Asphalt is a common driveway material. It’s reasonably durable (20 years), relatively inexpensive (compared to concrete) and if you’re willing to invest in dressing it up with special surfaces, it can look really good. The issue is how much will your asphalt driveway cost?
We can help. Below we offer a free asphalt driveway cost calculator that bases the cost on square footage, driveway features, gravel needs and excavation needs. Please note the the listed assumptions below and keep in mind due to many variables, our calculator should be used only as a guideline.
The resulting calculation is not a quote for services, but is merely a free tool to give you a rough idea as to what your asphalt driveway may cost.
Asphalt Driveway Cost Calculator
- Asphalt cost: $4.00 per square foot. This can vary depending on how thick it’s applied and the region in which you live.
- Special features: The calculator above assumes the cost of a Chip Seal top coat, stamped surface or color asphalt at $4.00 per square foot. This is probably a tad on the high side, but is within range.
- Gravel: We assume gravel will cost $2.50 per square foot. Again, this can vary according to gravel thickness, quality and region.
- Excavation: We assume an excavation cost, if necessary, at $2,000. Again, this can vary considerably according to amount of ground to excavate, slopes, terrain material, region, etc.
Disclaimer: The calculator is meant to be used for a rough guideline. The actual cost may be higher or lower depending on many variables. The cost estimate provided is not a quote for services; we do not provide services, broker services or sell services.
Types of Driveways
There are many types of driveways, but we will look at the most popular options. You’ll find a general cost range for each type as well. Then we’ll take a closer look at how to calculate the cost of an asphalt driveway.
Types of driveways include:
- crushed stone
- chip seal
- concrete ( paver and poured)
An asphalt driveway is made from sand, rock, and asphalt cement. The standard is a deep smooth black, but you can add designs to asphalt as well. It does require occasional maintenance, but it’s less prone to cracking than concrete.
It costs $2-5 per square foot. Its low cost makes it a budget-friendly option for driveways of all sizes.
Brick provides a classic attractive look. The process of creating a brick driveway is similar to that of bricking a house. Brick is long-lasting and adds character to your home.
However, it’s also one of the most expensive driveway options. You can expect a brick driveway to cost between $10-30 a square foot.
Crushed stone is similar to a gravel driveway. However, crushed stone usually has a larger bottom layer with crushed stone on top. This creates a smoother more uniform appearance.
Crushed stone is available in many types, so you have a wide variety of choices. It’s ideal for all driveways, but it does require occasional smoothing and refilling. The cost is surprisingly low, at $3-5 per square foot.
3-5 for crushed stone 1-3 for gravel
A gravel driveway is the cheapest option if you need a new driveway, at $1-3 per sq ft. It matches with any style of home. Classic gray gravel is well suited to a winding country drive.
White gravel provides a modern look. There are a few downsides to a gravel drive. It needs to be grated and refilled every few years.
It can also create dust, which will get on your vehicle.
Chip seal is also known as tar and chip. This is a common paving method for southern back roads, but it’s not as common as a driveway option. It is similar to asphalt, but it has a different installation process.
It begins with a layer of gravel. Asphalt is applied, then another layer of stone. It’s then compressed to create a smooth surface.
It’s great for a rural classic look, but it might look out of place in the suburbs. Cost is comparable to asphalt, at $2-5 per square foot.
When it comes to a concrete driveway, there are two options. These are paver and poured concrete. Poured concrete is more common and less expensive.
A concrete slab is poured and then allowed to dry. Designs can be stamped in the wet concrete, or color can be applied. A paver driveway offers a beautiful drive at a cost.
It comes ready to install in individual pieces, similar to bricks, but made from concrete. They offer a wide variety of designs, shapes, sizes, and colors. A paver driveway will cost between $13-15 per square foot.
A poured concrete driveway ranges from $7-9 per sq ft.
Asphalt Driveway Costs
When calculating asphalt driveway costs, you’ll need to consider the size of your driveway, prep work, and the cost of materials and labor in your area. For the simplest estimate, you can use this formula.
Length x width=Square footage of the driveway
If you need gravel and excavation:
Driveway sq ft x $3= low end cost
Driveway sq ft x 7= high end cost
If you don’t require gravel and excavation, the price will be cheaper.
Driveway sq ft x $2= low end cost
Driveway sq ft x $4= high end cost
Asphalt Driveway Calculator
If you’d like to skip the math, you can use this asphalt driveway calculator. You’ll just need to enter the length, width and depth. For a new driveway, you’ll need the asphalt to be 3-5 inches thick.
