Having a concrete drive in front of your home is a great way to keep your car off the road and away from potential damage. You see, car insurance companies always charge higher premiums when you don’t have a driveway and have to park on the road. This is because there’s more chance of vandalism and being a passive participant in an accident. But, how much will a driveway set you back?
Surprisingly, the cost of a concrete driveway is quite cheap when you compare it to some other forms of surface dressing. In fact, depending on style and size you can expect to pay between £500 and £8,000 for a well–constructed installation. Furthermore, there are ways to smarten up a concrete slab and make it look quite sophisticated, such as using a concrete stamp. And, some people even mistake a printed concrete drive for expensive block paving.
Apart from the affordability of a concrete driveway, there are many other reasons, why you should consider having one installed. Examples include low maintenance, durability and curb appeal.
The size of a typical driveway in the UK ranges from about 5.5m2 for a 1 car space up to 21m2 for a good–sized 2 car space. The average cost of a laying a concrete driveway lies somewhere around £50/m2 with labour costing between £200 and £450 per day depending on the complexity of the work. But, if you have space and money you can have a driveway as large as you want. So long as it’s entirely on your property and complies with the regulations.
Now, let’s look at these figures in more detail.
Concrete Driveway Prices
The cost of a concrete slab driveway will vary depending on the complexity of the pattern and the area of the driveway. And, most professional driveway installers know how to produce a good looking patterned driveway if that’s what you want. However, unfortunately, there are plenty of cowboys out there who think it’s a piece of cake to produce a pressed concrete slab that looks good. Therefore choose your driveway installer carefully so you end up with a professional job.
The following table shows typical average material and labour costs for a simple concrete driveway.
|Driveway size||Time taken||Material cost||Labour cost||Total cost|
|5.75m2||1 to 2 days||£250 to £400||£250 to £400||£500 to £800|
|12.25m2||2 to 3 days||£700 to £800||£600 to £700||£1,300 to £1,500|
|25m2||3 to 4 days||£1,300 to £1,500||£1,000 to £1,200||£2,300 to £2,700|
However, if you prefer a coloured and imprinted concrete driveway, costs are in the next table.
|Driveway size||Time taken||Material cost||Labour cost||Total cost|
|40m2||4 to 5 days||£1,000 to £1,200||£2,600 to £2,700||£3,600 to £3,900|
|60m2||5 to 6 days||£1,400 to £1,600||£3,500 to £3,600||£4,900 to £5,200|
|100m2||7 to 8 days||£2,300 to £2,500||£5,400 to £5,600||£7,700 to £8,100|
Remember, these costs are indicative only and exclude VAT. Also, you’ll find that prices are more expensive in London and the Southeast of England.
Alternatively, you can use this concrete driveway cost calculator to give you a rough estimate for your new concrete drive.
Concrete Drive Cost Factors
Various cost factors affect the price of a new concrete driveway installation. Probably, the driveway area is the obvious factor and, the one that has the most effect on costs too. For example, a drive big enough to hold a single car might cost up to about £800. Whereas, if you have grown up kids, each with a car of their own, a driveway to hold 3 or 4 cars might cost around £3,500.
Have you an existing drive?
Do you already own a driveway? If so, then you’ll already have foundations. However, if you’re building one from scratch it’ll cost slightly more because of the soil excavation and foundation installation.
Whether you’re removing an existing driveway or building one from scratch, you’ll always need somewhere to put soil and rubble. So, a waste skip (or two) is the perfect way to get rid of unwanted rubble safely and responsibly.
Now, you probably haven’t thought of this one. But, as you probably know, concrete is a liquid before setting. Just imagine, what happens if you pour concrete onto a slope.
It’s obvious, the wet slurry will try to move downhill and overflow the shuttering. The solution might be to reduce the water content of the mix, giving you less time to work with the concrete. Or, pour the concrete in smaller slabs, so there’s less gradient over the length of each one. However, this solution needs more shuttering.
You’re exempt from planning permission if you have a permeable driveway. Otherwise, you must provide drainage to a soakaway, lawn or border so it will drain naturally. So, the extent of the required drainage might increase the costs considerably.
Patterned or not?
You can either have a simple tamped finished or use a concrete stamp to produce many different patterns and effects. If you combine the stamp with concrete colouring, you can simulate the appearance of many common driveway materials, such as cobbles, paving slabs, slate and bricks.
Additional Extra Costs
Some other additional costs don’t have anything to do with the driveway construction. But, they add sophistication to your new driveway and finish the job properly.
There are many types of gate you can add to the end of the driveway to shut yourself away from the world. These are especially useful if you have small children or pets that you need to keep under control. You can even install an electric gate that opens and closes using a remote control or a security sensor. A typical standard driveway gate will cost anything from £500 to £1,000.
