Which is better? Concrete or Asphalt Driveways
The driveway is an extension of your house. You want it to be beautiful but it needs to be functional as well. Choosing between asphalt or concrete comes down to price, aesthetics, durability, and maintenance. Both treatments have their pros and cons so it’s up to you to decide what’s more important.
Let’s Start Off With The Price Tag
If you decide by price alone in the beginning, it may come back to bite you in the end. Asphalt is the more inexpensive route but it doesn’t last as long as concrete. An asphalt driveway can last up to 30 years whereas a concrete driveway can last up to 40 years or more. Both driveway mediums need to be sealed but asphalt will need to be resealed every 3 to 5 years. A concrete driveway needs to be resealed every 5 to 10 years; it all depends on the kind of sealant that’s used.
Also before asphalt or concrete can be poured, you have to take into account that the ground will need to be prepped for application. You’ll need a base foundation pad. It’s usually made up of sand or fine gravel. You also need to “grade” the area which means that water will be directed away from the house by adding a slight slope. Then a wooden frame will be laid out. This helps with the structure while pouring and creating joints for expansion and contraction. You will also need to add wire mesh or rebar to strengthen the driveway. Talk to your residential concrete contractor ahead of time and let them know what kind of vehicles will be parked in the driveway. Wire mesh should be enough for any standard sized car or truck but rebar should be used if you intend to have any heavy duty machinery parked there.
Now Let’s Talk About Aesthetics
Asphalt comes in a rich black or dark gray color. It basically looks like the street or a store’s parking lot. A lot of people prefer a dark hue because it hides any oil spills, leaks or stains in general. Also any crack repairs will be virtually invisible. Stains are very noticeable with concrete so extra cleaning will be necessary to keep things looking good; and crack repairs will need to be matched as closely as possible to look even.
Concrete on the other hand offers more color and style options than asphalt. Concrete can be stained in a variety of different colors ranging from blue, red, green, to earthly tones and everything in between. Pick a color that compliments your house and landscape. Furthermore, stamped patterns that mimic stone or bricks can be added. Designs can also be made on decorative concrete by using different colors. You’ll want a good sealant to make sure the color doesn’t lose its vibrancy. This is also a good way to hide any of those pesky stains we were talking about. Why not continue the color staining into the garage and make it feel even more streamlined?
Durability and Maintenance
We’ve already addressed some issues such as properly sealing the driveway and any crack repairs it may need but there are a few more things to be considered.
The weather. What is the climate like where you live? If you live someplace with intensely hot summers then you may find that an asphalt driveway will become a bit soft and sticky. Concrete is great for hot summers but it may crack more in freezing temperatures. If you’re in a rainy location its important to remove any standing water. If you’re dealing with snow then make sure your snow shovel doesn’t scratch the surface because you’ll be scratching the sealant off and exposing the raw driveway to the elements. Try to use a broom or snow blower if possible. If you’re dealing with icy conditions don’t use salt or deicing chemicals; try kitty litter instead.
Finally… How Flexible Is Your Time And Parking Situation
If you decide on a concrete driveway, you won’t be able to park on it for at least a week. The concrete needs time to cure. You can damage the driveway if you park on it too soon. It will be completely cured in 2 to 3 weeks but you can park on it after the first week is over. Asphalt only needs a couple of days to cure but will need to be sealed in a few months after being poured. So in the meantime, figure out if you can park on the street or maybe a nice neighbor will share their driveway with you. Either way, a new driveway will make your house look more beautiful and raise its value.