If you are building or updating your home, you may be considering putting in a new patio or driveway. When it comes to driveways there are only a few materials available to you for construction. Dirt, gravel or crushed stone, asphalt and concrete.
If you are looking for something that is going to last you a long time with minimal upkeep, concrete or asphalt as your best choices. Asphalt, however, is typically used only for roads and driveways, not patios (due to aesthetic reasons). While these two materials may look similar, they actually have quite a few differences. They are both basically made of ground up stone and sand, but they use different materials that hold them together. Concrete uses cement to keep it in place, while asphalt uses petroleum for its glue.
The material you choose for your driveway will make a big difference when it comes to the look and feel. Concrete has so many options, allowing you to choose the color with tint, stain or paint it, or add design elements by stamping or etching. The finished product can be anywhere from off-white to gray, to reddish or greenish hues
Due to the installation process of asphalt, it does not offer many design options. Asphalt must be rolled out and pressed into place, making stamping or etching impossible. You may be able to get some sealants that have tints in them, but generally, black is the only option available.
Typically, concrete tends to last longer than asphalt. Concrete is known to last 50 years or more, while asphalt can only be expected to last a paltry 30, and that’s with proper maintenance.
When deciding on using concrete vs asphalt, you’ll want to consider the climate in your region and how it can affect your pavement. Concrete can become vulnerable in cold winters due to the constant freezing and thawing of water, and it can be damaged by de-icers.
Conversely, asphalt does not do well in very hot climates. The hot sun can actually melt asphalt, forming sticky tar that can stick your shoes, car tires, or clothing.
When considering whether you should go with asphalt or concrete, keep in mind the ongoing maintenance of each material.
Asphalt needs to be sealed within a year after it’s initial installation, and should be resealed every 3-5 years after that. The good news is that sealing your concrete driveway is something you will be able to do yourself. You will also find that asphalt is easily repaired if a crack develops, and the repairs can still be somewhat pleasing to the eye.
Concrete doesn’t necessarily need much sealing at all. However, many proud concrete driveway or patio owners will seal their installations periodically to preserve the finish and keep it looking nice. You may consider the use of a degreaser from time to time if you begin to accumulate oil or fuel stains on your concrete driveway. When it comes to repairs, homeowners will find that cracks in concrete are more difficult to repair when compared to asphalt, and the repairs don’t look as nice.
Cost is probably one of the most important factors when it comes to making any decision. Typically asphalt is much cheaper, with a cost of $2-4 per square foot, but this can vary depending on the price of crude oil.
A standard concrete install will run you anywhere from $4 per square foot, all the way up to $15, depending on what kinds of finishes and design elements you might choose.
So, should you choose asphalt or concrete?
The choice is really up to you! We hope you can use this guide to help you decide. It really comes down to how you want it to look, how much you want to spend, and how much maintenance you’re willing to do!