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On the Spotlight: Asphalt vs Concrete Driveway

asphalt vs concrete driveway

Sprucing up your driveway is one way of increasing the value of your home.

There are a number of options for the material you could use for your driveway depending on the overall architectural design of your property, your style, and of course the internal and external characteristics of the material you choose.

There are considerable differences between asphalt vs concrete which would determine their durability and their aesthetic appeal, however, these differences will not dictate your preference.

They serve as a guide so you can make a more educated and cost-efficient decision. Incorporated in these differences are the pros and cons of concrete driveways and asphalt driveways.

Components

Asphalt and concrete are the two most common materials. Both are made of sand, gravel, and aggregates or crushed stone but bound together differently.

Asphalt’s binding agent is bitumen, a black, viscous petroleum-based substance, which gives it its distinct color while concrete uses cement.

Both Asphalt and concrete driveways are also considered as permeable pavements.

By this, we mean that they have a porous urban surface with an underlying stone reservoir.

They catch precipitation and surface runoff, storing it in the reservoir and slowly allowing it to infiltrate into the soil below.

Related: The Best Materials for Low Maintenance Driveways

asphalt driveway cost vs concrete

Response to Extreme Climate Conditions

The location of your property or residence best describes what climate your asphalt vs concrete driveway will be exposed to.

How your driveway material will hold up to the weather conditions can help you know which one is appropriate for your location.

Concrete driveways do not hold up to freezing and harsh winters while extremely hot temperatures do not favor asphalt driveways.

This response is mainly caused by the components of each material.

Asphalt driveways become gooey and sticky during very hot summers. When this becomes a regular cycle with re-hardening when the weather is cooler, asphalt will crack or sag.

This is caused by the bitumen binding agent of asphalt that allows the material to expand and contract in response to extreme temperature.

Concrete on the other hand can crack, buckle, or heave during freezing winters.

Plus, snow and ice tend to melt longer on concrete than on asphalt.

Maintenance Requirements

Because of the dark hue of asphalt, engine oil and gas drips, rust, other stains and shows of wearing are not noticeable on it.

This does not work with a plain and untainted concrete driveway so marks and spills will need aggressive cleaning and degreasing.

Asphalt driveways will require sealing to protect the surface and to maintain the driveway’s longevity.

This should be done a few months after installation. Resealing is further needed every three to five years.

Colored concrete may also be sealed to reduce fading and to prolong life.

Repair

Cracks on an asphalt driveway are easier to repair and bituminous crack sealers blend into the original material because of its color, so repairs are not obvious.

However, on concrete driveways, filling cracks and other weathering signs will be noticeable on the surface.

Patch repairs for asphalt driveways are convenient and costly while concrete driveway repairs require a substantial amount of money.

Another advantage of an asphalt driveway is that it can be resurfaced easily and inexpensively if the old layer is irreparable.

For concrete driveways, this is impossible to do although you can opt to resurface the whole driveway.

asphalt vs concrete cost

Visual Options and Customization

Asphalt is solid dark gray to black in color.

Tinting is available using naturally colored rocks, iron, slag, or recycled glass.

If black or gray matches your property’s aesthetics, asphalt is the perfect choice for a driveway.

Concrete is solid pale gray, however, it can be stained or tinted to just about any color that will match your style.

Technology has also made it possible for concrete to be stamped with patterns like those that mimic the look of flagstone pavers or real bricks.

For a more textured finish, you can simply brush or etch on it any hue you desire. It is a much easier material to customize with colors and decorative embellishments.

Lifespan

This is one of the major considerations for every homeowner. Repaving a driveway every year is not a convenient and economic project.

Generally, if an asphalt or concrete driveway is installed properly with an even and stable gravel substrate along with other necessary installment elements, they will last for a few decades.

Asphalt can last from 20 to 30 years, with a maximized lifespan if there is proper maintenance.

Concrete, requiring less maintenance, can last from 30 to 40 years.

Cost

The cost of installing an asphalt driveway is $2 – $5 per square foot. An 800-square foot driveway will cost an average of $2,500 to $5,000.

A concrete driveway, on the other hand, will cost around $3 – $5 per square foot. An 800-square foot driveway will cost about $8,000 or more.

You will have to spend more than this for finishes, detailing, and customization. A stained concrete driveway with a smooth finish typically costs over $15 per square foot.

Relative to cost, it may be more cost-efficient to use an asphalt material because of its lower price for a larger area.

However, if the value is considered, concrete usually lasts longer and requires less maintenance although it has a higher upfront cost.

So in the long run, a concrete driveway provides more value.

is asphalt cheaper than concrete

Asphalt vs Concrete: Which Way Do You Choose To Go?

The best driveway for you is the one that functions best in your climate, with your budget, and your maintenance capacity.

Whichever way you choose to go, consider the key differences between these two traditional options.

In a nutshell, if you are a budget-conscious homeowner or if your location experiences temperature fluctuations, the asphalt driveway may be the best option.
But if you want a stylish driveway with more color, texture, and embellishment options and a driveway that lasts longer, the concrete driveway may be your best bet.

Call in a professional team to prepare the proper base and foundation for your driveway with the right leveling, grading, and compacting so that your driveway will be in great shape for many years down the road.


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