September 22, 2021

Farmhousecafetaos

Home Improvement

How Much Does a Concrete Driveway Cost to Build?

15 min read

Photo: depositphotos.com

  • Typical Range: $1,800 to $6,000
  • National Average: $3,000

Ready to install a concrete driveway? Whether you’re replacing or building a new driveway, the average concrete driveway cost is $3,000 nationally, with a range of $1,800 to $6,000. It’s a worthy investment to make since it protects your landscaping, prevents erosion, and increases your curb appeal. Traditional concrete driveways are among the most popular options for homeowners since the material is familiar and relatively inexpensive. Concrete driveway costs are mainly dependent on the size and thickness of the driveway, but labor, shape, decorative elements, and structural needs will also influence the price. Fortunately, professional driveway contractors know how to manage terrain while laying a long-lasting concrete driveway.

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Factors in Calculating Concrete Driveway Cost  

Size and thickness are the primary factors that influence concrete driveway costs. The larger the driveway, the more material is required. A traditional rectangular driveway will cost less than a stylized one, like a curved driveway with brick pavers along the edges. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost per square foot is $4 to $7, including materials and labor for a standard installation. If you choose to install a more elaborate driveway, expect to pay between $8 and $18 per square foot.

Concrete Driveway Cost

Photo: depositphotos.com

Size and Thickness 

A single-car driveway that’s 10 feet by 20 feet could cost $800 to $1,600, but a larger 24-foot by 24-foot driveway averages $2,300 to $4,600. If you choose to stamp decorative designs in the concrete, the costs will increase beyond those averages. Most concrete driveways are 4 inches thick, but you may need to increase the thickness to withstand the extra weight if you have heavy vehicles or equipment to park. In general, concrete is sold by the cubic yard. The average concrete cost per yard is $125 to $150.

Design and Shape

Concrete driveways don’t just have to be a rectangle or square. Depending on the space, you may prefer to add a half circle for better access, or you could choose an L-shape to access a garage that doesn’t directly face the street. Any curved design will cost more to install since a contractor must specially build the forms, so the edges are smooth and durable. Some homes are built on a slope that can’t be leveled, so extra time and labor are needed to complete the driveway correctly. Contractors are quite capable of assessing how to prepare the concrete’s foundation and pour the concrete so it maintains the proper grade.

Labor 

Labor makes up nearly half of concrete driveway costs. If the average price is $4 to $7 per square foot, then labor usually makes up about $2 to $3 per square foot, and concrete costs make up the rest. Laborers will prepare the site, build the concrete forms, add rebar if needed, lay the concrete, then smooth it out. After the concrete has cured, the forms are removed.

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Permits 

Permits aren’t always required before building a driveway, but it’s best to check with your local authorities anyway. Typically, if a concrete apron has already been installed in a subdivision, the city is likely to waive any permits. If not, the average permit prices are $50 to $200.

Site Condition and Prep

New construction driveways sometimes require extra effort to prepare the site for pouring concrete. Trees and rocks will be removed, and uneven ground is leveled. If the terrain is naturally sloped from the house to the street, the contractor will carefully grade the driveway to ensure proper drainage. Any heavy equipment required during site preparation will cost extra.

Old Driveway Removal

Removing an old driveway is a different kind of site preparation for a new concrete driveway. Driveways that are in disrepair will need to be broken up and hauled to the dump. A driveway contractor has access to the equipment required to get this big job done quickly and usually charges $1 to $4 per square foot.

Type of Concrete

Concrete prices vary based on the type of concrete you choose to have installed. Most driveways install plain gray concrete, but you could dress up the appearance with a stained or stamped driveway as well. These decorative features cost extra, but they make for an appealing feature. A stained driveway costs $6 to $12 per square foot, and a stamped driveway costs $8 to $15.

Finish

Polished concrete is not recommended for outdoor driveways since it is slippery when wet. Most poured concrete driveways are left smooth or include a broom finish, textured finish, or even an exposed aggregate finish for a more raw appearance. A plain finish costs between $6 and $8 per square foot to install, but the other basic finishes cost $8 to $12.

Lumber Prices

Lumber prices can vary widely from region to region and from one season to the next. Driveway contractors need lumber to build the forms that shape your driveway, so if lumber prices are high, the average cost of your new driveway will also increase. The number of 2×4 lumber pieces required will vary based on the size of the driveway being built.

Geographic Location 

Prices for labor and materials are determined by geographic location. Urban areas tend to have higher labor rates than other areas, and the time of year can also affect the cost. Some regions have climates that prevent year-round concrete driveway installations, so demand and expenses may increase during the regular season.

