How Much Does Driveway Repair Cost?
Repairing a cracked or sunken driveway is a worthwhile—and relatively affordable—project. Driveway repair cost has a typical range of $798 to $2,635, with many homeowners paying a national average of $1,715.
- The typical cost to repair a driveway ranges from $798 to $2,635, with the national average at $1,715.
- The exact cost will depend on a number of factors, such as the driveway size and material, the type and extent of the damage, and the topography of the area.
- Signs that a driveway needs repair include cracks, crumbling, faded color, potholes, and sinking.
- A handy homeowner may be able to repair minor cracks on their own, but hiring a professional is recommended for more serious damage.
Nobody gets excited about showing off a new driveway to friends in the same way they do about sharing a new kitchen or addition (unless they’ve been a homeowner for a really, really long time). But a split driveway with grass growing through the cracks, shattered edges, and its own potholes detracts from the overall look of a house. In addition, anyone who’s had to shovel snow off a driveway in poor repair knows that cracks and breaks can catch the edge of the shovel or snow blower and create hidden patches of slick ice under the snow. Sunken areas can also damage tires and undercarriages. Repairing a driveway is a matter of both safety and aesthetics.
Many people put off driveway repair because they assume that it’s a huge and expensive project. While the cost to pave a driveway to replace a cracked one entirely can be expensive, especially if it’s a specialty material or an enlargement, basic repair is generally much more affordable. According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, driveway repair cost estimates range from $798 to $2,635 nationally, with the average landing at $1,715. While this isn’t a small cost, it’s quite reasonable when balanced against the cost of repairing rims and tires or replacing a snow blower that’s damaged by a loose piece of asphalt. In addition, the cost only gets higher as repairs are pushed off until the next season, and cracks grow and sunken areas sink beyond repair. How much does it cost to repair driveway cracks, breaks, and sinkholes? It depends on a number of factors, and understanding how each one affects the cost will make it easier for homeowners to budget and negotiate a price. A driveway repair calculator can help ballpark a budget, but it’s still useful to grasp the components of the total cost.
Factors in Calculating Driveway Repair Cost
Some of the factors that affect driveway repair cost are fairly obvious: the size of the driveway, the type of damage, and the material. Other elements may be less familiar, including the type of repair and the landscape surrounding the driveway. These components make up the basis of the cost of driveway repair and will affect the total cost of every repair or replacement.
The composition of the driveway is the first factor to consider, because it will determine several other aspects of the repair. The driveway material will decide what kinds of repairs are available and which materials are most appropriate for the repair. For example, asphalt driveway repair cost is higher than concrete driveway repair cost, with brick and cobblestone landing lower than concrete, and dirt or gravel driveway repair cost bringing up the rear as the least expensive material to maintain. Heated driveways are by far the most costly to repair, as they involve electronics and pumps in addition to the driveway material itself.
There is a wide range of options for repairing a driveway, depending on both the material of the driveway and the type and extent of the damage.
- Crack sealing and patching is a quick, inexpensive fix in most cases and will prevent cracks from collecting water, which may then freeze and enlarge the crack or seep underneath and disrupt the packed base beneath the driveway.
- Patching and resurfacing require more material and more skill and are a bit more expensive than driveway crack repair cost, depending on the material.
- Lifting a driveway (called “mudjacking”) and adding fill can bring a driveway back up to level, which adds a few dollars to the driveway repair cost per square foot.
- Using sand to reset and fix bricks and cobblestones adds to the cost, because sand has to be purchased in bags, even if the repair only requires a cup or two, at a cost of $20 to $40 per bag.
- Root removal for tree roots that are causing the driveway to bulge and lift underneath a crack can be a significant cost. At $1,300 to $1,600, it’s probably the most expensive repair.
- Complete replacement is the most expensive solution to driveway damage.
Depending on the type of damage, a large driveway will cost more to repair than a smaller one—sometimes even when the damage itself is the same size. Why? In order for a patch or repair to hold, it may need to be leveled or blended with a significant portion of the existing driveway’s surface, which can require extra material if the driveway is large. In addition, many repairs must be followed by a coat of driveway sealer over the entire surface. More sealer is needed to coat a large driveway, so the cost will be higher than the cost to repair a small one.
