How much does it cost to pave a gravel driveway?
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Gravel Driveway Paving Cost Guide
Updated: August 19, 2022
Driveways are an important part of every home’s exterior. They impact your curb appeal and give you a safe place to park your car when you are at home. Driveways are built from a variety of materials, with gravel being the least expensive. But a gravel driveway is also high-maintenance, which means that many people may start with gravel, and then pave their driveway later. You can pave directly over gravel or remove the gravel and start fresh, depending on the circumstances. Driveways come in many sizes and shapes, which means a wide range of paving costs. The national average range is $1,500 to $3,500, with most people paying around $2,277 for a 2-car driveway paved with two layers of asphalt over an existing gravel base. At the lowest end, it is possible to put a single layer of tar over the gravel for around $835. A high-end project of removing the gravel, installing a new base, and paving with concrete costs about $6,768.
Cost to Pave a Gravel Driveway
|Gravel Driveway Paving Costs|
|National average cost||$2,277|
What Is Driveway Paving?
There are many different ways to create a driveway. A driveway that is paved is different from a driveway that has been built or created with gravel. In a gravel driveway, the driveway has been built up with three layers of differently sized gravel to facilitate good drainage.
In a paved driveway, it may start with a gravel base, but then have a hard, stationary material applied over it, such as asphalt or concrete. If you have an existing gravel driveway, you can refurbish it with additional gravel, remove the gravel entirely and start with a new base, or pave the gravel by applying asphalt or another mixture directly on top of the gravel, allowing the gravel to act as a base for the asphalt driveway.
Paving a gravel driveway costs more than adding fresh gravel to rebuild your existing gravel drive. However, a paved driveway lasts longer with less maintenance than a gravel driveway, and it is easier to plow and snow blow in the winter months.
Gravel Driveway Paving Cost by Surface Type
If you have an existing gravel driveway, you can pave it with multiple surfaces, depending on the desired finish and appearance. Each surface has a different associated cost, maintenance, longevity, and even paving process:
|Surface||Material Cost Only||Cost Installed per Sq.Ft|
Convert Gravel Driveway to Tar-and-Chip
The simplest way to pave a gravel driveway is to do a tar-and-chip seal directly on top of the existing gravel. Tar-and-chip comes in multiple grades, from a very thin layer of hot asphalt poured over the gravel with additional aggregate added to two thicker layers of hot asphalt with aggregate added. This is a tough, durable driveway, but it is not smooth and cannot be snow blown. It lasts longer without cracking than asphalt and does not migrate like gravel. It costs $1 - $5 a square foot installed, with an average of $3 a square foot for most driveways.
Convert Gravel Driveway to Asphalt
This is the most common method of paving a gravel driveway, particularly in the northern states and colder climates. If the existing gravel driveway has a good base and was correctly installed, it is possible to pave with asphalt directly over it. If the driveway has lost most of its gravel or is not level, you may first need to remove the gravel and start again. The average cost to asphalt a gravel driveway is between $2 and $6 a square foot.
Convert Gravel Driveway to Concrete
Converting gravel to concrete is a more common driveway method in the south and warmer climates. Concrete does better in hot climates than asphalt and lasts much longer than either asphalt or gravel. It is also lower in maintenance than both but costs more, nearly twice as much as paving with asphalt in some cases. The cost to pave a gravel driveway with concrete is between $4 and $10 a square foot on average.
Gravel Driveway Paving Process
Much of the process and cost of paving a gravel driveway comes down to the condition that the driveway is in at the paving time. Some well-maintained gravel driveways with a good base and grading may be paved without removing the gravel or only needing to remove the top layer of gravel.
If the driveway is in poor condition, has holes or divots, is not draining well, or needs to be regraded, then the gravel must first be removed. In this case, the driveway is graded, and then a new base material is put down. This may be gravel, and in some cases, your existing gravel is reused.
Once the base is down, the asphalt is poured and spread, then rolled and edged. Sometimes, you may have a second coat put down after the first one cures, particularly if you want the driveway to last longer or if it will get a lot of use.
It may be a few days before you can drive or park on your driveway, and it may be up to a year before the final curing is complete.
Solid vs Stone Surfaces for Driveways
While driveways are created in several ways, they tend to break down into two distinct categories - solid-surface driveways like asphalt and concrete and aggregate driveways like gravel or stone. Within each category, you have several options, but there are some broad similarities within each option to help decide which category best fits your needs.
Solid-surface driveways are hard and durable. They can be smooth like asphalt and concrete or more textured like tar and chip. They last 20 - 30 years on average when well-maintained. Asphalt is higher in maintenance than concrete, requiring a sealant every few years, but solid surface driveways are lower in maintenance than aggregate driveways like gravel.
Aggregate and stone driveways need to be raked each year to move the migrating stones back into position. They are harder to shovel and plow, and each spring, the gravel needs to be relocated.
They also require added fresh aggregate every few years to top up the surface. When they are well-maintained, they are beautiful and give your home a distinctive look. They also tend to be lower in upfront costs but cost more long term in maintenance than a solid driveway.
Gravel vs Asphalt Driveway
An asphalt driveway is the second least expensive driveway type, with gravel as the least expensive. It is also the second highest in maintenance, just behind gravel. So when you convert from gravel to asphalt, you do less maintenance, but you pay slightly more for the driveway to be finished. If you live in a snowy area, an asphalt driveway is easier to shovel and plow than a gravel driveway. If you live in a hot climate, the gravel holds up better than asphalt because it does not soften in the heat.
Gravel vs Concrete Driveway
While gravel is the highest maintenance and lowest cost for driveway materials, concrete is nearly the opposite. It is one of the lowest maintenance and highest priced driveway materials. Concrete lasts for years with very little maintenance, far outlasting a gravel driveway. It does not perform well in freeze/thaw conditions because it develops cracks and potholes, while gravel is less likely to be affected.
Enhancements and Improvement Costs
Gravel often migrates, which means that the area around your driveway is likely filled with excess gravel. After paving, you may want to bring in a landscaper to edge your new driveway and clean it up, getting it in better condition. The cost of hiring a landscaper is $50 to $100 an hour.
Both concrete and asphalt may be tinted or colored to give you a more decorative driveway. Add color to your new driveway for an additional $2 a square foot on average.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Always check with your local town or city hall before starting this project to determine if you need a permit. In some areas, you may need to take special precautions before grading, particularly in dry areas.
- If you live in an area with a lot of heavy rainfall, consider paving your driveway with porous concrete or asphalt, which allows the water to go through the pavement. This manages runoff.
- While the process of converting a gravel driveway to pavement is simple and straightforward, it is not considered a DIY job. Hire a trained professional to get the best results.
- Can you put asphalt over gravel?
Yes, but only if it does not require grading, and the current driveway is in good condition.
- Do you need gravel under asphalt?
In some cases, yes. It depends on your soil type and how compact it is. Adding gravel helps the driveway last longer in some areas.
- How can I cover my gravel driveway?
Gravel driveways can be paved with asphalt, concrete, or tar and chip.
- How much does it cost to asphalt a gravel driveway?
The average cost to cover a 2-car driveway with asphalt is $2,277.
- How long does a paved driveway last?
This depends on the pavement type, area, and how well it is maintained. The average is 20 to 30 years.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.