Additional Costs and Considerations

When budgeting for concrete driveway costs, there are a few more factors you’ll want to consider. The terrain could require extra work or materials to ensure the driveway is stable, and some specialty designs could be added at an additional cost.

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Heating

In colder climates that get a lot of ice and snow in the winter, heated driveways have become a popular option. Installing a radiant heating system under your driveway to prevent ice buildup is a helpful way to keep the driveway safe during ice or snowstorms. The average cost of a heated driveway is $10 to $20 per square foot. Since concrete isn’t well suited for frigid temperatures, heating the concrete could extend the life of your driveway, which makes it an excellent investment and selling point.

Brick and Stone Borders 

To add some style to a standard concrete driveway, choose to add a border around the edges. Bricks and paving stones make excellent borders to spruce up the appearance of a concrete driveway. Expect to pay $6 to $15 per linear foot to add a brick or stone border. Most driveway contractors can install these borders, or they will subcontract that task to a bricklayer.

Rebar

If a driveway is expected to carry a heavy load or have a lot of traffic on it, then the contractor will want to lay rebar in the foundation. Rebar or wire mesh is applied as a grid inside the concrete forms where the wet concrete is poured on top to form a reinforced surface. Laying rebar costs an extra $1 to $3 per square foot since additional materials and labor are required.

Concrete Driveway Apron

Most municipalities require a concrete apron to connect a driveway to the road. It’s typically the same width as the driveway and includes where a sidewalk is built. Often, this apron is built when a developer prepares a new housing development, as it’s cheaper to do all at once. If an apron does not already exist, the average cost to build one is $3 to $10 per square foot. They are considered a public access space, so be sure to check with local authorities to make sure it’s built to code.

Sealing 

Sealing your concrete driveway is a finishing option that helps keep your driveway in great shape longer. It can prevent cracks from appearing, protect it from de-icing chemicals, and lengthen its lifespan. Some contractors include it automatically in the quote, so you’ll want to ask to make sure. On average, it costs $0.50 to $2.50 per square foot to seal a driveway. If you’ve chosen a specialty stain, then it must be sealed to protect the color.

Concrete Driveway Cost

Photo: istockphoto.com

Concrete Driveway Cost Types

Most driveways are made of concrete or asphalt, depending on the region you live in. Concrete driveways are a popular choice due to their low cost and long lifespan. If you’re budgeting for concrete driveway costs, check out these three types of concrete.

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Standard 

A standard, plain gray driveway comes to mind most often when the phrase “concrete driveway” is mentioned. It’s the most economical choice for concrete driveway costs, with an average of $4 to $7 per square foot. The cost is divided—almost equally—by materials and labor, but both will increase with the size or shape of the driveway.

Stained 

If you prefer to coordinate design elements for a unique look, staining a driveway might be a great option. Staining offers depth and texture to your concrete and will catch the eye of every passerby. It costs around $6 to $12 per square foot to add a stain to the driveway. It’s done while the concrete is still wet and can be polished or matte when finished.

Stamped 

Stamping a driveway has become a popular option for homeowners who want to achieve a stone or wood look without the cost or impracticability of unsuitable materials. For $8 to $15 per square foot, a contractor can stamp the wet concrete in any pattern you’ve agreed on. Choose from paving stone designs, inlaid brick, or even wood planks to spruce up your concrete driveway.

Concrete Driveway Cost

Photo: depositphotos.com

Concrete Driveway Cost: When to Replace a Concrete Driveway

Every concrete driveway will inevitably need to be replaced at some point. Fortunately, they should last 30 to 40 years, so this is not a recurring expense, but there are some common signs to know when to start planning a replacement driveway.

Multiple Potholes

Though asphalt driveways are more prone to getting potholes, it’s possible that a concrete driveway could experience potholes from worn-out or poorly laid concrete. Any area that’s more exposed to wet conditions is prone to deteriorate more quickly. If potholes have appeared on your driveway, it’s time to replace it.

Interconnected Cracks

Unsealed driveways often show hairline cracks after the first few years due to cold temperatures and the weight of heavy vehicles. Cracks that are less than ¼-inch wide can be repaired and sealed, but larger cracks can’t be repaired effectively. In larger cracks, water seeps in and freezes in cold temperatures. Since ice expands, the crack will continue to widen and threaten the structural integrity until the concrete finally splits apart. This is especially true once multiple cracks become connected. Replace your driveway when cracks over ¼-inch wide appear.

