Pros and Cons: Asphalt vs. Concrete Driveway

Leave a Comment - 175

Comments

Robert

Subject: Return on investment

I think there can be no question that Concrete will last longer. But since it costs 2x as much the question is will it last 2x as long. If your asphalt will last 20 years and your concrete will last 40 years then its a wash and you should not care. But if the concrete will last even 39 years, you are better off to go with asphalt. I think its very unlikely the concrete is going to last 2x as long and so the answer should always be asphalt. But that's just looking at cost. If you like how concrete looks then go with it.

rochester stamped concrete

Subject: This is a great comparison of

This is a great comparison of the pros and cons of concrete driveways. I think it's important to consider how much use your driveway gets as well as if the driveway makes up a significant portion of your home's curb appeal as well.

James A

Subject: Concrete vs Asphalt

I live in Florida. My neighbor has an asphalt driveway and mine is concrete. Both installed in 2004. My concrete driveway is badly cracked in two places and is badly stained from mildew despite yearly pressure washing (which has roughened the surface). My driveway looks really bad and I'm planning to replace it with a paver driveway in the next year or two. Concrete is bad in Florida. I don't like the looks of my neighbor's asphalt driveway, but it has held up a lot better, without any cracks and he has not sealed it. Mildew doesn't grow on it or it doesn't show. I'd chose asphalt over concrete in Southern Florida.

Catherine Fry

Subject: Asphalt too hot

Although concrete might be more expensive, it lasts longer. The other BIG concern for me is that asphalt is too hot to walk on barefooted during the summer months, while concrete is fine. The animals and grandchildren do not have to worry about their feet burning. Concrete doesn't break up like asphalt on the edges, or look bad when you make a turn on it in the hot weather where it will buckle. I lived in Hemet, CA and there is one crossroad that buckles on all sides when the trucks come to a stop. So much so that eventually they put concrete in those areas to stop it. Not only unsightly, but a huge hazard. And concrete doesn't track into the house, or into your garage, and make a mess. If done right it will last much longer than asphalt and you will get much better results with it's use.

Marcus

Subject: There's so much

There's so much misinformation in this area.

Asphalt is way more environmentally friendly. It's the most recycled material in the world by volume. You can even buy up to 98% recycled asphalt in some places. And cement has ridiculously high carbon emissions to make. Asphalt can also be patched and rejuvenated for decades with new sealants, ultra-high pressure water cutting, etc. whereas concrete when it cracks up has to be fully ripped up and replaced.

Steve

Subject: Driveway material

Had four homes over my 57 years, with only the last having Asphalt. I did it to save money and quite now I prefer Asphalt much more over concrete. Concrete always cracks (so does Asphalt), but after I have it sealed each year for $100 (three car rear entry garage) and it looks like new against the white house. No stains, no discolorations, cracks filled.
Another great benefit, is the black surface during the winter heats up from the sun's radiant heat and melts the snow and ice off unlike concrete (Missouri). Now after 20 years I do have some wear, have owned some heavy trucks, but going to replace next spring with Asphalt again.

R. Lewis

Subject: Be objective...

Do a cost benefit analysis using something like a Kepner-Tregoe decision analysis chart and then choose accordingly. The bottom line is what do you like and what can you afford? Contract engineering guidance if the job is large enough and then get a competent contractor. Except nothing but the best workmanship. I have been in industrial construction most of my 72 years and never accepted second rate craftsmanship. It ALWAYS paid off. (Caps not shouting--underlining instead.) Also, place quality ahead of quantity.

There is a lot of good information in this thread IF you wade out the extremists on both sides of their arguments. They sound like a couple of legislative bodies. We all know about. You are fighting over global warming and politics; yet, all you want is to pave your driveway?! Geeze Louise!

Vikki Hildebrandt

Subject: terrible asphalt driveway

My asphalt driveway is only one and a half years old on a new construction house. I do believe that the builders laid it when it was too cold because it was in November and November 15th is when companies around here close for the winter...the first spring there is a large dip when you back out of the garage there's several cracks in it. it is wavy in appearance and my daughter who weighs 100 pounds drippin wet sat on a lawn chair and made marks in it. HELP!!! it looks horrible!

Tom

Subject: driveways of homes controlled by home owner association

Hello Vikki
If your home is controlled by a Home owner association, you should complain to them. Why? Your home owner association (HOA) knows the quality of materials that builders and contractors used to build your home but the HOA board members failed to disclose to you. The HOA want MONEY form home owners like you. What can the HOA do benefit for you and your neighbors?

My advice to you is Don't buy a home which is controlled by HOA.

Regards
Tom

Gordy

Subject: Heated driveway

Can hot water be run under asphalt driveways to aid in snow melt? I live in the northeast, and my driveway is shaded (north facing) much of the day. I was thinking about running hot water under my driveway in a completely shaded area to help melt snow.

Erik K

Subject: Painted concrete

Something no-one has yet discussed here is the potential benefits to be had from painting concrete decks and driveways.

I have an in-ground pool with a concrete deck surrounding it. Only a few years after the deck had been poured, much of the concrete had been stained dark brown by the iron-containing salts dissolved in the groundwater that had fallen onto it from the lawn sprinklers. Even when the concrete was new, standing on it barefoot on a hot day (i.e. in temperatures above circa 85 deg. F) was bad enough, but once it was stained with iron, and in temperatures of over 100 F, standing on a single spot for more than a few seconds was intolerable.

Eventually I got so fed up with this that I decided to paint the concrete deck with a light-colored water-based exterior-grade latex paint. I prepared the surface by 1) pressure-washing it, 2) brushing it with diluted hydrochloric (a.k.a. muriatic) acid, followed by more pressure-washing to remove all traces of the acid, 3) painting it with a primer designed to be used with concrete, and finally 4) painting on a topcoat of slightly off-white exterior-grade satin-finish concrete paint. The color was chosen with the aim of providing high reflectivity, but without it being so bright that the glare on a sunny day would be excessive.

The result has exceeded my most optimistic expectations. Even on the hottest days (up to 110 F here in south central KS), it is possible to stand barefoot on the concrete without the slightest discomfort. The paint is impervious to staining from groundwater salts, and about five years later it is still in very good condition. Only round the outer edges of the deck, where the weedwhacker has repeatedly come into contact with the paint, has the finish been damaged -- but that is very easily and quickly fixed once a year by running over the scars with a paintbrush. The painted surface is slightly more slippery than bare concrete, but unless you are foolish enough to run on it with wet feet or in the rain, this is of no importance.

On another (though related) subject, I have found that minor surface defects in concrete can be successfully patched with fiberglass paste (a.k.a. Bondo). I have made several such repairs to the deck, both before and after painting, and all of them are still intact several years later, possibly thanks to good surface preparation (but I would recommend painting any fiberglass repairs rather than leaving them exposed to the elements, as the material does absorb water and swell if is left in contact with it for an extended period).

Following the successful outcome of my experiment with painting the pool deck, I applied a similar treatment to the concrete paths around the house, with equally good results.

This spring I intend to use a light-beige paint to refinish the concrete driveway, which is rather stained and unsightly from many years of being exposed to water from the sprinklers. It will be interesting to see whether the rubber from the tires of vehicles driven over the painted surface will cause permanent marking; but I would assume that if any marks are left, they too can be painted over again periodically. Another advantage with paint is that it will be an effective barrier against the corrosive effects of any salts the driveway is exposed to in the wintertime.

A further experiment I plan to undertake this year is to use expanded polystyrene (like the packing materials used to cushion electrical appliances for shipping) to fill the expansion joints in the driveway, which are repeatedly colonized by weeds. Expanded polystyrene has the multiple advantages of being: 1) readily available at little or no cost, 2) quick and easy to install and renew, 3) paintable, and 4) capable of absorbing the forces applied by the thermal expansion of the concrete slabs, and thus not diminishing the effectiveness of the expansion joints. Its main disadvantages are probably the fact that it is susceptible to being marked by anything that presses into it, and not chemically resistant to motor oil (though if first painted with latex paint, it will be much less affected by oil).

A final thought regarding the importance of using light-colored finishes on exterior surfaces: the difference in heat absorption between a light-colored surface and a dark one is absolutely enormous. I wish I had appreciated just how great that difference is when we renewed the asphalt shingles on the roof eight years ago. I'm sure the dark-brown shingles we chose are costing us several hundred dollars a year in extra AC cooling costs compared with something like a light grey.

