Concrete is a useful material that can form your driveway or add extra stability to building structures.
Because of its unique solidifying abilities, it’s often in high demand.
However, the average price of concrete is $117 per cubic yard with a range between $104 and $144 per cubic yard.
Clearly, using concrete can be quite expensive, and it may make you wonder what makes it such an expensive material to use.
Here are 10 reasons concrete is expensive.
Why Is Concrete So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Short Load Fees
One of the reasons that concrete is expensive has to do with how much concrete you buy.
If you don’t buy a lot of concrete, then you’re usually hit with a short load fee.
That’s because most businesses that sell concrete do so in bulk.
They expect most of their clients to buy large quantities of concrete, which helps them cover the cost of their bulk purchase.
While they might have smaller bags of concrete available, too, you might find yourself in a situation where you need more than a few bags but not enough to warrant a large load of concrete.
In this instance, the business starts to lose money since the amount that you need doesn’t cover their bulk costs.
To make up for the loss of profit, the business will charge a short load fee.
This covers the cost of the concrete and the cost of shipping it to you.
They might also choose to charge you a short load fee because they’re losing out on money for delivery.
For a large load, the truck is full, so they get the full shipping costs handled.
If the truck isn’t full, however, and they can’t fit anyone else’s load on it, then the delivery is losing the company money.
They’re wasting time and gas with a smaller load that doesn’t generate enough money for the trip.
The short load fee helps them recover that loss.
Concrete is already expensive, but having a short load fee makes it even more expensive.
2. Independent Or Professional Pouring
Besides buying concrete, you also can tack some extra services onto your concrete delivery.
One of the most important extra services that you can usually add is pouring services.
Without pouring services, the company essentially gives you the bags and then leaves.
You’re left to prepare, stir, and then pour the concrete on your own.
If you’ve worked with concrete before, this might not be a problem.
However, if you’re brand new to working with concrete, you could have a serious problem.
Pouring concrete isn’t easy.
For one, it can be difficult to get the right ratio of powder, water, and anything else you intend to put in the mixture like dye.
If you don’t have the right ratio, then the concrete won’t cure correctly.
That might mean that the concrete won’t harden as well, and it may develop cracks with time.
It may not harden at all.
It might also not look great even if the mixture is perfect.
You might end up pouring too much concrete in one area.
This could create a hill or an incline that can completely ruin your project.
To avoid all that, it’s usually a good idea to add on the pouring service with the concrete delivery.
This ensures that the concrete is professionally mixed and comes out perfect.
You’re also left with a completely smooth surface that looks great.
The price for this service varies by contractor, but you can expect to pay more for larger projects.
Concrete is expensive when you add on professional pouring services.
3. Concrete Removal Services
Another service that you can add to your concrete purchase is concrete removal services.
If you have existing concrete where you want to pour the new concrete, in most cases, you’ll need to have it removed.
That’s because adding new concrete over the existing concrete can create fractures or imperfections in the new concrete.
If the old concrete is in poor condition, it might have a smooth surface.
It might have inclines or hills.
Even more problematic is that it might have cracks or its edges might have chips.
When you pour new concrete over these imperfections, it slips into those cracks or through the chips.
You often need to pour more concrete to fill those holes, but this is a delicate procedure.
Too much new concrete can then make a hill or incline which needs correction.
It then becomes more expensive to fix.
The problem is that concrete removal is also expensive.
It requires the use of special machinery and a lot of labor.
You can expect a few workers drilling up or digging up the old concrete and removing it.
Depending on the amount of old concrete that needs to be removed, the project could take a few days.
Because of the extensive time and work put into the service, you can expect concrete removal services to add a large fee to your concrete shipment.
However, you’re left with an incredible new concrete surface that’s smooth and looks great.
Although concrete removal might hurt your wallet, it’s ultimately worth it.
Concrete is expensive when you need concrete removal services, too.
4. Reinforced Concrete
There are different types of concrete surfaces and slabs that you can buy.
The most basic is a concrete slab.
This is a slab of pure concrete that doesn’t come with any patterns or colors.
The usual cost of the most basic concrete slab is $6.60 per square foot.
