Asphalt is one of the most common materials used to pave a driveway. Another is concrete. A professional paving contractor can help determine which is the best option for a given situation, but in general, asphalt is used more often in colder climates because it adapts well to extreme temperature changes. Unlike concrete, asphalt can easily expand and contract as outdoor temperatures fluctuate. Asphalt is not subject to cracking in below-freezing temperatures in the way concrete is, and asphalt holds up better to applications of salt and the heavy weight of snow plows in winter. At $3–$5 per square foot to install, asphalt also tends to be slightly less expensive than concrete, which averages $5–$7 per square foot. Asphalt should be seal coated every three to five years, though, and some experts say concrete does not need as much ongoing maintenance.
The width of the driveway determines how many cars can park in it side by side. Its length allows for tandem (stacked) parking or for a car to turn around. A single-car driveway is typically nine to 12 feet wide, and a two-car driveway should be 16 to 24 feet wide. For a single-car turnaround, you’ll need at least a 10x20-foot driveway. A driveway that is 10x50 is likely to cost $1,250–$2,000, depending on the region. This price may not include the cost of breaking up an existing driveway, excavation (clearing trees and bushes) or grading (leveling the ground to ensure an ideal driving surface and adequate drainage) and laying Class II road-base gravel.
If the asphalt driveway will be installed where there was none previously, the ground where it will be laid may need some preparation: clearing trees and bushes (excavation), leveling the ground (grading) or other treatments to get the area ready for the new driveway. The more trees and bushes to be removed, the higher the cost. Professional excavators charge $30–$50 an hour for labor. Removing tree stumps can cost $50–$350 per stump or about $2–$3 per inch of stump diameter. Professional graders charge $50–$70 per hour, and driveway preparation can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on how extensive the work is. Joe Jones, owner of California Asphalt Professionals, based in Morgan Hill, California, takes care of all surface preparation and paving as needed. To remove an existing driveway, prep the surface, put down gravel and install a new asphalt driveway, Jones charges about $5 per square foot or $2,500 for a 500-square-foot driveway.
Sealing an asphalt driveway is recommended to extend its life. After the asphalt is laid, says, Jones of California Asphalt Professionals, it can take at least six months for it to fully harden and for the oils to evaporate. At that time, Jones’ company will return to the job site and add a seal coating to the asphalt surface for an additional 20 cents per square foot. He recommends that customers seal asphalt surfaces every three to five years for maximum durability.
Professionally installed, well-drained and well-maintained asphalt surfaces can last 20 years before they require repair or resurfacing. Resurfacing is generally required because of movement in the ground below or damage caused by heavy vehicles driving on the asphalt surface. California Asphalt Professionals resurfaces asphalt driveways by putting down a layer of Petromat and installing a new two -inch layer of asphalt for $2.50 per square foot.
Adding built-in heat to an asphalt driveway is a nice feature in regions where it snows a lot in the winter, though it will significantly increase the cost per square foot.