What’s the ideal aesthetic when you think of your home? Do you picture a long, clear driveway leading to the house? Does lush, well-kept greenery flank the driveway? Well, homeowners have continued using driveways as extensions to the home’s outward appeal.
Concrete is generally widely preferred for residential driveways because concrete is durable and lasts longer than asphalt. However, asphalt driveways have many benefits and can be an affordable option, particularly if you have a long driveway that needs to be paved.
Summary of Differences Between Asphalt and Concrete
|Installation Time||Seven days to be drive-ready and 30-45 to fully cure||1-3 days to drive ready, up to 30 days to cure fully|
|Installation Cost||$5-$13 per square foot, including $3 to $11 for materials depending on the mixture PSI||$7 to $13 for a new installation, including $2 to $6 per square foot for materials|
|Care & Maintenance||Concrete can crack and shift from tree roots and heavy vehicles. As a result, patching damaged areas can prove challenging.||Requires resurfacing every five years to maintain a smooth driving surface. Asphalt needs to be sealed every 2-3 years.|
|Durability||It can last 40 or more years. Commercial-grade 5″ poured concrete can last up to 80 years or more.||It can last up to 25 years. Requires resurfacing and routine sealing to maximize the useful life.|
|Performance in Extreme Weather||Due to its hardness, concrete can be susceptible to freezing weather. It can require additional support in colder climates.||Asphalt is softer and can withstand temperature fluctuations. Asphalt can withstand more ground movement.|
|Aesthetics||Concrete can be colored, etched, stamped, or resin reinforcement.||Asphalt is black and has limited aesthetics other than lighting.|
|Resale Value||Concrete carries a higher resale valve.||Asphalt has a lesser resale valve.|
|Environmental Consciousness||Concrete is more environmentally conscious because of its longevity.||Although recycled, asphalt production has a higher carbon footprint than concrete over its lifespan.|
You’re in the right place if you’re asking yourself what’s better between a concrete driveway and an asphalt driveway. We’ll compare the good and the bad bits about each option using different angles to help you choose or make the switch.
Every homeowner’s dream is to install solutions that last a long time and still look good.
Concrete lasts longer than asphalt. A concrete driveway has more support underneath it, which can withstand a heavier load. You’re looking at 20 to 30 years with proper care.
Concrete vs. Asphalt Installation Time
When you start the driveway project, the main entrance is limited. It’s vital that the installation takes a short time but retains exceptional structural standards. Installing a new concrete driveway can take between 1 to 3 days.
Depending on the weather and the layout of the ground, you should have a dry top layer in six hours. The time is enough for light foot traffic. However, it will take up to seven days to cure enough to drive over the concrete. And even then, keep the load light.
Concrete hardens over time. Allow between 30 to 45 days before driving heavier vehicles such as RVs.
Installing an asphalt driveway features a lot of preparation if you have to uproot tree stumps and flatten the area. Still, once the site is cleared, laying the driveway and having it ready can take less than an hour. On the other hand, asphalt takes less than 72 hours to be safe for vehicle load and foot traffic.
But like concrete, allow the asphalt up to 30 days to fully cure before you consider driving heavy vehicles over it.
Rating for installation time, asphalt is better than concrete.
Concrete vs. Asphalt Cost to Install
Affordability is a crucial factor both at the beginning of the project and in long-term maintenance costs. Are you looking for long-term cost-saving, or are you looking for minimal short-term spending?
A standard asphalt driveway installation costs $7-$13 per square foot. If you’re working with the typical 600 square foot driveway fit for two cars, that’s up to $4,200 to $7,800. If you put in decorative features such as different coloring and lighting, your bill could cost about $15 per square foot or more.
A standard concrete driveway costs between $5 to $13 per square foot, including labor. For 600 square feet, you’re looking at between $3000 and $7800 for the basic package. However, you can include color options where you should expect to spend up to $10000.
On price, both are solid investments, but asphalt is better for your pockets at first.
