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.

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.

The Asphalt Driveway: What You Need to Know

One of the more popular options available for paving a driveway is asphalt. These types of residential driveways are ubiquitous throughout the world due to their cheap price, durability, and relative easy of install. This article will describe what you need to know about the asphalt driveway – what it is, its benefits, its drawbacks, its prices, and what to look for when getting a driveway installed.

More information on other driveway materials, such as driveway pavers, can be found at these links.

The Benefits and Drawbacks (Pros and Cons) Of Asphalt

The major benefit of asphalt is its durability and resistance to vehicular traffic. You can park and drive on it with no problems. It is also very easy to install, as long as the company or contractor knows what they are doing, and the material is also cheap. Thus, prices for the installation of asphalt driveways are usually low, especially if you get contractors to bid against one another. The installation can be finished quickly, so you won’t have to wait for days for the project to be completed. (In theory, at least – see the ‘Scams’ section). Another benefit is that you won’t have to worry much about stains, even of oil, because they will usually blend in with the black of the asphalt. Maintenance is usually quite easy, too.

Asphalt also does well in many climates, as it can resist cracking due to cold and be flexible in hot environments due to the composition of the driveway. It is easy to remove snow from, with shovels, plows, and deicing salts, and absorbs the sunlight in the winter, helping to melt snow and ice.

There are some drawbacks to asphalt, however. Though maintenance is easy, you will still have to seal the driveway once a year, or at least get someone else to do it. While it’s not necessarily required, the proper application of asphalt sealer will help keep the driveway looking great and being strong for years to come. A little investment now could spare you the costs of replacing the driveway well before its time.

Another drawback of asphalt is that it doesn’t look as good as other driveway options. It is certainly outclassed by paving stones, and even concrete, especially if it is stamped or colored, can be more interesting to look at than asphalt. Indeed, asphalt is kind of generic, but this may not be a problem for you if you just want the job done and don’t want to invest into the looks of your home. Just know that your design options will be limited – in the patterns, shapes, and colors you’ll have (or rather lack) at your disposal. If you are looking for more flexiblity and creativity in designs, go with concrete, paving stones, natural stone, or brick pavers.

Like concrete, asphalt may crack due to freeze-thaw cycles. This is a common problem in areas with cold and wet climates, but it can happen anywhere. Whether or not this happens depends on a number of factors, including random chance, but the most important factor is the quality of the base on which the asphalt is installed. When looking for a contractor, make sure he or she knows the importance of the base, and is willing and able to put in the time necessary to prepare it properly. You may want to subcontract out that part of the work to someone who is great at preparing bases if you don’t trust your contractor’s ability to deliver on this.

Asphalt may also have issues in hot climates. If it gets too soft and too much weight is put on it, it may form ruts or dips that can be unsightly.

One other disadvantage is that you can track in oil and grime from the driveway into your home and other clean areas if you are not careful about taking off your shoes. For instance, it’s totally possible to track in seal coating into your home, especially if it’s a hot day and the asphalt is soft or just recently sealed.

If you are concerned with the environment, asphalt may not the be best choice, as chemicals and oils will leach into the ground. However, if you use recycled asphalt, you will help save the environment by using fewer fossil fuels. You’ll also save a few bucks, too!

Finally, you will not be able to install asphalt yourself unless you have the tools and experience to do so. Thus, if you are looking for a DIY driveway project, asphalt may not be the choice for you. If you do want to get asphalt done, you’ll have to hire a pavers contractor – and that comes with the obvious drawbacks of that process.

Asphalt Driveway Cost Estimate

Asphalt is usually one of the cheapest options out there, though the price will vary depending on many factors. One of these factors is the price of crude oil. Components of oil are actually important components of blacktop, so as oil increases in price, blacktop increases in price. Other factors include the size of the job, the season, your location, the contractor you hire, and the specifics of the job itself. In general, however, the cost per square foot for most driveways will range from $1 to $6. The exact cost will depend on the estimate you receive from a contractor; you may also be able to find a cost calculator as well to give you a more specific, but still rough, estimate.

