Ripping Up a Driveway


Ripping up an old weathered driveway will require planning and the right equipment to complete the project safely. If you're hiring a paving contractor to install a new driveway, he will generally handle the demolition and removal of driveway debris. Because of the heavy machinery required and the amount of debris involved, this task is not generally considered a simple do-it-yourself project.


  • Some municipalities require a permit before demolition of an existing driveway. A paving contractor will generally obtain this permit on your behalf. If you are changing the contour, grading, width or path of your driveway, the permit application process may also include plan approval. Plants, sculptures, bird baths, driveway lighting and other landscaping elements close to the driveway should be removed or disconnected prior to demolition. Identification of public utilities and yard sprinkler supply lines under the driveway may prevent damage during demolition.


  • The best tools for ripping up a driveway will depend on the material used. Asphalt is a relatively soft paving material and can be broken up with a small front-end loader, jackhammer or sledgehammer. Broken sections crumble easily and can be reduced to smaller, more manageable bits. Concrete is a hard, brittle material that may include metal reinforcing wire or rebar. Breaking up concrete can require a jackhammer, sledgehammer and heavy-duty bolt cutters. Paver driveways can generally be removed with a pry bar, sledgehammer and shovel.

Debris Removal

  • Large skid-type trash containers are typically used for disposal of construction debris. Removing smaller amounts of debris may be accomplished by a dump truck or heavy-duty trailer. When planning removal options, consider weight as well as volume. Demolition of a 12- by 14-foot section of concrete will produce approximately 5,000 pounds of debris. Recycling paving debris may also be an option. In some cases, recycling centers will take paving debris free of charge or for a small fee.


  • Ripping up a driveway will provide some potential for damage to your home, garage or other structures. Careful planning will help reduce this hazard. Limited vehicle access to your home during the project will require alternate parking options that do not interfere with construction vehicles. Access for emergency and fire department vehicles will also be limited. Inclement weather can impede or stop driveway demolition projects. In areas that experience extremely cold winters, driveway demolition may be restricted to warmer months of the year.

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