A short, flat, rectangular driveway on a level surface is the least expensive type to repair. As soon as the contour becomes unusually long, wide, sloped, or curvy, the repair cost will rise. It can be difficult to perform effective repairs on a strong slope, especially if the damage is occurring because of water traveling underneath the driveway or soil eroding. If there’s a standing water problem, the repairs can require regrading the landscape and draining the area of water at a cost of about $3,000. Repairs to driveways closely surrounded by lawns, gardens, or other plantings may damage the surrounding growth, which may then also need to be repaired or replanted, adding cost.
Extent of Damage
Minor repair costs or driveway sealing costs can be relatively affordable. As the extent of the damage covers more of the driveway’s surface, the cost will increase as more material, time, and expertise are required to complete the repair. Once the damage covers more than 25 percent of the surface, it’s worth it for homeowners to explore the cost of resurfacing the entire driveway or replacing it, as those will be more cost-effective solutions than repeated efforts to repair the driveway.
Some driveway repairs are easy DIY jobs; picking up a bottle of the best asphalt driveway crack filler or a bucket of sealant at a home improvement store can make for an easy Saturday project. Sinkholes, larger cracks, or situations where the soil beneath the driveway has been undermined require professional assistance. The cost of labor will vary by location and season, as driveway repair is in greater demand in more populated areas and in the spring and summer months.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Some factors in cost will apply to every driveway repair situation, while others are relevant only under certain circumstances. When they are necessary, they can have a substantial effect on the budget.
Repair vs. Replacement
How much damage is too much to reasonably repair? In general, it’s much more costly to replace a driveway than it is to repair it—but if the driveway is nearing the end of its reasonable life expectancy, paying for a repair may be throwing good money after bad. Paying repeatedly for repairs that don’t last because the driveway itself is finished, then paying for a replacement anyway, isn’t a great option. When weighing repairing vs. replacing a driveway, homeowners will want to think about the following questions:
- How big are the cracks and holes? In a driveway that is early in its lifespan, surface cracks and small potholes are to be expected as wear and tear take their toll and the freezing cycle (if it’s a factor) increases and decreases the pressure on the driveway materials. Those cracks and potholes can be patched, filled, and sealed, unless they cover more than 25 percent of the driveway surface, in which case it’s a good idea to check with a pro to see if there’s hidden damage below. Cracks that run all the way through the driveway indicate that the base of the driveway is undermined and the materials have degraded. In that case, replacement makes more sense.
- How old is the driveway? Asphalt driveways last between 15 and 20 years, while concrete driveways can last as long as 40 to 50. Other materials fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. If the driveway is near or beyond its expected lifespan and has significant damage, it’s not worth paying for expensive repairs when the driveway will probably need replacement in a few years. It’s wise to replace it rather than repair it.
- Is there standing water, or puddles, or water washout of soil and sand from underneath the driveway? If so, there may be a problem with the canting of the driveway or with the slope of the drainage design, and the damage will continue to recur until it’s corrected. Unfortunately, this usually means replacing the driveway entirely.
- Is there a lot of surface damage on an otherwise solid base? If that’s the case, resurfacing may be an option—a kind of cross between repair and replacement. A contractor will grind down the damaged top layers and add a thick new top layer on the solid base.
Beyond the driveway repair itself, it’s key for homeowners to budget for any additional services that might be necessary so they can avoid unexpected expenses late in the project. If there’s a surface drainage problem (as opposed to a problem beneath the driveway), it may be necessary to pay to have the ground surrounding the driveway regraded or to have a drainage system dug up and placed. When roots or plants are causing damage, those shrubs may need to be removed or relocated.
In addition, there are some issues that aren’t a result of damage that a homeowner would like to correct or change during a repair, such as fading color or the shape or apron of the driveway where it meets the road. These services will add to the project cost as well.
Most cities and towns have guidelines regarding the size and shape of driveways in the yard and their juncture with the public road. To enforce these guidelines, municipalities may require permits and inspections of driveway work. In general, simple repairs will not require a permit, but more involved repairs that require regrading the landscape, resurfacing, or altering the apron of the driveway may require a permit, and a driveway replacement almost certainly will. Costs vary by location, so homeowners will want to be sure to check with their local permit office or their contractor before beginning any work.
