Asphalt vs. Concrete Driveway
Updated on 6/28/2022
Asphalt and concrete both feature a mixture of stone with various other substances to give each of them differing durability and aesthetics. While concrete is conventional as a sidewalk or patio, pavers use asphalt to create roads and lots. Despite their differences, both materials make excellent driveways.
If you need a new driveway for your home, you need a reliable and durable material, even in the harsh weather conditions you experience in Central Pennsylvania. Asphalt and concrete are both excellent driveway options for your home, but which one is better? This guide explains the distinct characteristics of asphalt vs. concrete so you can decide for yourself.
How to Choose Between an Asphalt or Concrete Driveway
The choice between concrete vs. asphalt driveway depends on your personal preference, whether you value energy-efficiency, saving money or avoiding costly repairs. Since you may experience snow, rain and freezing temperatures in Central Pennsylvania, you should also think about how the weather will affect your driveway. Aesthetics and customization are also valuable qualities to look for in a driveway. Before you order a brand-new driveway, examine these factors to determine which ones matter most to you.
1. Cost vs. Long-Term Investment
Think about how much you’re willing to spend on installing a new driveway before you start looking. The upfront cost of asphalt and concrete will vary, but in general, you’ll only have to pay a few thousand dollars to install your driveway.
The following factors affect the cost of your driveway installation:
- Availability of materials: Contractors determine the price of your supplies based on how readily they can order and manufacture it. Concrete and asphalt are both common materials, and they won’t be as expensive as other driveway options. If the content is dense and challenging to install, or it’s not common in your neighborhood, your contractor may charge more money because they’ll need more equipment and workers to do the job.
- Property size: Typically, contractors consider the square footage of your driveway in the price on your estimate. If you’re upgrading to a two-car driveway or you have a huge lot, you’re going to end up paying more money, no matter what material you choose.
- Drainage features and base: Besides providing a place to park your car, a driveway is also responsible for controlling the water that drains out of your gutters. If you don’t have the proper drainage system for your driveway, the rain will pool during heavy storms and damage your property. When you install a brand-new driveway, the contractor will include the price of creating a new base and a drainage system to prevent flooding.
- Design elements: You may want to add lighting, greenery or other decorative features on your property on the perimeter of your driveway. Even if the contractor doesn’t include this decor for you, keep it in mind in case you want to add them on when the driveway has set.
You should also look at each material’s long-term investment along with the installation price to know which one will enhance your home’s curb appeal and give you a place to park your vehicles. While it’s valuable to save money in the beginning, you should invest in a high-quality driveway to save time and money in repairs and maintenance. Choose a long-lasting, dependable material that can withstand harsh weather conditions and provide a beautiful addition to your house.
To get a durable driveway, you should work with a reliable contractor who knows how to install one properly. Instead of settling on the first or cheapest estimate, research several local companies and try to get a quality, cost-effective team to handle your project. Check reviews online and ask for recommendations from your friends and family to find a trustworthy driveway company.
2. Durability and Lifespan
The money you spend on a driveway will stretch further with durable, long-lasting materials. A high-quality driveway should last several decades in the right climate with proper maintenance. You should choose a driveway material with a long lifespan so you can use it for many years without worrying about replacing it.
If your driveway is more than a couple of decades old, you may notice some signs that you should consider getting a new one. With the proper maintenance, a new driveway will be free of these issues for a long time:
- Large, connected cracks: In the middle of a brutal winter, water can seep into the cracks in your driveway and freeze, causing them to expand. You might be able to fill them in with a specialized filler, but it’s better to replace the whole driveway if they’re too large. While driveways are prone to fractures, you should invest in a material that’s less likely to develop cracks over the years.
- Several potholes: On an asphalt driveway, you can quickly repair one pothole at a time. You might need to replace your driveway if you have multiple potholes because they can ruin the foundational base. When you hire a reliable contractor, your asphalt driveway will be able to withstand wear and tear with the proper installation and maintenance.
- Drainage issues: If a previous contractor incorrectly installed your driveway, the driveway might have problems controlling the flow of rainwater into the street. You’ll need to replace your driveway if you see large puddles on top of it, especially after a storm. A long-lasting driveway can remove the stagnant water around your property that invites insects and other pests near your living space and reduces the aesthetic appeal of your house.