The best tool when trying to decide which shade of paint is best for your concrete is probably a vehicle mechanic's thermometer -- one of those that you point at the surface whose temperature you are measuring. My suggestion would be to select an area that is known to be exposed to the sun for most of the day, and to paint the surface of the concrete with smallish squares (around 6 x 6 inches) of the colors you are considering -- perhaps the evening before a day that is forecast to be hot and sunny. Wait till the hottest part of the day (typically the late afternoon), then compare the surface temperatures of each of the squares, both with each other and with the concrete you are planning to paint on a larger scale. The thermometer reading will be a much more reliable guide than your eye regarding the heat-reflectiveness of the various colors.

Jackie

Subject: Based on your wording

Based on your wording thermal expansion, salts, advantages, reflectivity (just a few) you are a chemist or a pigment scientist, or some kind of scientist. I just wanted to comment on what your background might be

jim DOCHTERMAN

Subject: sealing

IF ASPHALT IN CORRECTLY SEALED USUNG PROPER MIX FORMULATION OF COAL TAR SEALER, SAND , AND ADMIXTURE OF TARMAX, GS10, ETC. A QUALITY BARRIER TO THR ELEMENTS OF OXIDATION,SUN RAIN,SALT ETC. CAN BE ACHIEVED. MOST CONTRACTORS DONT UNDERSTAND MIX FORMULATIONG GIVING CONSUMERS A CHEAP WATERED DOWN MIX WHICH IS PRACTIALLY WORTHLESS.

Rudy Pitscheneder

Subject: Pros and cons..

their will always be a debate on this subject ,Let the customer decide what they want ..do the job and be happy you have one!

Richard T

Subject: The debate

The debate helps to inform the consumer. Most customers can't make that decision without the information from this debate.

George

Subject: resurface asphalt

I know that many (most) asphalt mechanics refuse to re-pave over existing black top claiming it won't adhere. But I see cities and states doing it every year somewhere, with satisfactory results. Who's stroking whom?

Darien

Subject: Old asphalt can be paved over

Old asphalt can be paved over so long as it is in adequate conditions, however if the existing pavement is very cracked then the new pavement will crack directly over those existing cracks. If the old asphalt is in fair condition, then a contractor would opt to either seal the existing cracks with crack-fill, or possibly "shim" (lay a thin coat over the cracked area and compact) prior to repaving. Generally, cities can repave over their existing pavement since they make sure to repave before the conditions become non-repairable.

Mike

Subject: asphalt vs concrete

Other considerations between concrete and asphalt exist when utilization is beyond the sole purpose of vehicle transport. Concrete, for example will cause more rapid wear of basketballs and tires/tire chains of snow removal machinery. Asphalt may promote a more slippery surface for basketball purposes, expecially when wet. Concrete is very susceptible to deterioration with standing water containing salts which may be worsened when vehicles are parked on the surface with melt of the road cheese. Asphalt is less desirable when heavy vehicles/equipment is going to be parked often in the same spot as sub surface will eventually compact further and the resulting sheer forces will crack the concrete eventually, while asphalt will dip and retain water/ice with subsequently enhanced conditions leading to deterioration.

Thomas Payne

Subject: Concrete v asphalt

Been a concrete contractor for 35 years and most of the information I see posted is correct but some, I believe is incorrect. Yes, the base prep is probably the most important factor in a long lasting driveway with concrete or asphalt. Some have explained the reasons why concrete cracks but no one explains the main reason concrete cracks and that is shrinkage. In an example provided by the American Concrete Institute, an un reinforced side walk 100' long x 3' wide with proper mix design and water ratio, when fully cured, will shrink Approx. An inch in length. This does not mean it will be less than 100' feet long. There will be numerous cracks throughout the length of the walkway and if you add up the thickness of each crack it will add up to the inch. If you were to place #5 rebar 12" on center down the length of the walkway, you will likely have less cracks but they will be wider, uglier cracks because the thickness of the cracks will still add up to 1 inch. Shrinkage can not be controlled by reinforcement. The higher the water ratio the more shrinkage will occur. Also the higher the water ratio the lower the psi strength, air pockets form in the capillaries of the concrete allowing for easier moisture migration which promotes efflorescence and higher rate of deterioration from freeze thaw. Some have suggested a higher psi or cement ratio which is good to a point. The more cement, the more hydration equals more shrinkage. The bottom line for a consumer is to make sure whoever places your concrete keeps the water ratio at the proper level. The benefits of a 4000 psi mix will be diluted by too much water added. Other factors not mentioned here are expansive soil, soil high in alkaline content and the effects of ground freeze. All have an adverse effect on concrete. I sell concrete but in some conditions asphalt can make more sense. Asphalt is more pliable and allows for movement better than concrete. It is agreed that proper thickness, application and maintenance is necessary for duration.

Marks3Kids

Subject: Concrete vs Asphalt

Decent coments by TP. In addition to his comments; concrete freeze/thaw elements increase with the wrong tools being used to finish the concrete in cold weather environments. Finishers should not use steel trowels to seal the surface during final finishing of external concrete. This will seal the top layer of the exterior concrete and not allow sufficient evaporation of the water inside the slab, which increases water retension in the slab, which can freeze in freezing weather, causing the concrete to spall away (pop off).

A factor that can influence the cost of asphalt is the cost of the barrel of oil. During times of high oil prices, asphalt is more expensive.

Julie McGeehan

Subject: Concrete vs. asphalt driveways

Seems like people will pave just about anything -especially when it comes to the land they own. To better help rainwater drain into the soil, I suggest constructing two strips of gravel, pavers etc. the width of your tires the length you require with grass, moss, ivy etc. between the strips. Thus, not much maintenance, a larger looking yard, and less runoff. Win, win.

Jack Armstrong

Subject: Pavers/gravel

Pavers or gravel are very appealing if you live in southern climates. In northern climates it makes it very difficult for snow removal and they (pavers) tend to move around with the frost. I have also found them to sink or move in areas that have occasional heavy rains unless they are "framed" in with some sort of border.

Paul Apostolina

Subject: Concrete additives

I heard some where that if calcium is added to the concrete for temperature reasons on the initial pour, that the concrete will fracture when rock salt is applied in winter.

chris

Subject: rock salt

Rock salt or any Chloride based Ice melt will ruin any type of concrete.

Mandmconcrete construction inc

Subject: Peoples. Comments

Concrete should not be driven on for at least 2 weeks as it takes at least this length to reach its potential strength u should always use 6.5 bag mix for driveways 4000 psi

MobieNut

Subject: Concrete VS. Asphalt

I built bridges for many years, I know for a fact that concrete gets harder and harder as it ages, the only damage that could be done to concrete is cracking (all concrete cracks eventually, however if it is "installed" correctly it will crack where you want it too and not anywhere else.) Asphalt is basically dirt that has oil in it, yes it will "harden" but, it will NEVER compare to concrete, asphalt is used on roadways because it is cheaper, if you want something that will last, use concrete, if you still want asphalt, put in concrete first then cover with asphalt (for the look, but be prepared to replace the asphalt part after a few years, however putting it over a concrete base it will last much longer than putting it over packed clay/dirt mixture. Which brings me to my final point, your base, concrete and asphalt both MUST be placed on a solid base if you intend for them to last. It should either be rock (though if your rock is cracked then your concrete, and/or asphalt will crack there also... eventually) or (preferably) a PACKED sand/clay (we like to used Alabama red clay here :) mixture the better the foundation, the longer it will last, this counts for roads, bridges, building foundations and driveways. If your going to spend the money to fix your driveway, then fix it, don't put something there that you'll have to patch later.

con hourihan

Subject: portland cement concrete vs asphalt

A driveway is a permanent "slab on grade (SOG).
1. There is no such thing as an unreinforced SOG. Portland cement concrete (PCC) has little strength in tension. All its strength is in compression. A driveway is in compression from the center line up and it's in tension from the center line down because of dead weight and live load. The tensile load is carried by the re-bars.
2. Welded wire fabric is not reinforcing steel. It's called temperature steel with discussion for another day.
3. The re-bars need to be in the bottom half of the SOG. The steel needs to be covered with about 3" of concrete to the dirt and to the air. Therefore, a 4" SOG does not exist. Use minimum of 6". W/o going into the engineering, #4's at 12" on center each way will work. I prefer #5's at 16" OC EW so I can walk through the mesh w/o standing on bars. Prop them up with broken bricks. Wire them together at each intersection. Vibrate the mud into the pour and tap the outside of any exposed forms to prevent voids.
4. Ready mix is OK. Use 4" slump @ 3000#. Chopped fiber glass is good admixture for expansion under sun loading.
5. Trowel it hard. Then, trowel it again. This brings the paste to the top. Broom rfinish.
6. Cut control joints about every 8 foot. Say, one right down the middle and transverse at 8 foot apart. If the SOG were to crack it would do so inside the control joint and not crooked like all the driveways in town.
7. PCC is not glue. It's a chemical reaction. Don't let it dry out. Cure it for 7 days. Poly or straw or wet sand will work. The easiest is to spray concrete curing compound which is just mineral oil with a fancy name and price tag. The oil floats on the water and keeps the curing slab wet.
8. A properly poured SOG will last 100 years. If it doesn't something went wrong. Call me then.
9. Oh. Good sub-base, too.

