Most of the time, you drive your car over your driveway without a second thought. It’s just there, like the ground beneath your feet.
But when it’s time to pave (or repave) your driveway, you don’t want any vagaries. You want to know exactly what the project is going to cost and how long it’s going to take to complete.
That’s why we compiled this complete guide to the cost of asphalt paving. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about the factors that influence your project’s price tag, and how to calculate its sticker price.
Factors that Influence the Cost of Asphalt Paving
There are several factors that influence that cost of paving, such as:
- Driveway size and shape
- Transportation costs
- Need for drainage or excavation
- Hiring a contractor vs DIY method
Driveway Size and Shape
Like most construction materials, asphalt is priced per square foot. So, logically, the bigger the driveway the more it will cost. According to the national average, asphalt driveways cost $3.00 – $4.00 per square foot. Therefore, homeowners typically spend between $2,846 and $6,294 for paving. There are people who have fallen outside this pricing range, but it’s not as common.
The amount of asphalt necessary for pavement is calculated in tons by determining your driveway’s length, width, and height. This value is the surface area for the project. Contractors must also factor in the effect of compaction because most asphalt foundations need to achieve a standard density of 148 pounds per cubic foot to be most effective. The exact density mix will depend on the specific type of asphalt used.
Keep in mind though, the size of your driveway isn’t all that matters. Shape makes a big difference as well.
If you have a driveway that runs in a straight line from your house to the street, with just enough space for two cars side by side or back-to-back, you’re basically paving a rectangle. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.
If your driveway has curves, rounded edges, or anything that makes the shape more complicated, it’s going to require more work to pave the whole driveway evenly, which increases its cost.
Some contractors mix their own asphalt, while others purchase it from a third-party supplier. Either way, when asphalt is ordered for a project, it must be transported from the production facility to the project site. The type of asphalt determines the mode of transportation because some materials are made from hot mix and others from cold mix. Furthermore, the sheer weight of asphalt forces even the largest construction vehicles to take multiple delivery trips.
Need for Drainage or Excavation
If a new driveway is being installed, the target area requires preparation which may include clearing trees and shrubs, excavating land, leveling the ground, and installing proper drainage. Most contractors charge between $40 and $150 an hour for these services if requested separately. Residential projects typically receive all-encompassing contract bids.
In the case of an existing driveway, contractors will inspect it to determine whether a repair is possible. If the pavement can be fixed, standard resurfacing averages $1.00 – $2.00 per square foot. The contractor will scrape away the surface layer, replace it with fresh asphalt, and then add a thin overlay on top. The video below shows the National Asphalt Pavement Association installing this:
This overlay has a host of benefits from protecting structural integrity of the driveway to reducing noise levels. It’s very effective if the driveway isn’t too far gone.
If the driveway is old and falling apart, most contractors will rip it out, haul it away, and replace it. This process is basically starting from scratch. When properly installed and maintained, asphalt driveways last 15 – 25 years on average.
Hiring a contractor vs DIY method
People generally consider the DIY paving option when they’re concerned about pricing.
While it might seem cheaper to do it yourself, keep in mind that paving a driveway is a serious undertaking. You’ll have to calculate the required amount of asphalt, choose the right type based on your local weather patterns, purchase it in bulk, pay for it to be delivered, prepare the ground beneath the surface, grade your driveway slope, rent a steamroller, lay and compact crushed rock, then install the asphalt and pave it.
As you can see, there are a multitude of steps involved in paving, each with very specific requirements that require industry know-how and a significant time commitment. In addition, if you do it wrong, it will degrade rapidly and you’ll have to pay to get the driveway repaired. Asphalt paving contractors may cost more at the outset because of labor prices, but you have a better chance of getting great results when you hire a company with experience.