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Question DetailsAsked on 8/14/2015

Which is better, a concrete or asphalt drive way/

Which is better, a concrete or asphalt drive way?

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1 Answer


"Better" is pretty subjective -

1) concrete is somewhat more expensive in most parts of the country, but tends to structurally last perhaps twice as long as a typical asphalt ddriveway - say about 40-60 years versus 20-30, so generally works out a better deal from a house-life cost-benefit standpoint, though is more expensive to tear up and dispose of when that time comes.

2) asphalt is easy to protect with a hosing off and sealer (easy to DIY) every few years (or every 5-8 maybe with hot-sprayed tar), whereas concrete sealing generally requires more substantial pressure washing to prep the surface for a sealer coat that might last only a few years and generally costs more than asphalt sealer.

3) concrete is far more susceptible to ice melt damage (either from your use or dripping from cars after driving in an area that uses any type of ice melt on the street); and is far more susceptible to freeze-thaw damage than asphalt that is kept sealed

4) concrete, except for the edges of the expansion joints, is more resistant to snow plowing damage, though if done with a light pickup generally that is not a conceern with either as long as you do not mind some scrapes.

5) concrete is less forgiving of poor subgrade conditions or sloppy construction, so tends to show more cracks and break up faster i the subgrade is not properly placed, compacted, and drained

6) concrete can be readily colored for appearance, and can be cast (at a substantially higher cost) with patterning or simulated stone appearance or with a pebble finish

7) properly done, reinforced concrete is a bit more resistant to creep on steeper drives, which can cause cracking and breaking up of asphalt

8) asphalt is simpler to do, so the chance of a contractor really botching the job is less than with concrete

9) concrete carries with it a "ritzier" image, for higher-end properties

10) asphalt is a lay it down and roll it and go away (till sealing some months later) product - concrete requires a water cure for at least 3 and preferably 7 days (which most contractors blow off in favor of a sprayed-on curing compound) so unless you require water cure your concrete strength is likely to be reduced by 25-50% from what it should achieve

11) Because of the curing issue, if done right, asphalt can generally be driven on within 12 hours and parked on in 1-2 days; concrete generally 3 days if curing-compound cured or 7 days if properly water cured, so if access to the garage or for parking is critical that can affect your decision too if you are adverse to parking on the lawn for a while or have a resident with mobility issues who has to be able to drive into the garage for accessibility.

Largely comes down to an issue of the look you like, relative costs in your area (can run from 2:1 difference either way in a few areas depending on local availablility of concrete materials or of local refineries producing asphaltic or tar products, but commonly asphalt drives are in the $3-6/SF range, and concrete $4-7/SF so in many areas the relative cost difference is not very significant.

Do some reading up, talk to neighbors and friends about their experiences. Above all, get references for good contractors - because the quality of the contractor makes all the difference between a long-term product and one that starts breaking up in just a few years (or months, in the worst case).

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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