- Sunken areas: If the land under your concrete driveway starts to sink or shift, you might notice cracks on the surface. To fix this problem, you would need to remove your existing driveway and repair the foundation under it. A brand-new driveway that a reliable contractor installs will have a sturdy base to prevent sinking in the future.
- Pieces of gravel: After several years of neglect, the loose stones inside your driveway’s material can separate and rise to the surface. If you don’t manage it properly by resealing or resurfacing it, larger pieces might break off, and you’ll have to replace it. When you install a new driveway, you’ll have a fresh start so you can properly maintain it to preserve its lifespan.
Even when you install a new driveway, you have to take care of it for it to continue to look fresh and clean. To maintain your driveway, you need both time and money to spend on resealing and cleaning it. Choose a driveway material that’s easy to take care of in every season. If you’re considering a new driveway for your home, be realistic about how much you’re willing to spend to keep up your driveway.
Regardless of the material, here are some tips for taking care of your driveway all year long:
- Prevent cracks by removing nearby trees or having their roots trimmed.
- After clearing out the debris, fill any cracks with a crack filler.
- Reduce the accumulation of moisture on your driveway by setting up an adequate drainage system.
- Be aware of the sensitivity of your driveway material and avoid using harmful products.
- Raise the blade of your snow plow and use a plastic shovel to pick up snow.
- Protect the edges of your driveway and don’t park heavy trucks on it.
- Clean the motor oil and radiator fluid from your driveway with mild detergent, warm water and a scrub brush.
- Remove stains immediately after you notice them.
4. Climate Issues
The level of maintenance you need to put into your driveway also depends on your home’s climate. If you live in Central Pennsylvania, your property experiences both hot and cold weather throughout the year. You need a driveway material that can withstand extreme temperatures in both the summer and winter.
The climate could affect your driveway in the following ways:
- Snow requires shoveling and applying de-icing materials that could hurt your driveway.
- Water could fill cracks in the driveway and expand it as the liquid freezes into ice.
- Intense sunlight could make your driveway material uncomfortable to touch.
5. Aesthetics and Design
A new driveway can enhance the curb appeal of your home and complement your unique design preferences. Before you create a driveway that stands out from the rest, follow these tips for considering how you want it to look:
- Complement the aesthetic of your home: The color and architectural style of your house will influence how your driveway will look against your overall property. Look at your property from the outside and figure out what shades, designs and features would bring out the general theme of your living space.
- Fit in with the style of your block: While you can have a property that’s distinct from the houses around you, choose an appearance that somewhat blends in with your overall neighborhood. Walk around your local area and check out their driveways to get an idea of how you should design yours. If you create a driveway that doesn’t complement the look of the houses around you, even if it’s bold and clean, it could reduce your property value.
- Consider resale value: If you’re planning on selling your house soon, you should think about what potential home buyers would like in a driveway. While you may have an elaborate design preference, not everyone shares your taste. Instead, increase the value of your home with a simple, affordable product that would catch any visitor’s eye.
To promote a better environment, you should consider installing an eco-friendly driveway to feel confident in your investment. Here are some qualities to look for, so you know the material is sustainable and environmentally conscious:
- Low energy consumption during the manufacturing process
- Abundant use of renewable resources
- Dedication to improving or maintaining the quality of water in the local area
- Fewer carbon emissions produced during manufacturing
- Achievement of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which demonstrates a dedication to building healthy, highly efficient green structures
- Responsible use of recycled and waste resources
- Increased energy-efficiency for your property
Concrete Driveway FAQs
How Long Does A Concrete Driveway Last?
- Well-maintained concrete driveways can last 30 years as long as there are no cracks. It’s more durable than asphalt because it’s more resistant to disintegration and distortion due to exposure to the elements.
Are Concrete Driveways Expensive?
- The price to install concrete might be double what you would pay for an asphalt driveway.
Are Concrete Driveways Hard to Repair?
- Even though concrete is more durable overall, when damages do occur, repairing it could be more complicated and costlier than fixing cracks on asphalt. Due to weathering, fractures on this material are also more noticeable and disruptive.
Why Concrete Driveways Are Better Than Asphalt
Concrete combines cement and small pieces of rock to provide an aesthetically pleasing, durable driveway material. When a contractor installs your concrete driveway, you may have to wait up to a week to use it. Your driveway will last for decades with the right maintenance and weather conditions after installation.
