What homeowners need to know before installing a concrete driveway
When we think about improving the curb appeal of a home, we usually think about adding a garden bed or maybe replacing some worn-out siding. The driveway might not be top of mind, but the curb appeal it adds to (or subtracts from) your home can’t be overstated. Even if your house is in tip-top shape, a cracked driveway teeming with weeds doesn’t make a great first impression.
Whether you’re installing a driveway for a new build or replacing an existing driveway, concrete driveways are an ideal option thanks to their aesthetics, cost, and low maintenance. In this blog post, we’ll discuss:
- The cost of concrete driveways, and factors that affect this
- How concrete driveways stack up compared to other driveway materials
- The process of getting an estimate for a concrete driveway
What is a concrete driveway?
A concrete driveway is a hard paving surface made from water, powdered Portland cement, sand, and gravel aggregate. This material is poured into wooden forms and it hardens into a durable driveway surface.
Concrete driveways are a popular choice with builders and homeowners alike thanks to their durability and low maintenance, particularly in comparison to asphalt and pavers. It’s also quite versatile—if you like the look of pavers, stamped and colored concrete can give you the aesthetics without the maintenance.
Cost of concrete driveways
The cost of a concrete driveway depends on several factors, such as size, complexity, and location.
According to Home Advisor, prices range from $4 to $15 per square foot nationwide; naturally, areas of the country where home improvements tend to be cheaper fall on the lower side of this scale, while areas with a more expensive cost of living fall on the higher end.
Here’s a rundown of some of the other factors that can affect the cost of a concrete driveway:
- Size and shape of the driveway. The total square footage of the driveway and the complexity of the shape will both affect the cost. A very long or curved driveway will cost more than a short, straight driveway in a new subdivision. Driveways that have a slope are also more expensive.
- Location and accessibility of the site. If the driveway is difficult to access, your costs will be higher.
- Type of concrete and finishing options. Stamped, colored, and exposed aggregate finishes will all increase the cost of a concrete driveway.
- Labor costs and contractor fees. Contractors charge a fee for their services, in addition to the cost of materials. If your existing driveway needs to be removed, expect the cost of labor to be much higher than that of a brand new driveway.
Comparisons with other driveway materials
If you’re still deciding whether a concrete driveway is the right choice for your home, here’s how it compares to other popular driveway materials.
Concrete vs. asphalt
Asphalt is often (but not always) less expensive than concrete, but in the long-term, you’ll end up paying more—concrete driveways can last 25 to 50 years, while asphalt can last 15 to 20 and needs regular resealing. Furthermore, asphalt will soften on hot days—and if you have kids who spend a lot of time outside, they may end up with stained clothing from sitting on the driveway.
Concrete vs. pavers
There’s no doubt that pavers make for an attractive driveway—at least when they’re freshly installed. Without regular maintenance, pavers can crumble and crack, and weeds and grass will proliferate between the bricks or blocks. Add those maintenance costs to the $30 to $40 per square foot for professional installation and you’ll be looking at making a hefty investment for a paver driveway.
Concrete vs. gravel
Gravel is the least expensive option for a driveway and it requires no installation, but it’s not the most attractive or durable option. Often used in rural areas where aesthetics are not as important and long driveways are needed, a gravel driveway ranges from $1.25 to $1.80 per square foot.
How to get a concrete driveway estimate
If you want to get a concrete driveway estimate, you’ll first need to find a contractor. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:
- Research contractors in your area. Ask your neighbors and online community groups for recommendations, and read reviews to vet any potential leads.
- Ask questions. Make sure to ask about previous projects, certifications, and references before committing to any contractor. If you have any unique circumstances or requests for your driveway, ask contractors about their experience with similar projects.
- Get multiple estimates. Request at least three bids from different concrete contractors to make sure you’re getting the best value on your project.
- Get everything in writing. Outline all details and expectations from both parties in order to avoid any potential misunderstandings or disputes during or after the job is complete.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, schedule an in-person appointment with potential contractors so they can walk the site and provide you with a proper estimate that includes all costs and fees. At Concrete Works, we have a full-time estimator on staff, which means we can visit your home quickly and have an accurate estimate delivered faster than our competitors.
Learn more about concrete driveways
If you need a concrete driveway in South Jersey, contact Concrete Works today.