When you are about to begin any project, the first step is to get a feel for the costs involved so you can determine if you can afford the project or if your approach to the project is worth the investment. For example, if you have a cracked driveway, which is the best way to go, replace or repair? A lot of how you make that decision will have to do with how important it is that the surface you wish to fix looks really great. But you will also evaluate the decisions based on how long you want the repair to last and how much you are willing to invest.
The decision to put in a new concrete surface is just the kind of project that needs a cost evaluation based on today's prices for every aspect of the task. The price of concrete is obviously a big part of that cost evaluation. Now if we were to try to estimate in our discussion today what you will be paying for concrete, the odds we would miss the mark for your project are pretty strong. For one thing, the prices you will pay for concrete vary so widely in different areas of the country and the world that no one price is accurate for everyone. More importantly, just like everything else in our economy, the price you will pay for concrete changes with the economy and the laws of supply and demand.
Also, you need to have an idea for the quality of concrete you will need for the project you have in mind. Outdoor concrete projects or projects to pave surfaces to support vehicular traffic need to be much more durable and rugged than an indoor project. But a project for an area that will be decorated to please the esthetic eye or that will be part of an interior decorators color scheme would call for a different kind of concrete and perhaps one that is either stampable or already colored or stained to fit the décor. Those customizations affect cost.
Another big cost factor will be if you are going to buy the concrete, mix it yourself and do the entire project as a "DYI" project or if you will engage a professional. Since laying a complicated concrete project often calls for special equipment and skills, many times it is a better choice to use a conctractor to do the job for you. You can have that contractor come out and give you a detailed estimate of the cost of the job. When you step through that estimate, you may notice that the cost of the concrete is just one component of many costs that will affect the final estimate number. But in most cases because contractors can buy wholesale, their prices for all of the building materials will be better than what you can get retail.
Don't just go to your hardware store and price one bag of ready mix concrete and consider that the end of your cost evaluation of the project. Things like leveling, framing, laying down a foundation for the surface you are installing and other factors are just as important as the concrete itself. But concrete is going to be your biggest cost and understanding those costs will be a step in the right direction of your cost benefit evaluation of the project.