Asphalt vs Concrete: Which One Is Best for Your Driveway?

asphalt vs concrete

How important is it to find the right driveway? A driveway is more than just a place where you park your car. It also gives your house character and enhances the design of the home.

Many homeowners face the decision between asphalt vs concrete when they’re ready to install a new driveway. While both materials are great options, some might work better for some people based on a variety of factors.

Read on to learn more about asphalt and concrete driveways. 

Consider the Maintenance and Repairs Requirements

If you’re in the process of choosing either asphalt or a concrete driveway, one of the first things you need to consider is the long-term maintenance and repairs.

With an asphalt driveway, for example, you will need to seal it within six months to a year after the day of installation. Once you get it sealed, it’s good practice to do routine sealing every three to five years to extend the life of the driveway. 

The routine sealing can be done on your own if you have the materials and tools to do it. Otherwise, a professional can take care of the sealing.

Concrete driveways, on the other hand, don’t require sealing unless you’re looking to enhance and preserve the condition of your driveway longer. Sealing is also a good idea if you want to remove oil and fuel stains that build up over time.

As far as cracks, both concrete and asphalt will get them over time due to wear and tear. It’s important to take care of these cracks as soon as they surface to contain the problem.

But which material is the easiest to repair? Many homeowners find that asphalt cracks are a lot easier to repair than concrete cracks. 

Concrete cracks are more difficult to fix and almost impossible to resurface.

Consider the Climate

Next, when you’re trying to decide on the best type of driveway, you must take the climate where you live into account.

If you live in a place with harsh winters, then asphalt is the best material for the job. Because asphalt can withstand extremely cold temperatures, it’s the material of choice for most driveways, parking lots, and roadways.

When it snows, asphalt helps melt the snow because it absorbs heat from the sun. Not too mention the salt from the snow plowers won’t damage the asphalt.

Concrete, on the other hand, tends to expand and contract every time there is a frost, which causes damage to the shape of the concrete.

When it comes to places with extreme heat, concrete is the best choice over asphalt. Unlike concrete that holds its shape well, asphalt softens and becomes extremely oily.

Asphalt can still do well in places of extreme heat, but you may find fewer asphalt driveways in places where the temperatures get higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep in Mind the Environmental Impact

Most of us want to be more conscious of how the materials we use impact the planet. If you want to find the most environmentally-friendly material, then you need to consider the facts.

For starters, asphalt is a more environmentally-friendly material than concrete. You can choose to purchase recycled asphalt for your driveway. Previously used asphalt is ground up and re-purposed for new driveways.

With concrete, on the other hand, you can dispose of it in a way that is safe for the environment — but it cannot be recycled.

Asphalt is also made of a more porous material that allows the water to drain and pass through the asphalt into the soil. This process is not possible with concrete, which has to go through into streams.

The Cost

Of course, before you make your final decision between asphalt and concrete, you need to look at the option that best fits your budget.

As far as the cost, asphalt driveways are a lot cheaper than concrete driveways.

The average cost of concrete is between $4 and $6 per square foot. With concrete, after all the finishes and decorative details, the price can be as high as $15 per square foot.

The price of asphalt, on the other hand, fluctuates depending on the cost of crude oil prices. Asphalt can end up costing between $2 and $4 per square foot.

The Lifespan of Concrete and Asphalt

When you want to add a new element to your house, you want to make sure the investment will last for a long time.

Although asphalt and concrete can both last for a few decades, concrete tends to last a little bit more. 

If you keep up with the maintenance of asphalt, it usually lasts about 30 years or so. Concrete, however, can last up to 50 years or more if you do routine repairs to cracks and degrease it. 

No matter what material you choose if you take the time to care for it, it can last for decades. 

Look and Design

If you’re going to make the investment, then you want to pick the one that will compliment your property the best.

With concrete, you have more options to add a stain, etch, tint or stamp to have the color and look you want. With concrete, for example, you can have colors such as different tones of gray, off-white, and other colors. 

Asphalt is a little bit more complicated than this because it has to be rolled out and compressed as it’s installed. You won’t be able to add finishes such as stamping or etching to asphalt. 

Although there are some sealants that add a little bit of color, most of them are black. 

Asphalt vs Concrete: Which One Is Best?

Now that you know the benefits and differences between asphalt vs concrete, it’s time you pick the one that best fits your needs.

You have to keep in mind the cost, look and design, climate, and the lifespan of both materials. Remember that asphalt does better in cool temperatures while concrete does better in hot temperatures. 

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