Asphalt Driveway Cost Calculator

Asphalt Driveway Cost Calculator

Asphalt Driveway Cost Calculator




Adding or replacing your asphalt driveway requires understanding the cost factors involved and estimating a realistic budget. The size of the driveway area, materials needed, site conditions, and contractor rates all impact the total project price. This article will cover key considerations for calculating asphalt driveway cost and using an asphalt driveway calculator to get accurate estimates.

Key Factors That Determine Asphalt Driveway Cost

The cost to pave an asphalt driveway is primarily driven by the size and area that needs to be covered in asphalt. Accurately measuring and calculating the square footage is crucial to get an accurate estimate of how much asphalt is required and the total project cost. For a basic rectangular driveway, you can simply multiply the length by the width to get the area. However, most driveways have more complex shapes with curves, branching sections, and custom edges around landscaping. Breaking the driveway into smaller, regular sections makes it easier to take measurements and calculate the total square footage.

For DIYers, it’s important to add at least 10% extra to your measurements to have padding for overages, cutting errors, and shaping around utilities or landscaping. It’s cheaper to have leftover materials than to run short halfway through paving. Don’t rely on verbal descriptions of the shape and approximate dimensions when getting quotes from paving contractors either. Have the contractors come to assess the site and take measurements themselves to get the most precise sizing. Their expertise with irregular driveways will result in a more accurate materials estimate.

Here are some tips for measuring unique driveway shapes:

  1. For driveways with 90-degree curves, break the curve into multiple small straight segments. Measure the length and width of each segment individually.
  2. For wider curves, use shorter segment lengths to account for the rounded edges more precisely.
  3. For Y-shaped driveways that branch to double parking pads or lead to a detached garage, sketch the shape on paper first. Mark each rectangular section and label it with dimensions. Calculate the area of each branch.
  4. Use grid paper to draw long winding driveways to scale. Take measurements with a tape measure directly off the sketch. Having a visual map makes it easier to calculate sections.
  5. For driveways with island planters or landscape borders, measure the main paved area first, then add in the separate border segments. Subtract any sections occupied by planting beds.
  6. Mark sprinkler heads, manhole covers, power poles, and other obstructions. Draw them to scale on the sketch and account for them in the measurements.

In addition to the overall square footage, the thickness and quality of materials will impact the asphalt price. Most residential driveways are paved with 2 to 3 inches of asphalt. Heavier use driveways near commercial buildings may require 4 inch asphalt thickness. Any base gravel, compaction work, permitting fees or demolition of old paving also adds to the total price.

Having an experienced asphalt company measure the driveway area avoids unintended errors and minimize waste. They are experts at dealing with irregular shapes, slope grading and thickness requirements. Provide them with copies of any scaled drawings you’ve made of unique driveway layouts.

Here is a summary of the key measuring tips to accurately calculate asphalt driveway area:

  • Break the driveway into smaller rectangular segments for easier measurement
  • Draw diagrams to scale on grid paper for winding and curved driveways
  • Take measurements directly off the drawings for each section
  • Add up the square footage of each section for the total
  • Add 10% extra square footage for DIY paving to account for overages and errors
  • Have the pro asphalt contractor measure for the most precision on sizing
  • Mark and note any obstructions like utility boxes that occupy space
  • Specify thickness – 2 to 4 inches typical for residential driveways
  • Account for any base gravel, permits, demolition or other site prep
  • Provide contractors with scaled drawings for irregular shaped driveways

Accurately measuring and calculating the total square footage is the most important factor in estimating how much asphalt is needed and the ultimate project cost. Being meticulous upfront in measuring will help avoid major pricing surprises or running out of materials later. With the right tools and focus on precision, you can determine an accurate asphalt driveway cost and set your paving budget correctly.

Asphalt Calculator Get Asphalt Quantity and Cost

 

Asphalt Thickness Needed As a Driveway Cost Contributor

The thickness of the asphalt layer is a key consideration when paving or repaving a residential driveway. The asphalt mix needs to be thick enough to provide adequate durability and prevent cracking and deterioration under the weight and movement of vehicles over time. However, asphalt is also one of the more expensive paving materials, so you don’t want to use more than necessary beyond the minimum recommended thickness.

