Asphalt vs. Concrete: What Should I Choose?

gregs_landscaping_flickrHere’s the 411 on asphalt and concrete driveways. Either material will add beauty and value to your home if well-maintained and properly installed. Both need an experienced contractor who understands the material they’re installing and properly prepares the substrate for whatever driveway you choose. Eight inches of substrate, installed four inches at a time and compressed twice is the best in most areas. Different climates may allow some variations, check with local building codes and interview multiple contractors so that you can choose from a range of estimates. Check their references carefully. The more you know about the material you pick, the better able you’ll be to ensure your installer does a good job and that you’ll be happy with your results!

Asphalt:

  • Less expensive than concrete (this may change when oil prices are high)
  • Must be sealed periodically which adds maintenance costs
  • Simpler and cheaper to repair, and repairs blend into older areas with a simple coating
  • Edges are less defined and geometric
  • Adapts more easily to non-uniform spaces
  • Only comes in very limited colors and finishes
  • Better suited to colder winters, with less cracking
  • Acts as a heat collector because of the dark surface, promoting faster melting of snow and ice
  • Can soften in the heat of summer, creating depressions where weighted
  • Can be significantly damaged by oil and gasoline leaks
  • Oils from coating can stain flooring and furniture if brought inside on shoes and toys
  • Do not seal a new driveway for at least a year
  • Can be layered over an old surface, but it’s best to start over with compressed gravel base

Concrete:

  • More expensive to install
  • Very little maintenance, no yearly sealing required
  • Can be damaged by winter road salt, causing pitting and cracking, rinsing away salt deposits is wise
  • Stains more easily, so removing dead leaves and washing away spills is wise
  • Difficult and expensive to repair, and repaired areas won’t match older concrete perfectly
  • Can be stained to create many colors, many options
  • Can be stamped to create patterns like brick or stone
  • Remains rigid in heat, even when weighted (better support for motorcycle kickstand in summer)
  • Rigid nature means it is more vulnerable to frost heave and cracking
  • Cannot be laid over older surface

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