above (cars, heavy objects, weather) damaging it. Force from below, however, can be a problem – freeze thaw cycles put pressure on the slab, often leading to cracks.

Durability
Concrete, if well-installed and maintained, can last you for decades, so you shouldn’t have to reinstall the material.

Design Options
You are rather limited with the standard concrete, as the grey color of the material can be boring. However, if you are willing to pay a little more, you can get stamped, colored, or stained concrete. This can multiply your design choices, allowing you to create concrete that will match and complement your home’s decor. You’ll have to pay for that privilege, however.

Installation
Homeowners who’ve worked with concrete before can install it themselves, especially if the project is small. Homeowners with little experience should look for a contractor; ditto for those skilled homeowners trying to tackle a large and/or complex job.

Beauty
Regular concrete is rather boring, though it is ubiquitous. Decorative concrete is far better, as long as it doesn’t crack or chip.

Maintenance
You may have to seal concrete once in awhile, especially if it’s showing signs of damage, but for the most part concrete is maintenance free – as long as everything goes right with the installation. Snow can be easily removed from this surface.

Price/Value
Concrete is quite cheap, especially given its strength and durability. Investment in concrete is an investment for the future, but don’t expect your home value to increase that much.

CONCRETE PAVERS:

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/84354764@N00/451855836/

Interlocking concrete pavers.

Made from concrete, these pavers interlock through a system of sand-filled joints, ensuring that the entire structure stays together.

Strength
Concrete pavers are incredibly strong, both individually and collectively. In fact, some pavers are two to four times stronger than concrete. Thus, they will withstand all rigors of the environment.

Durability
Due to their strength and flexibility, and the interlocking nature of pavers, this material will last you for decades. You will likely not have to worry about installing a new patio, driveway, walkway, etc. unless you want to make a change.

Design Options
Your design options are limitless. There are a ton of paver shapes, paver sizes, types, and colors available. You can lay them in a variety of paver patterns. In addition, you can pair your project with other accessories, like steps, stoops, barbecue pits, retaining walls, and more – all made from this material.

Installation
Pavers installation can be difficult, but since there’s no concrete involved, it can be within the skill range of some DIYers. However, most will want to have their projects installed by professional paver contractors.

Beauty
Pavers, when well-designed and installed, look beautiful. They go well with all home styles and themes, and they retain their beauty for many years.

Maintenance
Pavers are near maintenance free. You may have to seal them occasionally with concrete paver sealer, and perhaps reset pavers that have settled, but for the most part they are a hands-free material. You can easily remove snow from them.

Price/Value
Concrete pavers can be expensive, mostly because they have to be laid by hand. However, they add much value to your home, so you can consider the high initial price as an investment in your home and in your future.

BRICK PAVERS:

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/random-mike/292018480/.

Brick pavers.

A similar material to concrete pavers, these resemble the bricks you see around your house, but they are also different in many important ways.

Strength
This material is similar to concrete pavers – the only major difference is in the material they are made from. Brick pavers are made from clay, not concrete. In terms of the battle between concrete vs brick pavers, they are relatively equal in terms of strength, with perhaps a slight edge to concrete.

Durability
Brick pavers will stand up to all kinds of abuse, and your projects will last many years. You won’t have to worry about reinstalling a new material for a long time.

Design Options
Though options used to be very limited, manufacturers are coming out with new brick designs all the time. While you will largely be limited to the standard ‘brick size,’ you will be able to try different colors and textures. You can thus lay them in a variety of patterns and project designs, just like concrete pavers.

Installation
Like concrete pavers, most homeowners will want to have a contractor come in and install them, though it can be a potential DIY project.

Beauty
Brick pavers look quite nice, though perhaps not as ‘modern’ and ‘elegant’ as concrete pavers. However, with teh right home decor, brick pavers can and do look fantastic.

Maintenance
Brick pavers are very low maintenance – just some sealing and resetting of pavers on occasion. It’s very easy to remove snow from this surface.

Price/Value
These brick pavers are a bit more expensive than the concrete variety, but you can expect a good bump in your home value when you add them to your yard.

NATURAL STONE PAVERS:

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_g_travels/2704941271/

Very old stone pavers.

These pavers are literally carved from the earth. There are many different types of materials that fall into this category, from flagstone to granite and cobblestone to travertine and everything in between. Thus, we’ll have to generalize a lot here.

Strength

While it depends on the particular material, stone pavers are very strong – indeed, they are made from stone carved from the earth itself. If you are looking at flagstone vs pavers, its pretty much a toss up when it comes to compared strength. They may fade in the sun, but they stand up to all kinds of abuse.

Durability
A stone paver project will last for decades. You won’t have to worry about installing a new project ever again if you use this material, barring some unforeseen circumstance.

Design Options
Given the huge variety of stone types, colors, shapes, and sizes, you have near unlimited options when it comes to designing your project.

Installation
Given the weight and difficulty in handling this material, most homeowners will want to leave installation to the pros.

Beauty
Stone pavers are incredibly beautiful – arguably the most beautiful material out there. You are pretty much bringing the beauty of Mother Earth to your yard when you install this material.

Maintenance
Stone pavers are stone. They require almost non-existent maintenance. Snow removal is easy.

Price/Value
The major downfall of flagstone pavers and other natural stone is price. Depending on the stone you pick, you could pay double, triple, or more than any other material. However, you’re adding a ton of value to your home as well, so you can consider it an investment in the future.