The front area makes a big impression when you start a home building project or househunting. Often, this front area includes a driveway. But did you know that a driveway can increase a home’s value? Still, improving your home’s visual appeal and raising its value comes at a cost.
Concrete and asphalt are superb options to consider for your driveway.
Asphalt driveways are approaching a near even concrete in upfront costs in recent years. Asphalt costs $8 to $20 per square foot, while concrete costs $6 to $15 square foot, depending on the strength of the installation. Concrete proves to be a higher value long-term option since it lasts up to 40 years or more with proper maintenance.
The near-even costs have a lot to do with the machinery needed for asphalt paving. Asphalt is generally cheaper than concrete if paving large areas, like parking lots.
You’ll only need a concrete truck to mix and pour the concrete when pouring concrete. Concrete is spread and leveled by hand to be more labor-intensive.
Let’s crunch the numbers on which costs less between asphalt or concrete driveway.
|Asphalt Cost Per Square Foot||Concrete Cost Per Square Foot|
|Material||$2 to $5||$3 to $5|
|Gravel/Grading||$1 to $2||$1 to $2|
|Labor||$5 to $13||$2 to $8|
|Total:||$8 to $20||$6 to $15|
New Asphalt Driveway Cost
Asphalt is an easy choice for homeowners. It’s neutral and lends a clean, sophisticated look to an average home.
|Asphalt Paving||Cost Per Square Foot|
|Cost Per Square Foot|
|Asphalt Material||$2 to $5||$1 to $5|
|Gravel Base||$0.50 to $1||$2|
|Installation||$5 to $7||$4 to $13|
|Total:||$7 to $13||$7 to $15|
The average initial cost of a new 600sf asphalt driveway is $2900 to $6600. The US national average cost for an asphalt driveway is $4758, depending on location and other metrics such as labor.
However, in areas where the cost is super affordable, the average price falls to about $1500 compared to as high as $11000 in high-end locations.
Whether you’re building a new house or installing a new driveway, if you choose asphalt as your choice driveway material, it’ll cost $7 to $13 per square foot for a new asphalt driveway.
A single-car driveway is about 9-12 feet wide. A 2-car driveway measures approximately 20-24 feet wide. Therefore, you will need about 600 square feet for a spacious driveway, whether you intend on parking one car or two. A 600 square foot asphalt driveway will cost at least $4000 in material alone.
Here, we’re talking about the following material:
- The granular base of gravel, sand, crushed rock ($0.50-$1 per square foot of gravel for the base)
- Asphalt material
$4200 gives you a comfortable range to have a budget for add-ons.
It would help if you bought asphalt by the ton, as that is the standard set by most asphalt dealers. One ton of asphalt covers 40-80 square feet:
- 2-inches thick: 80 square feet per ton – Standard for walking paths, golf carts, etc.
- 4-inches thick: 40 square feet per ton – Recommended for cars and trucks.
- 6-inches thick: 20 square feet per ton – Recommended for heavier vehicles like RVs.
To have a 1200 square foot driveway laid, you’ll need 15 tons of asphalt at between $100 to $200 per ton. Note that the $100-$200 range is for hot mix asphalt, which is the best for new installation. Cold mix asphalt is okay for renovation and costs significantly less at $10-$50 a bag and is primarily used to fill potholes and other minor repairs.
The average driveway will require 7.5 to 15 tons of asphalt material.
In the past, asphalt driveways were pretty much cut and dry in design. There wasn’t much room for added appeal. All you had to go with was a black surface. But, of course, that kept prices at a steady rate.
If you have a deteriorated concrete driveway, you can consider an asphalt overlay for about $3 to $7 per square foot. However, this application will need more routine inspection and maintenance because underlying concrete can damage the top layer of asphalt.
Currently, you can have improved finishing. Improved finishing on asphalt includes
- Decorative stamping
- Tinting using colored rocks and recycled glass
- Special paint sealer for different colors
From the original cost, you’re looking at an additional cost for the new material and expertise to install the post-installation features. Let’s give it a rough estimate of +$15 a square foot, depending on the professional labor and location.