For standard residential driveways that see moderate daily vehicle traffic from family cars, minivans, SUVs, and occasional delivery trucks, an asphalt thickness between 2 to 3 inches is typical. This strikes a good balance of structural integrity without overbuilding. In warmer climates that rarely or never experience freezing temperatures, a thickness on the lower end of 2 inches is often sufficient. However, in regions with colder winters where frost heave and frozen ground can occur, it’s smart to use a thickness closer to 3 inches for additional strength. The extra asphalt helps prevent cracking damage from the freeze-thaw cycles.

If the driveway will see more consistent heavy vehicle use from large trucks, RVs, construction vehicles, and commercial traffic, increasing the asphalt to 3 or 4 inches provides extra durability needed for those heavyweight loads. For extremely heavy industrial or shipping traffic, commercial driveway asphalt can be specified at up to 6 inches thick. Evaluating the types of vehicles, traffic frequency, and weights expected is crucial in determining the ideal asphalt thickness.

Another method to allow the use of slightly thinner asphalt is to apply a tack coat on top of the compacted gravel or crushed stone base layer before paving. This liquid adhesive layer bonds the asphalt to the foundation beneath it. That creates an integrated layered structure that is stronger than just the asphalt alone sitting loosely on the base. A proper tack coat permits reducing the asphalt thickness by 0.5 to 1 inch without sacrificing overall driveway longevity.

For existing driveways being repaved after years of wear, the old asphalt can actually be reused as a great foundation for the new overlay after milling it down. Milling involves mechanically grinding off around 1 to 1.5 inches from the top of the current asphalt. This removes cracks and wheel ruts while exposing a fresh binding layer below to bond the new overlay. After milling, the existing milled asphalt makes an ideal compacted base to pave just 1.5 to 2 inches of fresh asphalt over.

On driveways with steeply graded slopes or sections with a higher than typical angle of incline, using thicker asphalt at the top and bottom transition areas is smart. This protects against cracking from vehicle bumps, sudden acceleration forces, and wheel spin torque as cars enter and exit the slope. The middle inclined section can adhere closer to 2 inches for cost savings since it sees less abrupt weight shifting.

In summary, these are some asphalt thickness guidelines for residential driveways:

  1. – 2 to 3 inches for standard driveways with moderate car and light truck use
  2. – Near 3 inches for cold climates to prevent winter freeze cracks
  3. – 2 inches minimum for warm climates without winter freezes
  4. – 3 to 4 inches for heavier vehicles and more frequent traffic
  5. – Use a tack coat on the base layer to allow a thinner asphalt cap
  6. – Mill 1.5 inches off old asphalt and overlay new for repaving
  7. – Add thickness at the top and bottom of steeply angled slopes
  8. – Consult paving contractors for thickness advice on specific projects

With the wide range of recommended driveway asphalt thickness, working with an experienced paving contractor is invaluable for determining the right amount for your particular driveway size, use patterns, climate, and subbase structure. Their expertise provides an educated specification tailored to your driveway’s needs for long-lasting performance. Investing in the right asphalt thickness upfront prevents premature cracking and deterioration down the road.

Usage Recommended Thickness
Standard driveways with moderate car and light truck use 2 to 3 inches
Cold climates to prevent winter freeze cracks Near 3 inches
Warm climates without winter freezes 2 inches minimum
Heavier vehicles and more frequent traffic 3 to 4 inches

 

 

Gravel Base Materials and Depth As a Driveway Cost Contributor

 

A stable gravel base is crucial underneath asphalt driveways to provide a solid foundation that prevents cracking and sinking. The recommended gravel size, depth, edge extensions and proper compaction are important factors in creating a base layer optimized for driveway performance.

Recommended Gravel Materials

Gravel Type Description
3/4 inch minus crushed stone Angular fractured stone pieces from 3/4 inch down to fines. Provides excellent compaction and interlock.
1 inch minus crushed stone Angular rock from 1 inch down to fines. Slightly larger but still compacts well.
Crushed Surfacing Base Course (CSBC) Specification for high quality crushed rockblending sizes from 1.5 inches down.
Road base Crushed gravel made for road subbases. Typically more finesand dust than driveway base.
Pea gravel Rounded river rock from 1/4 to 3/8 inches. Too smooth for stable compaction.