THE VERDICT

Strength

Concrete Pavers = Stone Pavers > Brick Pavers > Concrete > Asphalt = Stone

Durability

Concrete Pavers = Stone Pavers > Brick Pavers > Concrete > Asphalt > Stone

Design Options

Concrete Pavers > Stone Pavers > Brick Pavers > Concrete > Stone > Asphalt

Installation

Stone > Concrete > Concrete Pavers = Brick Pavers > Stone Pavers > Asphalt

Beauty

Stone Pavers > Concrete Pavers > Brick Pavers > Concrete > Stone > Asphalt

Maintenance

Stone Pavers = Concrete Pavers = Brick Pavers > Concrete = Asphalt > Stone

Price/Value

Stone > Asphalt > Concrete > Concrete Pavers > Brick Pavers > Stone Pavers

The Cost of Concrete Pavers

Installing concrete paving stones is not cheap. This is certainly what many homeowners have found while doing their research. The short term cost of pavers is usually around $10-$15 per square foot, while other options like concrete and asphalt are less than a third of that cost. Thus, it may seem like concrete pavers and other paving stone options are only within the realm of those who have disposable income to spend on home improvements.

However, looking at installing pavers simply as some sort of cosmetic improvement only is missing out on the major benefit of using the material. While the initial outlay of cash may be larger than for other options (like poured or stamped concrete, asphalt, or stone), the cost of pavers over the lifetime of the installation will usually be cheaper, with  much less maintenance. Asphalt and concrete may have to be replaced multiple times during the course of your ownership of the home, unless you don’t mind having cracking or fading materials in your front yard driveways, walkways, patios, pool decks, and other projects. Pavers, on the other hand, will last you for many decades – in fact, you may never have to replace the driveway again. Thus, it is a battle between quality and quantity. (A comparison of the different material types can be found here.)

Another major reason to not worry as much about the short term costs is that concrete pavers can represent a solid investment in the value of your home. The actual percentage will vary, but many homeowners will appreciate a modest gain in the value of their home when they install a new concrete paver project. Thus, a short term investment, may yield long term profits down the line if you ever decide to sell your home or tap into its equity.

Factors that Affect Pavers Cost

The actual costs of concrete pavers are hard to estimate for you unless we actually went to your home and examined your project specifications. However, we can give you some general guidelines so that you’ll know where you’ll fall within the $10 – $15 range. In addition, you’ll know the factors that go into the price you’ll pay, and thus you might be able to help reduce or make up for some of those costs. Concrete pavers cost depends on many factors, including:

  • Geographical location. Some areas are more expensive than others. Fuel costs, standard of living, material costs, and average salaries can all affect  the prices of materials and labor. If you live in a more expensive area, especially in an area with higher than average home prices, you will probably feel the effects of market forces on the price you’ll have to pay.
  • Brand. How much pavers cost depends on who’s selling them and the relative quality of the pavingstone. In general, though, the differences between pavers are quite minimal, regardless of the premium you’ll have to pay for a particular paver. Thus, its better to go with the choice of paver with one of the lower or medium prices unless you have specific reasons (aka colors or designs) that make you go with the more elite options.
  • Square footage. Obviously, the bigger the project, the more expensive the job (usually). Paring down on your square footage can do a lot to lower the total costs of the project. Note, however, that if you go with a very large job, you may save more per square foot. In other words, a simple 200 sq. foot walkway may run you $12 per square foot, while a super 5000 sq. foot job may run you $10 per square foot. The reason for this is that the fixed costs of the project can be spread over a larger area, thus lowering the total price you’ll have to pay.
  • Project type. Walkways, patios, driveways, pool decks, and garden installations all have their particular quirks.
  • Design. Some paver designs are simpler than others, and thus have lower costs, square footage being equal. For instance, a job with many curves will require more cuts and thus will waste more brick than a job with straight edges. In addition, fancy paver patterns and designs can increase the time and effort the contractor needs to expend, increasing the cost of the labor on your project. Other options, like waterfalls, stoops or steps, or firepits may also increase the cost of the job. This also includes the pattern selected, or if you want to add a border to your project. This could be a great way to save some money on the project – go with a simple, streamlined design.
  • Contractors. Some contractors charge more than others. Be careful when dealing with estimates by paver installers. If the concrete pavers price is too much of a bargain, you might find the work to be substandard. On the other hand, exorbitant prices don’t necessarily imply exquisite work. The best practice here is to get the estimate from three different contractors. Most people default to picking the ‘middle’ price as it seems the most ‘reasonable,’ but don’t automatically default that without reading the fine print. What is each contractor charging for? Is there a guarantee? For more information on hiring a contractor, check out this article.
  • Other materials and preparations. If your project is going to be installed in a sub-optimal area, preparatory work may be needed in order to properly do the job. This may require increased labor and materials costs which will raise the total pavers price. For instance, if there needs to be heavy excavation of an old patio or other project, or if the ground below the area is made of clay and thus shifts and settles a lot, you may have to pay extra. Another example would be if grading of the property needs to be done in order to correct water flow. This is where some wiggle room can come in – don’t be tempted to take the lower price if the contractor isn’t properly addressing issues like these that must be addressed in order to protect your property and your investment.

The Verdict

In the end, as stated above, you will need to hire a contractor to get a specific breakdown of the costs of your project. There are also other articles on this site you can read to learn about the price of other materials besides concrete pavers:

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/an-asphalt-driveway-cost-estimate.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/asphalt-prices-a-guide.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/brick-pavers-cost-estimate.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/a-rough-estimate-of-driveway-paving-cost.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/flagstone-cost-estimate.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/a-general-paving-cost-breakdown.html

If you have any questions or any experiences to share, leave them in the comments!