For driveway resurfacing, 1-2 inches thick.
Asphalt Driveway Cost Factors
Now that you have a general idea of the costs of an asphalt driveway, we will look at specific factors that impact the cost. These factors include:
- Excavation and grading
- Gravel foundation
- Labor cost
- Stamping and coloring
Excavation and Grading
Excavation and grading can add to asphalt driveway costs. If you have an existing driveway, it may have to be removed. If it’s a new driveway, excavation and grading will probably be required to provide a level surface.
Asphalt is measured in tons. An asphalt contractor will likely gt a discounted rate for purchasing a large amount. Asphalt paving material usually costs $40-80 a ton.
One ton will cover 30 to 80 square feet. A residential driveway averages 9-24 square feet. Other materials are needed for asphalt driveway installation as well, and will affect the final cost.
Before asphalt is installed, you’ll need a gravel foundation. This foundation will be between 8-10 inches thick. A foundation is essential for drainage and longevity, but it will add to the cost as well.
Labor costs will vary based on your area. A higher cost of living generally means higher labor costs as well. Quality and experience is another consideration.
It can be tempting to hire an inexpensive asphalt paving contractor, but it can be worth the extra expense to hire someone experienced and reliable.
Stamping and Coloring
Want the look of a brick or stone driveway without the added expense? Stamped or colored asphalt can give you this appearance. They can be used to make unique patterns that can improve the look of your driveway and your home.
Driveway Shape and Accessibility
Driveway shape and accessibility will also affect costs. A straight driveway is easier to install than a curved or circular drive. A larger driveway will usually cost less per square foot, but have a higher overall cost than a smaller driveway.
Lastly, accessibility must be considered. If the driveway is difficult to access, it will cost more to install.
Resealing vs Repaving vs Replacement
If you have an existing asphalt driveway, you have three options. Resealing is ideal for maintenance, repaving is suitable for minor driveway repair. Other situations will require asphalt replacement.
You should have your asphalt driveway resealed every 3-5 years. If you see minor asphalt cracks, resealing can be all the driveway repair you need. Seal coating helps to fill cracks and seals the driveway to keep further cracking from occurring.
It will also make it look like a new driveway. Resealing is much less expensive than other options, at $.14 to $.25 per square foot. However, it’s not ideal for major repairs.
When to reseal your driveway:
- Cracks are less than 1/4 inch wide
- Cracks are surface level
- It’s been 3-5 years since the last sealing
Resurfacing is the middle ground of driveway repair. It’s also known as asphalt overlay. In many cases, this can repair significant asphalt cracks.
Existing asphalt is covered with a new layer of asphalt, in a process similar to the original driveway. It is much less expensive than repaving, but it costs more than resealing. If your old driveway is in need of serious repair, ask an asphalt contractor if this is the best solution.
Resurfacing costs $1-3 per square foot.
When to resurface your driveway:
- Cracks less than 2 inches deep
- Cracks over 1/4 inch wide
- Sound foundation
- Asphalt is less than 20 years old
Repaving your driveway requires removing the old driveway completely. This is the most expensive option, because you will be paying to have the old driveway removed and a new driveway installed. This is of course the most expensive option, but a paved driveway has a lifespan.
Even with proper maintenance, it will eventually need to be replaced. While it is more expensive in the short term, it will save you money in frequent repairs. You can expect to pay between $2-5 per square foot for repaving.
When to repave your driveway:
- More than 25 years old
- Cracks deeper than 2 inches
- More than 30% of the surface needs repair
- Crumbling or unsteady foundation
Asphalt Overlay Over Concrete
If you have a concrete driveway, and you would like to switch to asphalt, you don’t have to remove the concrete. You can use asphalt overlay over concrete, just as you would existing asphalt. The biggest drawback of this method is that concrete holds water.
It will expand and contract. When there are cracks in the concrete, water seeps in and more expansion and contraction occurs. This will cause cracks in the asphalt over time.
Recycled asphalt is good for the environment, but it can also be good for your wallet. If you need your existing residential driveway repaved, you may be able to have your asphalt recycled on-site to save money. The other option is to use recycled on-site instead of purchasing new asphalt.
Pros of Recycled Asphalt
The most obvious benefit of recycled asphalt is cost. Creating new asphalt is an expensive process. Recycling can reduce asphalt paving cost.
Recycled asphalt is much less expensive, and some of that savings get passed on to the consumer. If you have environmental concerns, recycled asphalt is also better for the environment. Asphalt doesn’t break down in a landfill, and creating new asphalt leaves a significant carbon footprint.