New Concrete Driveway Cost
|Concrete Paving||Cost Per Square Foot|
|Cost Per Square Foot|
|Poured Concrete||$3 to $4||$3 to $5|
|Grading/Prep||$1 to $2||$1 to $2|
|Installation||$2 to $3||$4 to $8|
|Total:||$6 to $9||$8 to $15|
Some neighborhoods require homeowners to install only concrete driveways. Concrete driveways are made from sand, water, cement, and aggregates that strengthen the mix. You have plenty of customization options compared to asphalt.
A new concrete driveway has a higher initial cost, on average from $1800 to $6000. Larger driveways can cost well over $10,000.
However, you can opt for DIY, where you’ll spend only on the material. For example, material for a new concrete driveway can cost you up to $3 to $4 per square foot or $1800 to $2400 for a 600 square foot driveway.
Concrete driveways can be prized in 3 categories: basic, midrange, and high end. The pricing depends heavily on location and material. The basic category covers a border, mono-color scheme, and standard texture finish costing between $8-$12 per square foot.
Midrange concrete driveways cost up to $18 per square foot, with more paving, stamping, coloring, and even staining options. Expect a $20 per square foot starting range for a creatively designed and executed concrete driveway if you want to dazzle.
|Permit||Up to $200 depending on the state|
|Labor||$4-$15 per square foot|
|Stamping the driveway||$2.50-$4 per square foot|
|Pigment||Up to $2 per square foot|
The standard concrete driveway is about 4 inches. However, if you intend to have heavier cars on your driveway, such as an RV, you are looking to increase inches to between 5 and 7 inches. An increase per inch costs about 20% more.
Let’s break down the numbers behind installing a concrete driveway.
From excavation, you will spend up to $5 to clear the area per square foot of the site. Here, you can go DIY. Grading and prepping the site makes the site more suitable for sub-base and drainage-friendly, which ups your bill by about $8 per square foot if you are on relatively flat land.
Rebar reinforcement depends on the thickness and the steel grade used. You do not want to skimp on rebar. It’ll save you maintenance costs in the future when you deal with cracks. $1.40 to $3 per square foot is a fair price for added durability.
You may also need to note that these prices are for a typical rectangular driveway. A circular concrete driveway can cost up to $20 per square foot or at least 15% of a rectangular concrete driveway. A circular driveway must be at least 15 feet wide.
You might still need to hire professional installation for add-on features like curbside drainage and decorative finishing. For example, colored stains and patterns can drive your costs upwards of $15 per square foot.
If you add borders to your driveway, you’ll be adding between $13 to $30 per square foot. To finish your driveway, you can opt for exposed aggregate or pebbles. Your costs are in the $1-$3 per square foot region. You’ll need sealant even more to finish it off and improve the home’s appeal.
Sealing costs $0.75 per square foot. Sealing is supposed to make your driveway last longer. Still, it doesn’t mean the driveway won’t take some damage. After a while, you will need to renovate your driveway. If you live in a cold climate, set aside a repair budget as the cold weather is not particularly friendly to concrete.
Extra Features on Asphalt and Concrete Driveways
A basic driveway is okay. Still, some homeowners want to raise the resale value even higher. And the driveway is a great place to make a lasting impression with extras. These extras are not just for boosting your home’s value. They also help to lengthen the driveway’s durability.
Snow and cold weather affect asphalt and concrete driveways. Installing a heating system under the driveway costs about $28 per square foot. Costs can be as low as $12, though. In addition to spending anything between $9000 to $16000 on heating, you will also incur between $120 to $600 in operating costs.
Heating systems cost less for concrete than asphalt, with concrete capable of going to $8000.
Water retention under the driveway causes pressure build-up and causes warping and cracking later. A drainage system is designed to slope away into the main street. A proper drainage system reduces your post-installation maintenance cost over time.
