Whether you're building a new home or if your current driveway has seen better days, a new driveway is one of the best investments for your home. Although there are a number of driveway surfaces to choose from, most homeowners stick with asphalt or concrete. When it comes to these two traditional choices, both have their advantages and drawbacks.
Making a Concrete Decision
Based on aesthetics alone, concrete is the popular choice among many homeowners. Concrete's light, natural color is better suited for most home designs and décor. In fact, some homeowners associations may even specify a concrete driveway as the standard, due to concerns that an asphalt driveway would be aesthetically out of place and depress home values.
There are plenty of other benefits to choosing a concrete driveway over asphalt:
- The light color reflects light and heat, making it cooler than the average asphalt driveway on those hot summer days.
- The average concrete driveway doesn't need as much maintenance as its asphalt counterpart, plus it's more resistant to cracking and weather damage.
- Concrete driveways last up to 10 years longer than the typical asphalt driveway.
Unfortunately, concrete is usually the more expensive choice, with average cost estimates ranging from $3.73 to $4.21 per square foot according to Homewyse. It can also be more expensive and time-consuming to repair.
Said repairs also tend to be painfully visible, as it's tough to blend in repaired patches with the rest of the older concrete. You might want to think twice about parking any car that's sprung a leak somewhere, as oil and gas stains are tough to remove and leave obvious spots behind.
Is Blacktop the Best Choice?
Asphalt driveways are popular thanks to their affordability and ease of installation. Unlike concrete, it only costs up to $2.18 per square foot to install one and it's usually ready for use in as little as 24 hours, in some cases. This level of affordability makes the material ideal for use in rural areas and long driveways in suburban settings.
Even when hardened, asphalt is a relatively flexible material that resists cracking brought on by temperature and hard impacts. In northern climates, asphalt is preferred for its ability to melt snow and ice faster than a comparable concrete driveway, plus it's not affected by salt use.
The average asphalt driveway is also easier to repair. Sealers and patches are more affordable and relatively easy to use. Given asphalt's uniformly black color, said patches and repairs are easier to blend into the surface.
However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind:
- Asphalt driveways require more maintenance. For instance, it has to have sealant applied over it every 3 to 5 years to maintain its longevity.
- As for longevity, the average asphalt driveway has a 20 to 30-year life expectancy, whereas concrete driveways can last for as long as 50 years with the right care.
- A newly-installed asphalt driveway can develop indentations due to heavy vehicles being parked in the same spot day after day, especially within the 6 to 12-month curing period.
- Asphalt also absorbs heat. While this makes it ideal for melting snow in northern areas, it also makes it exceptionally soft during intense summer heat.
Considerations must be made for the edges, as these are the most fragile parts of a typical asphalt driveway. A decorative border can help keep the edges from crumbling apart, as well as direct rainwater away from the driveway and your home.
Making the Right Choice for Your Home
In the end, it's up to you to decide which material is the one to have in your driveway. Keep in mind there are plenty of external factors that may affect your choice - some municipalities may even tax your home differently based on your choice of driveway material.
Nevertheless, a concrete or asphalt driveway should serve you well for as long as you own your home and the years beyond. For more about this topic, follow the link.