Concrete and asphalt are two of the most common materials used for driveways, sidewalks, and roadways. Both materials have their pros and cons, and the decision of which material to use depends on various factors such as cost, climate, and durability.
In this guide, we will provide you with a detailed analysis of concrete and asphalt, outlining their strengths and weaknesses, and highlighting which material is the better choice for different situations.
An asphalt driveway is a type of driveway made from asphalt concrete, which is a mixture of asphalt cement, aggregates (such as sand, gravel, and crushed stone), and other additives. Asphalt driveways are a popular choice for homeowners and property owners who want a durable and affordable driveway solution. They are typically black in color and have a smooth, even surface that is easy to maintain and repair. Asphalt driveways are known for their ability to withstand heavy traffic and harsh weather conditions, and can last up to 20 years or more with proper maintenance.
Advantages of Asphalt Driveway
Asphalt driveways have several advantages that make them a popular choice for homeowners. Some of the benefits of an asphalt driveway include:
- Cost-effective: Asphalt is one of the most affordable materials for paving a driveway, making it an ideal option for homeowners who want a durable and attractive driveway without breaking the bank.
- Durability: Asphalt is a very durable material that can withstand heavy traffic and extreme weather conditions, making it a great choice for areas with harsh winters or frequent freeze-thaw cycles.
- Easy maintenance: Asphalt driveways require very little maintenance compared to other materials like concrete. Regular sweeping and occasional sealing are usually all that is needed to keep an asphalt driveway looking great for years.
- Quick installation: Asphalt driveways can typically be installed quickly and easily, which means less disruption to your daily routine.
- Smooth surface: Asphalt provides a smooth and even surface for vehicles to drive on, which can reduce wear and tear on tires and suspension systems.
- Eco-friendly: Asphalt is a recyclable material, and old asphalt can be repurposed and reused in new asphalt installations, making it an eco-friendly choice for homeowners.
Disadvantages of Asphalt Driveway
While asphalt driveways have several advantages, there are also some downsides that homeowners should consider before choosing this option. Some of the potential drawbacks of an asphalt driveway include:
- Vulnerability to temperature changes: Although asphalt is durable, it can be vulnerable to extreme temperature changes. In very hot weather, asphalt can become soft and sticky, while in cold weather, it can become brittle and crack. This can lead to a shorter lifespan for the driveway and the need for more frequent repairs.
- Staining: Asphalt driveways are susceptible to staining from oil, gasoline, and other chemicals. If these substances are left on the driveway for too long, they can cause discoloration and damage.
- Limited design options: While asphalt can be colored to some extent, it doesn’t offer the same design options as other materials like concrete or pavers. This means that homeowners who want a unique or intricate design may not be able to achieve it with asphalt.
- Initial odor: Newly installed asphalt driveways can have a strong odor that can be unpleasant for some people. The odor can persist for several days or even weeks, depending on the weather conditions.
- Environmental concerns: The production of asphalt requires the use of fossil fuels and can contribute to air pollution. Additionally, asphalt is not a renewable resource, and the extraction of the raw materials needed to produce it can have negative environmental impacts.
What is the Cost of an Asphalt Driveway?
The cost of an asphalt driveway can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size of the driveway, the thickness of the asphalt, and the local labor and material costs. Generally speaking, however, the cost of an asphalt driveway can range from $3 to $7 per square foot.
For a standard-sized driveway, which is typically around 600 to 700 square feet, the cost can range from $1,800 to $4,900. However, additional costs may apply for factors such as grading and excavation, base layer preparation, and sealing and finishing.
It’s important to note that while asphalt driveways may have a lower upfront cost than other materials like concrete, they may require more frequent repairs and maintenance over time. This can add to the overall cost of the driveway in the long run.
What Are the Hidden Costs of an Asphalt Driveway?