Driveway Repair Cost by Type of Material
The material from which a driveway is constructed is probably the most critical feature in determining the cost of the repair, because each type of material requires a different method of repair, different expertise, and different levels of workmanship. There’s nothing about this factor that a homeowner can change (until it’s time to replace the existing one), but understanding this cost component can help clarify budget expectations.
|$1,000 to $3,700
|$700 to $2,000
|$650 to $2,000
|$300 to $3,500
|Gravel or Dirt
|$40 to $300
|$500 to $3,400
Asphalt driveways cost an average of $1,000 to $3,700 to repair. Repairs often consist of sealing cracks ($0.50 to $3 per square foot), patching holes and dips ($3 to $5 per square foot), and resurfacing ($1 to $4 per square foot). If the surface is very badly damaged, professionals can remove all of the asphalt and replace it without removing the base at a cost of $4 to $10 per square foot. Asphalt develops a particular type of cracking called alligator or spiderweb cracks, which are small fissures in the top layer that can easily be patched and sealed; left unattended, however, these cracks can cause potholes and sinkholes, which require larger repairs.
Brick driveways are traditional and stately, but they are easily damaged by falling trees, frost, roots, and erosion. Repairing brick driveways most commonly requires removing and replacing individual bricks and releveling the sand base beneath. In some cases, it will be necessary to hire landscapers to remove any trees and roots that are damaging the driveway. The average repair cost is between $700 and $2,000, including costs such as individual brick replacement ($0.50 to $2 each), sand to set the bricks ($20 to $40 per bag), and tree removal ($1,300 to $1,600 per tree).
Providing a beautiful and old-fashioned look, cobblestone driveways come in two options: One is to design the driveway with individually placed traditional cobblestones, and the second is to use concrete pavers that have been designed to look very similar to traditional cobbles without the expense of individually placing the stones. Pavers are repaired in a manner that is similar to concrete driveway repair and may occasionally need to be releveled. They are much more economical to repair at an average cost of $300 to $3,500, versus the high cost of repairing and replacing cobbles for $10 to $70 per square foot plus the cost of setting sand. While replacing broken cobblestones is expensive, the process is remarkably simple—the challenge is leveling the stones.
Repairing tiny cracks in concrete as soon as possible can save a lot of money—and headaches. Concrete crack sealing cost per foot averages $0.10 to $0.25 and can be a simple DIY job if handled immediately. Failing to seal the cracks results in water intrusion and much more expensive repair. Resurfacing to correct spalling (chipping), lifting sunken areas, patching, and replacing the whole driveway range from $3 to $8 per square foot, leaving the average cost of repairing a concrete driveway between $300 and $3,500. Promptly filling and sealing cracks and performing regular maintenance will keep this cost at the lower end of the range for a long time. This can help a homeowner put off paying the cost to build a concrete driveway to replace an old one.
Gravel or Dirt
The cost to install a gravel driveway or a dirt driveway is fairly low at $40 to $300, and these types of drives are also remarkably easy to repair. The fix is often to pack additional dirt or gravel into sunken areas and potholes at an average cost of $0.50 to $2.50 per square foot. However, gravel often has to be purchased in large quantities at a cost of $40 to $45 per ton—not a huge cost, but definitely a problem if the repair requires more gravel than what’s in a bag purchased at a home improvement store but far less than a loose ton delivered to the site. Driveway edging and regular maintenance reduce the likelihood of washouts and undermining.
A heated driveway costs a lot to install, but many homeowners think the investment is worth it for a driveway that never needs to be shoveled or plowed. Heated driveways can be a wise investment in cold climates, as long as the homeowner plans ahead; when repairs are necessary, they’re not cheap. Repairing a heated driveway requires tearing up a sizable section of the driveway surface to locate and repair the problem, and if the problem isn’t in the first location, the repair can spiral. The average repair cost is between $500 and $3,400, but if the problem with the heat system is significant, the cost can skyrocket to $25,000.
Do I Need Driveway Repair?
