Some homeowners might have a situation where they have a choice between a concrete driveway or an asphalt one. This article is designed to help them make an educated decision after learning the pros and cons of each material. While both are laid over a substrate of gravel and is composed of a mixture of sand and stone, tar is used to hold asphalt together while cement is used for concrete. The characteristics of those adhesives amount to the differences between the two popular driveway surfaces. Asphalt and concrete both create durable attractive driveways, but there’s more to choosing between them than simply going with the cheaper option. We review all the major categories in comparison to see whether asphalt or concrete is the better choice for you property.
Concrete Offers More Custom Options
Asphalt is commonly called blacktop because it is usually dark gray to black and concrete is pale gray. Unlike asphalt, concrete is easy to stain or tint to whatever color you like. Concrete can be stamped into patterns or brushed for a textured finish. Concrete is a better option if you're trying to match your home's color scheme, reproduce the look of brick, or a particular pattern. Asphalt is a good choice if you want a streamlined appearance that matches the street.
Climate is a major consideration when choosing between asphalt and concrete. Concrete does not perform well in the colder temperatures and asphalt does not do well in high heat situations. This will need to be taken into account for your particular area. If you live in an area with very hot summers, an asphalt driveway becomes gooey or sticky when the temperature increases. The cycle of softening in high heat and cooling down can cause asphalt to crack or sag. On the other side, concrete can buckle, heave, or crack in the coldest winters. Plus, the salt used to de-ice can pit, stain, or blotch concrete, leaving ugly marks. It also takes longer for snow and ice to melt on concrete than asphalt.
Asphalt has to be initially sealed after a few months installation to protect the surface and increase its lifespan. You’ll then need to reseal it every three to five years thereafter. It's a very simple process of pouring the asphalt sealer onto your clean, dry driveway, and then using a driveway squeegee to spread it evenly over the entire surface. While it’s not mandatory for concrete driveways, sealing concrete helps cut down on fading which is an important protective measure for a tinted driveway. For driveways that will have more rugged use and is exposed to engine oils, gas drips, and rust, the dark surface and matte finish of asphalt hides most stains well. Concrete on the other hand will show every mark and spill, so you’ll need to do more aggressive cleaning and degreasing to maintain its good looks.
While both asphalt and concrete crack, asphalt tends to deteriorate faster due to its softer consistency although it’s fairly easy to repair cracks and damage in asphalt. The repaired areas also blend well with the rest of the driveway and it's easy to apply a new topcoat of asphalt if the surface is deteriorating. Concrete is tougher to repair and patched spots are usually fairly obvious unless you plan on resurfacing the whole driveway.
Concrete Driveways Last Longer Than Asphalt
A concrete driveway, if properly installed and maintained regularly, should last 30 to 40 years, while an asphalt driveway is generally good for 20 to 30 years. Failure to install without an even stable substrate of gravel or improper maintenance will cause either type of driveway to fail within a few years.
Concrete Must Wait To Cure
You can normally use an asphalt driveway within a couple of days of installation while concrete will have to wait at least a week before it fully cures enough for you to drive on it.
Concrete Costs Considerably More Than Asphalt
A concrete driveway costs around 45 to 50 percent more than an asphalt driveway. According to price site, homeowners report an average price of $2.24 per square foot for a new asphalt driveway and $4.36 for a new concrete driveway, but prices can fluctuate drastically depending on where you live, the complexity of the job, and the size of the driveway. The decision comes down to which is best for your climate, your budget, and your tolerance for maintenance needs.