While the upfront cost of an asphalt driveway may be lower than other materials like concrete, there can be additional hidden costs that homeowners should consider. Some of these hidden costs may include:
- Regular maintenance: While asphalt driveways require less maintenance than some other materials, they still require regular cleaning and sealing to prevent damage from UV rays, water, and chemicals. Over time, these maintenance costs can add up.
- Repairs: Depending on the quality of the installation and the amount of wear and tear on the driveway, asphalt driveways may require repairs over time. Common issues include cracks, potholes, and uneven surfaces. These repairs can be costly, especially if they require extensive excavation or replacement of large sections of the driveway.
- Replacement: While asphalt driveways can last for several years, they typically have a shorter lifespan than concrete driveways. If the driveway becomes damaged beyond repair or begins to deteriorate significantly, it may need to be replaced entirely, which can be a significant expense.
- Drainage issues: If the driveway is not properly graded or doesn’t have adequate drainage, water can pool and cause damage to the asphalt. This can result in costly repairs or even require replacement of the driveway.
- Environmental concerns: The production and installation of asphalt can have negative environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions and the depletion of natural resources. Depending on the location and local regulations, there may be additional costs associated with environmental mitigation or compliance.
Overall, while asphalt driveways can be a cost-effective option, homeowners should be aware of the potential hidden costs associated with installation, maintenance, and repairs. By planning ahead and budgeting for these costs, homeowners can ensure that they are making an informed decision about the best material for their driveway.
How Much is the Yearly Maintenance of an Asphalt Driveway?
The annual cost of maintaining an asphalt driveway can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size of the driveway, the amount of wear and tear it receives, and the local labor and material costs. Generally speaking, however, homeowners can expect to spend anywhere from $0.10 to $0.25 per square foot per year on maintenance.
For a standard-sized driveway, which is typically around 600 to 700 square feet, this would equate to an annual maintenance cost of $60 to $175. This may include activities such as cleaning, sealing, crack filling, and minor repairs.
It’s important to note that these costs can vary significantly depending on the quality of the installation and the level of maintenance required to keep the driveway in good condition. Neglecting maintenance can lead to more significant issues down the road, which can be more costly to repair.
A concrete driveway is a type of driveway made from concrete, which is a mixture of cement, water, and aggregates (such as sand, gravel, and crushed stone). Concrete driveways are a popular choice for homeowners and property owners who want a durable and low-maintenance driveway solution. They are typically light gray in color, but can be colored or stamped to create a decorative finish. Concrete driveways are known for their ability to withstand heavy traffic and harsh weather conditions, and can last up to 30 years or more with proper maintenance. They are also a versatile option, as they can be designed in a variety of shapes and patterns to complement the overall aesthetic of the property.
Advantages of a Concrete Driveway
Concrete driveways offer several benefits that make them a popular choice for homeowners.
Some of the advantages of a concrete driveway include:
- Durability: Concrete is a very durable material that can withstand heavy traffic and extreme weather conditions. A properly installed and maintained concrete driveway can last for decades, making it a great investment for homeowners.
- Low maintenance: Concrete driveways are relatively low maintenance, requiring only occasional cleaning and sealing to keep them looking great. Unlike asphalt, concrete doesn’t require regular resealing, making it a convenient option for busy homeowners.
- Design versatility: Concrete driveways offer a wide range of design options, from stamped patterns and decorative borders to colored concrete. This makes it easy to create a unique and attractive driveway that complements the style of your home.
- Resistant to staining: Concrete is resistant to staining from oil, gasoline, and other chemicals, making it a great option for homeowners with cars or other vehicles that may leak fluids.
- Increases property value: A well-designed and properly installed concrete driveway can increase the curb appeal of your home and add value to your property.
- Eco-friendly: Concrete is a sustainable and environmentally friendly material that can be recycled and reused. Additionally, concrete can help reduce the urban heat island effect, which can have positive impacts on the environment.
Disadvantages of a Concrete Driveway
While concrete driveways offer several benefits, there are also some potential downsides that homeowners should consider before choosing this option.