If you get an old asphalt driveway resurfacing, you’ll pay much less in the short term than if you got a new driveway. However, realize that many of the flaws, like cracks, may come through the new layer, despite the contractor’s best efforts, so it may pay in many cases to get a totally new installation.

A more in depth look at the asphalt driveway cost can be found at this link.

Asphalt Driveway Maintenance and Repairs

Asphalt benefits from periodic sealing, though it is by no means required. If you want to extend the life of your driveway, or if you want to protect it from water damage, have it sealed every year or two. However, wait at least a year before sealing a new asphalt driveway. You will want to to do this when the surface turns a bit more grey and when you can see the small stones coming to the surface. If you don’t want to hire someone who specializes in sealing asphalt driveways, it is possible for you to do the work yourself as long as you follow the “how to” directions listed on the sealant product you purchase.

If your driveway does get cracked, chipped, or otherwise damage, it is possible to hire someone who does asphalt driveway repair; you can also do the work yourself, if you know how. Simple crack filler or patches might not look great, but they will look better than the unfixed alternative; they are usually relatively easy for you to DIY.

How Do These Driveways Compare to Other Materials?

What about concrete vs. an asphalt driveway? These are two of the most popular options for driveways, not counting concrete pavers and stone.

Asphalt is very similar to concrete, in that they are both a mixture of sand and stones, but asphalt is bound together with asphalt cement instead of Portland cement. Asphalt is, in a sense, “concrete asphalt,” in that it contains similar components to concrete and is bound together in a similar manner. Despite the minor differences, both are strong, and asphalt has the added bonus of being quite flexible.

Whether you pick asphalt or concrete is up to your budget, design ideas, and home style and theme. Concrete is usually slightly more expensive than asphalt, but this may not be true all the time. You’ll have more design options with concrete, even if you do pick special colored or stamped asphalt, but the installation and maintenance of your asphalt will probably be easier.

Note that asphalt and concrete are both different from a crushed asphalt driveway, also known as tar and chip or macadam. Instead of mixing the stone, sand, and binding agent before laying the driveway, the stone and sand are laid on the driveway first and then ‘sprayed’ with the cement.

A more in depth comparison of hardscape materials can be found here.

What About Asphalt Driveway Scams?

Asphalt driveway paving is big business in the home construction niche, so you’ll have no shortage of people willing to do the work for your home. However, many people report having many problems when dealing with contractors, everything from delivering substandard work to excavating an old driveway and then waiting for months to finish the job, leaving the homeowner with a dirty and dusty driveway throughout that time.

One of the main reasons this happens is that certain unscrupulous contractors will wait until they score multiple jobs in one area before laying down the asphalt. This is because asphalt must be hot in order to be laid, and it is more convenient and efficient to lay more than one driveway at a time. Thus, they will often excavate a driveway, wait for more homes, and then finish the job days, weeks, or even months later. This is why it’s so important to get reviews of contractors’ work before you commit to them. You need to make sure you are getting good value, and not getting scammed, so do your homework and ask for referrals from friends and family who’ve had good work done in the past.

When picking a contractor, the most important factor is how much attention they pay to a base. The base of the driveway should be around 8 inches of well compacted gravel or aggregate base. In addition, this base should extend farther than the actual driveway in order to give a little edging around the structure. Don’t let the contractor install the new driveway without assessing the thickness and the strength of the base – if you are getting a new driveway because the old one cracked, you’ll want to make sure you get a full checkup, even if this will cost you more in the short term.

Driveway Materials: What You Need to Know

If you’re thinking about or have decided to build a new driveway, one of the big decisions you have to make is which driveway materials to use. Your choice will impact how much you pay, its aesthetics (how it looks), maintenance required, and how long the driveway will last until you have to replace it. Thus, there are a lot of factors to juggle. Here is a brief run down of the driveway materials you may want to consider for your next project. At the end there will also be a brief discussion of some of the other material you may have to purchase or use in order to complete your driveway.

Concrete Driveways

A standard driveway material that has stood the test of time. If installed correctly, it will last a very long time, though cracking could be an issue in certain climates. Can also be colored, stained, and stamped in order to increase the aesthetic options, as the plain grey concrete can be rather boring. This is a relatively cheap material as well, though a homeowner will usually not have the skill to pour all the concrete by him or herself.