 

The optimal gravel material for driveways is 3/4 inch minus crushed stone. The angular fractured edges of the crushed rock pieces interlock when compacted to form a tight base. Avoid rounded gravel materials like pea gravel or river rock that cannot compact tightly due to the smooth edges. The fractured faces of crushed stone grip together when compacted to resist settling and movement under the asphalt layer.

Recommended Gravel Depths

Location Depth
Standard vehicles 4-6 inches
Heavy vehicles 6-8 inches
Poorly draining soil 6-8 inches
Cold climates 6-8 inches

 

For typical driveways used by family cars, small trucks, and occasional service vehicles, a gravel depth between 4-6 inches is usually adequate when fully compacted. However, heavy commercial vehicles, larger construction trucks, and areas with poorly draining soils warrant a deeper base of 6-8 inches for stability. Cold climates also benefit from the extra depth to prevent frost heave.

Gravel Base Installation

  • Subgrade soil should be excavated or graded smooth and uniform prior to gravel placement.
  • The gravel base should be placed in 4-inch lifts for efficient compaction.
  • Compact each layer using a vibratory roller or plate compactor capable of reaching 95% Proctor density.
  • Water can be applied to lubricate the gravel if needed while compacting to reach maximum density.
  • Extend the gravel base 6-12 inches past the edges of the asphalt driveway before paving.

Proper installation and compaction at 95% Proctor density are imperative to creating a stable base layer. The gravel should be placed and compacted in controlled 4-inch lifts rather than dumping a thick layer to compact all at once. Compaction equipment like vibrating rollers is key for reaching the highest density through the full depth.

Using Geotextiles

  • Geotextiles like road fabric help prevent subgrade and gravel mixing.
  • Used on grades over 5% and in soft, wet, or poorly draining soil conditions.
  • Road fabric creates a smooth and even paving substrate for consistent asphalt thickness.
  • Fabric selection depends on soil conditions and permeability. Consult manufacturer specifications.

Where soils are very soft, poorly compacted, or retain too much moisture, geotextile road fabrics placed between the subgrade and gravel can strengthen the base. They prevent the gravel from being contaminated by subgrade materials pumping up as they become compacted together. The fabrics also act as a clean working surface for paving equipment.

Crown and Drainage

  • The gravel base should be crowned by sloping to the edges before paving asphalt.
  • A 1-2% cross slope from the centerline to the edges provides adequate drainage.
  • Periodic crown checks during installation ensure proper shaping is achieved.

The gravel subbase should be graded with a crowned cross slope for drainage rather than paving over a flat plane. Sloping the gravel to the sides causes water to run off properly to the edges instead of pooling on the driveway surface. A 1-2% slope from the centerline is ideal for residential asphalt driveways.

How do Grading, Excavation, and Site Preparation affect Driveway Cost?

The condition and layout of the existing site where the new asphalt driveway will be built plays a major role in determining the scope and cost of preparation work required before paving can begin. Grading the terrain, dealing with soils and drainage, managing steep slopes, and protecting landscaping while re-contouring the area are key site preparation factors that add to the bottom line cost.

Grading, Cut, and Fill

  • Grading involves cutting out the high points and filling in the low spots to create a flat base for paving.
  • Topsoil and organic material must be excavated before backfilling and compaction of structural fill material.
  • The amount of earthmoving is minimized if the subgrade follows the original contours as close as possible.
  • Heavy grading that requires significant cut and fill will increase costs substantially over light grading across gentle terrain.
  • Balancing cut and fill across the site avoids hauling costs to import or export soil.

Grading is shaping and re-contouring the existing topography as needed to achieve a flat, stable base for driveway construction. The more the terrain must be cut, filled and transformed, the greater the site preparation costs incurred. Following the original gentle contours as closely as feasible minimizes earthmoving.