Some of the disadvantages of a concrete driveway include:
- Cost: Concrete driveways are typically more expensive than asphalt driveways, making them a less affordable option for some homeowners.
- Vulnerability to cracking: While concrete is durable, it can still crack over time due to changes in temperature and weather conditions. This can lead to a shorter lifespan for the driveway and the need for repairs or replacement.
- Slippery surface: Concrete driveways can be slippery when wet, which can pose a safety hazard for pedestrians and drivers.
- Requires time to cure: Newly installed concrete driveways need time to cure properly, which means they cannot be used for several days after installation. This can be an inconvenience for homeowners who need to use their driveway regularly.
- Limited repair options: If concrete driveways crack, they can be more difficult and expensive to repair than asphalt driveways. Depending on the extent of the damage, the entire driveway may need to be replaced.
- Environmental concerns: The production of concrete can have negative environmental impacts, including the emission of greenhouse gases and the depletion of natural resources.
How Much Does a Concrete Driveway Cost?
The cost of a concrete driveway can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the driveway, the thickness of the concrete, the local labor and material costs, and any additional features or finishes.
On average, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $4 to $15 per square foot for a basic concrete driveway. For a standard-sized driveway, which is typically around 600 to 700 square feet, this would equate to a total cost of $2,400 to $10,500.
If the driveway requires any additional features or finishes, such as decorative stamping or staining, the cost can be higher. Additionally, if there are any site-specific challenges, such as difficult access or uneven terrain, this can also increase the cost.
It’s important to note that while the upfront cost of a concrete driveway may be higher than some other materials, such as asphalt, it typically requires less maintenance over time and has a longer lifespan. Homeowners should weigh the upfront cost against the long-term benefits when considering different driveway materials.
What are the Hidden Costs of Installing a Concrete Driveway?
While concrete driveways can be a durable and low-maintenance option, there are some hidden costs that homeowners should be aware of. These may include:
- Site preparation: If the site for the driveway is not level or requires significant grading or excavation, this can add to the overall cost of the project.
- Reinforcement: Depending on the soil conditions and climate in the area, the concrete driveway may require additional reinforcement, such as wire mesh or rebar, to prevent cracking or settling over time.
- Finishing: If the homeowner desires a decorative or textured finish, this can add to the cost of the project.
- Repairs: While concrete driveways are generally low-maintenance, they may require occasional repairs over their lifespan, such as crack filling or sealing. These costs should be factored into the overall cost of ownership.
- Staining or discoloration: Over time, concrete driveways may become stained or discolored due to exposure to the elements, oil or grease spills, or other factors. While these issues may not affect the performance of the driveway, homeowners may choose to have the driveway professionally cleaned or stained to maintain its appearance.
How Much Does it Cost Each Year to Maintain a Concrete Driveway?
The cost of maintaining a concrete driveway is typically lower than that of an asphalt driveway, as concrete is generally more durable and requires less maintenance over time. However, there are still some costs that homeowners should be aware of, including:
- Sealing: Concrete driveways may benefit from periodic sealing to protect the surface from stains, moisture, and other types of damage. Depending on the size of the driveway and the type of sealant used, this can cost anywhere from $0.10 to $0.25 per square foot, or $60 to $175 for a standard-sized driveway.
- Cleaning: Over time, concrete driveways may become stained or discolored due to exposure to the elements, oil or grease spills, or other factors. Homeowners may choose to have the driveway professionally cleaned, which can cost anywhere from $0.15 to $0.50 per square foot, or $90 to $350 for a standard-sized driveway.
- Repairs: While concrete driveways are generally durable, they may still require occasional repairs over their lifespan, such as crack filling or resurfacing. The cost of these repairs can vary depending on the extent of the damage and the type of repair needed, but homeowners should budget for these costs over time.
