The Showdown: Asphalt vs. Concrete

Asphalt or concrete — which should you choose? As the age old debate between these two driveway surfaces continues, you may be wondering which one is better for your home. Even though both materials serve a similar purpose, there are a few differences that you should consider before you choose between the two.

When considering asphalt vs. concrete, you need to weigh several factors such as installation time, climate conditions, cost and maintenance, and of course appearance. Both carry positive and negative qualities for the modern-day homeowner. Let’s take a look at who’s the winner in this classic battle royale.

Asphalt Driveways

Asphalt is an economical driveway surface option that’s cost-effective and low-maintenance. If you’re thinking of choosing asphalt, here are some pros and cons to consider.

Asphalt Benefits

1) Lower Cost

Concrete can cost, on average, 50 percent more than asphalt, making asphalt a better value for your money, despite having a shorter life than concrete.

2) Smoother Surface

With asphalt, there are no seams visible between sections, making your driveway easier to shovel and better for kids’ activities such as skateboarding, biking, playing basketball, etc.

3) Better in Winter

Black color absorbs the sun and facilitates snow and ice melt. If the sun can’t reach surface, it’s okay to apply salt/de-icer because it won’t damage asphalt. Asphalt is commonly preferred in cold climates like Minnesota; since it expands with the changing temperatures, it will maintain its integrity through the cold and icy winters, just as well as during summer storms.

4) Less likely to Crack than Concrete

Particularly in the winter, asphalt is less prone to cracking. The reason is because its surface isn’t as rigid, allowing it to expand and contract depending on the climate. If it does crack, it can be repaired fairly easily with hot rubber crack filler.

5) Quick Curing Time  

After your asphalt driveway is laid, you’ll be able to drive across your new asphalt surface in three to four days and park on it within a week.

Cons of Asphalt

1) Maintenance Requirements

Sealcoating of your asphalt driveway may be needed every four or five years to keep it in good shape. While sealcoating can be optional; crack filling is necessary.

2) Shorter Lifespan

While asphalt lasts 20 to 30 years, concrete can last 40 years or more. However, depending on how well it’s kept up, you can easily extend an asphalt driveway’s life.

3) Less Upscale

Some feel that asphalt isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as concrete. Its edges are less defined and it doesn’t come off as high-end as concrete does.

Concrete Driveways

As a mix of sand and gravel, concrete generally lasts longer than asphalt, but carries a larger price tag. Here are the pros and cons of a concrete driveway to help you decide if it’s the right surface for you.

Benefits of Concrete

1) Longer Lifespan

Concrete can last 40 years or longer before it needs to be replaced. This makes it ideal for those homeowners that are planning on staying in their house for a long time.

2) Better in Warm Climates

Because it doesn’t soften, concrete is normally better than asphalt in warmer climates.

3) Stylish

Even in its most basic form, concrete can add a lot of curb appeal to your home. You can also choose many custom patterns and colors.

Cons of Concrete

1) Not Easy to Repair

Concrete resurfacing doesn’t perform well, so any existing surface needs to be removed to ensure new concrete adheres. Crack repairs can be unsightly and costly.

2) The Effects of Salt will Cause Damage

If you’re planning on de-icing your driveway after a Minnesota blizzard, don’t expect to use salt on concrete. Salt used for ice melting can create pits in concrete leaving blotches across the driveway.

3) Easily Stained

Due to its light color, concrete stains very easily and shows every color. If your car leaks oil on the driveway, for example, you may never be able to get the discoloration out.

4) Higher Costs

On average, concrete can cost 50% more per square foot for basic installation and can sometimes be more depending on finishes and detail.

Asphalt vs. Concrete: Which is Best for You?

As the debate between the two rages on, asphalt and concrete both present pros and cons. So which one should you choose? Consider these factors when making your decision:

  1. Even though concrete lasts somewhat longer, asphalt costs considerably less and gives more value for your money.
  2. Sometime in its lifespan, concrete will crack, even if you’re located in a warm climate. Since it cannot be easily repaired, you may be stuck with a huge bill for replacing an entire concrete surface, especially if it wasn’t properly maintained or has visible damage.
  3. While concrete offers more choices when it comes to style and color tinting than asphalt, it comes at a higher price.
  4. Asphalt does not show stains as bad as concrete, is easier to repair cracks and can be resealed fairly easily, making it a low-maintenance option.
  5. In cold climates that see many blizzards and freezing temperatures, asphalt is more durable and easier to manage.

Contact Alpine Asphalt for Your Asphalt Needs!

We’re a leading name in asphalt paving in the Twin Cities. Whether you need residential or commercial paving services, we’re the company to call! For any and all your asphalt needs including Twin Cities Asphalt / Minneapolis Asphalt, contact Alpine Asphalt today for a free consultation.

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