Soil and Drainage

  • Native soil may be too soft or moisture-sensitive for direct pavement. Excavate deeper and use structural fill or geotextiles to improve stability.
  • Proper drainage with ditches, swales and area inlets carries runoff away from the driveway to prevent undermine and washouts.
  • Poor drainage and wet soils often require underdrains and subsurface drainage pipes beneath the driveway.

Soil properties and stormwater management are directly tied to driveway durability. Soft, shifting soil and areas where water accumulates will lead to premature deterioration if not addressed upfront.

Steep Grades and Slopes

  • Retaining walls, geogrid reinforcements, benches, and guardrails may be required to allow driveway construction on steep slopes.
  • Stabilizing and reinforcing steep slopes adds substantial project costs compared to flat or gently sloping sites.
  • Grading steep hills often necessitates extensive cut and fill shaping to create a drivable surface. Trucking and earthmoving costs add up.

Steep-downhill grades present numerous challenges for building stable, long-lasting driveways. Major structural measures to terrace and reinforce the slopes drive up prep work costs significantly.

Landscaping Protection

  • Grading and excavation must protect existing trees, plants, gardens, and aesthetic features. This often limits grading options.
  • Hand excavation with smaller equipment reduces damage to tree roots compared to large machinery mass earthmoving.

Working around landscaping restraints to preserve vegetation also factors into site preparation costs based on the care needed.

Here are rough estimates for grading:

Grading Type Volume Moved Equipment Relative Cost
Light <500 cubic yards Small tractor or skid steer $
Moderate 500 – 2000 cubic yards Large bulldozer $$
Heavy >2000 cubic yards Full earthworks fleet $$$

And for slope reinforcement:

Reinforcement Method Use Relative Cost
Retaining wall Tall wall, >8ft height $$$
Geogrid Medium slope, <30 degrees $$
Benching Wide slope, >30ft width $$
Guardrail Safety for steep drop-off $

Proper planning, drainage provisions, and structural preparations across challenging topography are imperative for driveway integrity and longevity. While essential, these items can easily double or triple the cost over flat, well-draining sites. Understanding the existing terrain and required shaping efforts is key for accurate project budgeting. Investing in appropriate sitework underpinnings helps ensure long-term driveway stability.

 

Additional Costs to Consider in overall Driveway Cost

Beyond the major cost components like asphalt materials, base materials, and grading, there are a number of additional factors that contribute to the total budget for a driveway installation or replacement project. Being aware of these supplementary costs helps avoid surprise expenses down the road.

Milling and Removal

  • For asphalt driveway replacements, the old surface must be taken out before new pavement can be put down.
  • Milling involves grinding off the top 1.5-2 inches of existing asphalt using a large motorized machine. This leaves a fresh base layer exposed for paving over.
  • For severely deteriorated driveways, full-depth removal may be required. This adds demolition and disposal fees for the old material.
  • If the asphalt can be recycled, milling removal costs less than if it required hauling to a landfill.
  • Budget $2-$4 per square foot for milling or removal of old paving.

Asphalt Curbs and Edge Restraints

  • Curbs, edging, and borders prevent the edges of the asphalt from crumbling from vehicle loads.
  • Concrete curbs offer the most durable permanent edge. Asphalt curbs are cheaper but still adequate.
  • Plastic or metal landscape edging can also be installed around driveway perimeters.
  • Allow an extra $3-$6 per linear foot of curbing depending on material and size.

Permitting and Inspections

  • Most jurisdictions require permits for residential driveway construction and paving. Permit fees add cost.
  • The permit process also requires inspections of the subbase preparation, forms, drainage and final paving.
  • Any requirements to bring non-conforming driveways up to current code also add expenses.
  • Budget $100-$500 for permitting costs based on local rates and complexity.

Landscaping

  • New driveway construction often disturbs existing landscaping that needs restoration.
  • Allow for new plants, trees, sod, irrigation changes and other repairs to the landscape appearance.
  • Blending the driveway seamlessly with the surrounding environment takes work and maintenance.
  • Landscaping costs following construction can run several thousand dollars or more.