Age

Most concrete driveways last 30 to 40 years, but that can vary based on a few factors. A driveway that’s sealed, well maintained, or reinforced with rebar could last up to 50 years. If a driveway is unsealed, in a colder climate, or experiences heavier than average traffic, it may break down within 20 years. An old driveway will show visible signs of damage when it needs to be replaced.

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Drainage Issues

A properly installed concrete driveway should drain excess water to the street. This is easy in most suburban areas where driveways are rectangular pads that connect right to the street. Curved or sloped driveways may need additional care to ensure no water pools on the concrete or near the house. If water begins pooling in the middle of your driveway or by your home’s foundation, you’ll need to replace the driveway to make it structurally sound again.

Multiple Types of Repairs Needed

For any number of reasons, a driveway may have fallen into such disrepair that more than one of these problems exist. Location, seismic activity, large tree roots, extreme temperatures, age, and construction affect how long a driveway will last and can cause several kinds of damage to your driveway. If that happens, a reliable contractor can help remove and replace the driveway.

Concrete Driveway Cost

Photo: depositphotos.com

Concrete Driveway Cost: Benefits of Having a Concrete Driveway

Aside from being a lower-cost material for installing a driveway, concrete comes with several benefits that make it a great choice. Concrete driveways are low maintenance, reflect heat well, and have a high load-bearing capacity. In comparison, asphalt driveway costs are also lower up front, but the lifespan is shorter, which is just one reason a concrete driveway may be a better choice.

Low Up-Front Cost

At $4 to $7 per square foot, concrete driveways are a more affordable option than some materials like paving stones. When you consider the longevity of a concrete driveway, the cost is a good investment overall.

Heat Reflection

If you live in an area with hot, sunny summers, concrete is a sensible option since it reflects heat and light rather than absorbing it. Asphalt driveways tend to absorb heat and soften in extreme temperatures, so choosing concrete will ensure it’s sturdy enough to last through a sweltering summer.

Curb Appeal and Resale Value

Even a standard concrete driveway boosts curb appeal. Laying a durable foundation for cars to drive on is a necessity for homeowners now. It helps prevent erosion or damage to the property and makes a neat appearance leading to the house. A house with a concrete driveway in good condition will sell more quickly than a house without a finished driveway.

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Low Maintenance, Durability, and Longevity

Concrete driveways require little in terms of ongoing maintenance—even less if they’re sealed. While an asphalt driveway may need to be repaired frequently and replaced within 15 to 20 years, a concrete driveway is less prone to damage from everyday living. Asphalt driveways require sealing every 3 to 5 years, but concrete driveways just need a little sealant to repair tiny cracks that may appear over time. Overall, a concrete driveway is a low-hassle and long-lasting choice for a driveway.

Load-Bearing Capacity

Since concrete undergoes a chemical process called curing, it’s a durable and stable foundation for supporting vehicles and other structures. While a 4-inch-thick driveway is sufficient for most cars and trucks, if you plan to park recreational vehicles or other heavy equipment on the driveway, the thickness can be adjusted to account for the extra weight. A solid concrete driveway won’t dip where parked tires sit.

Eco-Friendliness

Asphalt is not the most eco-friendly driveway option: Asphalt is made from petroleum, a limited natural resource. It requires intensive mining and processing that releases harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere. Concrete is made from naturally occurring minerals and can be readily recycled when it’s reached the end of its lifespan. Well-maintained concrete lasts longer, so there’s less waste produced in the long term.

Concrete Driveway Cost

Photo: depositphotos.com

Concrete Driveway Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

Saving nearly half the price of concrete driveway costs can be tempting for many homeowners eager to DIY as many projects as possible. However, laying a concrete driveway is not a simple task by any stretch of the imagination. Even if the driveway were a simple flat rectangle, there are several complexities involved in making sure that the concrete for a driveway is properly mixed. There are additional complexities in making sure the driveway is level (yet sloped just enough for drainage) and correctly formed. Homeowners also don’t typically own the proper concrete equipment to complete this kind of job. The risk of pouring your own driveway is substantial since it could crack, cure poorly, or cause house foundation problems if it’s done incorrectly.

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Hiring a pro may be the answer. Find top local driveway experts and compare multiple project quotes.

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Thankfully, a licensed professional driveway contractor can avoid all of these potential pitfalls. The benefits of paying for the labor to install a concrete driveway outweigh the costs of a poor installation that only lasts a few years. Concrete specialists can make short work of a long job, no matter how challenging. Whether your house is built on a hill or you want a substantial concrete pad with a semi-circle, the money is well spent on a driveway contractor. While it would take a homeowner at least 50 hours to complete independently, a pro can complete it faster and guarantee their work.

