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The best method for creating a cheap driveway is to install it personally. Driveways may be made of concrete, gravel, or asphalt. Whether creating one as a do-it-yourself project or allowing a contractor to do the work, gravel is typically the most cost-saving.
Before beginning the project, take into account the cost of the supplies which will be necessary to complete the work. Regardless of the material used for the driveway, the area should be comprised of well-compacted, hard soil. This can often be accomplished by cutting out the area planned for the driveway using a tractor or large rotary cutter. These tools may be rented if they are not already owned.
Concrete and asphalt both require a gravel base prior to installation, and require that the homeowner purchase enough gravel and additional material to cover the area if such a base is not already in place. Stone typically costs between $1 and $3 US Dollars (USD), while gravel can cost between $0.50 and $2 USD. Either material may be used to cover the path alone, without the addition of concrete or asphalt, and will generally require new stone every three to five years. This may be purchased in bulk from a home improvement store or a local quarry. Quarries often offer more affordable pricing than retailers, and can load the material directly into the back of a truck.
Long driveways may also require a heavy edging material to prevent dirt and gravel from washing away. Tree trunks with the limbs removed are an excellent cheap driveway lining material. Railroad ties, bricks, and large landscaping rocks are other popular edging materials that may be purchased from local home improvement stores.
Macadam is usually the first step between a gravel and an asphalt driveway, and is generally a moderately inexpensive material. This kind of surface consists of gravel sprayed with liquid tar to hold it in place. It ranges in cost between $1 and $4 USD per square foot. Depending on the availability of materials, macadam may need to be installed by a contractor. This surface can last between six and ten years before requiring maintenance.
Asphalt usually costs about $5 USD per square foot, in addition to the cost of a gravel base, and must be installed by a contractor. This option can last up to 30 years, depending on weather in the area and the use of the driveway. It must typically be resealed every three years to prevent cracking.
Concrete is also a popular material for driveways, though it is more costly than gravel and asphalt, and cannot be considered a cheap driveway material in terms of up front costs. It should generally only be installed by a professional as it requires mixing and setting to create an even finish that will not crack. It can cost more than $10 USD per square foot in addition to the gravel base. Concrete driveways may offer long-term savings, however, because they are more durable than gravel, often lasting up to 50 years.
Beware of anyone who claims they can install a concrete driveway for a ridiculously low price. Scam artists show up and do this every spring. It's much more effective to put down a gravel driveway yourself than to get a concrete one that will fall apart within a year.
How do you know when scammers are out selling driveways? Check for updates from your state attorney general's office -- the better offices keep up on the latest scams and warn consumers about them.
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