Concrete vs. Asphalt: Which Material Makes the Better Driveway?

Concrete vs. Asphalt: Which Material Makes the Better Driveway?

We tend to overlook our driveways, expecting them to hold up and do their job season after season. However, old or neglected driveways accumulate stains, cracks, and chips, which make them look unsightly and impact the curb appeal of your house.

If it’s time to replace your current driveway, you might be torn between choosing asphalt or concrete. The best choice depends on your climate, your budget, and how often you plan on performing the upkeep.

Learn more about the differences in this guide on concrete vs. asphalt to determine which type is more suitable for your home.

Styles and Options

When it comes to asphalt vs. a concrete driveway, style should be one of the first factors you consider before deciding. Think about the style and color of your home, as well as the surrounding landscape.

Do you want a darker or lighter driveway? Do you want a simple pathway, or do you have a specific design in mind?

Concrete has more options when it comes to designs. You can color it, stain it, stamp it, and choose different looks. Concrete is relatively versatile when it comes to visual options, and can look great in front of any home, from Southwestern-style houses to modern mansions.

There are concrete pavers you can have installed in various patterns and designs. You can also have concrete stamped to resemble stone or brick. Of course, you can always go with the traditional plain grey most people recognize.

Asphalt is usually dark grey or black in color. It matches the street and can provide a darker contrast to your home. There aren’t as many visual options when it comes to asphalt, although it can complement any style home.

Climate Considerations

Before installing a new driveway, you’ll have to think about how well it will hold up in the heat or cold. Depending on your climate, one style may work better than the other.

Asphalt doesn’t hold up well in high heat, as it can become sticky in the warm weather. Asphalt gets soft in the heat and hardens again when the temps drop at night. This constant cycle of softening and hardening throughout the season can cause the surface to sag or crack.

Avoid asphalt if you live in an area with hot summers.

Concrete stands up much better in warm weather, but freezing temperatures can cause issues. Concrete can crack and buckle in freezing weather, although winterizing it can help. Also, the salt used to melt ice can create pits and stains on concrete driveways.

If you live in a cold climate with freezing winter weather, you may want to avoid concrete and opt for asphalt.

General Maintenance and Cleaning

Asphalt vs. concrete—which is easier to take care of? Well, both styles require some degree of upkeep and cleaning if you want to keep your driveway looking its best.

Due to its darker color, asphalt does hide stains better. If you anticipate a lot of oil drips, rust, and staining, you might want to consider asphalt. However, you’ll need to reseal your asphalt driveway every few years.

You can seal your driveway yourself, since it’s relatively easy, or have someone do it for you.

Concrete tends to stain, and you’ll notice spots and smears more easily on the lighter surface. If you have a concrete driveway, expect to do more cleaning if you want to keep it looking good. You can seal concrete if you want to reduce staining and to preserve the color and look of your driveway.

Making Repairs

Over time, your driveway will develop cracks and pits from use and temperature fluctuations. When this happens, you’ll need to repair it.

Asphalt is easier to repair, but it also tends to deteriorate faster, meaning you may need to make more repairs. That said, repairing an asphalt driveway is often an easy DIY task, and any patchwork blends in better.

Concrete is harder to repair. Any patches or fixes tend to stand out, although you can resurface a concrete driveway to make it less noticeable. That can add up, seeing as resurfacing generally costs somewhere between $2-$3 a square foot.

If your concrete driveway has a lot of cracks or has very deep cracks, you might want to call in the pros. After all, if you’re resurfacing a concrete driveway, you’ll want to do the job right, so it lasts as long as possible.

Longevity

Overall, concrete driveways tend to last longer than asphalt driveways. Concrete can last between 30-40 years, with proper maintenance and upkeep. Asphalt usually lasts between 20-25 years.

Consider how long you plan on staying in your home and how much work you’re willing to put into maintenance, cleaning, and repair of the driveway.

Regular upkeep and maintenance is key to making your driveway lasts as long as possible.

Sustainability

When you think of eco-friendly or “green” driveways, asphalt and concrete may not be the first choices that spring to mind.

Is either option better than the other for sustainability?

In general, concrete lasts longer, depending on where you live and how well you take care of it. Concrete also requires less resealing. Plus, there are sustainable concrete options, such as light-colored concrete pavement that helps reduce heat in urban areas.

On the other hand, asphalt requires less energy to produce.

Recently, there has been more of a push to incorporate more sustainable practices in both the concrete and asphalt industry.

Cost to Install

Concrete driveways cost more to install than asphalt does. In general, concrete costs around $3-$10 per square foot to install, where asphalt costs about $2-$5 per square foot.

Depending on your budget, this may be the deciding factor for you.

Concrete vs. Asphalt: Which Is Right for You?

In the battle between concrete vs. asphalt, the best material for your driveway comes down to the factors we mentioned above. Consider the climate where you live, your budget, your willingness to perform regular maintenance, and your preferences for a particular style.

Once you have considered all that, you can make an educated decision.

We hope this article proved useful to you. Keep checking our blog for informative tips on home improvement, construction, and more!

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