Asphalt Driveways

This is a great material for many driveways, as it will not show stains well and it will resist cracking. This is one of the most cheap driveway materials, so pick this if looks and overall durability aren’t your main focus. Do realize that you will probably have to repair, maintain, and eventually replace this project within a relatively short period of time compared to other options, especially depending on how well the project is installed.

Concrete Pavers Driveways

The benefits and advantages of concrete pavers have been explained in many places on this site. Overall, this material is a great balance between value, price, durability, beauty, and design flexibility. If you need truly permeable material, you could go with grass pavers. These are also eco friendly driveway materials, as they allow grass to grow between the honeycomb structure while also letting water easily drain through.

Natural Stone Pavers Driveways

This is a very expensive option, but perhaps the most beautiful out of the entire list. There are many different types of stone that can be used for driveways – such as cobblestone – and they bring the beauty of the natural world to the front of your home – for a price, of course.

Brick Pavers Driveways

Related to concrete pavers, these are not as strong, but they are generally a bit cheaper. They may also require a bit more maintenance. Made out of clay.

Gravel and Stone Driveways

These driveways are cheap and last forever.  There are many different types of stones you can use, from gravel to small stones like bluestone. These stones come in many sizes and colors to fit your design and aesthetic requirements. Combined with borders for the driveway, these stones can be kept relatively well contained in most cases. They require some maintenance when the stone goes astray, however, and it may not work with certain decors. Another idea is to have a plain driveway made out of recycled concrete. This is a great idea to save you money; plus, you’ll be using recycled driveway materials, so you’ll also be doing your part for the planet. The only disadvantage here is that the final product may not look great. If you just need function, though, it may be just fine for your purposes.

Macadam/Tar and Chip Driveways

This driveway type is essentially a mix between asphalt and stone driveways, as stones are poured on top of the hot asphalt. These are alternative driveway materials, as they are not as popular as the others discussed above – there’s not much information out there about this type. However, it is a very cheap kind of material, and it enjoys some benefits over its close neighbor, asphalts.

Other Necessary Materials

When installing a new driveway, there are some other materials you may have to use to complete the project. You may need fill if you need to do heavy excavation. You will need a sub base, such as one made from recycled concrete or crushed aggregate. You may also need sand in order to lay down the material, such as for concrete pavers. You may also need topsoil to fill in your landscaping once the driveway is completed in addition to flowers, trees, plants, and other landscaping necessities.

Further Considerations

Realize that there will be many factors that will affect your final decision. Besides the obvious ones (budget, looks, taste, function), there are some more subtle ones. For example, environment – if you have a lot of water in the area, you will need a driveway that drains well. Solid surfaces, like concrete and asphalt, will not drain as well as more porous ones. Do you need to use the driveway for specific purposes, like playing basketball? Will it see heavy vehicular traffic? How much time do you have to invest in maintenance? How will the chosen material affect the property value of your home? These questions and others will be important to think about when you make your final decision.

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!

Grass Pavers: What You Need to Know

Original photo here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmr/3485316730/sizes/m/in/photostream/

The installation of a grass paver driveway.

If you have an area that requires detailed water management and drainage, needs to withstand heavy traffic and abuse, and doesn’t need to be aesthetically exquisite, grass pavers (also known as turf pavers, pervious pavers, and porous pavers) may be the best choice for you. The grass paver  differs from concrete pavers in that they are hollow and “grid-like,” as you can see in the picture to the right.

There are many different uses, both residential and commercial, for turf paving stones. They have been most commonly used in commercial applications, particularly in places where lots of driving and parking occurs. However, they have also recently gained in popularity for uses in the home. At home, these pavers can be used for driveways, walkways, garden applications, landscaping projects, patios, and many other ideas. Commercially, grass pavers can be used anywhere high vehicular traffic can be expected, such as parking lots or construction sites, or anywhere soil or grass erosion can occur. Other common uses include:

  • trails
  • emergency access paths
  • golf cart paths
  • sewer access roads
  • barn flooring
  • drainage channels
  • parking lots
  • and more.

