Concrete and asphalt are the two most common materials used in driveway construction. Both are impressively strong and durable and can resist weather elements such as extreme snowing. What’s more, they are both made from the same materials; sand and stone!
However, the two also differ in several ways which means you need to be extremely careful when picking between them. We’ve rounded up five important factors that should inform your decision.
Both concrete and asphalt driveways must be installed by a professional because of the high levels of specialization required. Also, both need a strong foundation of gravel upon which the surface material is spread.
Should I Get a Concrete or Asphalt Driveway
Concrete, however, is easier to work with compared to asphalt. Stain or tint concrete in a wide array of colors. Stain the same driveway differently and form unique patterns. Stamp in different designs, etch or engrave to produce different finishes.
Asphalt, on the other hand, requires rolling and compression; there aren’t many other ways of working with the material. Moreover, until recently, there weren’t many color options apart from standard black.
Both materials are resistant to adverse weather. Asphalt driveways suit colder climates. Intense, persistent heat conditions can soften the surface leading to cracks and crumbling along the edges.
Hot weather can also cause asphalt residue to stick to shoes.
Concrete, in contrast, performs better in hotter climates because the intense cold can result in heave frost (the upward swelling of soil in cold conditions), causing cracking among other damages. Additionally, de-icing salt tends to damage the concrete finish.
Both materials require proper maintenance to last long enough. Maintaining an asphalt driveway, however, is more labor intensive. Seal the driveway six to twelve months after installation. Reseal every three to five years thereafter.
This is because asphalt contains petroleum which, over time, loses surface moisture due to oxidation. Lost surface moisture on an asphalt surface will make it brittle.
Concrete driveways, meanwhile, only require sealing every couple of years to prevent stains and maintain custom finishes. Whenever there is staining, you just use a degreaser to clean the surface.
In addition, it is easier and less expensive to repair cracks in asphalt driveways, with less visible results. Asphalt also allows for inexpensive resurfacing. You cannot resurface a concrete driveway.
The cost of paving
Ignoring maintenance costs, asphalt driveways are considerably less expensive than their concrete counterparts. A concrete driveway will cost you at least 45% more.
If properly maintained, asphalt driveways can last up to 30 years. This, however, doesn’t compare to concrete driveways which can last over 50 years if properly maintained.
Finally, before you begin construction, check with your local building codes to see if there are any specifications. It isn’t uncommon to find local governments restricting the color, finish, and even the type of driveway material you can use.