Additional Site Costs

Item Cost Range
Drainage improvements $500 – $5000
Retaining walls $50 – $200 per linear foot
Lighting / Safety $1000 – $5000
Signage $100 – $500
Sealing/Striping $.10 – $.30 per square foot

Here is a summary of typical additional driveway costs beyond the asphalt paving itself:

  • Milling/Removal: $2-$4 per square foot
  • Curbs/Edging: $3-$6 per linear foot
  • Permitting: $100-$500
  • Landscaping: Wide range – budget minimum $1000
  • Other Site Needs: Variable based on specifics

With a major home improvement project like an asphalt driveway installation, there are always supplementary costs that come up beyond the initial key material and labor estimates. Being aware of the potential additional expenses that often accompany a driveway project helps avoid budget overages and surprises down the road. Allocating a contingency for these ancillary factors ensures the job stays on-budget.

Asphalt Driveway Cost Per Square Foot

Cost per square foot depends on your region but typically falls between:

Material Prices for Asphalt and Gravel

The costs of the key materials that make up an asphalt driveway – the asphalt itself and the gravel base – can significantly influence the overall project budget. Understanding current market prices for these components based on your region and suppliers allows you to estimate total material quantities and get an accurate cost estimate.

Asphalt is sold by the ton rather than by the square footage of coverage area. This is because the density and weight per inch of thickness can vary slightly between different mix designs. Gravel materials are sold by the cubic yard based on the loose volume before compaction. Knowing your area’s unit rates for these materials is crucial for budgeting.

Asphalt Pricing

Asphalt pricing ranges between $80-$120 per ton on average nationally. However, significant regional and local differences apply:

Region Price per Ton
Northeast $100-$130
Midwest $80-$100
South $80-$110
West $90-$120

Asphalt prices also depend on:

  • Mix design (base, surface, high-performance)
  • Quality of binder and aggregates
  • Quantity purchased
  • Delivery fees

For a typical residential driveway using a standard base or surface mix, plan around $90-$110 per ton as a baseline.

Bulk purchases of 50 tons or more may qualify for volume discounts of $5-$10 per ton off list price. Delivery fees add $10-$20 per ton within 20 miles.

Gravel Prices

Common gravel materials for driveways range from $25-$50 per cubic yard:

Material Price per Cubic Yard
Screened gravel $25-$35
Crushed stone $35-$50
Crushed concrete $30-$40
Structural fill $30-$45

Cost factors for gravel include:

  • Source locality – farther hauling adds cost
  • Quality – screening, washing, precise gradation
  • Quantity purchased
  • Delivery fees

For a high quality crushed stone subbase, budget $40-$50/yd delivered for residential projects.

Calculating Material Quantities

  • Determine square footage of driveway area
  • Multiply by thickness for cubic footage
  • Asphalt: Cubic feet x 110 lbs/ft3 x $100/ton / 2000 lbs/ton
  • Gravel: Cubic feet x 1 yd3/27 ft3 x $40/yd3

Accurately calculating material quantities from measured driveway dimensions gives the most precise cost estimate.

Example Driveway

  • 12 ft wide x 50 ft long driveway
  • Asphalt thickness: 2 inches
  • Gravel depth: 6 inches
Material Calculations Tons/Yards Cost
Asphalt 12x50x0.167x110x$100/2000 5 tons $500
Gravel 12x50x0.5x$40/27 11 yards $440
Total $940

 

Having a good handle on your region’s price per ton for asphalt and gravel per cubic yard or ton allows you to quickly calculate quantities and estimate budget. Material costs often make up 50% or more of the total project price. Updated pricing knowledge gets you accurate project estimates.

 

Labor and Equipment Rates

In addition to material costs, the labor and equipment rates for the contractors performing the physical driveway installation are a major price factor. Labor is typically billed by the hour based on the size of the crew and types of machines required. Understanding typical hourly rates helps estimate this portion of your project budget.