Pros of a Concrete Driveway
If you decide to install a concrete driveway, you can take advantage of the following benefits:
- Long-lasting driveway: Concrete can last 30 years with the proper maintenance, as long as there are no cracks. It’s more durable than asphalt because it’s more resistant to disintegration and distortion due to exposure to the elements. Since concrete is a non-flexible material, it can also handle heavier loads than asphalt, such as trucks and other heavy equipment.
- Pleasant in the summer: Since they absorb less UV radiation than asphalt, they’re more comfortable to walk on in the summertime.
- Easy to maintain: While concrete driveways don’t need to be sealed, refinishing and resealing them would enhance their look over the years. Concrete driveways only require occasional cleaning to remove oil and radiator fluid accumulation. To keep a concrete driveway clean, you only need to use a wire brush with mild soap and warm water.
- Versatile design: While the standard gray color of a concrete driveway may not appeal to you, you can resurface it to change its appearance completely. The manufacturer can stamp it with patterns or tint it different colors and finishes to enhance the overall appearance of your home. Keep in mind that making these aesthetic changes would increase the price of installation.
- Use of recycled materials: Concrete contains renewable resources, including stone, sand, cement and water. Manufacturers can also use recycled and waste materials to create this aggregate driveway product, which reduces the number of resources they deplete from the planet.
- Increased energy-efficiency: Along with using sustainable materials, concrete also reflects light, including the lampposts on your block. You can use less lighting outside of your house and save money on your overall energy costs with a concrete driveway.
Cons of a Concrete Driveway
While installing a concrete driveway has several distinct advantages, there are also some drawbacks that you should consider:
- Higher upfront cost: The price to install concrete might be double what you would pay for an asphalt driveway.
- Difficult to repair: Even though concrete is more durable overall, when damages do occur, repairing it could be more complicated and costlier than fixing cracks on asphalt. Due to weathering, fractures on this material are also more noticeable and disruptive.
- Not suitable for winter: Since concrete is a non-flexible material, it doesn’t accommodate the natural shifting of the earth beneath it, especially in the winter. It’s prone to damage in freezing temperatures, which require the use of concrete patching products to fix them. When the fractures fill with water at night, they freeze and cause the concrete to expand and shift. As a result, you’ll have unsightly gaps in your driveway, which could be a danger for your car and people who walk on it.
- Sensitive to salt: You can’t use salt to melt ice on a concrete driveway because it can create pits and leave blemishes in the material. Instead, you would have to think of creative ways to remove the slippery ice from your driveway so that you and your visitors won’t get hurt in the winter.
Asphalt Driveway FAQs
Are Asphalt Driveways Affordable?
- Asphalt is less expensive than concrete to install. It could be about half the price per square foot to install asphalt. However, it’s also important to remember that the price of asphalt may fluctuate with the price of crude oil.
Are Asphalt Driveways Cheaper Than Concrete?
Whether you’re considering installation or maintenance costs, asphalt driveways are less expensive than concrete across the board.
Asphalt typically needs more frequent maintenance than concrete. You’ll need to seal your asphalt driveway about 6 months after installation and every 1 to 3 years following. While asphalt sealers are an additional cost, they’re generally inexpensive and easy to use.
Although concrete requires less preventive maintenance than asphalt, investing in routine upkeep is key to preserving a concrete driveway’s appearance. For example, concrete stains easily, so regular pressure washing and degreasing are key to ensuring a spotless driveway. Combined with the higher installation prices, the costs of taking care of a concrete driveway add up quickly.
Does Asphalt Last Longer Than Concrete?
A well-kept asphalt driveway will typically last from 15 to 20 years. On the other hand, a concrete driveway can last 30 years or more.
Proper installation and regular maintenance are key to ensuring a long-lasting driveway, whether you choose concrete or asphalt. Although you’ll need to reseal an asphalt driveway every few years to prevent cracks, it’s a simple process you can easily do without professional help.
It’s also critical to consider your environment. Asphalt can become sticky in extreme heat because it’s such a soft material. However, it holds up well in the winter, ideal for Central Pennsylvania’s moderate climate. In contrast, concrete’s sensitivity to de-icing chemicals and lack of surface flexibility frequently lead to cracks and breaks in cold weather.
Are Asphalt Driveways Easy to Repair?
