Driveway Cost Calculator & Guide 2019
Your new driveway isn’t perhaps the most glamorous element of your home, but it is certainly the hardest working. Whether you’re building a new driveway or looking to replace an existing one, approaching the project properly and making the right choices is the key to achieving a driveway that not only sets the house off beautifully but also lasts a lifetime.
A good driveway has three key elements – a solid sub-base, excellent drainage and an appealing, long-lasting surface. The most popular options are:
- Gravel and stones
- Block paving
What are the pros and cons of each driveway type?
Gravel and stone driveways
Gravel, which is often referred to as chipping, is a popular solution for driveway surfacing and particularly common on larger rural properties. The more you pay, the more the stones are consistent in size, shape and colour – and almost certainly a bit smoother. The common sizes are 10 and 20mm widths.
Pros of gravel driveways
– The sound that gravel makes when walked on or driven over offers excellent security
– Comes in a range of colours to suit different properties
– Aesthetically very pleasing and associated with high value homes
– Relatively cheap as quick to install
Cons of gravel driveways
– The lack of a flat surface means no bike riding – and it’s difficult to roll bins over
– Needs maintenance to manage stones
– Unable to be used on slopes
Block paving driveways
Block paving consists of either stone, concrete or clay pavers laid on top of a compressed hardcore, then sand, bed. Highly adaptable and suitable for pathways as well as driveways, it has been an increasingly popular hard landscaping choice since the 1980s. Download our driveway checklist.
The Cob & Pen Public House, Before: After by Mannmade Drives Designs Ltd
Pros of block paving
– Huge range of design options in terms of colour, shape and style – from monotone to multi-colour
– Different materials offer different price points
– Long lasting and, if installed well, low maintenance – small areas can be patch repaired if necessary
Cons of block paving
– Labour-intensive and therefore expensive to install
– Final finish and quality depend on the individuals installing the paving
– Quality of some cheaper materials can be poor meaning the colour will fade over time
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Tarmac consists of small stones mixed with tar. It was commonly used as a road surfacing construction but now the majority of what we presume is tarmac is actually asphalt concrete, which is a mix of small stones and bitumen. The process is called macadamisation, after John McAdam, the 19th Century Scottish engineer who invented the concept of crushing small stones in several layers to form a road.
Pros of tarmac driveways
– Relatively cheap to lay
– Uniform in appearance and can be used on slopes
– Low maintenance if subject to relatively low traffic
Cons of tarmac driveways
– Relies on good quality installation
– Can look overly uniform on large areas
Resin driveways consist of gravel bound together by a resin – effectively you get the look of gravel without the movement. They’re increasingly popular as a porous, low maintenance option.
Pros of resin driveways
– Variety of finished look dependent on the gravel you choose
– Long-lasting solution
– Porous surface so compliant with SUDS
Cons of resin driveways
– Can require maintenance to keep moss growth off
Concrete ‘imprint’ driveways are increasingly popular as a way to replicate the look of block paving without the difficulties of installation – often in pre-coloured designs.
Pros of concrete driveways
– Cheaper than block paving
– Variety of colours and patterns
– Long lasting
Cons of concrete driveways
– Quality very much depends on the installer
Appearance is difficult to maintain over time
In many ways the grass is the least important element of a ‘grass’ driveway – the key is the high-density polyethylene reinforcement grid into which the grass is embedded. Grass driveways aren’t a common solution but are a good choice for particular housing types and those attracted by their sustainability credentials.
Pros of grass Driveways
– Striking and natural appearance
– Can be used on slopes
Cons of grass Driveways
– Expensive to install with a small choice of installation companies
– Requires maintenance
Drainage and planning permission requirements (SUDS)
You won’t need planning permission to build a new or replacement driveway as long as you use a permeable surface. Most of the common surfacing choices offer options that comply with the regulations – a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS).
How much will a new driveway cost?
The cost of a new driveway will depend on the amount of groundworks required and the material chosen. Generally, gravel is the cheapest material, with resin and concrete being the most expensive. You should budget between £30-90/m2 for a new driveway, but you can find out a more detailed price for your job by using our unique cost calculator.
The calculator offers an additional handy estimate of the excavated material generated from your driveway project. Use this figure in our skip hire cost calculator.
What is the cheapest type of driveway?
In most cases tarmac is the cheapest form of driveway. Most of the cost of driveways is in the labour, and the quicker the install, the cheaper the driveway overall.
How much should a tarmac driveway cost?
Expect to pay between £40-70/m2 for a new tarmac driveway.
What is cheaper – asphalt or concrete?
Asphalt is usually cheaper – printed concrete can cost between £70-100/m2.
Saving money on driveway maintenance and improvements
Driveways take a lot of abuse – as owners of leaky cars will confirm. A bit of maintenance on your driveway will enable it to last longer and look better for years to come.
The key is to tackle stains as soon as you notice them. The most common problem is oil stains, which should be cleaned with a specialist dedicated oil cleaner product like Resiblock or if spotted early enough, vinegar.
Tarmac driveways can begin to wear after several years of heavy use. One pleasing recent product development is pre-bagged tarmac, available from most builder’s merchants, which can simply be poured and tamped into position. It will weather down after a year or so.
Options for preparing your new driveway
The bit you think of as the driveway – which is of course the bit you can see, the surface – is only a small component of the overall structure. In fact the key to ensuring your new driveway is a success is in the preparation of the ground itself as well as the overall structure.
You’ll need to dig down some 240mm at a depth 150mm below your home’s damp proof course (DPC – you can usually see the line of the black membrane in the brickwork and it would be at the same level as your internal floor, not the lowest brick you can see outside). Your existing driveway should be some depth below your DPC anyway, which will make things a bit easier. Ideally the ground should slope away from your house but, if that’s impossible, you’ll need to introduce drainage channels to move the surface rainwater away from the house.