Labor rates for asphalt paving crews range from $50 per hour on the low end for single person or minimal equipment jobs, up to $100 per hour and higher for large multi-person crews running extensive machinery. The national average falls around $70-$80 per hour. Here are some typical hourly rates based on crew size:

Crew Makeup Hourly Rate Range
1-2 workers, small equipment $50-$70
3-4 workers, standard equipment $70-$90
5+ workers, heavy equipment $90-$120

The composition of the crew and selection of equipment matches the scale of the job. Below are common crew and equipment makeups for residential driveway paving:

Small Driveway Crew

  • 1-2 workers
  • Compact roller, plate compactor
  • Small paver or hand work

This smaller crew is suited for driveways under 500-600 square feet with minimal grading, simple layouts, and light equipment access. Useful for repairs or extensions.

Standard Driveway Crew

  • 3-4 workers
  • Skid steer, dump truck
  • Full-size paver, vibratory roller

This is the typical crew for most residential driveways from 600-2000 square feet with moderate base prep work involved.

Large Driveway Crew

  • 5+ workers
  • Excavators, loaders, multiple trucks
  • Multi-paver operation, heavy roller

Larger projects over 2000+ square feet with extensive grading, long curving driveways, or commercial-size needs may benefit from a bigger crew with maximum production capacity.

Other factors influencing labor rates include:

  • Regional location – higher rates in urban areas
  • Materials involved – decorative or permeable pavers add cost
  • Total project size – economies of scale apply
  • Site access difficulty – tight spaces increase cost
  • Base preparation work needed – extensive grading adds labor

While the cost of materials like asphalt and gravel are relatively fixed, the labor rates can vary significantly based on your project’s unique specifications, site conditions, and scope of work required. Clarify all aspects of your specific job upfront when requesting estimates to get the most accurate picture of labor costs. Understanding the typical hourly rate ranges for different crew sizes gives you a baseline to compare contractor bids against as you evaluate options for your asphalt installation project.

How Contractor Profit Margins Effect on Driveway Cost

When receiving bids from paving contractors, it’s important to understand that their quoted prices include not just the raw materials and labor, but also their built-in overhead costs and target profit margins. While each contractor’s margins may vary, being aware of typical industry ranges helps you decipher fair market pricing as you evaluate quotes.

Overhead Costs

A contractor’s overhead expenses get passed onto the customer by building them into the bid pricing. These can include:

  • Insurance policies on workers, vehicles, and the business itself
  • Bonding for larger commercial projects
  • Office administration like sales staff and project management
  • Training and licensing fees
  • Sales and marketing expenses
  • Vehicle and equipment maintenance
  • Fuel and transport
  • Facility costs for storage yards and garages
  • Business taxes and legal fees

These overhead costs may add 25% or more onto the “hard costs” of materials and labor. However, established contractors with economies of scale and optimized operations can keep overheads in check.

Profit Margins

The desired profit margin is how much net income the company aims to make on the project sale after covering all direct project expenses and overhead allocations. Typical contractor profit margins fall around:

  • 10-20% (Low)
  • 20-35% (Average)
  • 35%+ (High)

On simpler small projects, they may aim for up to 40-50% margins. But on major jobs bid competitively, 10% net profit may be enough incentive.

There are a range of factors that determine target profit margins:

  • Competitive situation – more bids pressure margins
  • Project complexity – unique projects warrant higher margins
  • Customer relationship – repeat business enables lower margins
  • Staffing needs – decent margins keep crews paid consistently

Sample Driveway Bid Breakdown

  • Direct costs = $1000
    • $500 materials
    • $400 labor
    • $100 rental equipment
  • Overhead (25%) = $250
  • Desired margin (20%) = $250
  • Total Bid Price = $1500

This covers the $1000 direct costs, with $500 tacked on for overhead and profit.

Knowing that 20-30% or more gets added by contractors for these items provides perspective when comparing bids and making budget decisions.

Overall, total cost per square foot for a residential driveway typically spans:

  • Basic Driveway: $2-$3 per square foot
  • Average Driveway: $3-$5 per square foot
  • Premium Driveway: $5-$6+ per square foot

Keep these ranges in mind when evaluating your budget and contractor bids. Understanding that significant overheads and profits get built in provides realistic expectations on market pricing.

