Which is a Better Driveway: Concrete or Asphalt?

  refinished concrete driveway with decorative stamped pavers Concrete and asphalt both have their own advantages in different situations.  Here are a few questions you may be considering:

  • Which pavement option is better in certain situations?
  • Which is more cost-effective for your driveway or surface?
  • Which lasts longer and has lower maintenance costs?

Which pavement option is better in certain situations?

Concrete tends to hold up much better when used frequently.  However, “frequently” means thousands of large trucks running over the concrete in one day.  Asphalt deteriorates sooner, but only under very frequent usage.

You may want to consider whether or not asphalt driveways are even allowed in your neighborhood.  Even if they are and concrete is the standard, an asphalt driveway may substantially detract from your home’s value.

If your children will use your driveway for recreation, concrete works much better.  Asphalt does soften during hot days, while concrete remains hard.  If you live in a warmer climate, concrete may be a better choice.

Conversely, if you live in a climate that fluctuates between cold and warm throughout the year, keep in mind asphalt’s flexibility reduces the likelihood it will crack during temperature extremes.  Concrete, which is more rigid, has a higher likelihood of cracking during temperature extremes.

The advantage of concrete during warmer temperatures is that it does not absorb heat as readily as asphalt.  Asphalt absorbs heat so well it can burn your skin.

If snow and ice melting is a consideration for you, asphalt, which absorbs heat more readily than concrete, is the superior choice.  On sunny winter days, the increased heat absorbed by asphalt helps to melt snow more quickly.

Which is more cost-effective?

Most individuals only look at the up-front costs.  If you are looking at your short-term costs, an asphalt driveway is typically the better choice, as it costs around half as much as concrete.  However, concrete, which costs a little more in the first place, doesn’t cost as much over the long-run.  When you measure cost over the entire life of the material, you will find the costs of concrete and asphalt very comparable.

Which lasts longer and has lower maintenance costs?

If you’re looking at cost, asphalt costs much less up-front, while concrete and asphalt have a similar cost over the long run.  However, asphalt once again gains an advantage over concrete when it comes time for repairs.  Asphalt repairs are easier to do, and they’re so easy that most homeowners can perform the repairs themselves.

It Depends on What You Want!

In sum, whether you go with concrete or asphalt really depends on your budget.  Asphalt costs less up-front, which means concrete could be out of your range.  If you can afford it up front and want a more attractive and usable surface, a decorative concrete driveway is the way to go.

If you plan on having a professional do all of the repairs, the costs are about the same over the long run.  However, if you are willing to do the repairs yourself, asphalt may be the better option.

Now that you know a little more, consider the longevity, flexibility and cost of concrete to determine if this is the best surface for your driveway.

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