When it comes to choosing a driveway, there are two major options: asphalt or concrete. Homeowners find success with both, and which is right for your situation will depend on your climate, as well as your preferences when it comes to looks, cost, maintenance and safety. Here's a look at how both driveway choices measure up in terms of these five factors.
If affordability is your primary concern, then asphalt is the logical choice. The average cost of paving an asphalt driveway is between $3 and $5 per square foot, whereas concrete driveways cost about $10 - $15 per square foot. Costs vary across different regions, so you may want to get a few estimates before deciding which option is a better fit for your budget.
In either case, it's important to have the driveway installed by a contractor who has experience and a good reputation. As in all things, you get what you pay for. If you find a company offering either type of driveway for far less than the going cost in your area, you'll probably find yourself with a cracked, pitted or uneven surface within a few months.
Are you good about keeping up with regular maintenance, or are you a hands-off type of person who likes to have something installed and never worry about it again? Concrete driveways require very little maintenance. All you'll need to do is sweep it off every now and again and have it resealed every few years. If you're late having it resealed, no harm will likely come of it. Asphalt, however, requires stricter maintenance. If you don't have it resealed every couple of years, it is likely to crack and crumble.
Both asphalt and concrete driveways can be repaired, but it's easier and less expensive to have asphalt repaired. Repairs made to concrete are often obvious.
Concrete and asphalt are completely opposite colors. It's important to consider whether a black driveway or a grayish concrete driveway would look better with your home. Also, consider what others in your neighborhood have. If everyone else on your street has a concrete driveway, you might not want to stick out with asphalt, or vice-verse.
If you are young and have no children, you don't have to be as concerned about safety when choosing a driveway. However, if you have kids or plan on having them in the future, it's essential to take this into account. Because they are black, asphalt driveways can absorb a lot of heat from the sun in the summer, and may scorch kids feet or hands if they touch them. Concrete surfaces don't become quite as hot.
Safety is also a concern if you have an older adult living in your home and your area gets very cold in the winter. Chemical de-icing products should not be used on concrete, as they can weaken it. This may make it harder to keep your driveway ice-free than if you were to choose asphalt, which can tolerate harsher de-icing agents. Slips and falls on ice can lead to serious injuries.
If you live in a temperate climate where the temperature often changes rapidly, asphalt is more likely to crack, since it shrinks and expands as the temperature changes. Concrete is generally installed in small slabs in temperate regions, which helps prevent it from cracking. This does not mean you can't choose asphalt in a temperate climate, but you should be aware that it will probably require more maintenance and repair than concrete.
For those in areas with more even temperatures throughout the year, climate is not as much of a concern. Either option will stand up well if installed properly.
There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when deciding whether to have a concrete or asphalt driveway installed. If you're still not sure which is the choice for you, try talking to friends and family members with different types of driveways. Ask what they do and do not like about their driveways, and take this into account as you make your decision. You can also visit http://www.lakeridgepaving.com to learn more.