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Driveway Comparison: What Type of Driveway Is Best for Your Budget?

driveway comparison what driveway best for budget

Your driveway is often the first element of your home or commercial property that people see and use. So, if your driveway is not in its best shape, it can be a major turnoff for guests or clients. But what do you do when it’s time to install a new driveway — and how do you make sure you make the best choice for your budget? This checklist can help.

What to Ask Yourself When You Want a New Driveway

  • How much traffic does the driveway get? The more vehicles that travel across your driveway, the more you should take durability into account.
  • What size and shape do you want the driveway to be? Costs of installation can increase if your driveway is an odd shape or if hilly spots need to be flattened.
  • How important is your driveway’s appearance? Is a simple concrete or asphalt surface sufficient? Or do you want special features like colored concrete or decorative pavers?
  • Do you plan to do it yourself, or do you prefer to hire a contractor? DIY efforts can be time-consuming, and are probably best done if you have experience laying driveways and are doing something simple rather than complex.
  • What is the climate where you live? The elements definitely impact a driveway, and surface materials vary in their durability when exposed to snow, ice, and excessive heat.
  • Is this driveway for a residential or commercial property? Commercial properties typically get much more traffic and have other specialty concerns.

Driveway Surface Materials to Consider

Multiple materials are available for creating the driveway of your dreams. Of course, some materials are more cost-effective than others. Here are some pros and cons of the most common driveway materials.

Concrete
Pros: Available in many colors and styles, last 40 years, no need for sealing, no resurfacing
Cons: Cracks in freezing temperatures, repairs can be expensive
Cost: $5–6 per square foot

Asphalt
Pros: Easy to repair by filling potholes with additional asphalt
Cons: Available only in black, lasts only 20 years (less than other materials), softens in heat, must be resealed and resurfaced regularly
Cost: $3–4 per square foot

Brick/cobblestone pavers
Pros: Available in many colors and styles, lasts 25-30 years
Cons: Must be laid on sand, needs to be sealed and washed, subject to cracks and breakages
Cost: $10–70 per square foot

Concrete pavers
Pros: Available in a variety of colors and styles, lasts 30-40 years
Cons: Subject to cracks and breakages, must be installed by hand, requires a flat surface for proper installation
Cost: $5–20 per square foot

Gravel
Pros: Comes in many colors and types, looks good with many building styles, lasts 100+ years
Cons: Moves easily in rain and snow, less traction, very dusty, needs regular replacement
Cost: Around $2.50 per square foot

Additional Costs to Consider

As you plan for your driveway replacement or installation budget, keep these additional cost factors in mind:

  • Decorative effects: Concrete comes in various colors, averaging $40 per cubic yard. Embossed concrete costs a little less than $2 per square foot.
  • Excavation by hand: If it’s necessary to excavate soil by hand before laying the driveway, it’ll cost an average of $50 per cubic yard.
  • Site preparation: Driveway installations on newly constructed properties can involve removal of trees, shrubs, stumps, and boulders. Depending on the level of work required, this may range from $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot.
  • Municipal costs: Remember to ask what it will cost for a permit, taxes, inspections, and any other related construction fees that must be paid to your city, county, and/or state.
  • Complex designs: If your driveway is complex or features unique design details, you may wish to hire a registered engineer to plan the project. Fees for this vary by location and company.
  • Slopes, curves, and angles: A driveway that isn’t perfectly straight will involve more complex planning, which will likely increase costs.
  • Drainage: If the driveway requires special or newly installed drainage, there will be an added cost to include in your budget.

Consult a Local Driveway Installation Expert

After considering the options for your driveway, it’s time to consult with experts to get additional input and an estimate. At R&M Concrete, our experienced concrete driveway installers provide fast, professional, courteous service — and a finished product that makes you proud of your property. Check out our concrete services, and contact us for a free estimate.