Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.
How Much Does A Gravel Driveway Cost?
Choosing the right material for your driveway is tough due to all of the options and cost factors. If saving money is one of the biggest selling points to you, you’ve likely already considered gravel. Gravel driveways can save you hundreds, and even thousands compared to materials like concrete, but how much do they cost?
The average gravel driveway cost is $1,225, and installation and labor costs $1.50 per square foot. Homeowners spend an average of $0.70 per square foot to install a gravel base, and it costs $2 per square foot for crushed stone gravel. You can save money with caliche which costs $0.50 per square foot to install.
Table of Contents
- How Much Does a Gravel Driveway Cost?
- Cost Per Square Foot Gravel Driveway
- Gravel Driveway Material
- Gravel Driveway Labor Cost
- Replace Concrete With Gravel
- Gravel Driveway vs. Concrete
- Asphalt Driveway vs. Pavers
- Decorative Gravel Cost
- Gravel Driveway Weed Barrier
- Gravel Road Construction Cost
- How Much Does a Gravel Walkway Cost?
- How Much Does a Gravel Parking Lot Cost?
- Is Gravel Permeable?
- Related Questions
- Summing It Up
How Much Does a Gravel Driveway Cost?
Gravel driveways cost an average of $1,225 but can cost up to roughly $2,400. The total cost is based mostly on the size of the driveway, as well as labor. Countless builder-owners choose gravel driveways due to how much cheaper they are than other materials, such as concrete and asphalt.
There are several factors involved in a gravel driveway’s cost, but not enough to make it expensive.
|Driveway Material||Average Cost||400 Sq. Ft. Driveway Cost|
|Crush and Run||$0.50 Per Sq. Ft.||$200|
|Limestone||$1.50 Per Sq. Ft.||$600|
|Base and Pebbles||$1.50 Per Sq. Ft.||$600|
|Shells||$40 Per Cubic Yard||$800|
|Caliche||$0.50 Per Sq. Ft.||$200|
|Gravel||$0.60 Per Sq. Ft.||$400|
|Pea Gravel||$2 Per Cubic Ft.||$400+|
The above costs vary greatly, and factor in installation as well. Resources, your professional’s rate, what materials you choose, and driveway size determine the cost. Expect to pay an hourly rate in addition to the cost per square foot for gravel driveway installation.
Cost Per Square Foot Gravel Driveway
Gravel driveways cost an average of $1.50 per square foot including installation, and the average driveway is 640 square feet. A 640 square foot driveway is often a 2 car driveway, but single car driveways can be as small as 200-300 square feet, or smaller.
It can cost as little as $1.20 per square foot for a gravel driveway installation. On the high end, you can spend $2 or more per square foot, but most homeowners pay $1.50. Options such as pea gravel can cost you as little as $0.75-$0.90 per square foot if you buy high volume.
|1 Car||250 Square Feet||$375-$500|
|1 Car||400 Square Feet||$600-$800|
|2 Car||550 Square Feet||$825-$1,100|
|2 Car||600 Square Feet||$900-$1,200|
|2 Car||650 Square Feet||$975-$1,300|
Due to the low cost per square foot for a gravel driveway, they’re great for long driveways. A 640 square foot asphalt driveway would cost between $1,600 and $2,560. You can save up to almost $1,300 by choosing gravel over asphalt.
Gravel Driveway Material
Besides the gravel itself, there are many materials that go into a gravel driveway, and they’re all low cost. There are several options to choose between for what kind of gravel driveway you want.
Gravel consists of several rock fragments that include sand, fine rock, and stone. It is essentially just weathered rocks, and that is why cold weather and wind affect it. No matter which material you choose, you need to have a rock base installed first.
Rock Base Gravel Cost
Rock serves as a base and foundation for your gravel driveway. Your rock base generally costs $0.60-$0.80 for each square foot, depending on the specific base. Without a rock base, you’d simply have loose gravel with no support, which would be bad for the driveway, and any car’s tires.
For non-gravel driveways, gravel itself is actually often used as a base for other materials. Gravel makes a great base due to its low cost and compactness, as well as drainage capabilities. Many homeowners use gravel for paver driveways as well.
If your driveway does not have a good rock base, it won’t drain properly, and that can lead to mold. Erosion is another possibility, so spend the money on a great and effective rock base.
