Are there large cracks, potholes, or other structural problems in your driveway?

If so, it could be time to replace your paved surface.

Here at Betz Works, we’ve been providing paving and sealcoating services to California homeowners for more than 30 years. 

We’ve compiled our expertise into this comprehensive guide to help you learn how to replace your driveway on your own.

Key Takeaways

  • To replace your driveway, start by planning and preparing for the project. Next, gather the tools and equipment you’ll need, prepare the site, prepare the base layer, lay the driveway material, add finishing touches like texture or edging, and clean up and maintain the new surface. 
  • To decide whether you need to repair or replace your driveway, assess the level of damage and wear and tear. Minimal damage, like small cracks, can usually be repaired, while widespread damage typically requires a full replacement. 
  • Contact Betz Works for comprehensive asphalt paving and sealcoating services for your driveway and more. 

When Should I Replace My Driveway?

Replacing your driveway is a major project, so you want to make sure you’re only doing it when you absolutely need to.

Not sure if it’s time to replace your driveway, or if you can just repair problem areas?

Here’s what to look for:

Issues That Need Repair

  • Small Cracks: If cracks are less than a quarter-inch wide, you can usually fix them with sealant or filler.
  • Potholes: Small potholes can be patched. Frequent or large potholes, on the other hand, may indicate a bigger problem.
  • Surface Discoloration: You can typically fix fading or discoloration with treatments like sealcoating.
  • Minor Drainage Issues: If water pools in certain areas, leveling the surface or adding drainage solutions might help.

Issues That Require Complete Replacement

  • Large or Widespread Cracks: Large or extensive cracks often indicate deeper structural issues that repairs can’t fix.
  • Chronic Potholes: If you’ve fixed the potholes but they keep coming back, it may mean your driveway’s foundation needs a complete overhaul. The same is true for sinkholes, which can be dangerous. 
  • Major Drainage Problems: Drainage issues that leave water sitting on your driveway will weaken the paved surface over time and usually indicate the need for a full driveway replacement.
  • Structural Damage: If your driveway is very uneven, warped, or has sunken in certain areas, the entire base of the driveway may need to be replaced.

Driveway Replacement Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

driveway replacement guide

1. Planning and Preparation

Assess the Current Driveway

Inspect your existing driveway to determine the extent of the damage and identify specific problem areas.

This will help determine the amount of material and labor needed for the replacement.

Obtain Necessary Permits

Depending on your location, you may need to obtain permits before replacing your driveway. 

Check with your city or county’s building department for more information.

Decide on the Right Materials

Research and decide on the materials that best suit your needs. Popular options include asphalt, concrete, gravel, and pavers.

Here’s a more comprehensive breakdown:



  • Cost-Effective: Cheaper to install than other materials.
  • Quick Installation: Ready for use quickly.
  • Cold Climate Friendly: Asphalt performs well in cold areas and is less likely to crack from freezing and thawing.


  • Maintenance: Needs regular sealing to keep it looking good.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Can get soft and sticky in very hot weather.


  • Durability: Very durable, usually lasts for decades.
  • Low Maintenance: Needs less upkeep compared to asphalt.
  • Versatility: Can be stamped, colored, and textured for a custom look.


  • Cost: More expensive to install than asphalt.
  • Longer Installation Time: Takes longer to cure than other materials.
  • Cold Weather Issues: Can crack under freeze-thaw conditions if not installed properly.


  • Cost-Effective: One of the cheapest options for driveways.
  • Permeable: Great drainage – can help reduce runoff and erosion.
  • Easy Installation: Simple to install, even as a DIY project.


  • Maintenance: Needs frequent upkeep, including regrading and refilling.
  • Movement: Loose stones can shift, creating ruts over time.
  • Weed Growth: Can become a hotspot for weed growth. 


  • Aesthetic Appeal: Customizable with various colors, patterns, and shapes.
  • Durability: Very durable and resistant to cracking.
  • Easy Repairs: Damaged pavers can be replaced individually.


  • Cost: One of the most expensive options due to increased materials and labor.
  • Installation Time: Requires skilled labor and takes more time to install.
  • Maintenance: Joints may need periodic refilling.

Estimate the Total Project Cost

Calculate the total cost of the project by including the price of materials, tools, and labor. 

Be sure to factor in any additional expenses such as permits, equipment rental, and potential unexpected costs. 

This comprehensive estimate will help you budget effectively and avoid financial surprises.

