One of the biggest questions that surfaces when you’re thinking about paving your driveway is whether to use concrete or asphalt. There’s no denying that they’re both great options, but they each come with their own set of pros and cons.
The first question that most homeowners want to know is which option is the most affordable. For this question, asphalt takes the lead as it’s cheaper to install than concrete, although this doesn’t include maintenance costs (which can differ greatly from job to job). Asphalt will definitely require more maintenance, although how much wear and tear it suffers will make a big impact on those costs. When it comes to which one lasts longer, this time concrete is the obvious winner. On average a concrete driveway lasts about 30 years, while asphalt will last the average homeowner around 20 years.
An asphalt driveway is easier to install, and most installers will tell you that (with care and some limitations) it can be used within a day or so of being completed. A concrete driveway, by comparison, is more time consuming to install, and will need around a week to cure before it’s put into use. When it’s time for replacement, asphalt can be repaved or resurfaced, while concrete will generally need complete replacement. Small cracks and holes in asphalt can be repaired by a contractor or a careful homeowner, although for larger repairs it may be necessary to remove a section and repave it. Cracks in concrete can certainly be repaired, but are often seen as ugly or unsightly by homeowners. It can also be resurfaced, but many contractors maintain that this is not ideal and that the whole surface should be replaced to adhere properly to the base.
Concrete lasts a long time with a simple pressure wash each year, requiring very little maintenance in order to remain functional and looking good. Asphalt, by comparison, should be sealed every 3 years, will still need to be swept and rinsed, and will need to have cracks or holes sealed to avoid further damage.
No matter which option you choose for your home, both materials require a solid foundation. Neither will stand the test of time unless your driveway foundation has been properly levelled and is ready for the surface. You should also consider your location before making a choice, as winter can do considerable damage to concrete (especially if you’re not careful about using the proper de-icer) and asphalt can handle greater temperature fluctuations due to its flexibility. Think about the style of your home and the driveways that are common in your neighbourhood or even just along your street, as an asphalt driveway may not look as nice when flanked by concrete, or vice versa. There may even be regulations as to which one you can use in your area.
Consider these pros and cons before making a choice, along with the time you have to dedicate to maintenance, the cost of each, and your personal preference.