Overall, the cost of maintaining a concrete driveway is typically lower than that of an asphalt driveway, as concrete is less susceptible to cracking, potholes, and other types of damage. However, homeowners should still budget for periodic maintenance and repairs to ensure that their driveway remains in good condition over time.
What are the Steps Involved in Installing a Concrete Driveway?
Installing an asphalt driveway involves several steps, which typically include:
- Site preparation: The first step is to prepare the site for the driveway installation. This may include removing any existing pavement or debris, grading the site to ensure proper drainage, and compacting the soil.
- Base layer installation: Next, a layer of crushed stone or gravel is laid on top of the compacted soil. This serves as a stable base for the asphalt and helps to prevent cracking and settling over time.
- Binder layer installation: Once the base layer is in place, a layer of asphalt binder is applied to the surface. This serves as a sticky, adhesive layer that helps to bond the asphalt to the base layer.
- Surface layer installation: The final layer of asphalt is then applied to the surface of the binder layer. This layer is typically around 2 to 3 inches thick and is compacted using a roller to ensure a smooth, level surface.
- Edge treatment: Finally, the edges of the driveway are treated to ensure a clean, finished look. This may include installing edging or curbing, or simply applying a layer of asphalt along the edges.
Throughout the installation process, it’s important to ensure that the asphalt is properly mixed and applied to prevent issues like cracking, sinking, or uneven surfaces. Homeowners should work with a professional paving contractor who has experience with asphalt driveway installations to ensure that the job is done correctly and to a high standard.
What is the Best Driveway for You?
There are compelling benefits to both asphalt and concrete driveways. But you can only pick one and each has advantages that may be better suited to your particular life situation.
Who is an Asphalt Driveway for?
The right customer for an asphalt driveway is typically a homeowner or property owner who is looking for an affordable and durable solution for their driveway needs. Asphalt driveways are a popular choice for those who want a smooth, black surface that is easy to maintain and repair, and that can withstand heavy traffic and inclement weather conditions. They are also a good choice for those who want a quick and relatively simple installation process, as asphalt can typically be installed more quickly than other types of driveways. Additionally, homeowners who live in areas with colder climates may prefer asphalt driveways, as they are less likely to crack and heave than concrete driveways in extreme temperatures. Overall, the right customer for an asphalt driveway is someone who values affordability, durability, and ease of maintenance, and who is willing to work with a qualified paving contractor to ensure that the installation is completed to a high standard.
Who is a Concrete Driveway for?
The right customer for a concrete driveway is typically a homeowner or property owner who is looking for a long-lasting and low-maintenance solution for their driveway needs. Concrete driveways are a popular choice for those who want a smooth, clean surface that can withstand heavy traffic and inclement weather conditions. They are also a good choice for those who want a variety of design options, as concrete can be stamped, colored, or scored to create a decorative finish. Additionally, homeowners who live in areas with warmer climates may prefer concrete driveways, as they do not become as hot as asphalt driveways in direct sunlight. Overall, the right customer for a concrete driveway is someone who values durability, low maintenance, and design options, and who is willing to work with a qualified concrete contractor to ensure that the installation is completed to a high standard.
when deciding between an asphalt driveway and a concrete driveway, there are many factors to consider. Asphalt driveways are generally more affordable upfront, quicker to install, and require less maintenance, but they may require more frequent repairs and have a shorter lifespan. Concrete driveways, on the other hand, have a longer lifespan and can be more decorative, but they are generally more expensive upfront, require more maintenance, and may crack or heave in extreme temperatures.
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences when making a decision. In addition, choosing the right contractor for the installation is crucial to ensuring a high-quality and long-lasting driveway.
Ultimately, whether you choose an asphalt or concrete driveway, with proper maintenance and care, your driveway can provide a functional and attractive addition to your property for many years to come.
If you choose to install a concrete driveway, its important that its installed properly the first time. Des Moines Concrete Pros are experienced concrete contractors that will make sure the job is done the right, without cracks!
If you are interested in discussing how we can help you install a concrete driveway, contact us here.