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Driveways are permanent, low-maintenance additions to your home that can improve its appearance, give kids a safe place to ride scooters, decrease erosion, and make keeping your car clean easier. Building one can be labor-intensive and costly, but for folks that aren’t afraid to tackle big jobs, building your own driveway can be a rewarding project, just as long as you keep some safety rules in mind.

It wasn’t long ago when deciding on a driveway material was easy: asphalt or concrete. Today, the “concrete” choice has expanded to include an astounding array of decorative options. Sometimes referred to as a cement driveway or as painted concrete, decorative concrete is one of the most reasonable ways to spruce up the entrance to your home.

The Proper Driveway Installation Process In 4 Simple Steps


Learn more about the driveway installation process, so you’re ready to undergo your home’s next significant upgrade!

Facing the prospect of getting a new driveway can be stressful. Knowing what’s involved in the driveway installation process can help you prepare for when you’re ready to tackle your next big home improvement project.

For starters, let’s assume you’re working with a professional, someone who has gone through the driveway installation process before. Anyone who’s installed a new driveway in the past knows it’s not exactly a DIY project.

This article will present, in broad strokes, the steps involved in the driveway installation process for both concrete and asphalt, the two most popular driveway materials.

So you’re getting a new driveway.

If you’re reading a post on the driveway installation process, it’s safe to say your driveway is beyond repair. Read this article if you don’t know how to tell the difference.

A driveway is a significant investment. It’s natural to be curious about what you’re investing in, so you can face the project without being surprised by unforeseen steps taking place outside your home.

While this article should serve as a primer for what’s involved in the driveway installation process, your chosen contractor will be able to guide you through the steps involved in your particular project.

The driveway installation process

These are the four primary steps of the driveway installation process, in condensed form:

  1. Foundation preparation
  2. Initial material
  3. Manipulation of material
  4. Hardening

Let’s take a look at each of these steps for both concrete and asphalt.

(You might be surprised to find that the preparation requires the most steps. As the saying goes: measure twice, cut once!)

Foundation preparation


Remove grass and debris to ensure a stable soil foundation

Install wood forms around perimeter sections

Add gravel, then grade and compact

Lay metal reinforcement over gravel


Prepare the surface for water drainage

Lay asphalt foundation to a specific thickness

Compact asphalt foundation

Ensure foundation stability

Initial Material


Pour concrete, ensuring even distribution throughout wood forms


Lay down binder layer (asphalt made of large particles in oil)

Lay down surface layer (asphalt made of fine particles, provides smooth surface)

Manipulation of Material


Finish the surface–a process called floating–leaving the surface smooth


Joints and transitions created (seams where the asphalt meets other surfaces)

Final roll. The roller comes out to compact the surface one last time!



Curing. It will take at least a week before you can drive on your new driveway.


A new asphalt driveway is ready to drive on within 1-3 days.

What is the cheapest type of driveway?

The cheapest type of driveway, overall, is gravel. However, this type of driveway isn’t recommended as a long-term solution for any driveway needs.

Of the two most common types of driveways designed to stand up to years of consistent use, asphalt and concrete, asphalt is the cheaper option.

How much does it cost to make a driveway?

The cost of making a driveway can vary widely. The primary determinant is material, but the geographic location, time of year, and timeline can affect the bottom line.

Since this article focused on asphalt and concrete, let’s focus on those. Asphalt driveways run from between $5-$15 per square foot, and a concrete driveway can cost anywhere from $10-$20 per square foot.

It’s important to note that concrete doesn’t have an upper limit–the amount of decorative touches possible make this material the most versatile.

Can I do my own concrete or asphalt driveway?

In theory, you can, if you have unlimited access to time and heavy machinery.

In reality, if you aren’t sure, the answer is no. The type of person who could lay their own asphalt or concrete driveway would already have experience with this type of work and would be able to determine for themselves if the cost-savings are worth the intensive amount of labor.

A driveway specialist will make your life easier.

Working with someone who knows the ins and outs of the driveway installation process will make the entire ordeal as simple as possible. An expert can guide you in the particulars of your situation. They can give a granular account of the project based on your unique driveway needs not possible in this type of article.

When shopping around, ask to see samples of prior work. And don’t forget to ask questions about anything you’re unclear with; a professional doesn’t mind answering!

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