Whether you’re building a new house or looking to update the look of your current home, a great driveway adds significantly to its appeal. When it comes to installing residential driveways, there are two basic options: asphalt or concrete. The two materials are quite similar. Both are made from a mixture of sand and stone, laid over a gravel substrate. The big difference is the binder. Asphalt uses tar, while concrete uses cement. Which is better for your home? It’s going to depend on a few factors.
One of the top considerations with residential driveways is the costs involved. In this case, it depends on what you’re looking for. Asphalt is almost always substantially cheaper to install than concrete, however, after periodic sealcoating the total cost is pretty much the same. With regular sealcoating of asphalt, both driveways will usually last 20-30 years. However, asphalt also doesn’t last as long as concrete. An asphalt driveway will usually last 20-30 years, while concrete will last about 25 years.
Asphalt must be re-sealed every few years, to keep it from breaking apart. Concrete, on the other hand, is easily stained and very difficult to clean.
If cracks occur, asphalt is easier and cheaper to repair, but concrete is harder to damage and will require fewer repairs over time.
One of the reasons that asphalt is cheaper than concrete is that it’s a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Concrete, on the other hand, offers far more cosmetic options. It can be dyed almost any color.
However, the price for specialty colored concrete is significantly higher than basic concrete. Concrete can be beautiful, but you’ll pay for it.
Probably the biggest practical difference between asphalt and concrete is how they react to the weather. Asphalt does extremely well in low temperatures, but sufficiently high heat can soften the tar that binds it together, leading to damage. Meanwhile, concrete is completely unaffected by heat, but can easily be damaged by deep cold, particularly wet freezes. Asphalt does better with snow and melts quicker, while concrete melts slower and can get scarred up with shoveling marks.
Concrete and Asphalt Driveway Installation