For those with environmental concerns, grass pavers are one of the best ‘green’ options out there.

The Benefits of Grass Pavers

Grass pavers are primarily used in areas where soil erosion or water drainage is of paramount concern. For example, grass driveway pavers help stabilize the soil in an area where lots of vehicular traffic may unsettle and damage it. Water can also drain easily in between these paving stones, putting less pressure on water draining systems that would otherwise have to accept all of this rainwater running down grade. This can help with containing and controlling water pollution, as runoff from asphalt driveways can be very polluting due to all the chemical it carries. Grass pavers, however, allow water to drain free and clear, and thus represent an environmentally friendly driveway and paving solution.

Another example of where this material may be used is where there is a hill, slope, or other slight grade that might run off or erode due to wind, rain, or other inclement weather or abusive forces. Grass pavers keep the area secure and stable while also providing a sleek look.

A final example is any area that is flooded often. Normal paving options – concrete, asphalt, or even concrete pavers – do not drain water as well as regular ground, as the water will often slide down the grade. However, turf pavers provide both the strength and durability of concrete pavers with the drainage capability of grass or soil – a useful combination for some applications.

Another benefit of these permeable pavers is how they support and protect the grass roots system. Constant driving and parking on the grass can easily tear it apart and damage it beyond repair. This can look ugly and require work to replace if you ever want to have grass in the area again. Well-installed grass pavers will help protect this grass and prevent major damage due to ruts and tears caused by moving wheels.

Different Kinds of Grass Pavers

Grass pavers are made out of many materials depending on the needs of the project. One common option is concrete, much like standard paving stones. Another choice is plastic; this is often used for applications that don’t need as much strength and need more subtlety instead (i.e. so they can’t be seen as easily by the naked eye). Plastic grass pavers are often used for areas like backyards that need the soil protection and water management but not the strength intended for vehicular applications. These “lawn pavers” actually leave more space for the grass in between the plastic, letting you get the benefits of the permeable paving system without the robust quality of the concrete variety.

Grass Turf Pavers and Design

Grass pavers, because they are functional, do not focus much on looks, so you won’t find much variety in color, shapes, or sizes as you will with other concrete paving stones. If looks are a concern to you, you may want to look elsewhere, though there is certainly something to be said for the simplicity and utility of these grass paving stones. However, some people do enjoy the natural ‘grassy’ look of these pavers, especially as the grass grows over time. It can also help you blend in different areas of your yard regardless of whether or not you park on those areas – instead of installing a concrete or stone driveway to accommodate extra parking, for example, install grass pavers and you won’t have to have a jarring concrete blob on your property.

Installation of Grass Pavers

Luckily, installing grassy pavers is quite easy compared to other options, and can often be completed by the homeowner. You should still consult your local contractor or paver manufacturer for assistance with your particular project. Maintenance is also easy, and you can often still mow the areas where these pavers are installed to keep the grass in check. Overall, grass pavers are often the most environmentally conscious and functionally effective paving material you can purchase.

The concrete grass pavers ‘honeycomb’ is laid first on a graded, properly excavated area. Even though it drains well, it should still have a slight grade away from the home to ensure that the water doesn’t pool or flood. Depending on the volume of water you expect, you may have to install a drainage system and catch basin to help channel the water to where you want it to go. The base will want to be made up of 3/4 to 1″ of gravel or crushed aggregate. You’ll want to compact this surface.

If the grass pavers are the concrete variety, they are laid much like concrete pavers are – by hand, one by one, in the pattern and shape as needed. Plastic grass pavers may be laid in the same fashion, or they may come in a roll (such as EZ Roll), in which case they are ‘unrolled’ around the area as necessary.

Next, sand or aggregate is spread over the system. This material helps keep the grass pavers in place and keeps them strong while also allowing for proper drainage of water. Next, the grass paver blocks are then filled with a top layer of topsoil to allow for grass to grow; however, more aggregate or stones can be used instead of grass isn’t desired given the desired look of the installation. Then, grass may be planted in the area, if desired. You can also roll sod over the top of the pavers as well. Eventually, the grass will grow between the pavers, creating a mixed grass/concrete look that is also quite permeable and durable. (Or, simple stone or sand will fill in the hollow grass pavers network.)

