Two of the most common options for driveways are asphalt and concrete. Both materials have pros and cons, similarities and differences. Deciding which to use needs careful consideration, and factors such as appearance, maintenance, budget, climate, and restrictions need to be taken into account.
Asphalt needs more maintenance, but any repairs are generally inexpensive. Concrete doesn’t need as much maintenance, but any repairs tend to be complicated and more expensive. It’s also worth noting that oil leaks are almost unnoticeable, but gasoline leaks will damage the surface. Any stains will be noticeable on concrete. Asphalt can last for up to 20 years before needing to be replaced, but concrete can last for up to 30 years.
Asphalt tends to crack as temperatures fluctuate, and the tar can melt, soften and deform. It is better suited to cold climates. Concrete, however, can crack in cold weathers, and if you use an incompatible de-icer, it can damage the concrete. Cracks and damage to concrete can be expensive, and difficult to repair, whereas cracks in asphalt are easy, and can be repaired as part of routine maintenance.
In terms of appearance, it’s down to personal preference. Concrete tends to be light colored, but it can be tinted, designed, patterned, or finished to give it a more alternative appearance. It takes a few days, or more than a week for concrete to cure completely. Asphalt is darker, but it can be colored slightly if you want something a bit different. Asphalt is cured in a few hours.
Asphalt needs to be sealed between 6 – 12 months after installation, and then resealed every 3-5 years. Concrete doesn’t need to be sealed, but doing so can help to extend its lifespan. Asphalt can be resurfaced easily, but concrete can not.
You need to think about your needs and preferences, but you should also be aware of the similarities between asphalt and concrete. Both need a gravel base, and both need time to cure before driving on them. The main difference is in the manufacturing stage. Asphalt is made from stone, sand and tar, while concrete is made from stone, sand and cement. Either surface will last for many years if they have been properly cared for.