Driveway Cost
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WHY DO DRIVEWAYS COST SO MUCH?
Here is something you should know.

The cost of Materials, Trucking, Gas, Insurance and Labor have sky-rocketed in the past few years.  As a result, the quality of workmanship & materials is on the decline.

The main factors on how much you are going to spend on a new driveway largely depends on the material and labor you want provided.  The expensive driveways are the most labor intense!

I have listed the following driveway materials in order of the most expensive installations on top and the least expensive driveways at the bottom.

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Cobblestone, Pavers and Brick Applications
These are the Rolls Royce's of the driveway entrepreneur!
Real driveway art where the look and designs make a statement!

Their beauty, elegance and grace also comes with a hefty price tag.  The reason they cost so much is because each piece has to be hand set one at a time, and each piece has a purchase price.

Much time is spent hand laying these products, not to mention color and design patterns and cutting hundreds of them to fit.  Think of it as putting together a large 10,000 piece puzzle, on your hands and knees, where each piece weighs about 10 lbs., and you have to make the pieces fit as you go!

This is a time consuming task, therefore making it very expensive.  Imagine having to purchase 10,000 pieces for example: and each one cost $3.00, this product would cost the contractor $30,000.

Before he can even begin to bid on the driveway installation and labor cost, he would need to know exactly what product, colors and design pattern that you desire!

Cobblestone, Pavers & Brick  Video

  • Cobblestone may cost as much as $5.00 each
  • Bricks or Paver can cost anywhere from 50 cents to as much as $3.00 each with a great variety of shapes and colors.
Durability: last a lifetime and some pavers come with a warranty
Price range: $10 sq/ft - $60 sq/ft  installed
Maintenance: semi-annual washing and sealing, weed control yearly
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Stamped and Colored Concrete
The durability of concrete with a more distinguished look.

These driveways come in a variety of styles and colors.  This is not as time consuming to install as a paver or brick driveway.  They add a touch of character and beauty far beyond the standard concrete installations.

Your concrete professionals can show you the many patterns and designs as well as color options.  These driveways also have a very long life expectancy (sometimes 50 years).

They need to be installed properly and survive the first few seasons without cracking.  All concrete installations need expansion joints which control where the cracking will take place.

Re-bar or wire mess is also helpful to increase its strength and decrease the chances of cracking.

Stamped Concrete  Video

Durability: 30-50 year life expectancy
Prince range: $6. sq/ft. - $30. sq/ft.  installed
Maintenance: semi-annual washing and sealing
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 concrete driveways

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Concrete
Good old fashion concrete!

It's hard to beat the durability of this product provided it doesn't crack within the first year.

Cracking is more of a problem in the northern climates because frost is always inevitable.  Frosts heaves are one of the major causes of surface cracks in all driveway products.

All concrete installations need joint expansions which control where the cracking will take place.  Re-bar or wire mess is also helpful to increase it's strength and decrease the chances of cracking.

For an additional cost, a color additive can be applied to make a more appealing driveway, ask your concrete professional!  Concrete also can have a multitude of finishes and dressed with stone (aggregates) or slate toppings.

Be careful not to make the finish real smooth or it will become slippery when wet!  On the downside, concrete can be difficult to keep clean and stains can be difficult to remove.

Concrete & Concrete w/ aggregate  Video

 
Durability: 30-50 year life expectancy
Prince range: $4. sq/ft. - $8. sq/ft.  Plain concrete installed
Prince range:
 $6. sq/ft. - $25. sq/ft.  Colored Concrete or w/ Aggregate
Maintenance: semi-annual washing and sealing
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 concrete driveways

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Pervious Concrete
Pervious concrete resembles a gray Rice Crispy treat.

The concrete is made mostly of pea gravel, water and cement -- minus the sand used in conventional concrete. The lack of sand creates void spaces thus making it porous.

When rain falls on a Pervious driveway, it will permeate straight down through as it does in your yard, You won't have any water runoff. This helps prevent flooding

Besides reducing flooding, pervious concrete also reduces water pollution, absorbs less heat than darker pavement, puts rain water back in the ground and allows air and water to reach tree roots.

Pervious concrete needs to be swept or vacuumed occasionally to prevent clogging It can be difficult to keep clean and stains can be difficult to remove.
Pervious concrete costs about twice as much as regular concrete

Pervious Concrete Video

Durability: 30-50 year life expectancy
Prince range: $5. sq/ft. - $12. sq/ft.  installed
Maintenance:
semi-annual washing / vacuum-cleaned
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 concrete driveways

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Stamped and Colored Asphalt
The method of making asphalt look like brick has been patented by a company know as StreetPrint.

To my knowledge, to become a street print installer, a contractor needs to purchase specialized equipment and training from StreetPrint.   StreetPrint in most areas of the country runs 35-50% less than other decorative alternatives such as brick pavers and stamped concrete , and the number of contractors that can install StreetPrint may be limited.

StreetPrint installations are no doubt beautiful, the colorants in the epoxy modified acrylic coating are extremely color fast and will show little fade over its useful life.  The only maintenance required would be periodic low pressure washing and spot oil removal as needed.  The epoxy modified acrylic generally will not require a refreshing coat for 10 -12 years under normal residential wear and tear .