After having your driveway installed, the surrounding flower borders and lawn might look trampled. Therefore, plan some landscaping at the end of the job to finish things off and make everything look great. Landscaping including new plants should cost between £80 to £150/m2.
It’s no good having a new driveway and entrance gate if the boundary wall looks tatty. There are different styles to choose from, but a typical wall costs between £800 to £1,200.
However, you might prefer a new garden fence rather than a wall. A fence provides a much softer effect than a wall. And, will blend into the surroundings better. There are many different styles and materials you can make a fence from, so the cost will range from £500 to £1,500.
An outside light, fitted to a motion sensor will help you when you get home late in the evening. Not only does it help you get around, but also serves to frighten intruders away. Security lights will cost you from £10 to £200 depending on their sophistication.
As an add-on to the security light, why not install a CCTV system covering the driveway and other parts of your property? Prices range from £200 to about £1,000 depending on the number of cameras and other gimmicks.
Concrete Driveway Benefits
Concrete is much cheaper than many other types of driveway surface. Examples include block, paving, cobbles, and slate.
Although correctly installing concrete slabs takes skill, it’s easier than installing many other types of driveway. For this reason, it’s probably the cheapest driveway surface you can buy.
Patterns and colours
Most builder’s merchants, DIY stores, and specialist driveway companies stock a variety of different colours and pattern stamps. Probably, you’ll find that your finished driveway has a unique pattern and won’t be like any other in the area.
Let’s hope the driveway installer constructs yours according to the industry guidelines. If so, you’ll find that the surface needs very little maintenance and won’t have weeds growing up through the slab. Although common liquids like engine oil will soak into and stain the porous concrete surface. You can apply a surface sealer for protection or change the colour once the concrete has dried. Concrete expands and contracts with changes in temperature like most materials, and this, combined with poor foundations, are the most common causes of cracking. However, if your installer adds expansion joints between slabs and fills the gaps with clear silicone sealant, you’ll find that the chances of cracks appearing will be almost zero.
Laying a concrete driveway: Step by Step
Set out the perimeter
Initially, drive wooden stakes into the ground around the perimeter of the proposed driveway. Ensure you have them at the corners and spaced evenly along each side.
Add some shuttering
Next, fix some sturdy wooden boards to the stakes to completely enclose the area. This will contain the wet concrete until it cures. Make sure the boards are level and follow the contours of the ground.
After this, dig out the enclosed area until you reach hard subsoil. The finished concrete should be at least 100mm thick so you will have to dig down to at least this depth and then dig a further 100mm for hardcore. Once you’ve laid the hardcore, compact the rubble so it’s firm and level. Now, you have a good solid foundation for the concrete.
Before you move onto the next stage, install the drainage channels along the edge. Then, these will discharge rainwater away from the concrete, and soak harmlessly into the ground.
Cover the compressed hardcore with a weed prevention horticultural membrane to stop any weeds from finding their way up through the concrete. Alternatively, you can use a plastic sheet which has the added advantage of lubricating the joints between the concrete and hardcore to help with expansion and contraction. Next, place some concrete reinforcing mesh on top of this. Make sure you place the mesh about 50mm above the membrane to allow room for the concrete to completely enclose it. You can support the mesh using blocks of expanded polystyrene. Tie the mesh together using wire, sold for this purpose. The reinforcing mesh will spread the load of anything resting on the concrete and reduce the chance of cracks appearing.
Pour the concrete
Using ready-mixed concrete is probably the best and easiest way to ensure the correct amount of concrete at the correct consistency using the correct mix. Tell the ‘ready-mix’ company what you want the concrete for, and they will mix it to the correct proportions for the job. Pour the concrete slurry inside the shuttering making sure it finds its way under the steel mesh and fully covers it. If necessary, you can use a concrete vibrator to make the slurry flow easier. Allow the concrete to find a level slightly higher than the shuttering.
Next, take a straight length of 100mm x 50mm timber long enough to reach across the driveway. Supporting the timber on the shuttering, saw it back and forth while moving from one end of the slab to the other. This action will scrape off the excess concrete, which you can fill into hollows below the level of the timber. Eventually, you’ll have a flat slab of concrete. Next, use a concrete float trowel, and smooth the surface in wide arcs a little bit at a time, compressing the surface as you go. This will give you a smooth finish.
Cut the grooves
Before the concrete has fully cured, cut expansion grooves across the driveway, about 1m apart to a depth of 25mm. Make sure they’re parallel to each other and evenly spaced. Squirt clear silicone sealant into the grooves to prevent dirt and water from collecting.
Your vehicle needs traction. But, at present, you have a smooth surface. If you leave it like this, the concrete might end up slippery in frost, snow and rain. So, take a stiff–bristled broom and brush the concrete surface from edge to edge. To ensure the ‘roughening’ gives an attractive finish, brush in a consistent direction at all times.
