How to estimate the gravel needed for a driveway

Written by w d adkins
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A properly constructed gravel driveway is an inexpensive alternative to asphalt or concrete and can provide years of reliable service. The secrets to serviceable gravel driveways are proper drainage, digging out the roadbed adequately and layering the gravel correctly. The base should be large, baseball-sized stones with progressively smaller-sized gravel layers built on top. If you are simply renovating an existing gravel driveway, you'll probably need a much smaller amount of gravel.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Measuring wheel (optional)
  • Calculator

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  1. 1

    Measure the length and width of the driveway. For short driveways, you can use a measuring tape. For longer distances, you'll probably want to rent a measuring wheel from a building supply store. Multiply the length by the width to find the square footage of your driveway .

  2. 2

    Determine how deep the gravel needs to be. For new driveways, you should dig out the bed before buying the gravel in order to make an accurate estimate. In general, you'll probably need a 10-inch to 12-inch thickness for a new driveway. For renovating an existing drive, about two inches is usually sufficient. Express this as a decimal fraction of a foot. For example, two inches is 0.17 feet.

  3. 3

    Multiply the square footage by the desired thickness. For example, if the square footage is 1500 and you want a layer of 0.17 feet, multiply 0.17 times 1500 for a total of 250 cubic feet. Convert this to cubic yards by dividing by 27 (250/27 = 9.25 cubic yards).

  4. 4

    Estimate the gravel for a driveway by weight. Gravel is usually sold by the ton. One cubic yard contains about 1247 Kilogram of gravel, or 1 3/8 tons. So multiply the amount from Step 3 (9.25 cubic yards) by 1 3/8 for a total of 12.7 tons. Add about 10 per cent to ensure you have enough and to deal with unexpected situations. For this example, that means you need about 14 tons of gravel.

Tips and warnings

  • Hang on to any leftover gravel. It will to come in handy for many home and garden projects.

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