Beverly Asmutis

Subject: Portland Cement Driveways, etc.

I enjoyed reading the comments about asphalt v. cement. My husband worked for the Portland Cement Association for 38 years. It was a research and development arm of the portland cement industry member companies. As an employee of that company, he did testing of the use, stability, strength and feasibility of that material as used in airport runways, driveways, bridges, expressways and buildings. I also worked for the director of the manufacturing process department at PCA. There is an enormous amount of knowledge of the science of cement technology that is necessary in order to assess the proper methods to be used in any and all construction.

Of course, my husband would tell you that there is no comparison between the strength of asphalt and concrete. Hands down one is much more expensive than the other but cement/concrete is preferred especially for the big jobs. All the driveways in my neck of the woods are concrete BUT very few do not have cracks. My husband always said that was because the contractors had no real idea how to put in cement driveways at homes. Our driveway consists of brick pavers instead of concrete, thereby eliminating the cracks so prevalent here in a subtropical climate.

Robert

Subject: Concrete psi

3000#?!! You want at least 3500psi, and 4000psi is MUCH better. Not only are you getting about 14% more compressive strength, you will get a lot more cream on the surface which will allow the finisher to get a better finish on it. Also, you don't want to trowel a driveway or most anything that's going to get a 'broom' finish. You float it until the water that is drawn to the surface evaporates. Then bullfloat it one last time and then broom it.

James S. Bonnell

Subject: Plan for the best but expect the worst.

I had a 3.5 yard driveway to pour and a willing neighbor to help screed it. I wanted to do it by halves (beer break in between) so I ordered the mud in the little trucks. Neighbor didn't show up. Both of the mini-mixes showed up at the same time. That was a memorable day. Ten years on it still looks good, though.

Tom

Subject: Well i know being young i

Well i know being young i dont have anywhere near half the experiance as many on here. I do believe it depends on the area. I would go concrete over asphalt anyday though considering u can change the color of the mix, stone size to make stronger and to avoid most cracks in driveways and aprons just add wire. From doing road patches in atlantic city, nj i find that concrete must be stronger and last longer then asphalt otherwise why would just about every street there have a 6" pad of concrete under the pavement. Just do it right with tampers, oil your forms and make the right joints and you will have one amazing driveway you can park anything on. Also the many statements about ice melting better in winter for pavement, what happens to your pavement in summer when its 100 degrees and your trailer jack is on it. You have a nice little hole now.

Bill

Subject: asphalt or concrete

Any driveway will crack. Many factors to consider before making a decision on what type material you want for a driveway. Soil type, amount of base needed, type of material used for base, what kind of vehicle traffic will park and drive on the driveway, drainage conditions, etc. Since I did this type work for 40 years I know of what I speak. I would go to a reliable contractor, get an estimate, ask for references, speak with other customers ( do your homework ) but know this; any driveway will crack, guaranteed.

Mandmconcrete construction inc

Subject: Concrete to asphalt

Concrete done properly is A lot better than Asphalt if done properly it's a far
better product it will crack it won't catch fire RB stolen 6 1/2 bag mix grade it bulfloat Broom walk away The more you mess with concrete The more likely it's going to pop do not use salt on your driveway you should be able to get at least 20 years looking perfect most important is the base

Tyler

Subject: Concrete has greatly improved

Concrete has greatly improved over the last 50 years so what you did in 1983 should not necessarily be the same as in 2013. While a good contractor has experience he must also show knowledge of improved methods and standards as technology does change the materials we use for construction.

Dennis Dee

Subject: Driveways

I called for an estimate last year. Asphalt with rip out was $4000. Concrete was $12,500. I opted for the Asphalt. With proper care and seal coating it will look better than concrete after aging. And If I have to did it over in 10 yrs so what. Still cost me less.

Harlan Schmidt

Subject: Resealing asphalt

You might avoid resealing your asphalt.

Our office complex faced this question in 1985. A close friend of mine owned an asphalt company. He told me that sealing is only for appearance, not for maintenance. We elected not to reseal.

Our lot is still just fine. Lots on either side resealed and reasphalted several times.

Joe

Subject: I live in an northeast area

I live in an northeast area where oil & stone is the norm. I rarely see concert unless it's uses as a car pad. Does anyone have an opinion on oil & stone compared to asphalt?

eddie

Subject: asphalt vs concrete

Concrete is the best material because it wears better, looks better etc. There are also some factors that people don't realize. #1) A yard of concrete pours 81 sq feet at 4 inches deep,( this is how it is figured at time of purchase) #2) there are different mixes depending on the weight of different vehicles,2500psi, 3000psi, 3500psi and so on.(example, ever notice the asphalt around dumpsters at stores or restaurants? the asphalt is all torn up where loading or emptying is done repeatedly by large trucks)The higher the strength of the mix(more cement, sand, and rock) the more weight the concrete can support. You can request whatever strength you want. If your biggest vehicle is a car, truck, boat or RV, then 2000 or 2500 psi is good. The thing to remember here is that when you form your driveway, patio, sidewalk, etc. whatever the application, 1x4s or 2x4s will be the forms(2x4s work better because they do not bow as much) you will always have 4 inches of concrete throughout the entire slab if you grade it right.#3) The most important) when an estimate is done on asphalt, in general ,the estimate is figured at 2 inches thick(this is where asphalt will always come up short) because if you want it any thicker, that will be extra. This is one reason that you have to start mowing your asphalt after it gets a crack, because of grass or weeds. LOL. Ultimately it is the homeowners decision, but you will get more bang for your buck with concrete. 2 inches vs 4 inches, 30 years vs 5 to 10 years....

Hutsky

Subject: Strength of Concrete

The strengths referred to when grading concrete ts a measure of the compression properties of the material. Concrete has virtually no strength when it comes to resisting tensile loads, which is more in the range of 100 psi.. Unfortunately the failures in slabs are almost always due to a tensile force that is caused by a bending action. Whether the slab is of three or four thousand psi concrete will have little or no effect when it comes to cracking. This property of concrete is the reason steel reinforcing is used to handle the tensile loads when they are present.. The only way to handle durability with slabs is to properly prepare the underlying base, control the cracking by properly grooving, and/or use of reinforcing.

Norman E. Oliveau

Subject: Concrete vs. Asphalt

You explination of the 2X4 four for framing (forming) the pour, sound good in print. However, a "real" 2x4 measures 1-1/2", by 3-1/2 inches, which came about around 35 years ago. A true 2x4 probably has't been milled to 2"x4" in about 65 years,in most areas. I am not making any suggestions, but I have yet to see a Four Inch slab on any drive in this area of NC. Concrete done correctly is very good, done poorly, leaves much to be desired, an example is when the original owners move out, their moving vans play havoc with the "Thinset' type of work. Having lived in a 48" Frostline area for 40 years, asphalt always made more sense. Concrete suffers from the January Thaw, around the third week of that month. Asphalt will have sufficien "give" to survive. As with any contracting job, material is important, but craftsmanship is paramount.

John B.

Subject: Asphalt versus Concrete

All one needs to look at to determine which is best are the Roman aqueducts. They were built in excess of 1,000 years ago using pozzolith - the base material in concrete. They are still standing in Italy. I challenge anyone to say an initial asphalt installation will last that long. When properly designed, installed and maintained concrete will always be a better choice, more durable and far most cost effective especially when doing a life-cycle analysis.

Thomas

Subject: Concrete Vs. Asphalt

You have to worry about an unexpected oil, gas, or antifreeze leaks too. They will stain concrete but not too bad if you have it sealed properly, Gas can eat up an asphalt driveway if not noticed and taken care of in time. That is why 90% of gas stations have concrete around their gas pumps. Thought I would let you all know,

Roger

Subject: Concrete versus asphalt

After reading the various comments, I find I made the right decision about 5 years ago when I replaced my 25 yr old concrete driveway in bad condition with concrete pavers. Did all the work myself. Rented a concrete cutter, compactor and brick cutter as needed. I did put a gravel and sand base underneath the pavers. Some of the gravel I created by busting up concrete slaps. It was hard work and took a long time but the result is rewarding. I got two quotes from the professionals. Both came in at around $12,000. By doing it myself, I spent about $3,500 for materials and rental cost.
One drawback, if you have a car or truck that leaks oil, the spots are almost impossible to remove since pavers are more porous than concrete.