- Asphalt is a softer material, so it deteriorates faster and easier than concrete repairs. Although it requires more repairs than concrete, asphalt repairs are more straightforward than concrete because the cracks can blend into the original.
How Often Should Asphalt Driveways Be Resealed?
- With proper, extensive upkeep, you can avoid costly repairs in the future. Asphalt driveways need resurfacing and resealing every three to five years, in addition to a coat of sealant about six months after installation.
Is Asphalt Better Than Concrete?
Asphalt or concrete driveways both have advantages to consider when you’re deciding which option would best meet your needs. Here are some reasons asphalt might be right for you:
- Easy repairs: Asphalt is easy to repair without professional help.
- Lower installation costs: An asphalt driveway is significantly less expensive to install than a concrete driveway.
- Increased curb appeal: Along with its impressive durability, the bold appearance of a black asphalt driveway can create a striking focal point for your home.
- Weather-resistant: Asphalt stands up to rain and snow much better than concrete, making it a better choice for moderate or cold climates.
Why Asphalt Driveways Are Better Than Concrete
Like concrete, asphalt is an aggregate material of sand and stone, but it also contains tar-like petroleum instead of cement as the adhesive base. Contractors liquefy hot mix asphalt at high temperatures. They then pour and roll out the hot asphalt to create the driveway before it solidifies. You could use your asphalt driveway within hours after installation instead of waiting a week for the material to cure.
Pros of an Asphalt Driveway
An asphalt driveway can enhance the overall value of your property for the following reasons:
- Lower upfront cost: Asphalt is less expensive than concrete to install. It could be about half the price per square foot to install asphalt. When installing an asphalt driveway, all you need to do to replace it is add a new layer instead of reconstructing the existing base.
- More convenient to repair: Asphalt is a softer material, so it deteriorates faster and easier than concrete repairs. Although it requires more repairs than concrete, asphalt repairs are more straightforward than concrete because the cracks can blend into the original.
- Higher resale value: Since asphalt is more affordable and a new driveway can increase your house’s worth, you’ll get a higher return on investment (ROI) for your asphalt driveway.
- Lasts longer all year long: On average, asphalt can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years. However, proper care can extend its life span by several years. Since asphalt is a more flexible material than concrete, it’s less prone to cracking, especially in the winter. While asphalt can stick to your shoes or car in extreme heat, the outside temperature would need to reach at least 120 F, which is higher than what’s typical in Central Pennsylvania.
- Energy efficiency: Installing asphalt uses less energy than installing concrete. Asphalt is also recyclable, so you can use it more than once. Manufacturers control the few carbon emissions that asphalt produces and it has a high LEED rating because of its porous nature and its locally-sourced recyclable materials.
- Better drainage capabilities: Since asphalt is porous, it maintains the water quality of your neighborhood by controlling the flow of rain and other moisture.
- Naturally aesthetically pleasing: Asphalt offers a bold, contrasting look for your driveway as opposed to the dull gray of concrete.
Cons of Asphalt Driveways
Even though asphalt driveways would increase the value of your home and require minimal repairs over the years, they’re also sensitive to the following drawbacks:
- Maintenance: With proper, extensive upkeep, you can avoid costly repairs in the future. Asphalt driveways need resurfacing and resealing every three to five years, in addition to a coat of sealant about six months after installation. You can do this on your own, so the maintenance is easier to manage than concrete driveways. However, failing to seal the top layer of your asphalt driveway can result in oxidation damage.
- Hot in the summer: Asphalt may not be ideal for warmer climates due to its tendency to absorb heat. On hot days, you should avoid walking barefoot on asphalt or touching it with uncovered hands.
- Aesthetics and design: Compared to concrete, asphalt seems to have a lower aesthetic appeal because of its lack of customization options. While this material doesn’t have the same creative design features that you could use to style a concrete driveway, manufacturers have begun developing methods for coloring or sealing asphalt with color tints.
Contact Our Team at CMI Paving to Install Your Asphalt Driveway in Central Pennsylvania
Asphalt driveways offer an aesthetic appeal and affordability that’ll enhance the overall curb appeal of your home. If you’ve decided to install an asphalt driveway on your property, call our team at CMI Paving. Our professionals specialize in asphalt driveway installation, repair and irrigation solutions for residents in Central Pennsylvania. We can also answer any questions you may have about installing concrete if you decide to go in that direction. Contact us online or call 717-774-6565 to schedule an estimate.