Sometimes the need for repair is evident: A snow plow tore the apron off the driveway and left crumbs and a sinkhole. Other times repairs seem barely necessary: Does that tiny crack really need to be filled and sealed? On some occasions, it can be hard to tell if a change in the surface of the driveway really requires attention or not.
Cracks happen in almost every type of driveway material, either from a cold climate, heavy weight on the driveway, or impact damage. Small cracks can be filled with inexpensive crack filler purchased at the home improvement store. Homeowners are advised to address them before they have the chance to get larger under the weight of a vehicle or they fill with water that freezes and deepens or widens the crack. Crack repair filler costs between $10 and $15 per bottle. Larger cracks will need professional attention, and the cost will vary based on the material.
Asphalt driveways have edges that feather into grass or soil and a connection to an apron that fans out onto the sidewalk or street. These edges are constructed of thinner layers of asphalt in order to blend with the surfaces they border, and they are prone to breakage and crumbling as a result. Laying down more solid edging to create a bridge between the thin edge and the nearby surface can reduce the damage. Unless the breakage creates a safety hazard for pedestrians or cyclists at the edge of the road, it’s not necessary to repair crumbling edges immediately—the main portion of the driveway is not compromised. It does, however, look unattractive and can indicate that there are other maintenance issues on the property. Repairs cost between $3 and $8 per square foot of asphalt or concrete.
Generally a factor only in stained concrete driveways, fading color can make a driveway look patchy and old. While not a repair that needs to be done immediately, the fading will increase over time and will detract from the appearance of the home and the perceived value. Promptly filling cracks and regularly resealing will push off the need for restaining; when it’s time, the cost will average between $7 and $15 per square foot.
Large potholes in an asphalt driveway suggest problems with drainage or the substrate and should be investigated. Smaller potholes can be filled and repaired for about $2 to $4 per square foot and should be handled as soon as possible.
Settling, Sinking, or Buckling
Driveways are heavy, and bear heavy loads, which is why it’s so critical to make sure that the compacted soil, gravel, or sand underneath the driveway is level and evenly firm. Over time, erosion and water pressure can cause the ground to shift or settle, resulting in sunken areas or cracking as a result of buckling. This can be repaired by lifting the driveway and filling underneath or pumping liquid concrete through holes in the surface to raise the sunken area. Steeled, buckling, or sunken driveway repair cost averages between $3 and $5 per square foot.
Spalling, or scaling, occurs when thin layers of concrete or brick driveways chip apart and flake away, revealing deeper layers or peeling all the way back to the aggregate under the surface layer. It occurs in cold climates as a result of the freeze and thaw cycle and sometimes as a result of a chemical burn from salt mixtures used for de-icing. It’s important but easy to fix: Simply filling the area with an appropriate patch, allowing it to cure, and sealing it should take care of the problem. The cost is about $3 to $5 per square foot or $0.50 to $3 per brick.
Driveway Repair: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Small potholes, small to medium cracks, and a bucket of surfacing material and a squeegee are reasonably inexpensive and absolutely workable for a homeowner with patience and a willingness to read directions carefully—the process isn’t hard, but each brand and product has different specifications for application and curing. Larger cracks, especially cracks that are deep or wide, and large potholes that indicate a potential drainage or undermining problem need to be addressed by a professional, especially if work underneath the slab is necessary. Full-driveway resurfacing or sealing, along with paving, requires the expertise of one of the best driveway paving companies, or those problems are likely to recur.
How to Save Money on Driveway Repair Cost
Driveway repair is not a small expense, but it’s worth paying to have it done well and quickly, as putting off the repairs usually results in much larger and more expensive repairs. There are, however, some ways to save on the cost, including the following.
- Keep up with maintenance. Promptly take care of routine maintenance projects, such as filling small cracks and regularly sealing the driveway to maintain its integrity.
- Avoid chemicals. Choose deicing chemicals carefully; look for formulations that say they’re driveway-safe, or avoid them completely by shoveling or plowing carefully and then sanding.
- Shop around. Various contractors may have different approaches and methods, as well as different cost schedules, so it’s worth collecting several estimates to compare.
- Pair up with neighbors. Talk to the neighbors, especially if the repair will involve resurfacing or repaving. Contractors are often willing to offer a bulk discount when several homes on the same street all need similar repairs or repairs that require the same equipment.
