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Loose Fill Paving Cost Estimator

When you’re trying to cut costs on outdoor home improvement project, the use of loose fill paving is a common option that offers a budget-conscious and still aesthetically pleasing solution to everything from driveways to landscaping. The cost of loose paving materials varies considerably, however, based on the types of loose fill you use and how much you need. Learn more about your outdoor paving options today.

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Table of Contents

  1. Loose Fill Paving Cost
  2. Loose Fill Costs vs. Other Pavers
  3. Loose Fill Paving Options
  4. Advantages of Loose Fill Pavers
  5. Disadvantages of Loose Fill Pavers
  6. Common Problems with Loose Fill Pavers
  7. DIY or Hire A Pro?
  8. Find A Pro

Loose Fill Paving Cost

There’s no such thing as a standard price for loose fill paving because there’s a number of materials that fall under this umbrella. Therefore, when you’re considering this type of project for your home, it’s important to specify the type of loose fill you plan to add and compare it to the associated permanent or standard paving option. For example, for driveways, compare the cost of compact gravel to asphalt.

Loose fill paving material is also priced differently — by the weight, square foot or cubic yard — depending on the standard practice for that material's industry. The amount you need can further impact prices because discounts are often available for larger loads. Here's a look at common prices and pricing methods for popular loose fill paving material options:

Pea Gravel

  • Maximum Avg. Cost: $30 per ton
  • Minimum Avg. Cost: $55 per ton

Driveway Gravel (Compacted Gravel)

  • $0.75–$3 per square foot

Rubber Mulch

  • $9–$10 per 40 lb. bag or 1 cubic yard


  • $25–$40 per ton

Wood Chips

  • $35–$50 per cubic yard

Loose Fill Costs vs. Other Pavers

Clearly, you have a lot of options for loose fill paving, just like you have many options for standard paving such as brick and stone. The table below compares those standard paver prices to some of the most common loose fill options.

Paver Type

Paver Form

Avg. Cost for 200 Square Feet of Paving

Pea Gravel



Wood Chips




Standard Solid



Standard Solid



Standard Solid


Loose Fill Paving Options

When you’re making the decision to add loose fill paving to your outdoor space, it’s important to consider more than just cost. There’s a variety of loose fill paving options in terms of both materials available and placement area, which allows you to truly personalize any loose fill application to fit your needs, aesthetic and budget.

Technically speaking, loose fill paving is more than one type or one price — it’s more a family of options. Each of the most common loose fill paving selections, however, offers you a different look and set of benefits. These include:

Gravel or Pea Gravel

Gravel or pea gravel is one of the most flexible loose paving options that’s used in a variety of outdoor applications, from playgrounds to driveways. It comes in different shapes, sizes and colors, which all make it easy to personalize to a space or add into a landscape design for a more artful application.


Because of its fine grit, sand is one of the best loose fill options to use in tight spaces, such as between pavers and in gardens. It also fits well into playspaces due to its shock absorption.

Recycled Gravel/Asphalt (RAP)

Recycled asphalt project, or RAP for short, is a common "green" landscaping material that many homeowners choose as an alternative to asphalt or gravel driveways. Because the material used to produce it is already in use somewhere, it’s more environmentally friendly and often cheaper than other gravel options.

Wood Chips

The other common loose fill option, wood chips, is probably most popularly found in gardens and in landscaping applications, where it’s called mulch. However, wood chips are also popular for playgrounds because they absorb shocks from falls.

Advantages of Loose Fill Pavers

Advantages of Loose Fill Pavers

The main advantage of loose fill paving is the cost compared to traditional paving products such as brick or asphalt. Offered at a fraction of the cost, loose fill, when properly applied, can last just as long as other options and look just as attractive and personal. Loose fill paving can even be elevated to the artistic realm by combining a variety of stone or gravel colors into a single design within landscaping.

Disadvantages of Loose Fill Pavers

The main disadvantage of loose fill paving comes in the form of maintenance. Because this type of paving is only semi-permanent, it needs more care than other pavers do. In addition, in certain applications, such as driveways, the use of traditional paving can add significant aesthetic and real value to your home. Professional, finished outdoor spaces with permanent solutions are part of a home's overall value, and the budget-conscious nature of loose fill paving will reflect in the resale value of your home.

Common Problems with Loose Fill Pavers

While the costs and advantages of loose fill pavers are pretty extensive, these materials do come with a specific set of maintenance issues that you need to consider if you’re thinking about adding them to your yard. These include:

  • Potholes: Natural freeze and thaw cycles and excess moisture may lead to holes or dips forming in the center of a loose fill area. This also happens to paved surfaces, however.
  • Grading or Slope Problems: Improper installation of loose fill may accelerate moisture penetration, leading to greater or more severe potholes.
  • Water Pooling: Instability beneath the surface of the loose fill will lead to pockets that accumulate water, which can turn to ice.
  • Erosion: Time and the elements will wash away layers of loose fill, causing it to wear and need replacement or refilling periodically.
  • Weeds: Failure to properly treat the surface where you apply loose fill may cause weeds to grow in between gravel or through materials such as sand.

Many of these maintenance issues, such as potholes and the danger presented by a poorly graded slope, are also a risk with standard paving practices, including asphalt and brick pavers. The important point is to oversee the initial setup of an area, especially a large area like a driveway, and seek professional help when needed in order to avoid setting the stage for maintenance and repair problems down the road.

Common Problems with Loose Fill Pavers

DIY or Hire A Pro?

Depending on the size and scope of your loose fill paver project, this can be interpreted as a DIY job. Particularly when gardening or doing basic landscaping, adding mulch or sand by the bagful is a reasonable and easy DIY element of basic outdoor maintenance most homeowners can take on.

However, larger jobs involving loose fill, particularly on playgrounds and driveways, are best left to the pros or incredibly experienced DIY homeowners. In each of these cases, excavation, sloping and multiple levels of fill must be included and meet exact standards in order to ensure the safety and integrity of the finished project. In the case of driveways, failure to properly drain the areas where you apply the loose fill can cause premature erosion, troughs and potholes, which end up costing you more money over time in maintenance than hiring a pro at the outset would cost.

Find A Pro

Whether you choose to use loose fill or want to look into all of your paving options, particularly in your driveway, it’s important to consult with local pros who can talk to you about the conditions of your environment and the options that work best over time. Fill out our quick lead generator form today and talk to pros in your area who can help you complete your loose fill or other paving job and offer a more exact cost estimate.

Last updated on Oct 5, 2016

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