However, the price increases when you want something more reinforced.
Reinforced concrete is similar to a concrete slab except that it uses additional supports to give it better stability, durability, and longevity.
There are a few different supports that contractors will use to reinforce the concrete.
One of the most common is rebar.
These are steel rods that run throughout the concrete.
It helps take the load off of the concrete and grants it better strength.
Another type of reinforcement is a wire mesh.
It acts similarly to rebar but is a little weaker, and thus, cheaper.
Another is a vapor barrier, which helps the concrete perform better in outdoor environments.
The average price for reinforced concrete is between $9.29 and $10.04 per square foot.
Clearly, it costs a bit more than your basic concrete slab.
That’s because more work and materials go into its creation.
The contractor has to buy those materials to fill the concrete.
They also need to spend more time installing the rebar or mesh, then wait for it to settle and harden.
Only then can they cover the rebar and mesh with the second layer of concrete.
It may take several layers before it’s finished.
Concrete is expensive when you want it to be reinforced with other materials.
5. Stamped Concrete
Things become very expensive when you decide you want stamped concrete instead of a basic concrete slab.
Stamped concrete puts a pattern on the surface of the concrete, which makes it mimic pavers.
You can add dyes, finishes, and advanced designs to its surface.
Although stamped concrete is cheaper than actual pavers, it’s still an expensive type of concrete.
The average price of stamped concrete is between $9 and $16.25 per square foot.
However, it can get as expensive as $25.25 per square foot for advanced designs, additives, and finishes.
If you have a long driveway that you want to be entirely stamped concrete, then you’re going to have a very expensive bill.
That’s why most people choose to have stamped concrete in small areas.
They’re ideal for patios or walkways.
Some use them as the main focal point of their driveway near the house or entrance rather than across the entire driveway.
Stamped concrete is expensive because it requires more materials and time than a basic concrete slab.
First, the contractors need to add the additive to make the concrete the color that you want it to be.
It might take a lot of dye if you have a specific bold color that you desire.
Then they need to add the finish if you want your stamped concrete to look glossy or have another finished appearance.
After pouring the concrete, they have to make the design.
If you just want a simple stone design, then most contractors can handle it.
However, if you want something more advanced, then they may need to bring in an artist.
The artist will likely charge you a good amount of money because they’re providing a specialized service for you.
While you’re left with a unique and incredible concrete slab, it isn’t going to come cheap.
Concrete is expensive when you want to use stamped concrete.
6. Tools And Mixers
Whether you’re planning to pour and spread your concrete on your own or hire a professional, part of the price you pay has to do with the use of special tools and mixers.
Concrete solidifies after it’s mixed.
As a result, any tools used to pour and spread concrete often end up only used a few times before they’re no longer serviceable.
That’s because the concrete starts to build on them until they become useless.
While professionals will usually have ways to clean their tools, it’s only a matter of time before the tools need replacing or fixing.
Those costs add to the price of concrete and the services that you hire.
If you’re planning to pour and spread the concrete on your own, then you can expect to pay even more.
In some cases, you can find a bundle that offers a certain amount of concrete with tools or a mixer.
In most cases, you have to buy everything separately.
Instead of buying a mixer, you might consider renting one.
This usually comes with a cheaper price, and it’s ideal since the mixer won’t take up valuable space in your shed or garage.
If you know that you’re only going to need it once, it makes more sense to rent the tool.
The average cost of renting a concrete mixer is $75 a day at Home Depot.
If you want to rent it for a week, the price is $301.
To save money, you obviously want to mix your concrete as fast as you can and pour it.
Then you can return the mixer the same day or the day after.
Concrete is expensive because the tools and equipment used to pour, mix, and spread it are expensive.
7. Thickness Of Concrete Slab
Another major factor that impacts the price of concrete is its thickness.
Planning for the cost of your project needs to cover the thickness or depth of your slab.
It isn’t enough to measure the amount of concrete that you’ll need by length and width alone.
That’s because the thickness of the concrete plays an important role in determining its durability and strength.
For example, if you know that you want to build a house on a concrete slab, then you’re going to want a lot of thickness.
