Driveways don’t last forever. But how do you know when you should repair your driveway, and when should you replace it?
You can repair a concrete driveway for $3-9$ per sq ft while resurfacing it will cost $3-$8. Repairing an asphalt driveway will cost $2-$5 per sq ft while resurfacing it will cost $3-$7 per sq ft. If you must replace your driveway, it will cost between $5-$13 per sq ft, depending on materials.
When you have a damaged driveway, it can be challenging to know if you need to repair, resurface or replace it.
So we did extensive research and wanted to share what we found. This article will discuss the options with their pros, cons, and costs to help you make an informed decision.
When To Repair/Patch Your Driveway
There are times when it’s not necessary to replace or resurface your driveway, and you can patch or repair it.
If the damage is not bad and you only have a few cracks and holes or loose bricks, you can repair your asphalt, concrete, gravel, or brick driveway yourself. It’s not time-consuming, and you can repair your driveway over a weekend.
However, the repaired or patched areas can deteriorate if it rains right after you have fixed the driveway. This may end up costing more, and you may need to repair the same spot again in the future.
Asphalt Driveways: If your asphalt driveway has cracks, holes, or areas with small potholes, you should patch or repair it as soon as possible. Rain, snow, and wear and tear could further damage the asphalt.
Concrete Driveways: Concrete driveways are the second most common driveway Americans have. Unfortunately, concrete cracks over time and can also crumble at the edges. So repairing these areas will extend the life of the concrete driveway.
Concrete driveways might look patchy after you repair them, which many people don’t like. Over time the patches will also start to deteriorate, and you will need to resurface or replace the entire driveway.
Gravel Driveways: Gravel is great for long driveways or driveways in rural areas. They typically consist of loose stones between 1/10 inch to 2 1/2 inches. Unfortunately, weeds and heavy rain can displace the gravel material, and you must re-grade it.
The rocks of a gravel driveway get easily displaced, so you may need to rent a compactor or use a tractor to compact it, which will cost more.
Brick Driveways: Brick driveways are becoming more popular because they are so easy to install and maintain. Over time the mortar used to adhere the bricks together will crack, causing the bricks to break loose. So you will need to remove the old mortar, add new mortar and replace any loose bricks.
The Cost Of Repairing/Patching Driveways
Repairing/patching your driveway will cost much less than resurfacing or replacing the entire driveway. Still, it does depend on the extent of the damage.
Below is a summary of the cost of repairing different types of driveways.
Asphalt Driveways: The repair of an asphalt driveway will depend on the type of damage it has.
For example, filling in potholes can cost between $100-$400, filling in cracks can cost up to $3 per sq ft, and hot or cold patching can cost between $4-$12 per sq ft.
Concrete Driveways: Repairing cracks in a concrete driveway will cost between $5-$10 if you use sealant and $8-$10 if you use a pre-mixed patching compound. The patching compound covers at least 3 sq ft.
Gravel Driveways: Repairing a gravel driveway can cost you between $0.50c -$2.20 per sq ft. Filling in ruts and displaced gravel costs $2-$8 per bag of gravel fix (covering two cubic feet).
Brick Driveways: Repairing a brick driveway can cost between $0.50-$1.80 per brick or $2-$8 per sq ft.
When To Resurface Your Driveway
When the damage to your driveway is more extensive, you may need to resurface it. Resurfacing can only be done when the driveway’s foundation is still in good shape. Typically the top few layers of the driveway are replaced by resurfacing those layers.
Resurfacing your driveway will still be less expensive than replacing it. It will add at least 10-12 years of life to any driveway. It works best on concrete and asphalt driveways that tend to look patchy and uneven when you only repair them.
Resurfacing your driveway is usually quicker than replacing it. However, you usually need to hire professionals to resurface your driveway.
It will take more time than repairing or patching the driveway and will cost more because you will pay more for labor and materials.
You need a good base free of cracks and crumbling areas if you want to resurface your driveway, or it will cause trouble within a few months after resurfacing.
The sub-base needs to be free draining, or it will cause movement. If the sub-base moves, it will cause the newly resurfaced driveway to sink in some areas and crack in others.
Here are some examples of when it is better to resurface your driveway than to repair or patch it.
Asphalt Driveway: If your driveway has more than 25% damage over the entire area of the driveway, such as cracks and small potholes, it is best to resurface it. You may also find that the top layer will lift or warp if water seeps into the cracks.