Concrete Driveway Cost

Photo: istockphoto.com

How to Save Money on a Concrete Driveway

Building a new driveway can quickly become expensive if you want to customize the design or shape. And if you have an existing driveway in poor condition, consider booking a consultation with a contractor to see if the driveway can be repaired instead. This is a budget-friendly option as long as the damage isn’t severe. Simply do a quick search for “driveway repair near me” to find a reputable contractor. Here’s a helpful list of ways to save money on concrete driveway costs.

  • Do your own site preparation to save on labor. Some tasks might require heavy equipment, so weigh the costs of renting versus having the contractor do it.
  • If you have an old driveway that needs to be removed, consider breaking up the concrete on your own but letting the contractor haul away the debris.
  • Choose a material that best suits your climate for long-term value.
  • Obtain multiple quotes from contractors.
  • If the weather allows, try installing a driveway around the beginning or end of the building season to get a seasonal discount.
  • Install a basic driveway rather than an elaborate stained or stamped driveway.
  • Avoid designing any curves in the driveway to save on materials and labor.
  • Seal your driveway after it has cured, then reseal it every few years to prolong its lifespan.

Concrete Driveway Cost

Photo: depositphotos.com

Questions to Ask About Concrete Driveway Cost

Since concrete driveways should last longer than most home mortgages, you want to feel confident that your money has been well spent with the right contractor. Asking some specific questions for your project before hiring a contractor can help ensure the job will be done correctly, prevent miscommunication, and alleviate any concerns.

  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have a portfolio of other jobs that I can review?
  • Can I speak with any references?
  • Have you ever worked on a customized driveway like mine?
  • Can I review a line-item quote?
  • If I include a stone paver border, will you have to subcontract that task to another company, or will you do it yourself?
  • What do you charge to remove the old driveway?
  • Do you offer any discounts if my neighbors are also looking to install a new driveway?
  • How long will it take to complete my driveway?
  • What kind of site preparation will my driveway require?
  • How will you handle the slope?
  • How much more will it cost to make a semi-circle driveway?
  • What challenges could arise as you begin working?
  • How long will it take to cure?
  • When can I drive on my driveway?
  • Do you include the cost of sealing the concrete in your quote? If so, when will you do that?
  • Do you guarantee your work?

FAQs

Still wondering about the cost to install a driveway? We’ve put together a few frequently asked questions about concrete driveway costs to help guide your decision.

Q. How much does it cost to pour a concrete driveway?

A simple, traditional driveway typically costs $4 to $7 per square foot. Customizing designs or adding unique features can increase that price up to $20 per square foot. A standard 20-foot by 20-foot driveway costs $1,600 to $8,000, depending on the customization you choose.

Q. Is it cheaper to pave or use concrete for a driveway?

On the whole, it’s cheaper to pour a concrete driveway than to lay pavers. While stone or brick pavers have their appeal, they are a more expensive material to purchase by the square foot, and they require more intensive labor to install. However, two cost-effective advantages to consider for stone pavers are that they are much easier to repair if they are damaged and can withstand temperature fluctuation.

Q. What’s the difference between cement and concrete?

The terms “concrete” and “cement” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are pretty different. Cement is the dry binding agent used to create concrete, but it can’t be used on its own for driveway installations. It’s usually made of limestone and clay and helps create the smooth surface of concrete, including cement, rocks, sand, and water. Combining all of those elements helps create a firm and durable surface that can withstand heavy use.

Q. How is a concrete driveway installed? 

Building a concrete driveway involves several steps that must be done correctly and on schedule since wet concrete begins to harden as soon as it’s laid.

  • Prepare the site to remove obstacles, level the ground, compact the soil, or adjust the slope.
  • Build wood forms to hold the wet concrete in place.
  • Pour the sub-base of gravel, then tamp it down and level it.
  • Lay rebar or wire mesh if additional support is needed for heavy equipment.
  • Pour wet cement into each form, paying attention that each corner is filled correctly.
  • Spread and mix the concrete evenly to make sure the rocks are hidden under the cement binder.
  • Level and smooth the cement with a hand float, brush, or texturing tool.
  • Cut the concrete into slabs using wooden joists to prevent cracking.
  • Clean the driveway, and let it cure for several days to weeks before using.
  • Seal the concrete.

Q. How long should a concrete driveway last?  

Most concrete driveways last between 30 and 40 years.

Connect with a driveway contractor

Hiring a pro may be the answer. Find top local driveway experts and compare multiple project quotes.

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