A new drainage costs between $1000 to $4000. Using porous asphalt gives your driveway better drainage capability, all at between $8 to $15 per square foot. It could save you some expenses in grading and leveling too.
Factors to Consider When Comparing Costs of Asphalt and Concrete Driveways
- Material availability: Concrete and asphalt are easy to find. It gives the contractor an easier time to source materials and finding well-equipped professionals to handle these materials. It costs you less time and money working with readily available material.
- The scale of work: The rates covered here are estimates for a 2-car driveway. Project size is a key factor in cost estimation for your driveway project.
- Water retention of the surrounding: The driveway doubles up as a water clearance area for rainwater run-off. When you factor in the cost of drainage in the pre-planning stage, you avoid the added cost of re-installing an otherwise undamaged driveway.
- Extra properties: Decorative extras such as side greenery, lighting, and heating come at a cost. If you plan on installing additions, you can have a plan drawn out during pre-planning to have a future reference point for cost estimates and materials.
How to get the Best Rates to Install a Concrete or Asphalt Driveway?
The best time to get a home improvement contractor for a driveway is during the fall. Winter and summer are on temperature extremes. Your existing driveway may have more extensive damage, prompting higher rates or aggressive pricing for driveway installation.
How to Extend the Lifespan of a Newly Installed Driveway?
Load affects how long your driveway lasts. You can install a gate that limits access to your driveway. Installing a gate costs you about $7000.
Contact a professional contractor for a quote to handle your project to completion. The contractor advises you on what’s better between concrete and asphalt and recommends based on your budget and long-term goals.
Concrete vs. Asphalt Driveway Care and Maintenance
Proper maintenance makes sure your driveway looks good and saves you repair costs on possible car damages. A damaged driveway can be dangerous for your tires.
Asphalt Repair and Resurface Cost
Asphalt driveways develop cracks, especially if you live in cold climates. So you’re looking at resurfacing and resealing every three to five years. Also, you need to reseal with a new sealant coat six months after the new installation.
How does that affect your costs?
It costs $3-$7 per square foot to resurface an asphalt driveway. So working with our 600 square foot average, you will need between $1800 to $2400. Still, the national average is about $3000.
Asphalt is bound to develop cracks during its supposed 15-20 year stint. It’ll cost you $0.50 to $3.00 per linear foot to repair cracks in your asphalt driveway. However, this is assuming the asphalt driveway has no potholes.
Repair costs can shoot up to $12 per linear foot, excluding service fees. Service fees are likely to run your tab up by more than $250 per square foot.
However, with potholes that need filling, keep your billfold ready to shell out between $100-$400, depending on the damage and repair approach. Pothole patching is calculated per pothole at about $25 to $40 per hole. Add to this between 100-$250 for the labor and machinery.
Finally, you’ll need a sealer for the finishing touch. The sealer will cost you $18 to $32 for a 10-gallon pail covering 600 square feet.
An asphalt driveway requires a new coating every two to five years. The coating gives your driveway that crisp black shine that keeps it appealing. It also improves the water-resistance of the driveway to make sure you’re not repairing the driveway too often.
Fortunately, you can buy recycled tar for asphalt driveway maintenance. Recycled asphalt is an affordable option for sealing asphalt cracks and resurfacing. Also, you can always DIY clean your asphalt driveway with a steel broom every two years or when you think it needs cleaning.
Oil stains are some of the most notorious things you will have to deal with in concrete driveway maintenance for a surface meant for cars. Still, concrete is easier to maintain in the short term. A well-done foundation incurs less damage over time.