Concrete Driveway: Concrete driveways are built to last for at least 25-50 years with proper maintenance. However, you may need to resurface your concrete driveway when one of the following occurs:
- The surface or top layer of the concrete starts to peel off (spalling)
- Cracks begin to pull further apart
- Large chunks break off at the edges
Check out my article covering how to fix and resurface a pitted concrete floor for more details.
Gravel Driveway: Gravel driveways are usually fine if you fix small displacements or find ruts in some areas after a storm.
However, because gravel consists of loose rocky material, most people only fill up the grooves.
Brick Driveway: Brick driveways must be re-laid if the base is no longer level. You’ll also need to remove the affected areas where the bricks protrude or are sunken. Then, level the base in that area and re-lay those bricks.
The Cost Of Resurfacing Your Driveway
Below is a summary of what resurfacing different driveways will cost.
Asphalt Driveway: Resurfacing an asphalt driveway will cost around $1-$3 per sq ft or about $3000 to resurface an average-sized driveway.
Concrete Driveway: Resurfacing and leveling a concrete driveway will cost between $3-$5 per sq ft or $2800-$3000 for an average-sized driveway.
Gravel Driveway: You don’t resurface gravel driveways. However, adding a new layer of gravel and having it raked into place will cost around $2-$8 per bag of gravel fix, covering two cubic feet.
Brick Driveway: You can usually repair brick driveways by removing and replacing individual bricks, which cost between $0.50-$1.80 per brick. However, if you have to level the sub-base and re-lay the bricks, it will cost $5-$13 per sq ft.
When To Replace Your Driveway
Sometimes, patching or resurfacing a driveway just won’t cut it. When that happens, you need to replace it completely. It’s a long-term solution that will stave off any repairs or resurfacing for years.
Replacing any driveway is the most expensive option because you need to hire professionals, and it takes longer than repairing or resurfacing it. This is because they need to rip up the old driveway and prepare the base for the new driveway.
To ensure your driveway is durable and lasts longer, replace it in the spring or summertime when the temperature is over 70°F. In winter, the cold weather will cause concrete and asphalt driveways to cure too fast, and you will have a bumpy and uneven surface.
However, this gives you a fresh start on your driveway maintenance. Take this opportunity to plan times to inspect and repair your new driveway so it will last longer than the previous one.
Additionally, replacing your driveway is the perfect time to enhance it by adding slope to help with water drainage or change the driveway’s look by shaping the sides or mix different types of material.
This is when replacement is better than repairing or resurfacing a driveway.
Asphalt Driveway: If your asphalt driveway is 15-20 years old, and you have had it repaired or resurfaced, but the problems keep getting worse, it’s time to replace the driveway. You should also consider replacing an asphalt driveway if you find large potholes and standing water.
Standing water means your driveway is holding water and not draining it, which can deteriorate the driveway further until it is fixed.
Concrete Driveway: Concrete driveways are known for their longevity, but over time the surface of the concrete can peel off, leaving you with deep pits, cracks, and potholes. If your concrete driveway is 20 years old or older, replacing it is best.
Gravel Driveway: Gravel driveways rarely need to be replaced because it is a loose material that is easily refilled. You should only consider replacing a gravel driveway if you want to remove the gravel and replace it with a concrete, asphalt, or brick driveway.
Brick Driveway: Brick driveways will need to be repaved or replaced with another type of material when the sub-base has shifted severely. The bricks will be loose, and you will have large raised or sunken areas, leaving you with loose sand everywhere and an uneven driveway.
The Cost Of Replacing Your Driveway
Below is a summary of what it costs to replace your driveway.
Asphalt Driveways: An asphalt driveway can cost between $12-$15 per sq ft or $4500 to replace. The cost will depend on the driveway size and can be more or less.
Concrete Driveways: Concrete driveways are more expensive to replace than gravel and asphalt driveways. It can cost between $2000-$7000 to replace.
Gravel Driveways: If you replace an old driveway with gravel, it will cost between $1500-$2000 for an average-sized driveway.
Brick Driveway: To redo a brick driveway or replace another driveway with a brick one will cost between $2800-$12000. Brick driveways are by far the most expensive option we have discussed so far.
To decide whether to repair, resurface or replace your driveway, you need to look at how old and damaged it is.
For example, if your driveway has a few cracks and holes, you can quickly repair it. However, if the driveway has peeling areas or deeper cracks, you may need to resurface it.
Replacing a driveway is costly, but it is best if your driveway is older than 20 years and has extensive damage.