Asphalt or Concrete? What driveway is right for you?

Should I choose asphalt or concrete for my new driveway?
Asphalt and concrete are the two most common types of materials used for driveways in the Greater Cincinnati/Dayton areas.  Asphalt and concrete driveways both have their own significant advantages to offer.  Typically in colder climates, asphalt generally performs better in the extreme conditions than concrete does. One of the mistakes commonly caused with the installation of a new concrete driveway is the lack of a proper, solid stone base.  A stone base is very important with both asphalt and concrete.  Asphalt and concrete both need strength and support beneath them in order to last properly.  In our harsh winter climate, concrete is susceptible to frost heaves, which can cause severe cracking.  In addition, concrete does not react well with salt.  Salt can damage the surface of the concrete and cause it to pit and/or spawl.  Concrete is a far more popular choice in southern states where salt damage is not a concern and there are far more mild winters.  Salt does not damage or affect asphalt.

Blacktop   driveways   are   generally   less   costly   to   install   than   concrete. 
Asphalt  driveways  normally  do  need a  little more  maintenance  than concrete
driveways.   However concrete driveways do need maintenance as wel l.  In order
to  protect  your  asphalt  properly,  you  should  fill  all  of  the cracks every year
before the winter season arrives.   Normally this is not that difficult  of  a  process. 
You  can  usually find  a  liquid,  pourable crack filler  at  a  local  hardware  store
for  a  reasonable  price.    The  crack  filler is  then poured  into  the  cracks  and
scraped smooth with a metal scraper.  This is a task that most home owner's can easily perform themselves.  However if you would like to leave this type of work to the professionals, 1-800-ASPHALT does perform crack filling projects.  Asphalt seal coating is also recommended for maintaining the life of asphalt driveways.  Sealing should be performed every 3-5 years to protect the pavement surface.  As far as maintenance goes, concrete should also be sealed, but more often than asphalt.  To properly maintain a concrete driveway in the harsh Ohio climate, you should seal the surface with a concrete sealant approximately every 2 years.

If properly installed and maintained, an asphalt driveway can be expected to last approximately 20 years.  When concrete is properly installed, it can be expected to last even longer.  However, both concrete's and asphalt's endurance and longevity are a function of the consistency of the mix, strength of the stone base, quality of the installing contractor, and the amount of maintenance performed by the owner.  Most of the time though, concrete only looks good during the first 5-10 years after the original installation.  It may last for a very long time, but salt damage, permanent oil leaks from cars, and permanent tire marks can prevent concrete from providing your home with desired curb appeal.  This is not always the case, as in some situations, if very well taken care of, concrete can look good for 12-15 years or even longer.  On the other hand, one of the positives of asphalt is that you are able to hide a lot of these same cosmetic issues with a new coat of asphalt sealer.  Also asphalt is not affected or damaged by the use of salt.  Concrete's lighter color reflects the sun's light and consequently it's heat.  This is advantageous in the summer because the driveway will remain cooler.  However, in the winter, snow on the driveway melts slower because the concrete doesn't absorb the light and radiate the heat.  The exact opposite is true of asphalt.

On the average, the intial cost of concrete is approximately 35% higher than the cost of asphalt.  However the long term costs of asphalt versus concrete can really be significant.  The upside of asphalt is that you are able to install resurfacing layers, which is where you actually place a new layer of asphalt over top of the existing paved surface.  This is cost efficient because you do not have to pay to remove the old asphalt.  When a concrete driveway has reached the end of its' lifespan, you actually have to remove all of the existing concrete and haul it off of the property to an approved dump site.  This can be a very costly procedure, often times being thousands of dollars. 

In the end, you need to decide which type of driveway is right for you.  In our opinion, here at 1-800-ASPHALT, we believe that asphalt is a more durable surface to use in the Ohio climate.  However there are situations where concrete has a better and more suitable purpose.  Sidewalks and patios should definitely be poured in concrete because they do not receive any of the oil leaks, tire marks, or salt damage that normal driveways endure.  Some times, really small and/or narrow driveways are better off being poured with concrete instead of asphalt.  Even further, if a person really likes the look and color of concrete and it makes them happy, they should install concrete.  Our goal here at 1-800-ASPHALT is simply to inform our potential customer's and make them aware of as much as possible.  A driveway is an expensive decision that in the end should make the homeowner happy.
Pros & Cons of Concrete Driveways
Pros of Concrete Driveways
  • Decorative Options (You can choose many designs)
  • Makes snow removal much easier
  • Where winters are not severe, outlasts asphalt paving

Cons of Concrete Driveways
  • More costly and expensive than asphalt paving
  • Unlike asphalt paving, concrete cannot be re-layered
  • Concrete driveways stain easily, which as a result, can be very hard to remove.  (Oil, tire marks, etc...)
  • Cost of removal is quite expensive
  • requires a full stone base for maximum performance
  • Maintenance is necessary in the form of sealing every    couple years.
    Pros & Cons of Asphalt Driveways
Pros of Asphalt Driveways
  • More affordable than concrete
  • Makes snow removal much easier
  • Performs well in cold and extreme climates
  • Unlike concrete, can be re-layered

Cons of Asphalt Driveways
  • 15%-25% less life expectancy than concrete
  • Can become soft in extreme heat conditions
  • Requires a full stone base for maximum performance
  • Maintenance is necessary in the form of crack filling every year and seal coating every 3-5 years.
Copyright 2010 Brown Construction & Paving :  Asphalt Paving.  All Rights Reserved