R

Subject: Sealer

Put a clear sealer on the pavers to close up those porous pavers (or even concrete). Clean the surface first, then seal.
Then reseal a couple of times a year for the first couple of years to "soak it in". After that at the end of the summer sould be good.

Adam

Subject: Paver

If the paver is stained bad enough you can buy another and replace it. Simple and easy fix.

Chris

Subject: Have you ever thought about a

Have you ever thought about a sealer. The technology these days with sealers are amazing. From joint stabilization to sealers with bio fungicides the list goes on. Check out surebond products available from most unilock retailers.

Bob the Builder

Subject: Winter factor

I live in New England. My last driveway was concrete and it was great for jackstands, motorcycles, etc., but in the winter the snow and ice would melt just enough to glaze and re-freeze and this could go on for days. Most ice-melters are very unfriendly to concrete.

My asphalt driveway heats up when the sun hits it and after one good sunny afternoon, even in the dead of winter, the driveway is clear of ice and snow.

Jack Armstrong

Subject: Winter factor

The only reason the asphalt melts everything clear is because of it's color. Black absorbs a lot of heat even when it's 10 degrees out. I installed a driveway with colored concrete a few years ago and it does the same thing. I went with a reddish color to match the house but it still works just fine.

Chris

Subject: winter factor

I'm a Chicago resident. Have had concrete, exposed aggregate, and asphalt. Only the asphalt is spotless in the winter after plowing and 1 day of sunshine. Never any ice buildup. May not last as long as the aqueducts, but who cares.

Steve Geiger

Subject: Concrete vs Asphalt

An important consideration in pouring concrete is to make sure the truck driver pours it as it was mixed at the plant. The drivers like to add water to make it flow better. This messes with the mix that was done at the plant and can cause a lot of problems.

For one, if there is too much water added to the mix, it will rise to the surface and weaken the concrete surface so that it will spall easily. I have seen concrete just a couple of years old that has spalled significantly. It is basically junk that needs to be replaced.

If the base is prepared right, the concrete is mixed right and it is poured correctly, it will last a long time. I was a sales engineer for a cement plant and I knew of concrete that was over 80 years old and in excellent shape. Concrete will continue to get harder over many years. It continues to cure in small amounts over a very long period of time.

Another good thing to do to preserve concrete is to use a sealer on it where any kind of de-icing salts are used. This will protect the surface from the corrosive action of the de-icer and keep your concrete looking good for a long time.

Concrete done right will last a very long time with no problems and it will outlast asphalt by many years.

scott sheehan

Subject: wet concrete

pouring concrete like it is batched at the plant is a falsehood.unless you hv a wet batch plant,most crete is mixed around a 3 inch slump.we add water because different mixes call for different slumps..depends on hw the engineer set it.to get water to rise to the top u would have to pour it like the ocean.you can add a chemical tht guarantees no cracking,but it is expensive.the strength in concrete comes from the steel added to it.4 inches is more then enough for most residential driveways.i hv been driving a concrete mixer for 30 yrs,and have done the big dig and other big jobs.i would alwayd do concrete over asphalt.thank you

Fred C. Birchmore, Sr

Subject: Asphalt vs concrete driveway

Gradient is a big factor. Hillside driveway of asphalt will begin to creep and crack after a few years. Concrete will not. Appraiser for 30 years, seen it that way every time, in SoCal, anyway.

Gary Napoli

Subject: Concrete vs. Asphalt

The best product out right now is Pervious Concrete. It is concrete, so you know it will last a long time and it is pervious which means permeable so water will drain through it rather than run off. My company is able to install it with color and stamp pattern as well. It wears as concrete does, allows water to filter through and recharge the groundwater system and we can now make it look pleasing. What more can you ask for?

Driver

Subject: concrete driveway

As a concrete mixer driver for 20 years I have to disagree with you on the pervious concrete. I have hauled and poured hundreds of yards of this material and I don't like it. Ideally it sounds good, but practically it's not. Pervious concrete is a pea gravel mix, poured extremely dry, and typically rolled on with a roller to flatten it out. The purpose is to leave the surface as porous as possible so the water will drain right through the concrete. The problem is that over time all the dirt and use causes the pours to clog up and you eventually end up with a dirty/messy surface causing no drainage and a lot of fine dirt. In time, the pea gravel comes loose and breaks off in spots, especially when cars drive on it and vehicles turn their tires on it. The best, in my opinion, is a nice broomed driveway with specified grooves every 8 or so feet so that the cracking, which is caused by shrinkage from curing and/or poor surface preparation, will crack on the bottom of the groove lines and be more cosmetic than staggered. Two main things help reduce cracks, one, the dryer you pour concrete then the less shrinkage, hence cracks and two, good even and compact surface to pour on. The more uneven and soft the ground is then the more cracks from settling. Ask your concrete mixer outfit who the best finishers are, who care about their work, and they will tell you. Generally, you will get what you pay for.

Jim

Subject: Permeable concrete

I live in Illinois, permeable concrete here does not work. The water freezes before it has a chance to drain through. However, it works fine in Florida. Many homes have it there and no problems. The only complaint I hear is it stains easily and is hard to clean.

Jim R

Subject: concrete vs asphalt

I have had both types, and live in Illinois one thing to consider is this snow and ice melt off asphalt far better than they do on concrete. And even in below freezing temps direct sunlight will melt most ice off it. There is no question that concrete is far more durable but asphalt in the winter has a better safety factor

Dan

Subject: Taxes

This can be different from state to state or city to city. But one big added cost your did not put up on here is your yearly assessed Taxes. Where I live if you put in a concrete driveway the yearly taxes on your house will be increased any other type used to make a driveway like asphalt, brick cobble stone will not be taxed. In fact people here that replace there concrete driveway with another type can call the local tax assessor to come down and get a new tax assessment to reduce there yearly taxes. Where I live it turns out that the maintenance on asphalt, brick and stone ends up being cheaper then the assessed taxes you will paid every year on the concrete driveway, something you should look into before paving is your local tax codes on concrete. Where I live this also works the same for pools if you put in a in ground concrete pool you will have added taxes every year, if it's a above the ground pre-fab it is not added to your yearly tax assessment.

Dave Mogstad

Subject: Concrete Facts

Having been in the sales of concrete construction supplies for over the the last 20-30 years, I would agree with Mr. Bonner's comments on conrete. I live in Las Vegas, and an example of concrete's durability can be found in certain bus stops around the city. As many of you are aware, it can get extremely hot in the desert Southwest, and the buckling and rutting of asphalt is a common occurance. The weight of city rapid transit vehicles does not help the situation. Several years ago the city decided to replace several asphalt bus stops with concrete. The result has been dramatic, while the initial cost of a concrete bus stop is not cheap, the durability and not having to replace the asphalt every 3-5 years has actually saved the city money. The choice is simple, for durability, longevity and enhancing property values, concrete is the way to go.

lonnie

Subject: concrete is my choice

one thing I hated when I first moved in to my house was that two kitchen floors were destroyed in a short time. the asphalt driveway would get on the shoes and tracked on the tile floor staining it and eating into it. to avoid this use concrete!

James Barend

Subject: asphalt vs concrete

There are so many ways to answer this so I will provide some wisdom from someone who has built hundreds of road pads and other items from both materials.

Like real estate, the key is location location location. Frost and heat are the two most destructive forces for roadways. Heat causes expansion for both materials. For asphalt, it will flow out but no always back. If the binder is too thin for the heat the whole road surface deforms and distorts. heat also causes the asphalt to dry out and crack leading to failures. For concrete, heat can cause crumbling and cracks, especially if the concrete is not kept damp and covered in the summer during curing. If the expansion joints do not give, concrete buckles. In the frost zones, cracking destroys both materials by allowing water into the pavement and freezing. Asphalt has an advantage IF it is coated in the fall. Coating in the summer does not fill all the cracks.

Both require a stone base that is compacted and allows for drainage. In a frost area, 4 inches for asphalt and 8-12 inches is required for concrete. In almost all cases, residential paving is done as thin and possible to save money. It is common to use 2-3 inches of base asphalt and 1 inch of top coat. 4-5 inches of base and 2 inches of top coat with a stone base is much better and it should last 30-40 years. Concrete should not be less than 6 inches, 4000 psi strength, asphalt expansion boards every 8-10 feet, and covered (wet) for a minimum of 3 days to cure.

Cheryl

Subject: cement driveways

We had a cement driveway and cement in the garage put in 3 years ago...not pleased with it...not sure if it wasn't done right or what, but within the first year the driveway and garage floor had cracks in them and more are appearing...they said , when we contacted them within that first year that there was nothing they could do about it and that they didn't know why it was doing that...very displeased....