Recycled asphalt contains tar, which allows it to bond better than virgin asphalt. It’s also ideal for areas that get a lot of precipitation because it allows water to pass through. This reduces flooding and cracking.
Cons of Recycled Asphalt
The biggest con of recycled asphalt is quality. With virgin asphalt, you know what you are getting. The quality of recycled asphalt depends on how it was recycled.
Depending on your preference, the color can be a pro or a con. Recycled asphalt doesn’t look like virgin asphalt. Instead, it’s a mix of gravel and asphalt, which gives it a unique color and look.
Why Does Asphalt Crack?
Cracks in your asphalt driveway are inevitable. They will occur eventually. But why? There are actually three common causes of asphalt cracks.
- Ground movement
The sun is one of asphalt’s worst enemies. Over time, the heat from the sun’s rays will begin to break down the materials in the asphalt and remove moisture. As the asphalt weakens due to the sun, cracks begin to form.
Moisture beneath the surface of the asphalt causes the gravel base to shift. As the gravel shifts, the surface will attempt to shift with it. At the same time, moisture from above can seep in through tiny cracks and crevices.
This water will then cause noticeable cracks as a result of movement and weight from the water.
In addition to the ground movement caused by moisture, temperature changes also create movement. In the winter, the ground contracts as it freezes and expands as it thaws. The same process happens with the asphalt itself.
These movements can cause asphalt cracks over time.
Asphalt Driveway Maintenance
If you are considering an asphalt driveway, it’s important to understand the maintenance it requires. This begins from the moment the driveway is installed and extends throughout its entire lifetime.
Caring for New Asphalt Driveway
You won’t be able to drive on our driveway for 3-5 days after it’s installed. You’ll need to avoid parking on the driveway for the first 14 days, particularly in the hot part of the day. This can be an inconvenience, but it’s temporary.
This allows your driveway to set correctly, which will extend its quality and lifespan. After this initial period, there’s a 100-day curing period. You’ll want to take precautions with your driveway during this time.
Try to avoid parking on the driveway for long periods, especially in the heat. Keep motorcycle and bike stands off the asphalt. Don’t turn your steering wheel once the car is stopped.
If you need to park a vehicle, especially for a longer period of time, put plywood under the tires to help distribute the weight. Don’t allow heavy trucks like garbage or utility trucks on the driveway. If the driveway is installed during the fall, curing will stop during winter, and resume in spring.
Long Term Care and Maintenance
You might be surprised to know that oil and gasoline spills can damage your asphalt. This is because asphalt is oil-based. These chemicals can seep into the surface and cause it to deteriorate over time.
If you have a spill, apply an absorbent material as soon as possible. Asphalt cracks are bound to appear sooner or later, but filling them in promptly can minimize damage and make repairs easier. Follow the guidelines for resealing or resurfacing when you begin to see cracks to keep them from expanding over time.
The edges of your driveway are probably the last thing you think about, but they are the weakest part of your blacktop. Avoid driving near the edges of the driveway, because it can crumble over time. You can also build up the topsoil on the edges of your driveway.
An inch above the driveway surface is a good height. This helps provide proper drainage and support. You’ll need to stop grass and weeds from growing through the asphalt.
In most cases, you can simply use a weedkiller for any vegetation that’s made its way into your drive. If you have a tree root growing under or through your driveway, you have two choices. Remove the tree, or prepare to do repairs frequently.
Lastly, it’s important to keep your driveway clean. It should be cleaned at least twice a year. Sweep off any debris. Use a water hose to wet the driveway, then apply laundry detergent or dish soap.
If there are stains, let the solution sit for 10 minutes and then scrub with a scrub brush. Then rinse it with the hose on the high-pressure setting. You can also hire a professional to clean your asphalt driveway.
Is an Asphalt Driveway Right for You?
Asphalt driveways are often compared to the concrete driveway due to their similarities. Asphalt is preferable in many instances.
One of the most important differences is winter performance. If you live in an area with harsh winters, asphalt is likely a better choice. Both concrete and asphalt can crack, particularly under cold conditions.
However, concrete often cracks deeper and longer than asphalt, which makes it harder to repair. Asphalt is also more flexible, which makes it less likely to crack. It also holds up to salt and deicer better than concrete.
If you need to deice your driveway on a regular basis, this is important.
Asphalt requires sealing every few years. Concrete requires less regular maintenance, but driveway repairs are more expensive with concrete.