It’s able to hold the load better.
If you’re making a driveway with it, then it only needs to be a few inches thick to support the weight of your car.
The thickness makes concrete more expensive because it uses more concrete.
You may have a small space that you need concrete for, but if you need that slab to be thick, then you could be paying a lot of money to reach that thickness.
Very thick slabs also require more support to keep the concrete from pouring over the top.
It essentially requires more work and tools to reach the desired level of thickness.
Finally, it takes time.
Contractors will need to pour the concrete over time to ensure it can maintain the right level of thickness.
If they pour it all at once, then you risk deformities and imperfections.
By building each layer of thickness at a time, the slab is more likely to be uniform and smooth.
However, more time means more labor costs.
Concrete is expensive because of its thickness.
8. Types Of Concrete
All concrete may look the same, but they’re not.
Each concrete mixture has a certain amount of PSI that it can handle.
PSI stands for pounds per square inch.
The lower the PSI, the weaker the concrete is.
However, this also means that it’s a bit cheaper since it doesn’t require as much manufacturing to become tough and durable.
Concrete mixtures with low PSI are ideal for walkways and patios since they don’t usually need to hold up heavy objects.
The average price of concrete with 3,000 PSI is $100 to $115 per cubic yard.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are concrete mixtures that withstand a lot of weight.
These mixtures are usually used for projects like driveways, streets, and foundations.
Because they’re able to support a lot of weight, they’re ideal for building structures.
If you know that you want your patio to have a roof on it, for example, then you may want to lean towards a concrete mixture with a higher PSI rating.
The average price of a concrete mixture with 5,000 PSI is $135 to $150 per cubic yard.
Clearly, there’s a major difference in price between the two.
If you’re using concrete that can withstand heavy loads, then you can expect to pay a higher price.
Mixtures for heavy loads cost more because they spend more time in the factory.
The process is more involved and it uses more materials and costs during its production.
Since the cost of producing it is more expensive, its price tag is also more expensive.
Concrete is expensive because mixtures that carry heavy loads require more manufacturing and processing.
9. Distance From Concrete Supplier
If you’re not buying pre-mixed concrete bags, then you might face a delivery fee, which makes the price of concrete even more expensive.
Most concrete suppliers have a set radius around them in which they offer free delivery services.
Anyone who lives beyond that radius has to pay a delivery fee.
That’s because it costs the supplier more gas money and time to get the concrete to your location.
At some point, you end up costing the company money to bring your concrete to you.
To ensure they’re still able to make a profit after the sale, they charge a delivery service fee.
On average, concrete suppliers will charge around $9.75 per mile from the radius.
If you only live just outside of the radius, then this additional cost may not seem like much.
However, if you live several miles from them, then the price of the delivery alone can be extremely expensive.
Living as far as 10 miles from the radius could cost you an additional $97.50 on top of the price of concrete.
If you have any other services or a short load fee attached to that, then the price of your concrete is going to skyrocket.
Concrete is expensive if you don’t live close to a supplier.
10. Material Shortages
Another serious problem that’s driving up the price of concrete is the fact that there’s a cement shortage.
You can’t make concrete without cement.
The shortage has come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout.
As factories had to shut down production since they weren’t an essential business, it meant that people stuck at home were buying up concrete left on store shelves.
They had more time to take care of projects that they wanted to be completed.
When the factories eventually reopened, they found themselves in a hole.
There were their regular customers that they needed to service but also more homeowners that were demanding concrete to finish up projects.
With most concrete already off the shelves, the factories had to start producing as much as they could to fill the void.
However, with demand as high as it is, the available concrete is getting snatched up as soon as it lands on the shelves.
In addition, problems with the supply chain are also impacting the price of concrete.
Without enough drivers to make deliveries, it means cement is slow in its progress reaching manufacturers and businesses.
Due to material shortages, the concrete price has increased significantly.
Concrete is expensive because it’s a highly-manufactured product that comes in different types.
Businesses also often offer additional services and fees that drive up the price even further.
Due to a cement shortage, the concrete price has also increased since everyone’s trying to get their hands on it.