If you plan on refreshing aspects of your current home or commercial building, using suitable driveway material is crucial. Although both materials feature a mixture of stone and other substances, concrete and asphalt have different attributes when it comes to aesthetics and durability.
Typically asphalt is used to create lots and roads, concrete is conventionally used for patios and sidewalks. Despite their differences, both blacktop and concrete make excellent driveways.
If you live in central Pennsylvania, you know the quality of your driveway matters, especially during cold weather. Concrete and asphalt are both excellent driveway options, but you may wonder which one is better suited to your application. Read on to discover the distinct characteristics of cement vs. asphalt so you can decide for yourself.
Cost of Asphalt Over Concrete Driveways
Is concrete or asphalt cheaper? This is probably the first question you ask when choosing between a blacktop or concrete driveway.
Asphalt driveways are generally cheaper than concrete, costing $2 to $4 per square foot. Concrete driveways, by comparison, typically cost between $4 and $6 per square foot for a standard installation. Stains, details and finishes can increase the price tag to as much as $15 per square foot.
Concrete vs. Asphalt Maintenance
With the right materials, many homeowners can seal their own asphalt driveways. It’s best to seal your asphalt driveway six months to a year after installation and then again every three to five years.
Applying a seal to your concrete driveway is a great way to preserve its finish. Degreasers are often necessary to eradicate chemical stains, fuel and oil that build up over time.
Repairing cracks is an essential part of maintenance for both asphalt and concrete driveways. Concrete cracks are difficult to mend, while asphalt cracks are generally easier to fix and yield more attractive and aesthetically pleasing repairs.
Lifespan and Durability of Asphalt vs. Concrete
Concrete provides a long-lasting, sturdy option and can last homeowners over 50 years with occasional degreasing and repairs. Asphalt is less durable than concrete and can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance.
Curb Appeal and Aesthetic of Blacktop and Concrete Driveways
Pavement material plays a vital role in your driveway’s appearance. Concrete, an enduring and classic driveway material, is incredibly durable and stylistically neutral, lasting 25 to 50 years. You can stamp, etch, tint or stain a concrete driveway to achieve the look you desire. Finishes provide alternative hues or colors to the natural grayish, off-white color of concrete.
Asphalt is easy and practical to install and must be compressed and rolled during installation. This material is not conducive to etching and stamping, however. Some sealants contain coloring or tints, but options are generally limited to black.
Effect of Weather on Concrete vs. Asphalt Driveways
When determining which driveway material is best for you, it’s important to consider how concrete and asphalt perform in cold climates. While both concrete and blacktop driveways have their merits, asphalt driveways are generally better for budget-conscious homeowners and those who live in areas experiencing frequent or drastic temperature fluctuations.
It’s often cheaper and easier to resurface asphalt, especially after exposure to the elements, but concrete driveways last longer and offer more options for texture, color and embellishment. Concrete can be more expensive to repair and is more prone to cracking in cold weather due to shrinkage. If you use salt on your concrete driveway, it can potentially lead to damage in colder months, as well.
Concrete driveways fare better in warm climates than cold ones, while asphalt tends to soften in the heat, contributing to dents and grooves in its surface.
Once the base preparation for an asphalt driveway is complete, it may begin looking like a finished product in as little as 40 minutes. Asphalt can take up to 12 months to cure completely and remains a little more susceptible to damage until that time. However, asphalt only takes 48 to 72 hours to dry enough for vehicle and foot traffic.
The time it will take to install a concrete driveway will depend on the size and complexity of your project. In general, residential concrete driveways take one to three days of work. However, keep in mind that new concrete can be used only after curing is complete. These driveways take a full 28 days to dry and hold their strength.
It’s important to keep everything off of a new concrete driveway for 48 hours. After that, you can walk on it. Feel free to drive your vehicle on the driveway after seven days, but you should wait a full month before driving or parking heavy machinery on your newly poured concrete.
Pros and Cons of Asphalt Driveways
Essential factors to consider about an asphalt driveway include:
Asphalt Driveway Pros
Here are some of the benefits you will enjoy if you choose asphalt for your driveway:
- The ability to use your driveway almost immediately
- Easy DIY repair to extend the life and renew the look of damaged or worn asphalt
- Lower susceptibility to damage by ice melt, salt and harsh winter conditions
- Installation costs that range from $2 to $4 per square foot
Asphalt Driveway Cons
Drawbacks to asphalt driveways include:
- A lower resale value than concrete
- More easily damaged by tree roots and plants
- Need for periodic resealing to help prevent cracks and extend life
- A lifespan of 15 to 20 years, as opposed to 30 to 50 for concrete
- A black tar-like component that can become sticky and soften in hot weather
- Edges with an unfinished look unless installed with a border treatment
- One style option — black, flat and smooth
Pros and Cons of Concrete Driveways
Pros and cons of concrete driveways include:
Concrete Driveway Pros
Compared to asphalt, concrete driveways are:
- Relatively affordable when you factor in longevity
- Exceedingly durable, with the ability to last for 50 years or more
- Able to stand up to the heaviest vehicles you’re likely to drive
Concrete Driveway Cons
Downsides of concrete driveways can include:
- Less aesthetic appeal as a building material than asphalt
- Need for annual maintenance, especially sealing, to ensure the slab’s long life
- Greater need for professional installation, as concrete is not a DIY-friendly material for large projects
Let Union Quarries Help You Decide What Material Is Best for Your Application
If you’re not sure which type of driveway you want for your home or business in central Pennsylvania, turn to the professionals at Union Quarries. We are undisputed experts when it comes to building materials such as asphalt, concrete and aggregate. For over 50 years, we’ve been assisting contractors, developers, builders and homeowners by providing hundreds of thousands of tons of aggregate products and tens of thousands of yards of concrete.