Next, allow the concrete to cure for about 7 to 10 days. During this time, you mustn’t drive any vehicles onto the surface. If it’s hot and sunny weather, don’t allow the concrete to dry too quickly. Otherwise, the concrete will crack. Sprinkle the surface with water, lay wet blankets on the surface or use a sheet of polyethene. The idea is for the concrete to set by chemical reaction, not by removal of moisture. If it’s allowed to cure at its own pace, the water will naturally disappear anyway.
Once the concrete has fully set, remove the shuttering. However, be careful. it’s very easy to damage the slab at this stage, so take your time and do it carefully.
Using the driveway
Although you can safely walk on cured concrete after 2 days, you can’t park your vehicle for at least a month. This will give the surface a chance to fully harden and achieve its curing strength.
You can hide the rough edges of the driveway, either by backfilling soil into the cavity or by cementing kerb stones into place.
Other than this, there’s a variety of different finishes you can add to make the surface look good.
Common Concrete Patterns
- Cobblestones. These are a traditional and lightly textured stamped pattern.
- Random stone. This is heavily textured and has a pleasing random pattern.
- Wood. This surface looks like multiple open wood grain from 150mm wide planks.
- Herringbone. A smooth surface with sharply cut corners and edges. Looks just like real block paving.
- Slate. Deep texture, looks like heavy cut slate with a fractured edge.
Border & Edging
These are just a few of the many edging styles available. You can buy them from all good builder’s merchants and DIY stores.
- Old town edging looks like a slate grey traditional weathered paving.
- Victorian edging is a single–sided grey paving with a scalloped top edge and vertical lines.
- Old granite paving looks like granite and has a rope pattern running along the top edge.
- Sawtooth traditional is a single–sided Brindle red paving edging.
- Old town limestone has a single–sided weathered effect.
There are various types of stains developed for colouring concrete.
- ‘Acid stain’ gives earth tones and soft blue/green.
- ‘Concrete dye’ has almost unlimited colours and can be mixed directly with the concrete or can be diluted first.
- ‘Water–based stain’ has nearly unlimited colours. Different colours can be mixed to produce other hues.
- ‘integral colours’ are limited to pastel shades and earth tones.
- ‘Dry shake colour hardener’ comes in many more colours than ‘integral colours’. Its tones are more muted than concrete dyes or water–based stains.
Planning Permission & Building Regulation
Driveways that are smaller than 5m2 don’t need planning permission at all. Those drives larger than this won’t need permission if they’re made from a material that’s permeable to water. However, if the surface is impermeable, such as concrete, you must provide drainage channels to divert the rainwater to a soakaway, flower borders or area of lawn. These requirements prevent urban flooding due to impermeable surfaces in a built-up area.
If you need to cross a pavement from your new driveway to the road, you must ask permission from the council to install dropped kerbstones. Also, the pavement might need strengthening to protect underlying services.
Building regulations don’t usually apply when installing a new driveway. However, any alterations you make must not decrease the accessibility of a property. For example, including steps when changing levels will contravene the regulations, especially regarding disabled access to the house.
Concrete Drive FAQ
Is it cheaper to asphalt or concrete a driveway?
Initially, asphalt is definitely cheaper than concrete. But, in the long term concrete is cheaper than asphalt because it needs less ongoing maintenance and repair.
How thick should the concrete be for a driveway?
For a normal domestic driveway, without reinforcing, the concrete should be at least 100mm thick. If the concrete has to support vehicles heavier than a normal domestic car, you should have concrete of 125mm thick. It’s even better if you can include some concrete reinforcing mesh into the driveway to help spread the load and prevent cracks forming.
What is the best base for a concrete driveway?
The best base is about 100mm of compressed hardcore (75mm to dust). This will compress firmly and give stable support for the concrete.
How long do concrete driveways last?
If you’ve constructed the concrete driveway according to the industry guidelines, you can expect it to last about 30 years. However, this might vary depending on external factors such as extreme weather, regular maintenance, quality of materials and type of concrete mix used.
Is wire mesh necessary in a concrete driveway?
No, it’s not necessary. But, it is a good idea. Steel reinforcing mesh provides additional structural capacity, especially if the driveway experiences heavy traffic.
Should I resurface my concrete driveway?
By resurfacing your driveway, you’ll make it look good as new, without the trouble of removing the old concrete and replacing it. However, don’t make the mistake of resurfacing if your driveway has a structural problem. If this is the cause of its poor appearance, remove the concrete back to its foundations and fix the underlying problem.
Get Concrete Driveway Quotes
Installing a new concrete driveway will give your home a new lease of life. Therefore, if you want to find out how much a concrete driveway costs, complete the form on this page. Then, you’ll receive 3 or 4 quotes from experienced driveway installers local to you.