Cost Of Asphalt Driveways
Written by Todd Fratzel.
Update: This article was written in 2009. The outlook for asphalt prices in 2012 is still not very good. As of June 2012, asphalt prices are still near the highs from 2010. It’s very hard to predict what will happen to prices in 2013 but it’s likely prices will be very volatile and higher than the prices shown in this article.
Asphalt Driveway Cost
First let me point out that this article is only a guide so that you can get a feel for what a new driveway may cost. Please remember that local markets will fluctuate quite a bit based on demand and current asphalt prices and any heavy haul services required. Also, these prices assume no base prep work which can add quite a bit of money to the job.
Recently we had the “wearing surface” of our driveway installed. Before paving the wearing course I did some quick estimates of the asphalt driveway cost. When we built our home three years ago I only had the first 2-inches of base asphalt pavement installed. I opted to wait before I installed the wearing surface (top 1-inch) to save money and also let the sub-base and base settle over several winters.
Now that we’ve been through several winters I decided it was time to finally install the wearing surface before the pavement was damaged by water and settlement. So I thought it might be fun to show you how to calculate how many tons of asphalt pavement you need to help understand what an asphalt driveway cost. Alternatively you can use a driveway cost calculator.
How To Estimate Asphalt Driveway
Asphalt driveways are typically priced by the “ton”. Currently in this part of New England asphalt driveway costs about $120 to $150 per ton installed with little to no base prep. In order to estimate the cost of a driveway resurfacing or a complete new driveway you need to understand how to calculate the total tons. We use the following equation:
Tons Of Asphalt Pavement = Square Yards Of Pavement * 0.057 * Depth Of Pavement In Inches
So my example is as follows: 1 Inch thick wearing surface with 3,423 square feet of pavement. To get square yards I needed to take 3,423 sq. ft. of pavement divided by 9 sq. ft. per sq. yard = 380 sq. yards. Therefore my tons of asphalt = 380 sq. yds * o.057 * 1 inch = 22 tons of asphalt pavement. If you assume an average cost of $140 per ton then the driveway costs $3,080.
If you’re building a new driveway then you need to base it on a depth of 3-inches. Most asphalt driveways have 2 inches of base pavement followed by 1 inch of wearing pavement. Obviously the asphalt driveway cost will depend on exactly how thick your new driveway is.
The example above is one way to estimate the job cost. Another gut check for me is to look at the cost of the asphalt plus the crew/equipment cost. Right now (July 2012) just asphalt alone is at $75/ton. So 22 tons at $75/ton = $1,650. A driveway that size will take about 4 hours, lets say a half day (you can usually do either 1 or 2 driveways in a day so just figure out if you’re a really large one or an average size. Crew costs plus equipment is around $400/hr for 4 hours = $1,600. Materials plus labor therefore is around $3,250. So my point is these are tools for getting you in the ballpark….i.e. this is a $3K +/- job and not a $10K job.
The asphalt surface is only one factor in having a strong driveway. Be sure your new driveway has an adequate driveway sub-base with proper drainage.
Be Leary Of Paving “Deals”
It’s worth having a quick discussion about a shady business practice that a few less than reputable paving contractors play on unsuspecting home owners. If someone knocks on your door and asks if you want a great deal on a driveway today then I caution you to be very careful. Over the years I’ve heard so many stories that go something like this:
A driveway paving crew pulls into a neighborhood and knocks on your door. They say something along the lines of they had a customer back out at the last minute or they have extra hot top in the truck and they need to get rid of it ASAP. So if you’d like to have your driveway paved today then they will give you the best price!
Basically they are telling you a white lie hoping that you’ll make a quick decision to have your driveway paved. They think you’ll be worried that you might miss the deal of a lifetime.
I’m here to tell you that 95% or more of those knocking salesman are scamming you. They are just out trying to get work by making you feel like you got a deal. In all reality you’ll likely pay more and get a poor job. Don’t get me wrong, there are situations where that type of scenario might be true, but it’s highly unlikely.
Asphalt Driveway Sealing
If you have an older asphalt driveway in disrepair you may consider sealing it instead of resurfacing. Driveway Sealing can rejuvenate the appearance and help protect your driveway for several more years. The nice thing about sealing your driveway is the fact that it’s an easy DIY project. Learn How To Seal Asphalt Driveway and save yourself some money.
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