After the paving system is installed, homeowners should check on it over the next few months to make sure water is draining properly and that there are no problems with the installation. After everything checks out, normal lawn and grass maintenance may go on as if the paving system weren’t in place.

Grass Pavers Cost

Best of all, the grass pavers cost is quite low compared to other paving options, and will depend on the usual factors (location, size, complexity, etc.). You can expect to pay somewhere around $2.00 a square foot. For plastic rolls, you can pay anywhere around $250-$300 per 4′ x 24′ roll – this translates into about $2.50 to $3.00 per foot. Installation may be extra for both of these depending on the project. All in all, you’ll probably pay more for grass pavers installation than for other materials options like concrete, asphalt, and the like. Note that you can save money on these projects by finding the material for sale or by laying it yourself – it is definitely a possible DIY project, within the skill of many homeowners.

Driveway Pavers: What You Need to Know

Installing a paver driveway is an excellent decision for most homeowners: you will see financial, aesthetic, and structural benefits from using paving stones for your next driveway project. This material is a great choice especially  if your driveway experiences heavy traffic, as concrete paving stones are a great way to preserve your driveway against the elements and your vehicles while simultaneously beautifying your home and increasing its appraised value.

Planning, designing, and constructing your new paver driveway will take a lot of work – and with lots of work comes the need for information. This page will attempt to give you everything you need to know in order for you to make an informed decision. Since you’ll be putting a ton of money and time into this, it’s best if you know as much as possible about the process. First, let’s discuss why you’d want to pick pavers over the other materials that are often used for driveways.

Why Pavers Over Other Materials? The Benefits of Concrete Paver Driveways

Original photo by Pacific Outdoor Living.

An example of well-designed and installed driveway pavers.

There are many options out there for the material used to build your driveway. Besides a paving stone driveway, your choices include stamped and poured concrete, asphalt, or stones. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. You can find more information about these pros and cons on other areas of this site. The main three winning features of pavers we will focus on in this article is cost, strength, and longevity.

In terms of cost, driveway paving stones are certainly among the most expensive in terms of initial capital outlay, especially when compared to slab options. For example, the price per square foot for a proper installation of these bricks will be higher than that of the concrete, stone, or asphalt driveway. (See below for a discussion of the price of laying these pavers.)

However, the driveway will pay for itself over time, both in lower maintenance costs (money and time) and sheer longevity, as you will probably not be forced to replace the driveway for decades. The reason why this occurs is due to the structure of paver driveways versus the other options. For concrete and asphalt driveways, the project ends up being one huge, connected slab. While strong (but not as strong as interlocking pavers, actually), this slab does not do well with freezing and thawing cycles. As water freezes underneath the slab, it forces itself into it. The slab cannot bend, so in response it cracks. As freezing and thawing continues, these cracks get worse, eventually forcing you to install a new driveway.

However, for pavers, this is not a problem. The bed of aggregate underneath the driveway is strong yet flexible. In addition, the joints between the concrete pavers give them the best of both worlds: strength and flexibility. These driveways will not crack due to any freezing or thawing. Slabs do have the advantage of not being susceptible to settling, while interlocking pavers sometimes do settle. However, this is easily fixed, as the offending pavers can be removed and reset as necessary. Overall, the maintenance and replacement costs are lower for paving stone installations than for other options over time. The fact that these driveways add property value to your home is just more icing on the financial cake.

All of this results in a durable paver installation that will withstand the rigors of driving, parking, and weathering. In many ways, it is as close to ‘set it and forget it’ as you can get in the home improvement world  – as long as it is installed correctly and with attention to detail!

Other Paver Types

Of course, if you are interested in pavers in general, there are many options to look at besides the concrete variety. You could try natural stone pavers, such as granite, travertine, bluestone, cobblestone, and flagstone pavers. These will be much more expensive, but many people prefer the look of this material. You could also try brick pavers; these are made out of clay. In addition, you can try grass driveway pavers and other permeable options if form and function are your primary concerns. There are still other options, such as using thin pavers over an existing concrete slab, or installing rubber pavers.