Rich Bodner

Subject: Cement Driveway Feedback

From the description you offered, while outside could be several factors influencing it, the comment about inside the garage in over 90% of the situations point at poor location or poor site preparation. Simply put, the land underneath was not properly compacted and is now settling under the weight of the garage, and quite possibly, under the weight of the driveway's cement as well. If this is so, I suggest an extra and occasional check of the garage, not of the concrete, but the walls. If the base is shifting away and down, tell tale cracks may also appear on the walls materials, and that could be potential trouble for the structure itself.

Danthemason

Subject: Base

Someone said concrete doesn't need a base. That might be true for a one year warranty. For a long lasting install put it on a gravel base.

Gerry Frankovich

Subject: Concrete Base

The base needs to be thoroughly compacted! Pack it like that's the surface to be used! Concrete does not 'have to' crack, it's the settling that occurs. There are people, at least in Salt Lake City area who can drill holes in the concrete and pump a clay mixture in to fill voids. This worked for me when I was there. My driveway and garage area were backfilled with frozen chunks in below freezing temps. The 'dirt guys' don't seem to be obligated to do any packing, no wackers nor vibrating rollers. Seems like the home buyer or owner needs to go to the rental store and man up to a wacker packer!!

Steve Tanton

Subject: asphalt vs. concrete

All of you are forgetting the other element...government. Asphalt is like gravel, it is not "permanent", thus one's (property) taxes don't go up. If you lay down concrete, I can guarantee you that your taxes will go up so much that over the life-time of your concrete driveway, the cost over asphalt will probably be ten-fold or even higher. Do you really want to pay the government for your concrete? Not me.

Mark Paul

Subject: Tax's on driveways is a myth

In Nashville, Tn I called the property tax people before I installed concrete over a previously gravel only driveway. There is NO tax on driveways, only permanent building structures attached to the ground. Even little mini barns that we use to store hay are exempt as they are moveable and not attached to the ground like our home is.

Bernard

Subject: asphalt vs concrete

Why is there any discussion of this?. The only way asphalt anything competes is as finish surface on top of a 12 inch reinforced concrete slab, like on the interstate. The road in front on my house is 80 plus years old with all sort of heavy truck traffic, and yes it has cracked because the town in their ultimate wisdom thought to stop taring the seams in the concrete slabs. In the frost belt that's a no-no. Penny wise and pound foolish. I live on Long Island, NY

Sam Wright

Subject: concrete vs. asphalt

Really disappointing that the original article said nothing about environmental impact. Cost, appearance and performance are no longer the only criteria people consider when making these choices. For more and more people environmental impact is the #1 consideration. This should be a standard part of any discussion about remodeling, construction, household projects of any kind, etc.

Brad

Subject: Typical environmentalist

Typical environmentalist comment,,,, criticism with no suggestions! You and everyday you live are a environmental hazard. What have you done to minimize your environmental and carbon foot print? You still drive a car, use electricity and build your house of wood which all takes petroleum/energy. You failed to mention what your driveway is, concrete asphalt, dirt, gravel,,? How about a positive post?Or a positive question, for example,,,Does anybody know of a environmentally friendly driveway product?

Richard Harvey

Subject: Concrete Driveway Good or Bad?

I had a new concrete driveway put in last year in July. Temperatures during those 2 days of installation were 90 to 93 degrees. We had a top notch Mason come in and do the work with his team. We had a layer of heavy crushed gravel laid down and tamped. Next, we had rebar put in for strength, then they finally poured in top quality concrete I could find. To finish it off, we had stress cuts put through all of it and sealed off each cut with the best sealer on the market. Bottom line, 6 months to the day, the drive way developed 14 cracks in it at last count. Word to the wise, don't have your driveway installed in the dead of summer, it won't cure properly even if you water it every night for 2 weeks. Now I have to seal this thing on a steady bases.

louis takacs

Subject: temp

i think it is to high.also it is a concrete finisher not a mason,laborer 10 yrs. doing brick and block work-50 bags of mortar in 8 hrs.thats 2000 shovels double worked in pails out of the mixer wheeled 30 ft. and hand delivered another 10 ft.best day-50 bags!

George Waldman

Subject: recycled asphalt

In Maine, we put in hard packed recycled asphalt, not wanting to introduce more processed petroleum into the world. It's holding up well given the close proximity to granite ledge underneath. It breathes and allows moisture to pass through, and it was much less expensive than other options. As with all surfacing, it requires some care and tending.

clifford fowler

Subject: recycled asphalt

I'm curiuse about recycled asphalt. How does it hold up.What do you do to maintain it? Thanks for any information you can give me.

Fred

Subject: pavers over concrete over substrate

OK boys and girls just by the info here if I want to have a lasting and beautiful driveway with side walks and I want to beautify them with pavers like an adobe surface then I start with removing the dirt about eight inches, pour 4 inches of crushed rock then 4 inches of concrete and then glue on the adobe pavers. The side walks do not need the substrate because they support less weight. Then apply a good sealer and were good to go. EXPEN$IVE!

John Branches

Subject: Asphalt Driveway

I had an asphalt driveway replace afew years back and I've noticed a few issues withit and was wondering if anyone had any ideas why this is happening. Live in the New England. When a motorcycle is parked on it the kick stand sinks into the driveway. I have also noticed in different areas that the top layer seams to be wasting away in different areas such as the mix of the asphalt and its stone/pebble like appearance is obvious compared to a flat look it once had. Some have said its because of the heat but I don't believe that is the problem. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks

Elliott

Subject: To keep your cycle kickstand

To keep your cycle kickstand from sinking use a tuna fish can. Most will fit inside the can. Or... get a small plastic cutting board, they work great too.

Rob

Subject: Kickstand sinking

I have been in the paving business for 28 years and your problem is a common one. To begin with, this can be a problem in most any state in hot conditions. However, cheaper mixes and improper installation are the usual culprits.
There are a half dozen or so ingredients to asphalt, but those ingredients can be manipulated dramatically.
The kind of mix, the way it is installed, the way it is finished (rolled) all have an impact on the strength. Your problem of a sinking kickstand is normal in private driveways because most paving companies that do residential work typically do shoddy work. Ask yourself this, does your kickstand sink in the lot at the grocery store? No.

Dick

Subject: asphalt driveways

Have it sealed every year. My drive was paved 20 years ago. It's 18' wide by 160' long. It is between 4" and 6" thick at any given point. I've had it sealed every year for 20 years. Sealing costs me $400.00 each time and the driveway is in great shape. I drive a 1 Ton truck and 30' long box trailer with a specialty vehicle in the trailer on the drive continually and it's in great shape.

Mark

Subject: Motorcycle kick stand on asphalt driveway

Motorcycles on a kickstand are too heavy for asphalt. It will sink in, especially on hot days in the sun. I have always had to put something hard and flat under the kickstand. It can not be too thick because the cycle will not lean enough and will tip over the other way. Bury a paving stone beside the driveway or use a thick metal plate.

Doug

Subject: Driveways

One thing that influenced me when we decided to pave our stone drive. Concrete is considered a permanent structure and therefore would up my tax rate in my particular area. We went with asphalt at minimum 4 inch base over rolled stone.

Bill King

Subject: Asphalt driveway

When I lived in California, I needed a driveway to get my motor home in a building I had built at the bottom of my property. My property had a gradual slope. I could get the motor home down to get it in the building, but impossible to get it up if it had been raining. I elected to get asphalt because of the price. The asphalt contractor suggested for me to go to a local nursery and buy some kind of powdered chemical to lay down before the asphalt was layed. The reason for that, weeds will destroy the asphalt after a time. I had that done in 1995. I sold the house in 2000. In talking to the buyer a few years back, there has been no problem with weeds. Another neighbor near me in CA, didn't do that and in a short time, the weeds destroyed the asphalt with a lot of unsightly cracks. Just a little information for anybody thinking about asphalt instead of concrete.

N

Subject: paving driveways

If you have trees near your drive the roots will crack concrete or asphalt ! I have asphalt with two large oaks near by and i patch and seal ever year. if you get rid of trees either will work well

David

Subject: concrete or asphalt

In northern snow belt climate, concrete driveways deteriorate and erode more quickly because of the road salts that highway departments apply to highways that drip off the cars parked in the driveways.I have seen concrete driveways spall and crumble in a few years.
Also a blacktop asphalt driveway absorbs the heat of the sunlight and melts off snow and ice more quickly that a concrete driveway. I have had both and a blacktop driveway is a nice thing in the snow belt states, when you consider the much lower cost and winter performance. Concrete is great, but asphalt has it's strong points also.

