Choosing Between an Asphalt and Concrete Driveway

Large driveway to home

One major decision you’ll make when it comes to installing a driveway is whether to use asphalt or concrete. Although there are many other material choices for driveways, such as brick pavers or gravel, asphalt and concrete tend to be the most practical and most commonly used. 

To help you arrive at an informed decision, let’s compare asphalt and concrete driveways in terms of the following five aspects:

1. Cost

According to an experienced contractor from ABC Paving and Sealcoating, an asphalt driveway is usually less costly compared to a concrete driveway. On average, homeowners spend between $3,000 and $7,000 to pave, replace or resurface asphalt – that’s $3 to $4 per square foot. Meanwhile, a concrete driveway would cost anywhere between $5 to 10 per square foot for a standard thickness driveway. Costly stains, details and finishes add up to the price tag. If you have an existing concrete driveway, you’ll need to scrape the old one before you can pour in and install the new driveway. This means additional labor costs for you. On the other hand, with asphalt paving, there’s no need to remove the old concrete as you can install it over the existing driveway.

2. Repairs and maintenance

Future repairs and maintenance are two important considerations when planning your driveway. Concrete is a very durable material. It doesn’t require much sealing. Usually, sealing is done only to preserve the finish or improve the look. Over time, concrete driveways will accumulate oil stains. As such, you will need to implement measures to remove these unsightly stains, for example with the use of degreasers or a pressure washer.

Meanwhile, an asphalt driveway requires sealing within a year after installation. It will require sealing again every three years. Sealing asphalt pavement is necessary to avoid unwanted cracks or damages and extend its lifespan. However, sealing your asphalt driveway can be a DIY project. You just need the right materials to seal your asphalt pavement. Familyhandyman.com gives a detailed guide on how to carry out asphalt sealing without pro skills needed. 

For both asphalt and concrete driveways, cracks can develop with continued use and exposure to elements. And these need to be repaired to prevent them from growing out of proportion. Cracks on asphalt driveway tend to be easier to repair with better results. On the other hand, cracks on a concrete driveway are usually more difficult to fix and often result in unsightly outcome. However, cracks tend to be less of an issue in a properly laid out concrete driveway.

3. Durability

Overall, concrete is more durable than asphalt. Concrete is a long-lasting option with a lifespan of fifty years or more, with occasional maintenance requirements such as decreasing. Meanwhile, asphalt can last about twenty years with high possibility of cracking due to exposure to elements and constant use. Moreover, oily surface of asphalt can stick to shoes and tires.

4. Aesthetics

The material used for your pavement plays a major role in how your driveway will look like. You can stamp, stain, etch or tint a concrete driveway to achieve the design you want. There are also numerous types and colors of finishes that can provide an alternative to the grayish color of the concrete. Aside from achieving the design and looks that you want, these finishes also enhance the driveway’s durability and longevity. Sealants help minimize deterioration and discoloration of a concrete driveway. Meanwhile, etching patterns provide joints in the concrete that allow contraction and expansion thus reducing chances of cracking. Take note, however, that these artistic touches come at a price (around $15 per square foot).

During the installation, asphalt is rolled and compressed hence it is not possible to stamp, etch or add finishes. Although there are you can apply asphalt sealants, these are limited to color black.

5. Suitability to climate

Lastly, you have to consider the climate where the pavement will be installed. In regions where there is constant freezing and thawing during winter, a concrete driveway may not be suitable as frequent changes render it prone to cracking. To avoid this problem, it is important to prepare the foundation well before pouring the concrete and allowing it to cure well. Some factors that affect the durability of concrete include high humidity and rain, and exposure to extreme heat, chemicals, and freezing temperature. Furthermore, applying salt on concrete driveway during icy weather for better wheel traction can cause it to deteriorate faster.

On the other hand, in regions with generally hot climates, asphalt may not be a good option as heat causes it to soften, which can lead it to stick to car tires, shoes or anything that comes in contact with it. Summertime can also cause it to leave behind uneven surfaces or cracks in case the temperature suddenly falls. Although fixes involving asphalt are usually not that costly and can even be DIYed, melted asphalt can cause unwanted damage to a vehicle’s paint job as well as your home’s indoor surfaces in case asphalt gets tracked in on shoes.

Conclusion

Whether you end up with asphalt or concrete, a new driveway is a major expense. There’s actually no winner between these two as they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Your choice should be which one best meets the five aspects discussed above.

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