Maybe you want to install a new driveway or are perhaps building a new house and need to make a decision on how to pave the driveway. When the time to install a driveway surface comes, you’ll probably have to choose from two traditional options – asphalt or concrete. The biggest decision would then be which material to use between these two.

Sure, there are other options for driveway materials such as brick pavers at the high-end and gravel at the low-end, but concrete and asphalt remain the most popular choices for both commercial and residential purposes.

Concrete and asphalt are similar although there are key differences you need to consider before arriving at a decision. These considerations include budget cost, aesthetics, climate, maintenance, and case-by-case restrictions. There are asphalt vs concrete driveways pros and cons. 

1. Aesthetic and Design: Colors, Stamped Ornamentation and Finishes

Both options can be customized to achieve a desired style or look.

Asphalt

Pros

Decorative stamping is possible when hot. Specialty paint-like sealer is able to achieve brighter colors. Tinting is available using naturally-colored rocks, slag, iron or even recycled glass.

Cons

Round edges will not work with decorative pavers.

Fewer options for brushing, staining, or adding decorative elements.

Concrete

Pros

Works with decorative borders. Stamping, brushing or etching looks like brick or natural stone. Assorted colors are available using stains, dyes, or powders.

Cons

Coloring and stamping will increase the price. Custom concrete can be quite slippery in rain or snow. Colors can appear blotchy because of natural variations in aggregate

Concrete is the most versatile for colors, stamped ornamentation and finishes.

2. Cost Analysis

A 600 sq-ft concrete driveway typically costs $850 in materials while a similarly sized asphalt driveway will cost less-than $300 in materials.

Many people ask, is asphalt cheaper than concrete? Well, Asphalt is the most affordable in materials cost.

Cheaper to Install with a Professional

Installation of either driveway type requires specialized equipment that the average homeowner may not have on-hand.

Concrete

A 600 square-foot asphalt driveway will set you back about $2,000 in labor costs, for a total driveway installation-cost of about $5 per sq-ft.

Asphalt

The same-size driveway will cost around $1,000 in labor. The cost for a new asphalt-driveway is around $2 per sq-ft.

Asphalt is the clear winner for cheapest driveway to install with a professional. Contact Asphalt driveway paving contractors now!

3. Repaving and Sealing

Asphalt

Pros

Resealing an asphalt driveway is simple and inexpensive ($25-50 for 5 gallons). Cleaning is reduced or eliminated cleaning since stains are hidden.

Cons

Needs to be resealed 6 months after installing and at least once every 3 to 5 years thereafter.

Concrete

Pros

Though not required, driveway sealing can prevent stains as well as damage from deicing chemicals and salt. Learn how to remove oil stains from concrete driveway.

Cons

Regular pressure washing can improve the appearance. Can stain due to leaves, mold and mildew as well as drainage from vehicles.

Concrete is the easiest for sealing and maintenance.

4. Repairs and Resurfacing

Concrete

Pros

Resurfacing concrete will largely improve overall look by hiding cracks and breaks. Checkout driveway crack repair.

Cons

Major repairs can be quite costly since the process is rather labor intensive. Homeowners can fix small holes and cracks, although appearance may be less-than ideal.

Asphalt

Pros

Repairing costs around $1,500. Professional resurfacing and pavement repair costs around $2.50 per square foot. Homeowners can repair small potholes and cracks.

Cons

Professional is required for large potholes and cracks.

The easiest and more cost friendly material to repair and resurface is asphalt.

5. Resistance to Climate

Because these 2 materials are quite different, climate does play a major role in their durability.

Concrete

Pros

Concrete is able to withstand hot temperatures without experiencing undue material stress.

Cons

It’s likely to crack during cold temperatures because of it being brittle. Snow plows, deicing chemicals, and salt can damage it.

Asphalt

Pros

A bit more flexible and therefore able to withstand temperature changes without breaking or cracking.

Cons

May break down along its edges because of heat. Can get tacky under high temperatures, resulting in staining of the bottom of shoes. Vehicle tires can lead to indentations in the surface.

Concrete is the best material for higher temperatures while, on the other hand asphalt is best for cold weather and extreme temperature fluctuations.

6. Lifespan

With proper care and maintenance, both driveway types will last decades. Concrete normally lasts around 30 to 40 years. Asphalt’s normal lifespan is 20 years.

Concrete is the unequivocal winner for lifespan.

7. Durability and Thickness

Concrete

A minimum thickness of 4 inches is necessary with concrete paving. An additional inch increases load carrying-capacity by 50%, but it’ll increase cost by 20%. It’s easier to establish load carrying capacity for concrete.

Asphalt

The type of vehicles that will use it and the type of underlying soil will hugely dictate the thickness. Most asphalt driveways range from 4 to 6 inches.

Concrete is the best material choice for thickness and durability. Also, see parking lot line striping and thermoplastic striping service. You must also know ADA regulations which says you should have disabled parking sign on your parking lot.