You’ve decided that a smooth, level pavement on the driveway will make getting in and out of your vehicle a more pleasant experience. Now it’s just a matter of deciding what material to use. Concrete and asphalt are the two most economical and common choices, but there are pluses and minuses to both. The differences between the two depend on four main factors of cost, maintenance, climate, and curb appeal. Considering each can help with the final decision.
The initial cost of installing an asphalt driveway is nearly always less than that of concrete. The long-term trade-off, though, is that concrete lasts longer than asphalt. Usually, asphalt pavements will hold up at least 20 years with good drainage and routine resealing. Concrete pavements typically survive a decade longer than asphalt, but they often make it past the half-century mark. If the driveway falls into serious disrepair, though, the asphalt version is easier and cheaper to patch compared to concrete.
Both types of driveways are vulnerable to a shortened lifespan if they’re not regularly cared for by giving them a coat of sealant at least every other year. While concrete is naturally rigid, asphalt can also become brittle if not protected with a sealer. Part are keeping either material in top shape involves preventing common chemicals from damaging them. Oil from autos can stain concrete, but this substance along with gasoline can dissolve asphalt. Tough weeds and grasses have to be kept safely away from asphalt since they can punch through it.
Overall, asphalt is usually considered the better option in cold climates. When the moisture in the soil freezes, it expands and causes the ground to rise. This upheaval will nearly always produce some cracks in concrete. If they aren’t dealt with, subsequent freezing and thawing combines with rain and snow melt seeping into the cracks to widen them further. When the ground swells and contracts, asphalt possesses the flexibility to move with it. On the negative side, its rougher surface makes clearing snow more difficult. One advantage of concrete in colder climates is that the hard, flat surface makes the use of a snow shovel or snow blower easier.
Just like landscaping, the driveway plays a role in the aesthetics of a residence. Poured concrete is superior in offering a sharply defined edge. If the edges are curved, though, you’ll need specially-built forms for concrete while asphalt can be as serpentine as you like without any forms. Both surfaces can be textured and patterned to look like brick or stone when first established. If you want some color, expensive acrylic polymer sealant does the trick for asphalt while providing six to eight years of protection. Concrete allows for more options. It can be dyed or pigmented when first poured, or it can be stained or acid etched later on. It can also be painted and given a coat of clear sealant.