Questions to Ask About Driveway Repair
Before hiring a contractor, homeowners are advised to see that the company is licensed to do the work that needs to be done, as well as bonded and insured. Other questions that need to be answered before homeowners sign a contract are outlined below.
- How much work have you done with this type of driveway material?
- What solutions do you recommend for the repair? Are there other solutions we should consider? Why or why not?
- Do you have photos of your work with this material, or do you have references I can call to see the work you’ve done?
- What permits may be necessary for this project?
- What is the time frame of the project?
- Will you supervise the work yourself, or will there be other workers present? Who is my contact person?
- How will you protect the areas around the driveway during the repair? Who is responsible for any damage?
- How long can I expect this repair to hold? Do you offer a warranty if it fails?
- What are the payment arrangements?
Driveways aren’t often the topic of home improvement shows—for many new homeowners, they’re something of a mystery, and what to do and who to call to do the repair are similarly foggy. Driveway repair professionals can help when there’s an obvious problem, but there’s no manual for driveway maintenance that comes with a home. The following are some commonly asked questions about driveway repair and maintenance to help with some of the basic questions homeowners tend to have about driveway maintenance and repair costs.
Q. Do I need to fill cracks in my driveway?
Yes—and it needs to be done as soon as possible. Small cracks can become large cracks in a flash. The reason the cracks need to be filled is because they allow water and debris to enter the structure of the driveway. Regardless of the type of driveway, water in the structure is something to avoid. It can cause the soil underneath the driveway to erode or shift, it can freeze in colder climates and drive the material apart or break it entirely, and it can carry seeds that encourage plant roots to form underneath and grow up and through the crack. Filling cracks is a straightforward and inexpensive repair using materials that are readily available, so it’s advised that homeowners address cracks promptly when they appear.
Q. Can you pour a new concrete driveway over an old one?
If the base of the driveway is in good repair and is sound—maybe. To pour a new driveway over the top of an old one, the new material must be at least 3 to 4 inches deep. This can only be done if the base is in excellent condition: If there are large cracks or sunken portions, the new driveway will also crack and sink. In that case, it’s best to remove the old driveway entirely and pour a new one.
Q. Should I repair my concrete driveway or get a new concrete driveway?
How old is the driveway? If it’s nearing the end of its lifespan (concrete driveways can be expected to last 20 to 40 years in ideal conditions), it will probably be less expensive to replace it with a new concrete driveway. Repairing a 35-year-old slab can be like sticking a bandaid on a gaping wound—it’s really insufficient, and the owner will be filling another crack and then another and another in short order. Replacing will restart the clock on the lifespan of the driveway and reduce repair costs in the near future. If, however, the driveway is only a few years old and the damage isn’t catastrophic (a few cracks, as opposed to a massive break) repair will be less expensive and should be sufficient to keep the driveway in good shape for years to come.
Q. How do you maintain a concrete driveway?
The key to maintenance of a concrete driveway is preventing water from getting into and underneath the concrete. Moisture is the enemy, especially if there’s any possibility that it will freeze. It’s therefore important to fill cracks as soon as they appear, which has the dual benefit of preventing water from entering the slab and preventing the crack from growing larger. In addition to filling cracks, concrete driveways need to be sealed every couple of years. If the surface has spalled, or chipped, but the rest of the slab is solid, resurfacing can also be an option to preserve the structure of the existing driveway and strengthen the top of the slab.
Q. How long will a concrete driveway last?
The longevity of a concrete driveway is based on the climate, maintenance, and environmental conditions, and is significantly impacted by how carefully and completely the ground preparation and curing was handled during installation. The average lifespan is between 20 and 40 years, but with quality installation and good care in the right climate they can last even longer.
Q. Is it more expensive to maintain a concrete or asphalt driveway?
Repair costs are similar between the two materials, but asphalt driveways will require repair more often: Asphalt is more prone to breakage and cracking than concrete, so while a well-maintained asphalt driveway may last between 20 and 25 years, a well-maintained concrete driveway can last up to 40 years or longer. The asphalt driveway will cost more in the long run based on the required repairs and eventual replacement.