Asphalt Calculator Get Asphalt Quantity and Cost

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional Asphalt Company

You can pave your own driveway or have it done professionally:

Benefits of Hiring a Paving Contractor

While paving a driveway yourself as a DIY project may seem like a way to save money, there are many advantages to hiring an experienced professional asphalt paving contractor. Their expertise, specialized tools, and efficiency provide benefits that often outweigh the cost.

Time Savings

Professional paving crews work extremely efficiently by doing projects like driveways day in and day out. What may take DIYer weekends or weeks to complete, a pro contractor can typically accomplish in 1-3 days. Their preparation, paving, and clean-up process is streamlined to minimize downtime. You get use of your new driveway faster without the hassle of tackling all the work yourself.

Quality of Work

Contractors have extensive hands-on practice with properly grading and compacting the base, controlling asphalt thickness, operating pavers and achieving smooth finishes. An evenly paved driveway with great curb appeal and drainage takes skill that comes from completing many projects over time. Novice DIY paving results often have imperfections and compromised performance.

Proper Tools and Equipment

A typical paving crew will have an array of equipment like compactors, rollers, rakes, tampers and specialty tools you likely lack as a homeowner. Having the proper equipment for each task is crucial to execute the work correctly. Contractors also have the heavy machinery needed to efficiently perform major earthwork, grading and removal.

Materials Management

Contractors have the dump trucks, spreaders and handling equipment to stage and move materials efficiently around your property. They calculate order quantities precisely to avoid overbuying and control usage during installation. With DIY projects, ordering extra materials to be safe often leads to money wasted on leftover supplies.

Licenses and Insurance

Reputable paving companies have all the proper licenses, bonding and liability insurance coverage needed for legal compliance, permitting, worker safety and your property protection. Avoid liability risks by letting contractors carry the necessary insurance policies.

Warranties

Professional contractors back their work with warranty protection against defects for 1-2 years or longer. DIY driveways have no recourse if failures occur. Paying more for the peace of mind from warrantied contractor work is worthwhile to many homeowners.

Cost Savings

While DIY paving seems cheaper upfront, the cost of buying/renting equipment, inevitable overages on materials, and potential rebuilding from mistakes often negate any perceived savings. Contractors also have wholesale buying power on materials and multi-project economies of scale.

My advice based on the experince

Dealing with the heavy physical work, equipment logistics, materials ordering and multi-day process of paving is inconvenient for most homeowners on top of their daily lives. Having a contractor handles the workload, mess and headaches off your hands is easier.

For most homeowners without paving experience, hiring a professional contractor is typically the smartest choice. Their expertise, equipment, and streamlined process delivers results beyond the reach of DIYers. The cost savings from avoiding pitfalls and mistakes usually outweigh the upfront price. Investing in quality contractor work pays dividends for the long lifetime of your asphalt driveway.

 

Saving Money by DIY Paving

For homeowners with time and willingness to take on a hands-on project, paving your own driveway can allow you to save thousands of dollars in contractor labor costs. With proper planning, equipment rentals, and preparation, a DIY asphalt driveway is an achievable task. Follow these tips for maximizing cost savings through owner self-installation.

Analyze Site Conditions

  • Survey existing topography, drainage and space constraints to assess if DIY is feasible. Consider contacting a contractor just for technical consultation if needed.
  • Ambitious grading, poor soils or tight access may warrant hiring excavation and grading help while still paving yourself.

Learn Techniques and Best Practices

  • Study instructional videos, guides, and product manuals to understand the right process and techniques. Proper procedures are critical.
  • Focus on subbase grading, compaction, mix handling, paving motions, joint cutting and smoothing. Mimic contractor methods as close as possible.

Rent Necessary Equipment

  • While compacts, rakes, lutes and hand tools can be purchased or borrowed, renting a powered paver and vibratory roller is likely needed for best results.
  • DIY equipment rentals will cost much less than contractor ownership costs passed onto customers through labor fees.

Accurately Estimate Materials

  • Calculating materials takes careful measurement and allowance for potential overages and waste. Ordering excess is costly.
  • Consider hiring an asphalt company to just deliver and spread the mix. This lightens the workload without the full expense of the paving crew.

Recruit Helpers

  • Schedule work over a weekend when friends or family can assist with the heavy lifting, raking, tamping and other tasks requiring multiple sets of hands.
  • Promise pizza and beer to sweeten the deal for volunteers!