Shell Driveway Cost
If you buy crushed shells by the cubic yard, it can cost up to $120. One cubic yard is enough to cover 100 square feet, so the average driveway needs 3-6 cubic yards of shells. If your driveway is between 400 and 600 square feet, crushed shells will cost $400-$720.
You are best off choosing a shell top layer if you have a flat and straight driveway. Otherwise, when rain, snow, and wind come, shells can easily blow and roll down the driveway. Crushed shells are also quite common for walkways.
The one thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be alarmed if the crushed shell driveway smells bad at first. That is totally natural, and crushed shell driveways sometimes smell strong when first installed.
Crushed Stone Cost
Unlike gravel, crushed stone does not occur naturally, and needs to be manufacturer. Crushed stone is not overly artificial, however, as it is still made up of natural stones that are pulverized. You can expect to pay between $1 and $3 per square foot for a crushed stone driveway.
Between the two, gravel is smoother and typically contains smaller chunks, so to speak. It is generally considered to be of a higher quality than gravel, and that’s why crushed stone costs more. Buying bulk can save you money, and 2,000 pounds of crushed stone costs between $60 and $150.
Crushed limestone is another popular choice, and 2,000-pound bulk starts at $65 and up.
Pebbles are similar in cost to crushed stone and average $1.50-$2.00 per square foot. If you buy pebble stones in bulk, you’ll pay $75 or more, on average. Like shell driveways, pebble stones make a better driveway material for driveways that are flat so that loose material doesn’t slide.
One key benefit to pebble stone driveways is that you’re less likely to lose your footing and slip when wet. Besides functionality and cost, pebble driveways have a distinct look that is natural and adds curb appeal.
Caliche Driveway Cost
Caliche is a rich mineral deposit that actually contains gravel, and other materials as well. It occurs naturally, typically in South America, and includes sands and nitrates in the mixture. Caliche costs as little as $0.50 per square foot for a caliche driveway, excluding labor.
It is effectively a natural cement and that makes caliche sturdy while still cost-effective. Caliche driveways do better in states with low humidity and infrequent rain. It’s important to note that there are holes in the top layer of caliche so that it can properly drain and avoid pooling.
Limestone and caliche are not that different, as they both contain calcium carbonate. However, limestone can cost a dollar more per square foot than caliche. It would cost $320 for a caliche driveway without the cost of a rock base and labor.
Crush and Run Driveway Cost
Crush and run driveways offer the best of both worlds between gravel and limestone. Small bits of gravel and limestone are mixed together making for a longer-lasting driveway. Expect it to start at $0.50 per square foot for a crush and run driveway, but it could cost even less.
Gravel may not handle rain too well, but limestone does, and that’s an advantage to crush and run. Limestone handles rain like a pro, and actually sticks together, which helps stop the top gravel from running. It is also sometimes used as a base layer for other driveway materials, instead of the top layer.
Material and installation costs start at $300 for a crush and run driveway. That typically includes labor and material costs, but if not, expect another $25-$35 an hour labor.
Pea Gravel Driveway Cost
Pea gravel is an excellent choice for a gravel driveway, and it is easy to install. Many builder-owners pay between $400 and $1,200 to install a pea gravel driveway. Like standard gravel, pea gravel is a great choice for long driveways due to the low cost.
It gets pricier when you get into big, 2 car driveways that are 500 square feet or more. Labor costs will total $250-$350 for a 500 square foot driveway, or larger. Between $300 and $600 of the total pea gravel driveway cost comes from the materials.
Pea gravel is easy to come by and buying it in bulk saves money. You can buy a full ton of pea gravel for $45 or less. There are several colors of pea gravel to choose from, such as gray, brown, amber, spruce, and white.
Gravel Driveway Labor Cost
Professionals may charge you $25-$35 per hour for labor for gravel driveway installation. It can take between 2 and 4 ½ hours to install a gravel driveway. Sometimes, the labor rate applies to each person on the job, and other times it is general.
Most gravel driveway installation involved 2 or 3 people. Small driveways can easily take under 3 hours, and long ones rarely take over 4 with multiple workers. Some contractors incorporate labor into the cost per square foot, which typically evens out to another $50-$120 at least.
Grading Gravel Driveway
Grading is a factor that plays into labor costs and is not necessary for all homes. Sloping and grading is sometimes required if there is not an ideal flow of water. If there is improper sloping and grading, water can flow from the gravel driveway and into the foundation.
