Whether you’re a homeowner putting in a driveway or a commercial developer planning a parking lot, you’ll want to think carefully about your paving options. Different materials and environmental factors can significantly influence the total cost of your job, so doing some research on these factors ahead of time can save you a lot of money.
Ram Paving Ltd. has years of experience paving surfaces all over Alberta, so we understand exactly how costs for this kind of work are calculated. Read on and find out what it might cost to pave your driveway or parking lot.
How Much Does it Cost to Pave a Driveway?
Driveways seem like fairly simple projects, but they’re actually not as straightforward as you might think. Numerous steps are involved with paving an asphalt driveway, including:
- Demolition and removal: old asphalt, concrete, and paving stones usually have to be removed before any new work can take place. We take these old materials to a recycling plant so they can be repurposed in the future, reducing the environmental footprint of the new construction.
- Prepping the sub base: the sub base of a driveway is responsible for supporting the new pavement, and also helps prevent damage from freezing and thawing water during changing seasons.
- Grading and sloping: grading and sloping the area helps ensure that water will drain properly from the sides and bottom of the finished surface. This process helps reduce future cracks and other defects that can grow into structural problems over time.
- Compacting: a twin drum roller is used to compact the paving area and get rid of any soft spots that could become vulnerabilities in the finished surface.
- Applying the binding layer: a layer of crushed rock is applied over the base soil to help hold the finished product in place.
- Laying fresh asphalt: in the last step of the process, fresh asphalt is laid on top of the binding layer.
The differences in driveway paving costs normally come down to a few factors:
- The quality of the asphalt being used. Low quality asphalt surfaces may save you some money in the short-term, but they may not last as long as driveways made with better material.
- The thickness of the fresh asphalt layer. Most driveways in Alberta should have at least 2 inches of fresh asphalt on top of the binding layer for best results.
- The amount of old material that needs to be removed. Grinding away old asphalt or concrete generally adds at least $1-$2 per square foot to the total cost of the job.
- How much grading and sloping is needed. The more labour it takes to ensure proper drainage for the finished product, the more expensive it’s going to be.
All of those factors can make the final costs for an asphalt driveway hard to predict, but most projects come in at $7-$13 per square foot. That figure includes $2-$6 for materials, and $5-$7 for the labour involved.
How Much Does it Cost to Pave a Parking Lot?
The basic paving process for an asphalt parking lot isn’t that different from a driveway, but there are a few notable exceptions. For example, we lay 3 inches of fresh asphalt on top of the binding layers for all parking lots instead of the 2 we use for residential driveways. We may also need to use a different grade of asphalt to handle the increased amount of vehicle traffic most commercial parking lots face.
However, the overall costs for paving asphalt parking lots are usually lower than for paving driveways. That’s because the cost per square foot goes down when paving larger surface areas. Like many other purchases, you get a better deal when you buy in volume—materials and labour for asphalt parking lots usually fall between $2.50-$7.00 per square foot.
Should I Use Asphalt or Concrete?
Many people cite the relative longevity of concrete as a reason to use it for paving projects, but that’s only one factor to consider—and it’s not always true. The significant freezing and thawing that occurs when seasons change in Alberta can result in cracks that compromise the structural integrity of concrete surfaces. Bottom line: a concrete driveway or parking lot that could last for decades in a more balanced climate might not be such a good investment here.
That being the case, the higher cost of concrete isn’t always worth it. Concrete driveways can cost as much as $18 per square foot, and concrete parking lots usually cost $4-$7 per square foot. Asphalt is generally less expensive—and if you maintain it properly, it can serve you just as well in Alberta’s unique climate.
Plan Your Paving Projects in Advance
The best way to keep paving jobs within your budget is to find a contractor you can trust—one who will explain their process clearly, use appropriate materials, and do a thorough job to reduce the likelihood of problems occurring down the road. Hire a licensed contractor and consult with them in detail about the specs for your project. A team like ours will be happy to discuss your needs in detail and find cost-effective ways to meet them.