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Price guide

9 min read

A Guide to Asphalt Paving Prices per Square Foot

Pave an Asphalt Driveway
Pave an Asphalt Driveway
Price guide

9 min read

A Guide to Asphalt Paving Prices per Square Foot

Price guideA Guide to Asphalt Paving Prices per Square Foot

Are you planning on paving your driveway with asphalt, concrete, or paving stones? Prices typically range between $3 to $20 per square foot, depending on the chosen material and the surface area to pave. Several factors, such as lifespan, thickness, and upkeep are also likely to affect the final price tag. Learn how you can benefit from the best value-based pricing for your residential paving project. 

How Much Does It Cost to Pave an Asphalt Driveway?

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Cost of a Residential Asphalt Drive

Paving a driveway with asphalt typically costs between $5 to $20 per square foot. To lower project costs as much as possible, you can always opt for recycled asphalt. 

As part of your construction costs, remember to budget for maintenance fees, such as resurfacing. Note that it's best to add an asphalt sealer once every two years to strengthen the surface against normal wear and tear. There are three different types of asphalt driveway sealers, and they're distinguished by their base substance:

  • Acrylic

  • Bitumen

  • Bitumen and polymer

For example, acrylic-based asphalt sealers retail for about $35 for 15 litres, which cover 624 square feet (58 m²).

Cost of a Concrete Driveway

Concrete pavement costs run along the same lines as the prior: $7-$15/sq.ft. Although concrete is a tad more expensive than the cheapest version of asphalt, it’s still a worthwhile option.

This sort of pavement also requires some kind of upkeep and care to maintain a decent-looking driveway. As such, plan on adding a concrete sealer every year, which retails for about $50 for 4 litres, which coats 430 sq.ft. (40 m²).

Cost of a Paving Stone Drive

Paving your drive with individual paving stones comes out to $10 to $25 per square foot. This is the most expensive material that will be mentioned in this article. Concrete is made from a mixture of sand, cement, and aggregates, and it’s also more expensive to install. However, it has a few worthwhile upsides:

  • Excellent lifespan (30 years)

  • Quick installation process (paving blocks)

  • Wide array of colours

Albeit paving stones solely require minimal maintenance, applying a clear coating over your driveway will ensure that said surface is protected adequately.

The cost of clear coatings differs from one product to the next. For example, protective coatings intended for outdoor paving stones, with either a wet-like look or a glossy finish, retail for $215 for 19 litres. 

You can also choose to swap out the polymeric sand every 5 to 10 years and clean the pavers once every two to three years. 

How Much Is Asphalt per Square Foot?

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Cost Comparison: Concrete vs Asphalt vs Paving Stones





$5 - $20/sq.ft.

$35 (624 sq.ft. - every two years)


$7 - $15/sq.ft.

$50 (430 sq.ft - every year)

Paving Stones

$10 - $25/sq.ft.

$215 - $400 (polymeric sand - every 10 years)

What Are the 6 Factors Affecting Asphalt Paving Costs?

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Asphalt Type

When opting for asphalt pavement, you can always choose between standard asphalt or reclaimed asphalt. When it comes to an asphalt driveway, the latter is the eco-friendliest of choices. Moreover, the quality of the material is up to standards. In fact, it’s just as reliable as non-recycled asphalt. Hence why Ontario favours reclaimed asphalt when paving the province’s roadways, aligning with its mission of having the greenest roads in Canada. 

Impact of Seasonal Variations on Asphalt Costs

Seasons don’t have much to do with the cost of asphalt but said paving material can’t be installed randomly throughout the year. Indeed, asphalt-related work must be undertaken during optimal weather forecasts:

  • Ambient temperature between 4°C and 18°C (40°F and 65°F)

  • Roadway temperature between 10°C and 21°C (50°F and 70°F)

  • No overnight freeze

  • Dry surface area

As such, asphalt work must be done between May 1st and September 30th in Quebec. Consider these dates prior to reaching out to a contractor, ensuring they have time to schedule your asphalt driveway work before the first freeze sets in. 

Surface Area to Pave

Naturally, the bigger the area, the more expensive your project will be. However, the more square footage there is, the lower the price per square foot.

Excavation Depth

We detailed everything there is to know about asphalt driveway foundations in another article (French only) dedicated to the subject matter. Let this be a reminder of the depth to which the driveway’s foundation must be dug based on your property’s soil type: 

  • Sandy soil: 12 to 18 inches deep (30 - 45 cm)

  • Clay soil: At least 18 inches deep (45 cm)

Without a doubt, depth variations will directly impact project costs.

Adding a Geotextile Membrane

You can also choose to add geotextile fabrics, provided your asphalt driveway’s soil is sandy. On the other hand, geotextile membranes are mandatory when working in clay soil.

In fact, geotextile membranes shield your foundation from rising groundwater. Sparring its use equals gambling with your installation’s overall lifespan. 

Hired Company

Reach out to paving services companies prior to choosing a specific contractor for your new asphalt driveway installation. Why? Because prices differ a lot from one company to another. The culprit: the quality of the finished work. 

Installing asphalt calls for an installation technique with steps that must be mastered perfectly. Here’s one of many examples: once the final asphalt layer is poured, the surface must be compacted. Doing so means the air volume inside the material will drop from 15-20% to 8%. The goal here is to level out the asphalt surface while also stripping its top layer.

If the air volume in the asphalt drops below 2% due to an excessively powerful compacting process, the asphalt won’t expand properly when exposed to temperature changes. Said lack of air will result in liquid penetrant issues, causing the asphalt’s instability.