When water gets into the foundation, it causes mold and damage. Grading and sloping costs roughly $500-$5,000, and depends on driveway size, and how much labor is required. Mold remediation can easily cost $3,000 or more, and it is not worth risking foundation damage or mold.
Replace Concrete With Gravel
You can choose to replace an existing concrete driveway with gravel, and it’s not a bad idea. However, replacing a driveway carries added costs that you wouldn’t have with installing a brand new one.
|Landscaping||$400 Per Hour|
|Excavation||$0.50-$1.50 Per Square Foot|
|Materials (Gravel)||$1.20-$1.50 Per Square Foot|
|Gravel Installation||$25-$35 Per Hour|
|Concrete Removal Labor||$600-$800+|
|Dumpster Rental (DIY)||$200-$500|
Removing a driveway can cost up to $1,800 and or more, but it depends on the size and landscaping requirements. Expect to pay at least $2,300-$2,800 to remove your concrete driveway and replace it with gravel.
Gravel Driveway vs. Concrete
Gravel and concrete sit at opposite ends of the driveway material price range. Whereas gravel is cheap, easy to install, and permeable, concrete driveways are more complex and more expensive to install.
|Driveway Material||Cost Per Sq. Ft.||Average Total Cost||Lifespan|
Despite the shorter lifespan, concrete driveways are in fact much more durable than gravel. Concrete driveways are also significantly more expensive and can easily cost over $7,000. One thing to consider about concrete is that it is hard to treat and repair without costly maintenance.
It can cost $2-$3 per square foot to resurface a driveway, and that generally excludes labor. Within 8-15 years, you will need to resurface your concrete driveway again. You generally spend between $400 and $500 for every 100 square feet of concrete that you have resurfaced.
Asphalt Driveway vs. Pavers
Asphalt driveways cost an average of $10 per square foot but can cost as little as $7 per square foot. Pavers, on the other hand, are quite pricey and range from $10 to $45 per square foot. An asphalt driveway can cost up to $6,500, and paver driveways cost between $3,000 and $25,000 or more.
Asphalt driveways only last for a maximum of 30 years, and pavers can last up to 50 years. There are several choices for paver materials, such as cobblestone, brick, stone, and grass. Paver driveways can cost up to 10 or more times the cost of gravel driveways.
The installation cost alone for paver driveways can be more than an entire gravel driveway, including labor. It is normal for builder-owners to spend roughly $1,015 on labor for a paver driveway, but it can cost $1,500 or more.
|Driveway Material||Cost Per Sq. Ft.||Average Total Cost||Lifespan|
Decorative Gravel Cost
You have probably seen decorative gravel used in landscaping, and it comes in many styles and colors. Decorative gravel typically costs between $1 and $3 per square foot, or $2 on average. There are several popular styles of stones used in landscaping, such as:
- River rocks
One of the main benefits of decorative gravel in landscaping is that it is natural. You don’t have to worry about a carbon footprint or killing nearby plants in your yard. Buying bulk decorative gravel is a great idea for covering a huge yard, and 2,000 pounds costs $70, on average.
Gravel Driveway Weed Barrier
You may be one of the builder-owners that rightfully wonder if a weed barrier is worth it. Some professionals and builders encourage the use of a weed barrier in a gravel driveway. Weed barriers are made of cloth, and the concept is that it prevents weeds from sprouting up.
Generally, you will pay between $45 and $120 for high-quality weed barriers. The pro installing your driveway can apply the weed barrier. If the driveway is already done, you can remove the top layer and lay the weed barrier yourself.
There is a debate as to whether weed barriers are worth it, and some homeowners don’t find them helpful. Weed barriers generally do work well, but weeds can still sprout up near seams or week spots in the fabric. Considering that it only adds $45-$120 to your gravel driveway bill, it is a worthy investment.
Gravel Road Construction Cost
Gravel roads are popular for both residential and commercial use. The total cost for a gravel road depends on the size, and size depends on what kind of road it is. It still costs roughly $1.50 per square foot for a gravel road, but it is more costly because roads are larger than driveways.
Before you can even build a residential gravel road, you need to spend money on permits. Permits can cost you up to $2,000 or more and failing to get one lands you in trouble. Residential roads are typically small and private, but commercial roads are large and far-reaching.