The coloring is more expensive than seal coating and needs to be done every decade.
These types of driveways have all the durability of asphalt and have no weed control problem associated with brick or paver installations.

Street Print is basically asphalt that looks like brick or stone and comes in a variety of colors.

StreetPrint  Video

Durability: 10-30 year life expectancy
Prince range: $4. sq/ft. - $12. sq/ft.  installed
Coloring Cost:  $1. - $3. sq/ft  every 8-10 years
Maintenance:
periodic low pressure washing and spot oil removal as needed
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Asphalt
The plain old black look that just keeps America rolling!

Nearly every road in the world is made of asphalt because it is the most economical.

Asphalt is resistant to cracking because it is made of oil which gives it more elasticity than concrete.  It is easier to keep clean because it is already black.  The downside is the heat that it draws on a hot summer day (because of it's dark color)!

Asphalt can also be applied over concrete or be re-applied over existing asphalt.  This method is known as resurfacing, and is only as good as the base you are covering.

For example: If you apply new asphalt over badly cracked concrete or asphalt, within a year or so the resurface (the new asphalt placed on top) will also crack.

With age, asphalt becomes brittle and dries out from the elements.  The older it is, the more vulnerable it is to cracking.  I believe that seal coating rejuvenates the elasticity in asphalt and should be applied every 2 - 4 years.

Asphalt Berm or Curbing can also be used on Asphalt pavements.  Berm is installed by the linear foot to create landscaping islands in parking lots or to prevent water runoff on steep driveways, or as a curb.

Asphalt  Video

Durability: 10-30 year life expectancy
Prince range: $1. sq/ft. - $6. sq/ft.  installed
Maintenance: semi-annual washing and seal coating every 2-4 years
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Macadam
Macadam driveways are basically crushed stone or gravel driveways that are sprayed with a hot oil (liquid asphalt) placed on the compacted gravel base.

Also known as Tar & Chip when applied to existing asphalt or concrete driveways (resurface).

A layer of 1/4" - 1/2" colored stone is then applied to fill the voids then rolled in.  Cement sand slurry or a coat of asphalt is sometimes used as a binder.

This system is an alternative to asphalt and is popular, not only for its color choices, but also for its reasonable cost.

Macadam driveways come in a variety of colors and stone sizes, provide good traction on icy roadways, and require minimal maintenance.  It lacks the longevity of concrete or asphalt, but can be rejuvenated every 6-10 years with a new coat of liquid asphalt and different stone color at a reasonable cost. Learn more

Tar & Chip  Video

Durability: 6-10 year life expectancy
Prince range: $2. sq/ft. - $5. sq/ft.  installed
Maintenance: Constant loose stone may track into garage
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Stone Driveways
Stone driveways are a bit crude, the stone can move so much, that maintenance can be an ongoing problem.

Stone can be purchased in a variety of sizes and color, and may be practical for large applications.  They should always be applied on a good solid gravel base and never exceed 2"- 4" in depth.

Stone, when used as a driveway, will often end up in your garage, and make a great item for kids to throw through a window.  This is probably why it is not allowed in many cities as a driveway material.

Stone driveways are seen more in rural applications where the driveways are so long, it wouldn't be practical to use concrete or asphalt.

Maintenance is constant, always in need of re-grading and weed control.  Stone driveways are often lined with a border to help retain the material.

Stone Driveway  Video

Durability: Lifetime (of maintenance)
Prince range: $1. sq/ft. - $4. sq/ft.  installed
Maintenance: Constant loose stone & weeds
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Gravel Driveways
Gravel driveways are the least expensive driveways.

However every driveway is made of gravel and then covered with the many choices listed above.

In a way, everyone has a gravel driveway with a finish on top.  Gravel driveways unfinished, do hold very well if they are not on a steep hill (which rain will wash away eventually) or in a low spot, always under water.

The best gravel to leave exposed for a long time is R.A.P. (recycled asphalt product), a great product on any driveway.  It costs less because it is a recycled blend of crushed asphalt, crushed concrete and crushed brick.

I have found it to be a great base for paving or to leave exposed.  The product holds very well in rain and snow and is very durable.  Water seems to penetrate it well and it does not turn to mud very easily (as will the more expensive gravel with clay).

Gravel driveways are only as good as the gravel used.  Some rivers gravel are very sandy and get very sloppy in rain and don't compact well.  Most good compact able gravel's are man-made and called processed gravel.

Some processed gravel's are more expensive than R.A.P. and do not hold up to rain and snow as well.  Most processed gravel's contain a clay mix which has great compacting features but clay gets soupy when wet.

If you have a large driveway project and money is issue, I suggest you start with a good solid gravel base of R.A.P. leaving it exposed for a year or more until you can afford the desired finish.

It will cost you a little bit more to have just gravel installed for now and having it finished later, but it will break up the cost and have time to fully settle and serve its purpose.  You can also do your driveway project in stages.  If you have a very large driveway, finish one small section at a time, step by step to fit your budget!

Gravel Driveway  Video

Durability: Lifetime
Prince range: $.50 sq/ft. - $3. sq/ft.  installed
Maintenance: minimum (washing away on hills and occasional re-grading and weed control)
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Testimonials

Thanks for laying out the comparisons for all the different driveway applications!  It makes more sense now!  Hopefully when I get some estimates on MY driveway project, I won't faint from sticker-shock.

- Michelle

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