Is Installing Asphalt Over Concrete a Good Idea?

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In the Raleigh area, it’s becoming increasingly common for homeowners to look at switching their concrete driveway to an asphalt driveway instead. As we’ll discuss below, asphalt offers a lot of advantages over concrete, and relatively few drawbacks, so it’s understandable why this is.

However, should you ask your Raleigh asphalt installers to install the asphalt on top of an existing concrete driveway? It’s certainly possible and might even be a good idea in some situations.

So, as one of the top asphalt installers in Raleigh, let’s break this down: why people are moving to asphalt, and the pros and cons of putting it on top of your existing concrete.

I. Why Choose Asphalt for Your Driveway

Let’s start by talking about why asphalt is coming to be seen as a superior alternative to concrete.

Concrete was standard for so long simply because concrete is cheap and hypothetically long-lasting, with a potentially longer lifespan. However, the actual advantages of concrete basically end there, and the lifespan issue isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.

On the other hand, asphalt offers a lot more advantages:

  • Asphalt is more resistant to temperature changes.

In an area like The Triangle where temperatures can vary wildly between summer and winter, asphalt is the better choice because it won’t be as harmed by those shifts. Concrete, on the other hand, tends to crack in deep winters.

  • Asphalt is cheaper to install.

Asphalt is roughly 40-50% cheaper to purchase and install than concrete. Although in fairness, neither material is particularly expensive.

  • Asphalt is cheaper to fix.

Concrete can indeed last longer than asphalt in general, but fixing concrete is expensive and leaves ugly patches. If asphalt is broken or forms a pothole, just pour in more asphalt and it’s all good.

  • Asphalt is harder to stain.

One big issue with concrete is that it can soak up stains – such as spilled oil – like a sponge and cleaning it can be extremely difficult. Asphalt is harder to stain in the first place and hides stains when they do happen.

  • Asphalt maintenance is generally easier.

Aside from occasionally hosing it down and adding a new coating of sealant every few years, there’s not much you have to do.

In short, if you simply want a slab that will last for several decades and you don’t care what it looks like, concrete is fine. In every other case, asphalt is typically the better option – especially with the harsh winters here in the Triangle area which can wreck concrete.

II. Should You Install Asphalt on Top of Concrete?

This leads to our main question: Should your asphalt driveway be installed over top of the old one, or should you rip out the old concrete first even if that adds to the costs?

In short: it depends on the condition of the concrete.

It is entirely possible for a good Raleigh asphalt installer to add a layer of asphalt on top of an existing concrete slab. In a best-case scenario, this can result in a “best of both worlds” situation, since the concrete base will add extra strength and durability to the asphalt. This can potentially result in the strongest possible driveway you could have for your home.

However, this is only true if the concrete is in good shape and was properly installed in the first place. The issue is that if the concrete below the asphalt cracks or buckles, those flaws will quickly show up in the asphalt as well. For example, if the concrete forms a pothole, the asphalt above will almost immediately begin to sag.

Likewise, if the sub-base beneath the concrete is unstable, everything above it will be unstable as well. Shifts in the ground that affect the concrete would also harm your asphalt.

You need a highly experienced paving service to survey the ground and existing concrete slab before deciding. They’ll have the knowledge necessary to decide if your concrete can serve as a good base for an asphalt driveway, or if starting over would be a better idea.

III. The Costs of Switching to Asphalt

So, if you did want to change from a concrete driveway to asphalt, what would the costs look like?

Well, as mentioned above, asphalt is almost always cheaper to install than concrete. If you’re looking at new construction, or your concrete is in good shape, asphalt is definitely the more attractive option.

However, this does get more complicated if you have an existing concrete slab that needs to be removed. This is work that requires heavy diggers and lifters, not to mention the costs associated with transporting the old concrete away for recycling or another disposal. The exact cost will depend on the size and composition of the slab, but you can expect this to run to thousands of dollars – potentially more than the cost of the asphalt that will replace it.

This does make it tempting to just pour the asphalt over top, but again, you should pay attention to your asphalt contractors when they evaluate the condition of the concrete. If asphalt is poured on top of shoddy concrete, you could end up having to rip everything out a few years later once the driveway fails.

Blalock Paving Has the Experience You Need!

Since 1968, we’ve been providing top-quality services as a concrete and asphalt installer in Raleigh and the full surrounding Triangle area. More than fifty years’ experience means that we can offer expert advice when it comes to installing, replacing, or upgrading your driveway. We’ll work with you to understand your needs and budget and make changes that will last for decades.

Contact us today to learn more or consult on your next Raleigh paving job.