A 5-mile gravel road can cost between $10 and $15 million, and that is a small road. Larger roads can cost double and triple that number, but it’s still cheaper than other road materials. Repaving that same gravel road is going to cost another $1-$2 million per mile, and roads are repaved every 10-15 years.
How Much Does a Gravel Walkway Cost?
Gavel walkways cost between $750 and $3,500 based on size and depth. It is an excellent choice for a walkway material, especially if practicality and savings are in the back of your mind. Less gravel is used for walkways because they do not have to support and accommodate heavy cars.
Constructing gravel walkways is not that difficult, and often does not require much landscaping or excavation. The biggest concern with gravel walkways is the quality of soil beneath it and weed prevention. Installing a weed barrier helps, as does regularly treating the area for weeds if the problem persists.
How Much Does a Gravel Parking Lot Cost?
It costs roughly $1,100 for a 3,000 square foot parking lot with 12 parking spaces. You can spend as little as $300-$400 for a gravel parking lot, but that doesn’t get you much space. Many parking pads measure 10×20 ft., so how many pads you want determines the total cost.
If you only needed 2-3 parking spots, you could spend roughly $180-$300, depending on size. Sometimes, people use gravel as a temporary placeholder parking lot and use it as a base for the next material. You will also notice that many businesses that have huge parking lots choose gravel to save with each square foot.
Compared to concrete, gravel is significantly cheaper, albeit not quite as sturdy for a parking lot. A concrete parking lot measuring 2,000 square feet can cost up to $14,000. Gravel is a better choice if you are on a budget, even if concrete is sturdier and better for tires.
Is Gravel Permeable?
Yes, gravel is quite permeable, and that makes it a practical driveway material. Permeability refers to how well gases and water can pass through a material, such as gravel. Materials like concrete and stone, however, are impermeable as water does not pass through them.
If you live somewhere with a lot of rain and moisture, permeable materials like gravel and porous asphalt are helpful. Porous asphalt drains water well and costs roughly $2.75 per square foot on average.
The only way that the permeability of gravel can be a negative is if you experience constant and heavy snowfall. It is easy to shovel snow off of gravel, but the snow can crumble and erode the material. Utilize rock salt, which costs $5-$10 for 40 pounds, to prevent ice and snow damage, and provide tire traction.
Do you need a permit for a gravel driveway?
You do not typically need a permit for a gravel driveway but check with your municipality to be sure. If you have a homeowner’s association, however, check to make sure that everything is above board. Check into your neighborhood, municipality, or homeowner’s association to make sure you are compliant with their requirements and standards.
How thick should a gravel driveway be?
Your average gravel driveway is 5” thick, but there is a 4”-6” spread. That rule applies to each layer, so if you go multi-layered, you’ll need to match the thickness. The gravel layer should go over at least 3” of rock base to serve as a solid foundation.
How do I make my gravel driveway solid?
Some people actually choose to mix a small amount of cement in with the gravel when installing a driveway. The dirt beneath the first base layer should also be solid, compact, and as level as can be. Generally, gravel driveways are sturdier and more solid when not on steep declines.
Is gravel bad for tires?
Gravel is not great for tires, and it is even worse for tires if there is cold weather. The combination of the rough texture of gravel with the negative impact of extreme cold on tires is bad. Texturally, gravel can be sharp and jagged, so driving on gravel repeatedly can eventually do damage.
Does a gravel driveway add value?
Unfortunately, no, gravel driveways do not add any value to a home, unlike other materials, such as asphalt. Gravel driveways are worth it in the sense that they save you money in the moment, but they do not earn you money later on. A new concrete driveway, however, can easily add $5,000-$7,000 in value to the selling price of your home.
Can a gravel driveway be sealed?
If your gravel driveway is already installed, you can pave over it with hot asphalt. The layer of hot asphalt will seal the top layer of gravel. Once the hot asphalt coat is on, you can add pebbles and crushed stones to it to have an even sturdier driveway.
Summing It Up
Gravel is the cheapest driveway material and costs an average of $1.50 per square foot. You can spend as much as $2,400 on a gravel driveway, but many builder-owners only spend $1,125 in total. The high permeability gravel offers is a major benefit, and it is the best choice to save money on large driveways.
Professionals can install your gravel driveway in 1-3 days, in most cases, and charge $25-$35 an hour. You can save a small fortune by choosing gravel over materials like concrete and asphalt, and it is a great driveway material.
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