The next step is to lay an edge restraint or kerb, which will keep the new driveway structure in position. But it’s the sub-base that will make or break the driveway. This needs to be a 150mm thick bed of DT Type 1 (MOT) hardcore, which comprises a mix of stones up to 4cm wide. The hardcore is then shaped to the gradient required and then compacted (a wacker plate is perfect) to form a solid base.
If you’re intending to use block paving for your surface, you’ll need to install a 40mm layer of sharp sand, which should be a little bit damp and lightly compacted, as well as levelled, before the block paving is put down. The joints are finished with brushed-in jointing sand before the paving is compacted.
If your drive will have a tarmac finish, the tarmac is usually applied in two layers – one a sub base ‘binding course’ (around 50mm thick) and then the final top surface course (25mm thick).
Can I overlay a new drive over my existing drive?
Simply laying a new surface on top of your existing driveway is tempting and is a cheap solution – but in most cases it’s a mistake. Driveways get a lot of usage and inevitably over time the surface will erode and the sub-base begin to drop. The winter/summer cycle will introduce cracks and the structural integrity of the whole driveway can be compromised.
The one driveway type where repair is a viable option is a tarmac or asphalt driveway, where the new layers can simply be rolled in and over the existing.
Who should install my new driveway?
Whilst some simple block paving and gravel driveways can be installed on a DIY basis, driveways are a complicated and skilled task. The quality of the excavation and subbase will be critical to the driveway’s success and a pleasing finish requires experience. As a result, for a driveway that will last for decades to come, it is worth investing in 5-10 days’ worth of labour from an experienced professional. The easiest way is to find good local recently installed driveways and ask the owners if they would recommend the installers – and use Checkatrade’s service.
Thinking of a purchasing a new driveway? Before you commit to hiring a driveway installer read the top tips from Driveway Experts David and Lesley Mann from
Mannmade Drives Designs Ltd. These insights are valuable and ensure you know exactly what to ask any potential installer before you commit your savings to your project.
Yin Yang Driveway, Before: After by Mannmade Drives Designs Ltd
If you are looking into having a new driveway installed we would say be prepared to do your homework first. There are many factors to consider and the main one is getting an installer who is knowledgeable and knows the right way to prepare and lay a drive. We would also advise choosing an Installer that is backed and recommended by an Approved Installer scheme i.e. Brett Landscaping, Marshalls or Bradstone.
Make sure the installer has adequate insurance cover. A reputable installer won’t mind if you ask them about their Public Liability Insurance (PLI).
Ask for a few addresses of previous driveways to view as an installer ourselves we give at least 40 different addresses on the back of our quotation. Don’t just view recently installed drives ask to see some that have been laid for a good few years to see if they stand up to the test of time.
We offer a CAD Drawing service so that you can visualize how your driveway will look. Some installers will charge for this service and offer the cost back if the customer accepts.
Don’t accept a verbal estimate, any reputable installer will give you a fully detailed written quotation on ‘letter headed’ paper outlining just what they are planning to do. They should state how far they will dig down, as an installer ourselves we dig out at least 300mm on an average drive, and importantly it should state what sub-base they will be using. We only use ‘Type 1 Stone’ for a sub-base, crushed concrete is not recommended as this does not compact adequately, resulting in dips. Remember a drive is only as good as the sub-base used.
Drainage is important too. In 2008 new planning regulations came out stating surface water should not be allowed to run from your drive onto the highway. Preferably levels should be set up and adjusted to allow surface water to fall towards flowerbeds or drainage channels. Likewise it might be necessary to install a soakaway. Your installer should be able to advise on this.
Choosing the right block sounds daunting as it will hopefully be there for many years to come so it has to look good. There are many different styles and colours of blocks on the market and again your Installer should be able to advise you if you aren’t sure. As an installer ourselves we prefer not to use 50mm blocks. In situations where the paved area is for shared access, or used by large cars/four-wheeled drive vehicles with power steering, four-wheeled trailers, horse boxes etc., then a 50mm block is not recommended and a minimum 60mm thickness should be used.) This can be verified by the British Board of Agreement who independently assessed this size block.
Should you have your blocks sealed? As an installer, we always recommend sealing with a good quality sealant. It helps seal in the jointing sand, it enhances the colours and also gives you a better chance of removing accidental staining of oil etc.
Guarantees: Any good Installer will give you at least a 5-year installation guarantee. Ask before you accept their quotation if they provide one and make sure you have it in writing.
Quotations versus estimates: An estimate is a rough price or an educated guess based on what a job may cost. It’s an informal idea of price based on limited information. Consider it a starting point of costs which can go up or down.A quotation is a fixed price which cannot be changed once accepted unless if the original quotation contract is altered in any way i.e. the customer asks for extra areas to be paved etc or the installer discovers something completely outside the scope of which was agreed.
Prices: The old saying “you get what you pay for” is very true when it comes to driveways. Make sure you get at least 3 Quotations and if one of them is just too good to be true, alarm bells should start ringing. Make sure you compare like for like and do your research on your chosen installer.
There’s nothing wrong if an installer is asking for a small deposit when the customer accepts the quotation. Likewise, stage payments may also be asked for. There should be trust on both sides.
A good installer would be willing to advise you on styles, patterns and designs so that your driveway is both aesthetically pleasing and fit for the job intended. If you don’t feel that the installer is capable enough to do this then maybe they are not the installer for you.
At the end of the day having a new driveway should be a pleasurable experience with no stresses.