Mike L

Subject: Asphalt

At least someone is making sense. I redid my 2400SF driveway 2 years ago. The cost of concrete was 4 to 5 times the cost of asphalt. The cost of pavers was 6 times the cost of asphalt. Concrete cracks if there is moisture under it and freezes/expands in the winter. I have a concrete patio that is full of puck marks from years of road salt. Lastly, my driveway is in the sun. If it snows a couple inches at night, I do not bother to plow as the asphalt will heat up during the day and melt it away.

john

Subject: taxes

i have always heard that concrete drives are permanent and are taxed as part of your residents. retired 43 yrs in the trades john

Bill

Subject: Concrete or Asphalt

Around here (central Texas) there is another factor that I have not seen mentioned above... what kind of soil do you have? We have everything from a little topsoil over a thick limestone base to a lot of clay that expands and contracts with ever sprinkle of rain. Slab foundations in this environment require much engineering to make them stable and not end up in pieces. Drives in this kind of soil must be quite a bit stronger than the normal 4" or so that is normally used.
That being said, concrete costs here on expansive soils are quite a bit higher. Asphalt is cheaper and will "ride the waves" better in some cases especially with the high summer temperatures. However, Asphalt will eventually start coming apart after about five years.

jim DOCHTERMAN

Subject: ASPHALT SEALING

I HAVE COMERCIALLY SEALED ASPHALT FOR 29 YEARS MT DRIVEWAY IS ALSO 28 YEARS OLD I DONT KNOW HOW LONG IT WILL LAST BUT, ANYTHING IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE MAINTENCE IT RECEIVES.

Dave

Subject: Concrete was our choice

We finished our 750' long, 10' wide driveway last year and did it in concrete. Concrete won out on aesthetics, durability, maintenance and ROI. Asphalt only had price going for it (approx. half the cost of concrete at the time.) Everyone comments on how nice the driveway is when they come to our house. It is also cooler on sunny days.

Michael Bonner

Subject: Concrete Facts

1) It's not "cement", it's "concrete". I short version of its recipe is that Concrete is sand, stone, cement and water. Simplified, cement is to concrete, as flour is to bread" - it's is the main binding component.
2) Advised techniques to placing concrete slabs will depend on the region you live in - In the North, a typical base requirement is 4" of compacted crushed stone. In the south, a compacted sand base is typical.
3) When someone says "my concrete cracked", ALL concrete is cracked. Proper placement of adequate control joints will either make, or "break" a concrete driveway application.
4) A proper control joint is a break in the concrete either by a tooled groove which is MORE than 25% the thickness of the slab, or a mechanical joint i.e.wood strip, plastic strip, metal joint. Understand that just because someone created a groove every so often, doesn't mean it's a true control joint. The tool typically used is a "groover", which is made of brass. Imagine that brass tool being rubbed and drug across tons of hardening concrete; brand new, it made a 1" deep groove. today, it might only make a 1\2" groove, which is the same as putting no joint at all.
5) There is a basic formula to proper concreting techniques when we talk about control joints. For example, a 4" to 6" slab wants to crack between the 9' to 10' mark. An 8" slab can usually go as far as 14" safely.
6) Concrete finishes always dictates a slabs durability. A hard troweled surface (very smooth- like in a garage or basement) has minimal porosity, and has the stone aggregate very close to the top to enhance it's hardness. A broomed or swirl finish has the stone pushed lower, and it's finish is all sand and cement which is easily washed or worn over time.
7) The concrete while being poured must have minimal water added. For clarity, the wetter it is, the weaker it is. There is what's called a "sand to cement" ratio. Once that ratio is overblown by excessive water content, the mix is doomed to only minimal longevity.
8) Pressure washing is damaging - Any harsh pressure to the surface starts a stripping of your cementicious layer; it's like what would happen to the paint on your car if you used steel wool to clean off the dirt.
9) The way to keep your slab at it's best is being cautious of what you've read in my post; I am a concrete expert who has presented to hundreds of Architectural firms around the country. I can tell you that once you've gotten the installation you want, a good sealer is key to minimizing maintenance problems. Note: A solvent or acrylic sealer is shiney, but provides the longest protection between applications. A water based sealer gets into the pours more thoroughly, is less shiney, but should be done yearly after a sensible cleaning.
Thank you for reading, and do yourself a favor by asking a few of the "professionals" you run into what they plan to provide you (in detail).
If you'd like to respond with a question, I'd be happy to help you as much as I can.

Erika

Subject: Thanks Michael, very helpful

I have a stamped concrete driveway and just LOVE the look! Your insights are very helpful. Already having the driveway installed, it's the sealer-related information that I most appreciate.

I'd like to add a personal experience. My driveway was installed 5 years ago and the installer did a fantastic job of creating a "slate" look. A year later, my township installed side walks. In the process, an 80 yo tree in my front yard was taken down. :( Whether it was the loss of the tree or the equipment used to remove it, my driveway ended up getting a few stress cracks.

Last year, I hired the same contractor to extend the work (install a stamped concrete front patio). Seeing the cracks that had occured, he said he could patch the cracks and then stain again inorder to keep the patches camouflaged. UGH! I still "like" my driveway but it certainly lost the "slate" look. Now the color is flat and leans very much towards a silver look (instead of grey).

In short, I'd like to pass on my lesson learned. Sealing is VERY important - don't get lazy about that, but don't attempt to restain it or you may find yourself dissapointed. Also of no surprise, sealing the cracks was marginally successful at best.

robert sadowski

Subject: repairing cracks in cement driveway

Hello,

My concrete drive is now eight years old (in South Carolina). Two questions for you, please. 1.) How do I repair the cracks (some appear deep - perhaps all the way through the concrete) and, 2.) I have never used a sealer; should I now? Thank you.

Lisa Allison

Subject: Driveway replacement

I have an asphalt driveway of indeterminate age, which was laid over concrete of unknown condition, which appears to have been laid over brick - there is one area where both the concrete and the asphalt have broken away, and there is brick beneath. Climate is harsh - central Iowa - hot, humid summers and brutally cold, icy winters. The driveway is one-car wide and approximately 100 feet long, running right along the side of the foundation for about 40 feet. The drive is also uphill for about the first 15 feet, then there's a slight "hump" and it evens out to the garage. Garage floor is very thick concrete slab and appears to be original to the house (1928). The asphalt is in terrible shape; cracks through to the soil, many low spots that collect water, and all along the foundation of the house the asphalt has separated and cracked so that water seeps in to the basement.

I would love some advice on how to best address the driveway overall, but particularly the basement issue. Is there some type of material/drain/gutter etc. that would adhere to the foundation (brick above ground, glazed-tile-blocks below) which would address the water issue without having to dig up the driveway, dig out the foundation, and waterproof it? Also, what is the likelihood the brick underlayment would be salvageable - and how would one go about removing the top 2 layers of material in order to do so?

Thank you so much!

Cindy Nelson

Subject: concrete

Where do you reside and what would you charge to oversee a job? Your knowledge
is so reassuring! I need to have a driveway and sidewalk replaced in Central Florida.
Great article you wrote, thank you for the information.

Greg Morton

Subject: Concrete v. asphalt, streets and sidewalks in a homeowners assoc

Michael: Yes, help please. We are a 160-unit homeowners association in Oregon. A nearly 40-year old property, not well maintained in its early years so as to keep down annual dues, now in a catch-up mode while we still can. Was a regional show place, now lots of wear and tear. We own our streets and sidewalks and they have suffered as much if not more than other construction elements. The streets are asphalt, seal coated. The sidewalks are concrete, never maintained or re-done that I can tell. Many sidewalk areas are down to the aggregate. And also, the original landscaping decisions included lots of sweet gums which are now mature and have root structures damaging many hard scape surfaces all over the property -- driveways included. We have started removing them one at a time in the worst cases, grinding the stumps, but much more needs to be done.

My questions, for starters, have more to do with asphalt than concrete but if you can't advise maybe you can point us in the direction of someone who can. As homeowners we are not pros, just opinionated people with limited experience looking for someone to give advice who isn't also out to line their own pockets while they do so --

1) We have a constant debate about continued seal coating on the streets, which we all acknowledge is temporary, but also inexpensive (the current Board doesn't want to raise dues any more than necessary either) versus section by section, digging the streets down to dirt and rebuilding them, including doing the needed tree work at the same time. (We're off the main drag so the only traffic we get is locals to and from their homes).

2) And the new debate now is asphalt versus concrete to replace the rapidly wearing sidewalks. The only traffic they get are a few local walkers and their dogs. And of course the weather which is moderate and damp.

3) We fear a future sewer line problem that will require immediate attention when it happens. Never been any maintenance on that other than occasional clearing out of tree roots in individual sections. Does the likelihood of that immediate repair influence our concrete v. asphalt decision? In other words, is one easier and/or cheaper to dig into, work around and then patch?

