Concrete vs. Asphalt: Which is Right for You

November 30, 2019

If you are tired of the cracks, ruts, and stains of your current asphalt or concrete surface, how will you fix/replace the surface? Both concrete and asphalt are a mixture of stone and sand. The major difference between the two is the adhesive used to bind them together: asphalt has tar and concrete has cement. To choose between them, think about more than how much it will cost you.

One consideration is cost, which may not be relevant if the project is not large. Asphalt costs $2 to $5 per square foot, whereas concrete costs $3 to $10 per square foot. These savings can add up as the project size increases. For example, an asphalt driveway of 600 ft.² will cost under $300 in materials, while the same size concrete driveway will cost $850 in materials. While a 600 ft.² asphalt driveway will cost around $1000 for labor, the same sized concrete driveway will cost about $2000 for labor.

Another thing to consider is the lifespan of concrete versus asphalt. While concrete has the usual lifespan of 35 years, asphalt lasts about 20 years. These lifespans and the total initial cost can help drive down your cost/maintenance per year. Concrete usually lasts longer, with the initial cost being depreciated over more years. With asphalt, one can repair cracks and potholes without professional help, which can cost around $2.50 per square foot. This cost of maintenance and repair should not be ignored in your initial decision of asphalt versus concrete.

A third consideration in the decision of asphalt versus concrete is their needed thickness and durability. Asphalt thicknesses of 4 to 6 inches are usually necessary, especially for driveways. You will need a minimum concrete thickness of around 4 inches. Each additional inch of concrete increases load capacity by up to 50 percent, but costs will increase by just 20 percent.

A fourth consideration of asphalt versus concrete is their resistance to local climates. While asphalt and concrete can endure temperature changes and not crack or break, asphalt can get tacky during hot weather and stick to your shoes. Conversely, concrete can become brittle and crack in cold temperatures while snowplows, salt, and other deicing chemicals can also damage the concrete.

A fifth and important consideration is that a concrete driveway will most often increase your property/home’s resale value. This consideration can be a major factor when selling your home. Often, it will boost the return on investment of your home.

Concrete and asphalt each have their strong points. However, asphalt is better for budget-conscious people while concrete offers more embellishments. Concrete lasts longer while asphalt is cheaper and easier to repair.

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