A driveway is an expensive — but important — addition for your house. It provides a good entry point and reduces the amount of mud and dirt tracked into your home. There are many paving options, with costs varying with the size of the driveway, soil preparation required and type of paving. Costs also vary by region and when you schedule the work -- avoiding peak construction periods will save you money.
The square footage -- the length of the driveway times its width -- is the key factor in paving cost. A single driveway, wide enough for one car, will usually be 9 or 10 feet wide, while a double driveway will be twice that width. A driveway typically extends from a street curb to a garage or carport while curves or bends add to the square footage. A driveway less than 10 feet wide may cost a bit more because it reduces access for equipment.
Driveway paying starts with excavation, removing dirt for a new driveway or getting rid of old material if you're rebuilding a driveway. This will vary with the type of soil and how much material has to be removed. Figure $2.50 to $5 a square foot, depending on how deep you have to dig and the soil. If you have to excavate below a frost line, you may need to dig a couple of feet deep, which will cost more.
A good gravel base is essential for any driveway, no matter what surface material you pick. You should plan on at least 2 to 3 inches of compacted gravel. That will vary widely by region. A small 15 by 20 feet driveway with 3 inches of gravel can cost as little as $250 for a base. A longer and wider driveway or a deeper base can cost $1,000 or more. The gravel base will determine the stability of the driveway.
You can opt to have your driveway finished with gravel, but most people choose either concrete or asphalt. Concrete usually will cost $5 to $10 a square foot, finished, but that will vary with your region and how deep your concrete is. You should plan on at least 4 inches of concrete, thicker if you'll have heavy traffic. Asphalt can range from $1 to $5 a square foot, again depending on the thickness.
Other paving options, such as brick or stone, will be more expensive because they cost more to install. Bricks or stones have to be set individually, while concrete or asphalt can be spread in bulk. A cheaper option is macadam, essentially crushed stone compacted tightly and sealed with liquid asphalt. A macadam driveway will resemble asphalt, but is less sturdy.
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