That's all I can think of now, but I'm sure there is more. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks. Greg

Iryna

Subject: used wrong name

sorry, I called Michael Bonner as Permalink in my previous reply, could you edit it?

Iryna

Subject: Concrete driveway in Utah

Hello Permalink,
Thank you for your post. It is very informative. Could you give me some advice about concrete driveway at 6200ft elevation. Our driveway is in very poor condition now. We planning to replace it. But I would like to know some facts before asking our contractor about provided installation process. The driveway area is on slope 5-6% grade. How thick should be the slab 4",6",or 8", what should be used for the base and how thick it needs to be(zone 5b). Contractor planning to make a 1/2" groove. What is alternative to do it properly? Should we add for stability a welded wire mesh (it will affect a cost significantly)? May be you know some additional tips or tricks for stability. May be I asked too much but thank you for any answer.
Sincerely,
Iryna

paverotti

Subject: concrete or asphalt

concrete keeps curing, getting harder as it does, for a very long time--improving, not degrading with age and water.Concrete strengthening with iron reinforcement and prestressing. Asphalt with more thickness of asphalt.

paverotti

Subject: concrete or asphalt

no one said anything about substrate and materials/prep; or about thickness/layers vs loading. asphalt pavement installers always seem to specify such low asphalt thickness!

Tom Watson

Subject: asphalt vs concrete vs property taxes

Check your property taxes. So places consider concrete permanent home improvement thus raising your property taxes and asphalt is not consider permeant and will not raise your property taxes.

tx

Subject: taxes

I'm really surprised how many people mention taxes on here. How much can your taxes really go up? Even if it's a $5000-$10,000 driveway, what is that: $50-100/year in most places?

In return you avoid all of the problems people have mentioned here, it lasts longer, and the next buyer will probably appreciate it much more than asphalt and you'll get repaid.

Am I missing something?

Curt Zimmerman

Subject: Concrete vs. asphalt (real costs)

I'm sure it varies by state and municipal building code, but where I live concrete driveways are considered a "permanent structure" and are property taxed at a much higher level than asphalt, which is considered to be a "temporary structure".

Given the higher initial cost of concrete, and the higher property tax rate, it becomes significantly more expensive in the long term. Replacing asphalt a couple of times in your lifetime and maintaining it every few years will still cost considerably less.

That is just here. I'm not saying where "here" is because it is irrelevant. You have to check and see what the building codes and tax rates are where you live.

Michael Herring

Subject: Concrete vs. Asphalt

I am a master mason. Grew up in the cement trade. Concrete can be driven on in about 3 days, it's easy to remove, it takes the shape of your forms so can look however you want. Try sculpting asphalt into a decorative planter design, or a fountain base. Not going to happen. Concrete wears out over a lifetime, not a generation. The rule should be, cement where you can, and asphalt were you must.

Chase

Subject: maybe

Paid to have my old, very cracked 40 year old driveway removed and a new one poured.

now i've got a big old crack going the length of it and on each spacer. it's only been 2 1/2 years. It's Asphalt next time.

Ed Meese

Subject: maintenance

While I'd prefer the look of cement, I've got asphalt, and after ten years of neglect it's in fine shape. It has the same set of trivial cracks it started with. It's aged to a nice grey, and I'm wondering if there's a clear sealer out there, so when I do give in to the sealing pressure I dont go back to hot ugly tar black. I just want to go with white rubber roof sealer and sand but the wife thinks that's a terrible idea....

Gary matusavige

Subject: Sealer

They do make colored sealers a lot of diferances in color .negative is more money and you can never go back to coal tar you can go back to black but it approximately 5 times more money good for tennis courts and walkways mostly

Adam

Subject: That is a stupid idea I have

That is a stupid idea I have done asphalt for over 20 years and the chemicals in sealer are way different then your roofing tar ,, best is oil based it has same chemicals as new asphalt but water based is commonly used because of its quick drying time

Codifex Maximus

Subject: Roman Hydraulic Concrete

The Romans had a version of Hydraulic Concrete that has remained useful for over 2000 years.

They just added crushed potsherds which they had plenty of - it being one of the main ingredients of their garbage. They also used the ash and pumice from the regional volcanoes which made for a cheaper more durable concrete. There are stories of breakwaters in old Roman ports where the aggregate rocks wore away before the hydraulic concrete itself. For a perfect example of Roman engineering in concrete, just look to the Pantheon.

Asphalt is a good covering for an existing roadway but is not very durable - it is repairable though. Much better than dirt roads.

dudleyfudpucker

Subject: concrete vs asphalt

The Romans never had to deal with frost. Their crete would not have lasted 20 years with frost. Frost can raise crete 1.5" in. the winter. Even our 12" thick superhighways with reinforced rebar expand and explode joints in the heat of summer. Asphalt will raise and flex when it freezes. How ever dirt and gravel just lay there. They don't get icy in the winter, good grip for driving is always there. Only drawback, dirty cars.

andy567

Subject: pavers

Paving stones look better, probably cost more, less run off.

Brandy

Subject: None of the above

We buy new gravel once every 8 years for less than $40, just scrape it with a bobcat we already have once in the spring. Repairs? What repairs? Perfect all winter long with no salting, No chemicals, no cracks, no headache. Simple works for some people.

Judy Scott

Subject: gravel!!

We use gravel too. Holds up fine. Our only problem is that plowing the driveway means some spring raking of gravel back onto the driveway. I might feel differently if we didn't live in a rural area.

peter zoni

Subject: concrete vs. asphalt...Northeast

Concrete is the superior material of the two by far.The duty cycle surpasses the asphalt by decades.The structural comparison of the two are heavily weighted to concrete.Asphalt is non-rigid and non-structural.It is only as good as its base.Concrete does not need a base.Concretes' reflectivity reduces the amount of lighting in a parking lot and generates about 35% less electricity cost per year than an asphalt parking lot.Concrete is not dependent on foreign (imported) oil and its binding agent(portland cement) has not been determined to produce cancer as do coal tar emulsions(binding agent of asphalt).Concrete is cleaner and is not responsible for "Heat Island Effect".This occurs with black pavement such as asphalt.It costs up to 30% more to cool a building surrounded with asphalt as opposed to concrete,due to heat absorbsion by asphalt.Concrete is totally recyclable.There is no comparative strength in asphalt.It cannot be compared to concrete on that basis.

Jay

Subject: Heat island effect of concrete buildings in cities is 5 degrees

Roman roads have lasted millennia because they put in three layers of large to small stones bottom to top, with the equivalent of pavers on top. The psi of their wheels was minimal, but grooves still exist where metal rims were used on chariots. Romans had rainy, freezing conditions in high elevations and in northern areas from northern Italy all the way to Germany, France, and Hadrian's Wall in England. Drainage and good base was key. Residential concrete or asphalt driveways which don't anticipate the 80-100 psi of moving, garbage and other large trucks will crack due to inadequate base. Just try getting truckers to bleed air from their tires; futile. Skimp now on the base, pay later with cracking.

rickirs

Subject: Low Maintenance

A well installed concrete driveway has almost no maintenance unlike asphalt that most HOA's require to be resealed annually regardless of condition. And if you use decocrete you get a lot better curb appeal.

bruce

Subject: coct of concreate

for a 100 sq feet at 4 in thick it cost $200.00 premixed from home depot deliverered in a small mixing truck and another $200.00 for the guy to dig the footings, put in the wire mesh and pour and trowel it out, not shur how good of a deal that was but I had 2 bids

Richard McCrone

Subject: Asphalt Concrete Vs Portland Cement Concrete

Some other considerations in choosing between Asphalt Concrete VS Portland Cement concrete:
A) If the area to be paved is close to your basement wall there is the possibility that the roller used to compact the Asphalt Concrete could damage the basement walls.
B) In general Asphalt is less expensive that Portland Cement but sand and gravel (the main components of both pavements are the same).
C) The base under the pavement is very important to longevity and the material is inexpensive. Most of the cost comes in hauling and placing it.
D) Drainage is critical to pavement placed in areas subject to freeze-thaw. The formation of Ice between or below pavement tends to break it.
E) Asphalt Concrete is more flexible than Portland Concrete, groves can develop over time. I have fixed sunken Portland Cement sidewalks by lifting them and placing gravel under them.

Bottom line, Your choice.

Bill Simpson

Subject: Cancer Threat

Don't use asphalt driveway sealers made from coal tar. They just discovered that it makes dust that can cause cancer.

Capwhan

Subject: Cancer Threat

If this is true then you must be careful. But to be honest if one were to believe
all the cancer causing things that are "out there," you couldn't get much of anything
done. As for myself I would just forget it and get on with the work at hand.

