Breaking Down the Choice Between Asphalt and Concrete Driveways

Written by Small Business Magazine on April 19, 2016. Posted in Concrete driveways, Contractors, Driveways

Concrete contractors

Your home’s driveway may not be the most exciting or fun part of your home but it is important. Until you have to deal with a driveway installation, you may not be aware of the many different ways you can go with that project. If you are looking at a paved driveway, as opposed to gravel other material, you may not know which you should go with, concrete or asphalt? Any contractor would tell you there are good and down sides to each option.

  1. Look at the maintenance. Asphalt driveways need more maintenance and they are prone to cracks. The good news for these kinds of driveways is that it is incredibly easy to fix the cracks. They can be filled and sealed. When you have a concrete driveway, on the other hand, cracks and breaks are harder to make but also harder to deal with. When cracks appear on a concrete driveway, it is usually pretty obvious. They stand out more than holes and cracks on asphalt. When you bring a contractor in to fix your concrete driveway, you cannot just patch it up without that looking bad and homeowners often have to do more extensive repair work. You can also drive your car almost immediately on the asphalt whereas you need to give the concrete a chance to set.
  2. Look at changes in temperature. If you live in a climate with real seasons, this may be an issue for you. Asphalt driveways are also much better at dealing with temperature changes. They expand and contract without cracking. Concrete driveways are not as able to adapt and can crack with too much pressure or any kind of movement on the surface. If you live in a landlocked state like Minnesota with harsh winters and hot summers, knowing how your driveway will deal with temperature changes is a big deal.
  3. Look at the lifespan. Properly installed and maintained concrete driveways can last between 25 and 50 years. A properly put in asphalt driveway should last for about 20 years. That is not a huge difference. You can extend the lifespan of any driveway by keeping it up. A good contractor can help you with that. For either kind of driveway, you should have it power washed every few years. You can also have your asphalt driveway sealed every two years to keep it looking its best.
  4. Look at the installation costs for both. Concrete is more expensive than asphalt. You have several options with asphalt driveways. Basic asphalt runs you between $2 and $5 per square foot. That amount goes to between $3 and $9/square foot for stamped asphalt. Basic concrete costs as much as the stamped asphalt and between $15 and $25 per square foot for customized concrete.

Most surfaces that have to deal with vehicular traffic are made of asphalt. Nearly 94% of the 2.6 million miles of roads across the United States are paved with it. That amounts to about 18 billion tons of asphalt spread around the country on its roads. It is widely used for parking lots and more than 90% of these surfaces are asphalt.

On the face of it, it might look like asphalt is the better choice for driveways. They are cheaper, easier to maintain and repair and deal better with weather conditions. While it is true that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” many people consider the concrete driveways to offer more options in terms of their appearance.You can get concrete in a much wider variety of colors. Whereas asphalt is generally black and that is it, there are about 250 different shades and hues that you can pick for your concrete driveway. This makes concrete a more versatile surface. If that is important to you, you should really look more closely at your concrete options. Your driveway is one of the first things people see when they look at your home.

If you do live in a place with cold winters, another thing you might want to ask your contractor about is putting in a heated driveway. This can make the surface easier and safer to walk over after snow or when there is a chance or rain freezing to ice.

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