Asphalt cracks can be resealed or resurfaced and look like a brand new driveway without visible repairs. Concrete can only be patched, and repairs will be visible.
Limited Color Options
Concrete offers more color options than asphalt, but the color will have to be reapplied every few years. Asphalt can be colored as well, with colors generally limited to earth tones. Both can be stamped, but it is more common with concrete.
Asphalt is significantly cheaper than concrete to install. If you want colored or stamped concrete, the price goes up substantially as well.
A standard two-car driveway that is 18×20 costs $720-1,800 for a basic asphalt driveway. A standard concrete driveway costs $1,080-$3,600. A stamped or colored asphalt driveway ranges from $1,080-$3,200.
A stamped or colored concrete driveway ranges from $5,400 to 9,000.
A concrete driveway can last for 30 years, while an asphalt drive is expected to last for 20 years.
Asphalt Driveway Cost FAQs
How much does a recycled asphalt driveway cost?
A recycled asphalt driveway costs between $500-$2,500 for an average size driveway.
What’s the difference between an asphalt driveway and a blacktop?
Asphalt and blacktop are often used interchangeably, but there are some differences. Blacktop is actually a type of asphalt. Asphalt is usually used for roads, and blacktop is used for residential driveways and side streets.
Blacktop has a higher proportion of stone and needs to be heated to a higher temperature. Asphalt is more durable, which is why it’s used on high-traffic roads. Blacktop provides a level of durability ideal for lower traffic situations.
How much does it cost to reseal an asphalt driveway?
For an average size driveway, seal coating costs $90-135. Seal coating should be performed every 3-5 years.
How much does it cost to resurface an asphalt driveway?
Resurfacing costs between $1-3 per square foot. This comes to $450-$1,350 for an average driveway.
Can you pave over an existing asphalt driveway?
Yes, you can pave over an existing asphalt driveway. However, whether or not you should do so will depend on the condition of the current asphalt. If there are many deep cracks or an unstable foundation, replacement is the better option.
Can you repair asphalt yourself?
Yes, you can do some asphalt repairs yourself. Small cracks can be patched. Potholes and sinkholes can also be repaired. Your local hardware store should sell products ideal for these types of repairs.
Will an asphalt driveway stand up to the elements?
Yes. Asphalt is actually an excellent choice for tough elements, particularly cold. It stands up well to below freezing temperatures, salt, and deicer. It’s designed to perform well in rain and snow as well.
How wide should an asphalt driveway be?
A standard SUV or pickup truck will require a 10 ft driveway. Most asphalt contractors recommend the driveway be at least 10-12 feet wide. Narrower driveways will be difficult to maneuver on, even for small vehicles.
It’s also important to stay off the edges of the asphalt, so you’ll need extra width on the sides to allow for this.
How thick should an asphalt overlay be on a driveway?
An asphalt overlay should be two inches thick to allow proper bonding with the surface and prevent cracking. When compared to a new asphalt driveway, which requires 8 to 10 inches of asphalt, it’s much more cost-effective.
What’s the difference between overlay only and mill and overlay?
An overlay pours new asphalt directly on top of the existing driveway. With mill and overlay, the surface is milled prior to applying new asphalt. It’s a good option if there is surface deterioration, square cracking, or drainage issues.
Mill and overlay are more expensive than an overlay but less expensive than a new driveway.
How do you know when to apply a sealant?
There’s an easy way to see if you need to reseal your driveway. On a hot sunny day, wet the asphalt with a hose. When the water dries, if it dries quickly and uniformly, the water isn’t soaking into the surface.
If you find one area that is taking much longer to dry, water is seeping in, and it’s time to reseal your driveway.
How do you apply asphalt sealant?
Asphalt sealant needs to be applied every 3-5 years. The good news is that this is well within the scope of the average homeowner. The temperature should be 45 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, and you’ll need at least three days without rain.
First, you’ll need to sweep the driveway. Use a hose and dish soap to clean the driveway of dirt and debris, then let it dry. If there are any cracks, use an asphalt crack sealer and then let it dry before sealing.
Mix the sealant by turning the can upside down. Once the can is opened, stir to ensure proper mixing. Start with one corner, and pour out a small amount of sealer. Spread it on the surface with a squeegee.
It’s easiest to do a 10 or 20ft square section at a time. Follow the manufacturers’ directions for how thick to apply the sealant. Avoid driving on the surface for at least 24 hours once the application is completed.
How long will an asphalt driveway last?
An asphalt driveway will typically last between 15-20 years. It should be several years before cracks begin to develop and repairs are needed.