When it's time to construct a new driveway you have to choose your materials, and the most common are asphalt and concrete. Both materials have their benefits and drawbacks, and your choice will largely depend on your budget, aesthetics and where you live.
Cost of Installation
Concrete driveways generally cost around 45 percent more to install, as compared to asphalt driveways. As a result, asphalt has a higher number of buyers in most areas. However, it is important to consider the toughness and longevity of both materials, as poor resistance to the elements and the need for frequent repairs can make any driveway costlier in the long run.
Asphalt driveways are more adapted to colder climates, because constant exposure to high temperatures tends to make asphalt soft. In such circumstances, cracks and grooves may appear on the driveway, necessitating repair.
Concrete driveways are more resistant to high temperatures; however, in very cold climates, care must be taken to ensure that the base of the driveway is filled with compact gravel. If the foundation is not laid properly, concrete driveways are adversely affected by frost heave. Salt used on roads to combat ice and snow will also damage the concrete. It is easier to repair cracks on asphalt than those that appear on concrete.
Asphalt driveways must be sealed every 4 to 5 years. Asphalt is petroleum based. It is very elastic at the time of installation. Over time, the oils are oxidized and lose their moisture. The color of the asphalt lightens to gray, and the structure becomes more brittle. This usually takes a few months to happen. This is why the first sealing application must be done around 8 months after installation. If the asphalt is sealed immediately after installing, it will still be soft, and remain that way. This will make it less resistant to breaks and ruts.
If maintained properly and sealed regularly, asphalt driveways will last around 30 years. Not properly cared for, an asphalt driveway can deteriorate considerably in as little as 5 years, leading to costly repairs or replacements. Concrete driveways can last 50 years or longer with lesser maintenance and repair costs. A sealing applied every few years is very beneficial on concrete driveways as well.
Concrete driveways are available in a wider variety of choices. Stained and stamped concrete driveways offer a distinct appeal to a home, and cost less in the long run, as compared to asphalt driveways. You don't risk carrying in oil stains to the house, which may happen when you walk on the stained surface of an asphalt driveway. However, concrete driveways tend to be lighter, making stains more visible as compared to asphalt surfaces.
The main advantage of asphalt driveways is the low installation cost. If you consider durability and maintenance costs, concrete driveways are definitely the economical choice in the long run.
(Need to reseal you asphalt driveway? Here's how.)