2. Gather the Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Essential Tools

  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Tamper
  • Concrete mixer
  • Gloves, safety glasses, and sturdy footwear

In addition to the above, you’ll also need a jackhammer or demolition hammer to remove the old driveway. 

For the new driveway, you’ll need gravel for the base layer, and either asphalt, concrete, or pavers as the primary surface material.

Depending on the material you choose, you may also need specific tools like a concrete mixer, trowel, or asphalt spreader. 

Finally, grab some marking tools like stakes and string lines, which will help you keep your edges and lines straight throughout the project. 

3. Prepare the Site

Proper site preparation is crucial for a successful driveway replacement. 

Here’s how to do it:

Clear the Area:

  • Remove any existing driveway material, such as old concrete or asphalt.
  • Get rid of debris, vegetation, and any obstacles that interfere with the site.
  • Clearly mark all utility lines to avoid damage during excavation.

Mark the Space:

  • Use stakes and string or spray paint to outline the shape of the new driveway.
  • Double-check measurements to ensure the marked area matches your planned driveway dimensions.

4. Prepare the Base

A well-prepared base is essential for the longevity and performance of your new driveway. 

Follow these steps:

Grade the Site and add Drainage

  • Use a rake to create a smooth, even grade.
  • Make sure the driveway slopes away from buildings and other structures to prevent water damage.
  • Incorporate drainage solutions such as French drains or channel drains if necessary.

Install the Sub-Base:

  • Use crushed stone or gravel as the sub-base, and spread the material evenly across the excavated area.
  • Use a plate compactor to compact the sub-base until it is firm and level.
  • Aim for a sub-base depth of 4-6 inches.
  • Add or remove sub-base material to achieve the desired level and grade.
  • Re-compact any adjusted areas to maintain a firm base.

5. Lay the Driveway Material

Next, you’ll need to add the driveway material to the prepared base. 

The method you use to do this will depend on which material you’ve chosen to work with. If you’re pouring concrete, for example, you’ll use forms to hold the concrete in place. 

If you’re using asphalt, you’ll need to apply it with specialized equipment and use a heavy roller to create a smooth and durable surface.

For best results, be sure to follow the manufacturer directions carefully and hire a pro if you believe you need additional assistance. 

6. Add the Finishing Touches

Finally, you’ll need to add the finishing touches to your new driveway. 

If you’ve used concrete or asphalt, use an edging tool to create clean edges along the borders of the driveway.

If you’ve used gravel, take one more pass over the surface to make sure it’s level and sufficiently compacted. 

If you’ve used pavers, install sturdy edge restraints to secure the pavers and prevent shifting.

7. Cleanup and Maintenance

Finally, it’s time to clean up the area and maintain your new driveway. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Remove leftover materials.
  • Dispose of all waste in accordance with local regulations.
  • Inspect the driveway regularly for signs of cracks, erosion, or wear – fix cracks or potholes promptly.
  • Avoid parking heavy vehicles on the new surface for at least 48 hours.
  • Clean the surface periodically with a mild detergent and water.
  • Reapply sealant or protective coatings at least every few years. 

How Do Pros Replace Driveways?

professional driveway replacement

Professionals like Betz Works begin by assessing the existing driveway and identifying underlying issues.

Next, the team will excavate and prepare the ground, lay down a base layer, and add the chosen driveway material.

While it may sound simple, choosing professionals like Betz Works ensures the job is done correctly and helps minimize the risk of future problems.

Bottom Line

Your driveway is a major part of your home’s curb appeal, and it should look good and function well.

Fortunately, that’s where our team comes in.

Dedicated to offering high-quality, reputable paving services for California customers, we’re here to provide reliable asphalt paving and sealcoating surfaces for your driveway.

Contact us today to learn more: 831-400-8466


How much does a driveway replacement cost?

The cost of a driveway replacement varies depending on factors like the size of the driveway, the materials used, and the complexity of the job. 

It’s also worth factoring in additional expenses like permits, drainage improvements, or the removal of the existing driveway. 

For a precise quote, give our team a call. 

What is the lifespan of a driveway?

Asphalt driveways typically last 25-30 years with proper care. 

Regular inspections and timely repairs can help extend the life of your driveway, ensuring it remains functional and aesthetically pleasing for many years.

What is the best driveway for winter?

Asphalt driveways are great for cold conditions, and can withstand even severe temperature fluctuations. 

Asphalt also retains heat better, which can help melt snow faster.

To learn more about how to winterize your driveway, check out our blog