Pros and cons of concrete vs asphalt driveways
The cost should be based upon a material's durability when paving your driveway. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Kenneth B.)
When the time comes to install a new driveway, the biggest decision is whether to go with concrete or asphalt.
True, there are other choices -- gravel at the low end and brick pavers at the high end -- but asphalt and concrete are the most common driveway materials, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Costs less (average cost is $3 to $5 per square foot).
More expensive (average cost is $10 to $15 per square foot).
Can drive on asphalt almost immediately.
Wait seven days before driving on it.
More maintenance, but it's easier to do.
Less maintenance, but repairs more difficult.
Easier to repair. Cracks and holes can be filled and sealed.
Patching more obvious; may need expensive repairs.
Shrinks and expands with temperature changes.
Cracks under extreme pressure or surface movement.
|Oil & gas||
Oil leaks not as noticable, but gasoline will cause damage.
Gas and oil spills leave more obvious stains than on asphalt.
Up to 20 years
Up to 30 years
Asphalt driveways are less expensive to install, but concrete lasts longer. Asphalt needs more maintenance, but is generally easer to repair. In winter, concrete driveways can be damaged if the wrong de-icing product is used.
Both asphalt and concrete driveways need solid foundations prepared by experts.
“A driveway is only as good as what’s underneath,” says Mike Taylor of Taylor Made Contracting in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Asphalt, he says, can handle the extreme temperature fluctuations in the Northeast better than concrete because it flexes.
Choosing the driveway surface that’s best for you depends on where you live, how much money you’re willing to spend and other personal preferences.
Angie’s List interviewed three Georgia-based experts for their professional opinions.
Benny Stanley, owner
Benny Stanley Paving
4288 New Hope Church Road SE
Which surface is best - concrete or asphalt?
A-1 Drive Replacement Company in Tucker, Georgia, manager Mary Scott, says concrete is best for driveways because “it’s maintenance-free and lasts longer than asphalt.”
Sudlow Concrete, Atlanta, owner Bill Sudlow agrees. “Concrete is more durable and needs less maintenance.”
Benny Stanley Paving in Acworth, owner Benny Stanley says “If you put it down right, asphalt holds up as good as concrete and it’s cheaper.” Especially if you have a bigger job.
What do you charge for driveway installation?
A-1 Driveway: Asphalt costs roughly $3 to $4 per square foot, depending on site conditions and required preparation.
Sudlow Concrete: My concrete range is $4.50 to $5.50 per square foot.
Stanley Paving: We have a $750 minimum for asphalt, the average is $1 to $1.50 a square foot.
Which driveway surface lasts longer?
A-1 Driveway: Between 10 to 30 years, depending on how it’s used.
Sudlow Concrete: Under ideal conditions, concrete lasts 40 years or more.
Stanley Paving: Asphalt can last 20 to 25 years.
How soon can I use my driveway after paving?
A-1 Driveway: You can walk on concrete after waiting one day. After five days you can drive on it.
Sudlow Concrete: Concrete driveways can be used three days later.
Stanley Paving: You can use your asphalt driveway the same day in most cases.
Can my concrete driveway be resurfaced?
A-1 Driveway: The existing surface needs to be removed to insure the new concrete adheres.
Sudlow Concrete: Concrete resurfacing doesn’t perform well.
Stanley Paving: Asphalt can be paved over concrete if the existing base is solid.
Can you repair cracks?
A-1 Driveway: Concrete should be replaced. Most customers think crack repairs are unsightly.
Sudlow Concrete: Replacing the driveway is the only way to avoid seeing concrete repairs.
Stanley Paving: For asphalt, minor surfaces can be sealed. Major sections can be cut out and replaced.
How do I extend the life of my new driveway?
A-1 Driveway: Pressure wash a concrete surface every few years.
Sudlow Concrete: Just keep concrete clean.
Stanley Paving: For asphalt, get it resealed every three years.
Editor's Note: This is an updated version of a story originally published on June 15, 2010.