Driveways – Torn between Asphalt & Concrete?

Driveways and sidewalks, when properly done, enhance the exterior appearance of your home. In fact, most homes today possess beautifully built and maintained driveways & sidewalks. The majority of these are made from one of two materials – asphalt or concrete. While both materials have their own pros and cons, you’ll need to be aware of some differences between the two materials in order to choose the right one for your home.

One of the first things that comes to mind while renovating is cost. Typically, asphalt driveways are less expensive than concrete. However, the price of asphalt tends to fluctuate as it is made from a petroleum based product.

Secondly, when considering installation, both materials require a solid base under them if they are going to last. This means first excavating then packing in a layer of crushed rock, followed by a layer of packed sand. If asphalt is being used, base asphalt needs to be laid down, leveled then compacted. In case of concrete, forms need to be built on top of the base and reinforcing steel installed before the concrete itself can be poured and leveled. Hence, installing a concrete driveway is more time consuming.

Asphalt driveways require significantly more maintenance than concrete – 3 months after installation asphalt needs to be sealed to protect the surface and it needs to be sealed again every 2 – 3 years. In contrast, once a new concrete driveway has been sealed, it typically doesn’t require any more maintenance other than cleaning any oil drips or spills.

Another important point to consider is climate. An asphalt driveway performs well in cold climates and if it does develop a crack, repairing a crack in asphalt is much easier and less expensive than in concrete. However, in warmer climates asphalt will tend to soften in the heat and extrude oil that can be tracked into the house making a major mess. Soft asphalt can also develop hollows or dips when vehicles are parked on it. Since concrete won’t heat up in the sun as much as asphalt, there are no worries about oil coming out.

Finally, while a well maintained asphalt driveway lasts between 20 – 30 years, a well built concrete drive should last substantially longer.

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