The right width for your driveway depends on the number and types of vehicles you have. Trucks and RVs need a wider driveway than regular passenger cars.
You also have to consider how much space you have, whether you plan to use the driveway as parking space, and your local bylaws. In this guide, we discuss how wide a residential driveway needs to be depending on your needs.
What You'll Learn Today
How Wide Are Residential Driveways?
Most residential driveways are 10 to 12 feet wide. That’s the ideal width for a single car driveway.
The average car is 5.8 feet wide, while SUVs and trucks can be up to 6.8 feet wide. So 10-12 feet is wide enough for most vehicles, while still leaving space to get out of the car without stepping on the lawn.
The minimum width of a single car driveway is 9 feet. Most passenger cars will fit fine on such a driveway, but you may not have enough space to fully open the doors and comfortably get out of the car.
You and your guests may end up stepping on the lawn or dirt every time you get out of the car.
Anything smaller than 9 feet and you risk driving on your lawn or being unable to open the car doors if the driveway is right next to a fence or wall.
Another downside of making your driveway too narrow (under 10 feet), is that you’ll be driving on the edges of the driveway.
This is where the driveway is weakest. The constant pressure may cause the edges to start crumbling.
How Wide Does A 2-Car Driveway Need To Be?
If you want a driveway that can fit two cars side by side, it needs to be between 20 and 24 feet wide.
A width of 20 feet is plenty enough for two cars to pass each other on the driveway or park side by side. But it’s not enough to allow doors for both cars to be opened at the same time.
If you want enough space to park two cars side by side and comfortably open the doors, make the driveway 24 feet wide.
Generally, you want 2-3 feet of clearance on each side of a car. So for a 2-car driveway, you need 4-6 feet of total clearance. This includes space on both sides of the cars as well as between them.
Is There A Maximum Driveway Width?
In most places, it’s up to you to decide how wide you want your driveway to be. You can make your driveway extra-wide if you want additional landscaping or plan to get another car in the future.
However, some local governments have ordinances or by-laws stipulating the maximum width of residential driveways.
Check your local zoning laws for driveway width requirements before you decide to build an extra-wide driveway or widen your current one.
The main reason some places have such laws is to reduce the amount of impermeable surfaces that increase storm water runoff, often leading to flooding.
In other places, there are requirements for how wide the driveway opening from the street can be, but you have the freedom to make the driveway itself as wide as you want.
Other local laws don’t specify driveway width, but will have requirements on the minimum area of soft landscaping in your home.
So you cannot make your driveway too wide as it would eat into the lawn and other soft landscaping.
What’s The Best Driveway Width for RVs and Large Trucks?
If you own an RV, cargo trailer or large pickup truck, you need a driveway wide enough to fit the vehicle. You also need to be able to comfortably get in and out of the vehicle.
A width of 12 feet is the minimum for large vehicles. If you also have another large vehicle or a regular car, make the driveway at least 24 feet wide.
How Wide Is A Circular Driveway?
Some driveways end in a circle – what’s called a turnaround. It allows you to drive back into the street without backing up, which can be dangerous.
The circular part of the driveway should be at least 10 feet for a single car or 20 feet for two cars. This provides adequate turning radius, ensuring you don’t drive on the edges of the driveway.
If you have an RV or a trailer that you attach to your truck, make the driveway a bit wider (12ft min for a single car driveway) to ensure you are able to turn comfortably.
What To Consider When Determining Driveway Width
Here’s a summary of the different factors to consider when determining how wide your driveway is going to be.
- No. of cars – you can have a regular 10-12 feet driveway even if you are a 2-car household. You can widen the driveway as it enters the 2-car garage or park the cars back to back on the driveway. But if you want the cars to fit side by side anywhere on the driveway, 20-24 feet is the ideal width.
- Local/zoning laws – ask your contractor or contact the local zoning or planning office for information on minimum or maximum driveway width. Also check if you need to have a minimum soft landscaped area in your home.
- Available space – if your home is on a small lot, opt for the smallest driveway you can manage. 9-10 feet is perfect for smaller homes, though it may be a tight fit.
- Nearby fence or wall – make sure you won’t slam the car doors into a wall every time you get out of the car. If possible, have at least 2 feet of space between the wall or fence and the car.
- Property line – check where your property line is before you build the driveway. If you make it too wide and eat into your neighbor’s property, you might be forced to narrow it later.
- Sidewalk – if you plan to include walking space on your driveway, you’ll need to make the driveway wider. In addition to 10-12 feet for each car, add at least 1.5 feet or 18 inches on one side for the sidewalk. A wider 4 feet wide sidewalk is ideal for two people to walk comfortably and a 5 feet sidewalk is the minimum width for a wheelchair or motorized scooter.
How To Widen A Driveway
If you discover that your driveway is too narrow, it’s fairly easy to widen it as long as you have enough space on one or both sides.
Ideally, you should expand the driveway with the same material that you’ve built the driveway with to create a consistent look and feel.
If it’s a concrete driveway, add concrete extensions. If it’s a paved driveway, add pavers on the sides.
That said, expanding a concrete or asphalt driveway can be a lot of work and money. Here’s a video showing how involved the process is.
You have to dig the ground down to the level of the current driveway, then pour in new concrete.
A cheaper alternative to concrete would be to add gravel or paver extensions on the sides. These are especially ideal if you are only adding walking space on the side of the driveway.
If you are doubling the width of the driveway to fit a second car, it’s best to use the same material as the current driveway.
How To Narrow A Driveway
If you have the opposite problem and your driveway is too wide, you can narrow it either on one side or take a few inches off each side.
Reducing the width of a driveway is uncommon but may be necessary if it has extended into your neighbor’s property, you want to make your lawn bigger, or you want to reduce it from a 2-car to a single car driveway.
You’ll need to demolish the edge of the driveway, and then add new edging to prevent the new edge from crumbling and make it look nice.
Just make sure you don’t make the driveway too narrow.
2 thoughts on “How Wide Does A Driveway Need To Be?”
Our household has recently got a second car, and I’m worried that the driveway is not wide enough. Do I have to get planning permission to widen it?
Your driveway should be safely within the boundaries of your own property, so you should not need to seek permission to make it wider. However, if you are wanting to extend it close to, or onto, the boundaries of a neighbor’s yard then you should definitely seek advise before you do anything, to avoid issues in the future.