SR

Subject: Driveway

The article doesn't mention other options.
There are porous paving stones, etc
that may be as durable as concrete,
but better for the environment - less runoff

George

Subject: Porous Paving Stones vs Concrete

I am a Concrete Finisher (Cement Mason) with over 25 years experience and as has been mentioned, geographical location is very important to this question. If you mean by "porous" water is absorbed by the paver, then geographical location is very important. I live in the Mid-West where "heaving" and "thawing" of the ground can reek havoc on this material. To be fair to all types of paving materials, I think geographical location should be an important factor in the equation of paving a driveway.

prt

Subject: How much does it cost?

I have never seen Information Technology priced by the square foot. Is this some new technology I am unfamiliar with?

prt

allan

Subject: slab, concrete,

First, thank you too all, this has been a educational experience. I do a lot of different things, and I do pretty good, but this topic is one field I don't have a lot of knowledge on. I am convinced either concrete or pavers , but my question, is it better to use rebar with fiber mesh mix? and how much surface between relief cuts? one more thing how much pee gravel for the bed, thickness.

ray

Subject: slab

I have been a home builder for 45 years and I always wait at least 7 days before working on it in those 7 days we keep the slab wet if possible

Alan McKeown

Subject: Driveways / any maintainance

You have 3 experts input on driveways but all are from the south. If you want to advise your readers then you should be investigating regional differences. Northern climates affect asphalt and concrete much differently

John DeHuff

Subject: Northern Climate

Bingo! Mr. McKeown is spot on. In the south, go with concrete. In the north, with constant freezing/thawing, and worst of all, lots and lots of salt, asphalt is far and away the better choice. In the north, you are lucky if a concrete driveway lasts as long as an asphalt one before it starts to break up, and there is no real way to patch, as there is with asphalt.

Ric Seager

Subject: Asphalt versus Concrete

For smaller jobs, concrete is the way to go. It is durable and won't require maintenance for 20-30 years (unless you heavily salt your drive in the winter....Then you're cooked with concrete).

But once the job gets bigger than a thousand or so square feet, you need to seriously consider asphalt. It is VASTLY less expensive to install, easily maintained, and will last 20 years or more with regular maintenance (seal coat every 4-5 years and fill any cracks with rubberized tar). Moreover, if you lay a slag or compacted gravel bed underneath it, you will be almost assured of no cracks for a decade or more, depending on what part of the country you live in.

scott black

Subject: asphalt vs concrete driveway

Asphalt is way cheaper than concrete but,you get what you pay for,blacktop is soft and will creat dips after driving on it after so long,you can not alt it in winter as it breaks up the composition,and yeas it does require more money to keep it up,so in all,if you concrete your driveway now it is good almost forever,blacktop it and you will redo it every 5-7 years thus equally costing the same in the long run not to mention not having use of the driveway for a day or two every few years

Wayne McGlothlin

Subject: Driveways

Concrete driveway is the answer! Agree mostly with the comments, but repairing concrete is much cheaper than replacing it. The repairs are not that unsightly...if so...just stain the whole driveway, repairs and all. Surprised they didn't say anything about sealing the expansion joints. That will keep water out of the subgrade and keep the joints from spalling (cracking back away from the joint).

mijoka

Subject: concrete v/s asphalt

Our driveway is from 1902..... has one crack , can you find me anywhere in the country an Asphalt driveway 111 years old nice and straight , No!
you want them to last built them right level , by the way back home we still have roadway built over 300 years ago with pavers and they have stood up countless German tanks , American tanks and heavy truck .....there is not a single asphalt roadway that stood that long and they did not pollute .

Robert

Subject: The driveway is not what

The driveway is not what pollutes, it's the run off because the earth is not filtering the water and removing the pollutants.
I lived in Germany for 3 years and agree on the pavers. They are strong and don't break down like asphalt after a few years. I have an asphalt drive and have to resurface every few years and replace every 12-15 years. Not very good, this makes concrete or pave the best choice despite the initial cost.

mijoka

Subject: concrete v/s asphalt

Our driveway is from 1902..... has one crack , can you find me anywhere in the country an Asphalt driveway 111 years old nice and straight , No!
you want them to last built them right level , by the way back home we still have roadway built over 300 years ago with pavers and they have stood up countless German tanks , American tanks and heavy truck .....there is not a single asphalt roadway that stood that long and they did not pollute .

Richard Blumenstein

Subject: THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH ASPHALT TODAY IS THE LACK OF MATERIAL IN THE ASPHALT THEY PUT CHEAP OIL IN AND EXPECT IT TO LAST BUT IF YOU HAVE A GOOD SOUND SUB STRUCTURE IT SHOULDN'T MATTER WHAT YOU PUT DOWN. PERSONALLY I LIKE PAVERS BUT YOU NEED TO REALLY PAY ATTENTION TO THE SUB STRUCTURE YOU ARE PUTTING THEM OVER. A BAD SUB STRUCTURE THAT ISN'T COMPACTED GOOD WILL CAUSE YOU PROBLEMS IN THE FUTURE NO MATTER WHAT YOU PUT DOWN

Lawrence Lee Huber, AIA

Subject: Concrete vs Asphalt

Concrete is infinitely superior to asphalt if installed correctly. But I agree cobbles are better but also good brick pavers are superior. The city road to my house is red brick and it is superior to the asphalt and concrete roads elsewhwere in the city that need constant maintenance. My road is the same bricks as over 100 years ago when they were placed there. They get salt, snow plows and everything and just look beautiful as ever. Curbs are stone as well and look great still too. My driveway is also brick pavers. House built in 1895.

Tracy

Subject: Stanley is not being very truthful.

The only plus to asphalt vs concrete is it's initial cost. If concrete is poured over a good base, it will provide a maintenance free driveway for possibly hundreds of years. Asphalt in a dry climate will last at best for 20 years without maintenance. In a wet climate, asphalt will require constant maintenance, and if the drainage isn't perfect, will be have to be replaced in fairly short order.

Corny

Subject: I suggest we delineate

I suggest we delineate commercial v private uses. In commercial uses asphalt = oil spills are a super fund site while cement is just a stain. OK, 'Super fund' is a bit of an exaggeration, but note the point please.

RobH

Subject: Asphalt vs Concrete

I purchased a house with a driveway that is 550 feet long. It was done in asphalt very pourly and was a constent maintenance nightmare. When I decided to replace the driveway, I considered both asphalt and concrete. I spoke with many people and the general opinion about local asphalt companies was they were crooked and always tried to skimp on the depth of the driveway. I elected to go with concrete 5-6" thick at 4000psi and I could not have made a better choice. When I plow my driveway in the winter for snow with my tractor bucket, I do not even scratch the surface. It is hard, durable and maintenance free. Yes, more expensive than asphalt but a much better return on investment.

Michael Bonner

Subject: Pavers ? Very few practical applications

Although pavers can offer a practical impervious surface to enhance drainage, pavers offer zero structural integrity when installed over standard aggregate bases. What I mean by that is that a 6" or 12" paver or brick can not bridge a single imperfection or slightly eroded substrate (base). In my 30+ years of concrete construction to hundreds upon hundreds of installations, the only time I've ever seen an Architect specify pavers for a serious driveway application, had a CONCRETE slab specified to support it! Yup, they required the structural integrity to come from concrete, and the pavers to create the visual affect they desired.

Want to figure the cost of both the concrete slab with pavers on top, and compare it to a premier decorative concrete (stamped concrete) installation? The one that involved the pavers turned out to be more expensive because they're so labor intensive. For each and every one of these specified projects I encountered, I got them to see the light that decorative concrete was the more durable material, with the most longevity; and we're talking about lifestyle centers, shopping malls, car dealerships, and movie theaters. In other words, very public \ high traffic areas.

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I am facing just such a project and have received a number of bids (all from Angie's List reviewed contractors). The lowest bid was a bit over $5/sq ft and the highest was about $9/sq/ft for my 630 sq ft driveway in Rockford, IL. 
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Generally about $1-3/SF (note - measured by SF, not SY) - $1 range is for a 1 to 1/2-2 inch overlay, $2.50-3.00 range normal for two 2" layers for a new driveway or a rebuild (remove and replace) you really want to last.

Most people pay around $2/SF for a 2-3" thickness.

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If the state requires a contractor's license, then he needs to have a license in each state he intends to work in - plus state/local business licenses as applicable.

 

This does not mean there are not a lot of contractors who cross state lines without proper licensing - the penalties in may cases are not real severe and are just a fine, not criminal, so many take the chance.

 

As you say - argh  - many contractors are not really businessmen and have zero legal education, so many people get burned.