Safety First

  • Use proper safety gear like gloves, eye protection, long sleeves and dusk masks when working with hot asphalt or breathing dust.
  • Work cautiously around heavy machinery and earthmoving equipment if renting. Steep learning curves apply.

Allow Plenty of Time

  • A rushed paving job is likely to have poor-quality results. Schedule multiple days or weekends to complete the project methodically.
  • Patience leads to a driveway paved correctly the first time. Don’t take shortcuts.

With reasonable DIY skills and a meticulous plan following contractor techniques, an owner-installed driveway can save 50% or more on labor costs while providing satisfying hands-on work. However, the physical exertion and time commitment required should not be underestimated for a smooth driving surface. Always put safety first when attempting extensive DIY construction projects.

 

Using an Asphalt Driveway Calculator

Online calculators make budgeting easy:

Enter Measurements for Area

  • Input length and width to get total square footage
  • Use rectangles for irregular shapes

Specify Material Types and Thicknesses

  • Enter your planned asphalt and gravel depths
  • Pick common materials from dropdowns

Adjust for Regional Cost Factors

  • Tool customizes based on your zip code location
  • Accounts for local material and labor rates

Receive Total Cost Estimate

  • Calculator multiplies quantities by costs
  • Gives you an estimated budget to work with

Comparing Multiple Asphalt Paving Quotes

To select the best value:

Have Contractors Bid Using Similar Assumptions

  • Provide driveway area, materials, and thickness as the basis

Look at Cost Breakdowns for Materials and Labor

  • See what is driving price differences between bids

Check References and Experience

  • Ask about proven projects similar to yours
  • Verify licensing and insurance

Conclusion

Accurately estimating your asphalt driveway cost involves understanding key variables like size, materials, and site details. Our asphalt driveway calculator simplifies the budgeting process by accounting for these factors and providing a precise cost estimate you can use for planning the project. Be sure to get multiple bids and compare cost per square foot using the same basis. With a well-researched budget in place, you can execute a high-quality paving project with confidence.

FAQs

Q: How much does an asphalt driveway cost per square foot?

A: On average, asphalt driveway costs $2 – $6 per square foot for materials and professional installation. The final cost per square foot depends on factors like location, size, thickness and site accessibility.

Q: Is a 6-inch gravel base enough under asphalt driveways?

A: For most residential driveways, a 4 to 6 inch gravel subbase is sufficient. Heavily used or commercial driveways may need up to 8 inches. Soil type also impacts the ideal base thickness.

Q: Should I sealcoat my new asphalt driveway?

A: Yes, it’s recommended to apply sealcoat within the first year after installation. Timely sealing protects the asphalt, fills cracks, and prevents deterioration.

Q: What thickness of asphalt is best for driveways?

A: Residential driveways typically use 2 to 3 inches of asphalt. Thicker asphalt of 3 or 4 inches is more durable for high traffic areas that see heavier vehicles.

Q: How soon can I park on a new asphalt driveway?

A: It’s best to wait at least 24 hours before parking vehicles on a newly paved asphalt driveway. Waiting longer, like 72 hours, prevents indentations or marking, especially in warm weather.

Was this article helpful?
YesNo

I'm Steve Axton, a dedicated Asphalt Construction Manager with over 25 years of experience paving the future of infrastructure. My journey with asphalt began by studying civil engineering and learning about core pavement materials like aggregate, binder and additives that compose this durable and versatile substance. I gained hands-on experience with production processes including refining, mixing and transporting during my internships, which opened my eyes to real-world uses on roads, driveways and parking lots. Over the past decades, I have deepened my expertise in asphalt properties like viscosity, permeability and testing procedures like Marshall stability and abrasion. My time with respected construction companies has honed my skills in paving techniques like milling, compaction and curing as well as maintenance activities like crack filling, resurfacing and recycling methods. I'm grateful for the knowledge I've gained about standards from Superpave to sustainability best practices that balance longevity, cost and environmental friendliness. It's been an incredibly rewarding career working with this complex material to build the infrastructure future.