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How Much Does A New Concrete Driveway Cost?

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A nice, crack-free driveway isn't just functional; it gives great curb appeal, and it is important to ensuring your safety and the safety of your family and neighbors as well. Whether you?re looking to create, replace or repair a driveway, concrete is a practical choice.

On This Page:

  1. Concrete Definition
  2. Concrete or Asphalt Driveway?
  3. Installing a Concrete Driveway
  4. Concrete Driveway Cost Factors
  5. Maintaining & Repairing a Concrete Driveway
  6. Accessories

What is Concrete?

People often use "concrete" and "cement" interchangeably, but they're not the same thing. Cement is a binding agent made of limestone and clay; it has no strength and cannot be used to construct sidewalks or walls. Concrete is an actual construction material made of cement, rocks, sand and water -- and it is useful for building driveways, walls and sidewalks. While you can mix only small batches of cement at a time, concrete can be mixed in very large or small quantities.

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Concrete vs. Asphalt Driveway

Asphalt is another material commonly used to pave driveways. Asphalt can create a sense of continuity, essentially carrying the same black surface of the road up to your garage doors. Both concrete and asphalt are installed over a gravel base, and each includes cement, rocks and sand. The materials differ in that asphalt contains bitumen -- the thick, gooey petroleum product that makes asphalt black -- to bind it together.

Asphalt driveways are typically less expensive than concrete, costing a minimum of about $2.50 per square foot. An asphalt driveway might last just 20 years; however, while a concrete driveway can last more than 30. Both materials benefit from cleaning and sealing, but a well-maintained concrete driveway will be more durable and will deteriorate more slowly than asphalt.

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How a Concrete Driveway is Installed

It generally takes about a week to have a driveway installed, but the timing can be affected by design, weather and other factors. If you're replacing an old driveway, for example, it will need to be dug out by an excavator. And if you're installing a new driveway where one hasn't previously existed, any existing grass, weeds or bushes will need to be dug out as well. Your contractor will determine whether the ground is firm enough to support a driveway or will need to be compacted for stability. Following prep, forms will be used to pour and evenly spread gravel as a base for your driveway. Rebar or wire mesh may be placed on top of the gravel to add strength and durability to the structure.

As the contractor finishes each section of your driveway, wooden or felt expansion joints may be inserted between the sections. Alternatively, joints may be created using joint trowels, or they may be cut into the surface with a specialized diamond blade saw after the concrete has hardened. If your concrete contractor has a finishing crew, they will install the expansion joints, add surface or integral color to the concrete, screed the concrete to make it level, smooth it, finish the surface (stamped or plain finish) and clean and seal the driveway. The inclusion of a finishing crew should not affect the price of your driveway installation.

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Factors that Affect Cost

A number of factors may affect the cost of a concrete driveway -- including design, materials, labor prices and the area and climate in which the installation occurs. When bidding for a job, concrete professionals consider the size of the driveway, whether an existing driveway has to be removed, whether the driveway should be sealed, and whether rebar or wire mesh should be incorporated for added strength and crack resistance.

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Repair and Maintenance

Regular maintenance reduces repairs and increases the endurance of your driveway. Concrete contractors recommend that homeowners have driveways power washed and resealed every year. The sealant will keep moisture out of small cracks, protect the concrete against weather, and help reduce -- but not totally eliminate -- the effects of chemicals such as de-icing agents that drip from your vehicle.

In general, it's difficult to avoid cracks in concrete -- especially in climates with extreme temperatures. Some cracks can be repaired with specialized materials composed of rubber or synthetic formulas. If your driveway has excessive cracking or lifting and sinking in certain areas, consider replacing just those sections.

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Additional Driveway Accessories

These days, a concrete driveway can have as many upgrades as the cars it accommodates. It can be stamped to look like inlaid stone, tile or even solid marble, and it can be tinted to complement a house in almost any color. Decorative touches such as these will drive up the price of a concrete driveway, with costs ranging between $8 and $18 per square foot. Brick or stone borders are another accessory option, which add an average cost of $6 to $15 per linear foot to the total cost.

Homeowners who live in colder climates have the option of embedding heated coils to help melt ice and snow. These may cost between $10 and $20 per square foot, depending on the heating system. Additionally, a protective sealant should in many cases be applied to the surface of a finished driveway. Some contractors include this sealing in their bid while others offer it as an additional option. Be sure to inquire about sealant when asking for bids.

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