From foundations and steps to driveways and patios, concrete is a durable and versatile building material that can be used in countless projects in and around your home. What’s more, it requires less maintenance than many alternative materials.
But before you rush out to hire a contractor or pour a slab, it’s important understand that the true cost of a concrete project involves more than just the material itself. A number of factors—from labor to delivery—should be factored into your final price when you’re making plans and setting a budget.
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So how much does concrete cost?
On average, concrete costs $98 per cubic yard. To estimate the cost of your home improvement project, you’ll need to calculate the volume of the form you need poured. You can do that by multiplying the length, width and depth of the area you have in mind.
The typical depth of a concrete slab is four inches, or a third of a foot. So, if your project is a 10-foot by 10-foot patio, you would need about 33 cubic feet of concrete (10 x 10 x 0.33). Divide that number by 27 (the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard) and you get 1.2 cubic yards of concrete. It’s a good idea to add 10% to this number to cover yourself against any spills and miscalculations. It costs far less to have extra concrete on hand than to pay for second delivery.
Once you’ve calculated how much concrete you’ll need for your project, consider some of the other expenses involved to get a more accurate estimate of cost.
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What factors contribute to the total cost?
Some companies charge by the cubic yard to deliver a load of concrete to your home while others have a standard delivery charge of between $60 and $200. If your project requires less than a full truckload (about 10 cubic yards), you might be charged between $15 and $20 for every cubic yard less than a full load you’ve ordered.
Concrete is poured into temporary forms that allow the material to settle evenly into the correct shape. Creating that formwork is labor-intensive and costs around $3.30 per square foot. Concrete is also often reinforced with wire mesh that provides strength and prevents cracking. That mesh costs between $1 and $2 per square foot installed.
While four inches of concrete might be thick enough for a walkway or pool deck, a slab which needs to support more weight—such as a driveway—might need to be thicker. The added depth can raise the price accordingly.
Concrete often needs a stabilized surface prepared for under the slab. This process could involve removing, leveling and compacting soil and can cost between $50-$70 an hour. In some cases, a base layer of sand or gravel is added on top of graded soil to provide better support. The extra preparation typically runs $12-$18 per cubic yard.
Adding color to concrete is one way to improve its aesthetic appeal. This is done by staining the finished product with a colored sealer which can cost between $2 and $4 per square foot.
How do you get the best price?
Like any home improvement project, the true cost of your concrete project will vary based not only on the particulars of your situation, but your location and the availability of materials. That’s why it’s important to get multiple estimates from local contractors, compare prices and check references from other customers to find an option that best fits your budget and needs.