Therefore, don’t go out of your way to seek out the cheapest contractor, but rather one that has an RBQ licence and the most experience and know-how. 

Costs Associated with Asphalt Installation

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Land Preparation for Asphalt Installation

Making an asphalt driveway calls for a lot of steps, and it starts with excavation work. To do so, you can use an excavator. If you decide not to hire a contractor for the excavation process, and carry out the project yourself, bear in mind the mandatory ¼ inch per square foot slope, meaning a 2% incline. 

Before moving on to the next steps, you have to select the right-sized granular material. Said material must measure 0-¾ inch or 0-½ inch. 

Now that the intended area has been excavated and the material quality is as expected, you can start looking into the follow-up steps. 

Asphalt Pavement Installation Process

Above all, protect your asphalt driveway’s foundation, especially if you live along the St. Lawrence River, or in a Clay Belt-like area. A geotextile fabric will help protect the base of your installation from rising groundwater.

But, most importantly, don’t overlook the importance of drainage. Without proper drainage, your asphalt driveway will unfortunately have a very brief lifespan. Remember the mandatory 2% slope. Said grading must be preserved throughout the asphalt pavement installation process. Doing so prevents water from seeping into the pavement, causing it to crack on account of the following: 

  • Freeze-thaw cycles

  • Shrinkage (lack of moisture)

  • Expansion (clay moisture) 

Another important aspect, which is closely linked to your project’s surface area, is the slightly concave shape of your asphalt driveway.

Indeed, if the surface area you intend on paving is rather decent, make sure the asphalt pavement’s midpoint is higher than its edges. This allows the water to drain downward, toward the edges of the pavement, rather than pooling in the middle. 

How Thick Should an Asphalt Driveway Be?

It should be between 2.5 to 3 inches (60 to 75 mm) prior to compacting, so 2 inches (50 mm) post-compacting. Two inches of compacted asphalt will suffice to support your vehicle(s). Why? Because the asphalt won’t actually be supporting any heavy loads, the foundation will.  

The asphalt’s thickness solely serves to withstand the pressure of the wheels, which is then transferred over to the foundation. As such, bear in mind that your project is a collection of individual components, coming together as a whole. Your installation must comply with the best practices, from the foundation to the sealer, which is the final step to completing your asphalt drive. 

Cost of Installing an Asphalt Driveway

The overall price varies based on the surface area along with the type of soil found on your property since, depending on its composition, it will either be easy to excavate or not. 

As such, we can’t give you an accurate price. However, to give you a ballpark idea, start with pricing ranging between $3 and $33 per square foot while, on average, costs are between $5 and $20 per square foot. 

Asphalt Maintenance and Average Lifespan

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The Lifespan of an Asphalt Driveway

If your asphalt drive was perfectly executed and is well maintained year after year, its service life can span 25 years. Beyond that, the surface coating will be entirely ineffective.  

More precisely, note that material quality may drop by 40% over the first 15 years, then by another 40% over the following 5 years. In other words, after 20 years, your asphalt pavement will show significant signs of wear and tear. 

Asphalt Resurfacing

Once asphalt hits the 20-year mark, or once the surface is rough to the touch, it's time to consider resurfacing. Doing so means filling in all the cracks or holes, and levelling out the bumps that formed over the years on the asphalt surface. 

However, resurfacing isn’t always on the table. This is especially true when adding a new layer of asphalt would mean flattening out the surface and removing any sloping, which could lead to serious drainage-related issues.  

If your contractor ensures resurfacing is a possibility, they will proceed as such: 

  1. Clean the driveway’s surface

  2. Apply a bonding agent

  3. Add a layer of warm-mix asphalt (2-inch thick layer minimum)

  4. Apply a sealer (2-3 months later)

Asphalt Maintenance Costs

Apply an asphalt sealer every two years. As we already mentioned, while a 15-litre container is $35, it does coat a 624 sq.ft. surface (58 m²), and said application can be done by an industry professional. If so, this undertaking will cost about $400. Over an 18-year period, plan on spending $3,600 in maintenance work.  

Cost-Effective and Eco-Friendly Alternatives

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Cold-Mix Asphalt

Cold-mix asphalt is a material made in temperatures ranging between 10°C and 30°C, compared to those ranging from 138°C to 160°C of warm-mix asphalt. Cold-mix asphalt is made with aggregate, sand, and bitumen, and is mainly used for repairing warm-mix asphalt work.

At times, cold-mix asphalt is used during the finishing stages of a driveway, but never on long-spanning surfaces (under six square feet).

Said type of asphalt can be: 

  • 0°C cold-mix asphalt

  • -20°C cold-mix asphalt

It can be used on your driveway to repair cracks, potholes, or gaps no matter the temperature.  

Recycled Asphalt

Recycled asphalt has a different composition. In Quebec, reclaimed asphalt complies with standard 4202 regarding asphalt concrete, which distinguishes two types of recycled asphalt based on their unique composition:

  • 20% recycled asphalt aggregates (roads)

  • 3% reclaimed asphalt shingles (roofing)

Said values apply to surface layers only. When it comes to the base course or any other layers, it may be that recycled asphalt aggregates make up 40% of the mixture. 

However, there are specially-made mixtures that are done with close to 100% recycled asphalt aggregates or 25% reclaimed asphalt shingles. In such mixtures, there’s purpose-specific emulsion added (2%) and water (2.5%).

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Last modified 2024-05-31

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