However, with concrete paving stones you will find the best balance between selection of sizes, shapes, and colors, beauty, value, and durability. The other options will suffer in one of those areas or another but will be better in other areas than the concrete variety.

Designing Your Paver Driveway

Original photo by David Clow. http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidclow/3764753340/

A driveway with an interesting design flair - installed circle kits are shown here.

For anyone with little experience designing a concrete paver installation, figuring out exactly how to set up the driveway can be challenging. If you hire a contractor or designer to do the work or give suggestions, the work is done. But here are some general ideas and tips to think about.

The first thing to figure out when deciding on a driveway for your home is the size of the project when it’s finished. You could just build the driveway in the same size as your old driveway, or you could choose to expand the driveway to give you more parking room. In addition, consider adding other complementary features – walkways, stoops, patios, and the like – to get the biggest bang for your design and installation buck.

Aside from the size and shape of your driveway, you also need to consider the various patterns you can lay it in. These patterns have been described elsewhere on the site, but for now realize that different patterns can have different consequences for the look of the driveway. You’ll also want to consider the color options, and how the color blend you select will interact with the pattern, shape, and size of your driveway, as well as the other features of your home, landscape, and general environment and decor.

Also consider the various types of edging for your driveway, as some will be more expensive than others but provide more benefits. Consider this carefully, especially if you have a lawn, garden, or flowerbed nearby that you will want to preserve or cordon off. Other options for boundaries between your driveway and your yard and home include all kinds of walls and retaining walls.

There are also special designs you can incorporate within the driveway. One example is the use of the circle kit to add circles to the driveway – shown in the photo above. Another design option to think about for your driveway is an “apron,” or the part of the driveway closest to the entrance. Some customers decide to put a fancy design there, like fans, though of course the options are limitless and it’s ultimately up to you to decide.

No matter what your design choices, a paving stone driveway will look great. Since your driveway is one of the first things visitors see in front of your house, you will be sure to make a good impression with this installation.

Installing a Paving Stones Driveway & Hiring a Contractor

When designing and implementing your ideas, make sure you take into account the environment (is it hot or cold, generally? Rainy or dry?) as well as the soil or material naturally occurring in your front yard. Make sure you communicate this information to your paver contractor, as it could seriously affect your project.If you plan on hiring a contractor to install your driveway, make sure they have experience in this area. These are usually big projects and require working on a scale that some may not be comfortable with. If you are installing the driveway yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. Because there will be vehicular traffic, you will need to make sure your aggregate base is deeper than usual – anywhere from 10-14″ of compacted, aggregate base will be necessary to give you driveway pavers the necessary foundation. Furthermore, keep in mind the “pitch” or the slope of your driveway. Make sure water will flow off it, preferably into your yard or the street, and not simply stand in place. The worst outcome of all is that water flows back into your house, potentially flooding the basement. Note, however, that the paver surface will be somewhat porous due to the joints, so some water will drain through the structure. Make sure you design your driveway with the proper amount of pitch to prevent any damage to your or surrounding homes. This may require some extra excavation or the addition of fill to properly grade out the area.

When designing and implementing your ideas, make sure you take into account the environment (is it hot or cold, generally? Rainy or dry?) as well as the soil or material naturally occurring in your front yard. Make sure you communicate this information to your contractor, as it could seriously affect your project.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost of your driveway will depend on a number of factors, some of which are described elsewhere on the site. To get the pavers installed by a contractor, you’re looking within a range of $10 to $20 per square foot. Of course, the pavers cost will be lower if you get the pavers for sale or if you do it yourself, among other factors.

Maintaining Your Pavers Driveway

As mentioned above, maintenance of your paving stone project will be minimal compared to other materials. However, periodic cleaning and sealing of the surface will help preserve its beauty, color, and strength. You can obtain driveway sealer and apply it yourself, making for a cheap and quick DIY paving project.