Concrete Driveway Repair Cost
Renovating a concrete driveway involves removing the initial driveway. There are several instances where renovation and repair will need DIY, or you’ll need a professional.
|Damage||Course of action||DIY/Professional||Cost|
|Minor cracks and holes a ¼” wide or less||Filling||DIY||$0.37 in material|
|Large cracks over ¼” wide||Resurface||DIY or Professional||Material + $30 per hour for labor|
|Spalling||Patching||Professional||$4-$7 per square foot or up to $85 per hour|
|Scaling||Concrete curing||Professional||Up to $5 per square foot|
|Discoloration||Recoloration||Professional||32c per square foot|
|Sinking||Mudjacking/Slabjacking||Professional||Depending on size, $300-$2500 for the entire driveway|
|Structural damage||Full replacement||Professional||Up to $24 per square foot|
Let’s assume you have a 600 square foot driveway. Demolition and debris clearance will cost you $1-$3 per square foot. Depending on your location, costs can go up to $5 just for removal and clearance.
You won’t have to demolish the entire driveway, though. If it is damaged to a certain extent, the concrete repairs will only cover up to where the damage ends and maybe a small area around it for uniformity. Over time, the appearance may look slightly off, so you might want to set aside some funds for a total overhaul if you want a new concrete driveway refurnishing.
Remember the rebar that you included in your initial installation? Well, you might want to evaluate whether you need rebar or mesh. Rebar also comes at a greater cost than mesh during repairs.
Pressure washing is enough to keep a concrete driveway looking good. If the concrete driveway sustains noticeable damage, for example, huge cracks, a simple patch fix won’t do. You will have to remove and repour all or part of the concrete driveway.
Considering concrete cracks during winter, it needs more maintenance than asphalt. You can use an expandable concrete crack filler to repair cracks, provided the concrete has not heaved.
On the frequency of maintenance, it is easier to deal with asphalt over time. Therefore, asphalt is better than concrete if you’re looking for a low-maintenance driveway.
Concrete vs. Asphalt Durability
Durability is crucial for installing a concrete driveway or an asphalt driveway. A well-maintained asphalt driveway in a calm area can comfortably give you about 25 years with minimal repairs. On the other hand, concrete is susceptible to more than just weather changes, stains, and the risk of heavy vehicle traffic. Nevertheless, concrete can last up to 40 years with proper care.
But what does it take to last that long with each driveway material?
Asphalt is less likely to get oil stains. It absorbs some oil spills since asphalt is already a petroleum product. You won’t need harsh cleaning products to get rid of spills from the car. Additionally, asphalt can expand and contract more without significant damage because of its soft material.
On the other hand, concrete is at the mercy of ice during winter, oil spills, paints, and heavy loads. Concrete driveway maintenance features plenty of power washing, patching small cracks, and taking care of spills as soon as you see them.
Concrete is a more durable surface and lasts much longer than asphalt.
Concrete vs. Asphalt: How They Perform in Extreme Weather
Two weather extremes test the limits of your driveway; scorching hot weather and blistering cold weather. Summer is okay for concrete. Sure, the concrete driveway expands and contracts in heat. But most well-constructed driveways have the structural support to withstand such pressure.
Cautious homeowners will apply a sealant to a concrete driveway to keep the inner structure moisture-free. They realize the full rewards of the sealant when the concrete survives a harsh summer without the erratic expansion and contraction that would cause it to crack.
However, it is a different ball game during winter. Winter is harsh on concrete. Ice thaws out, seeps into the concrete, and creates pressure under the driveway.
In a short time, the concrete cracks. Not only does it cause it to crack, but deicing with salt can cause more damage to concrete driveways. Even solutions like blue deicing salt can stain the concrete.
Winter also makes concrete heave upwards, creating an unnatural shape. Overall, winter is a stressful time for a concrete driveway. The first winter after installing a new concrete driveway might be the hardest.
As discussed above, concrete takes a long time to cure. If you install a concrete driveway as winter approaches, the underlying support system might not be strong enough to handle the flood of thawing snow. You might be faced with added repair costs if you do not winter-proof your concrete driveway.
A reliable drainage system can save both your asphalt and concrete driveway in winter.
If you live in a hot climate, you should anticipate that asphalt gets extremely hot in direct sunlight due to its dark color. A shaded asphalt driveway will stay cooler even in the summer months.
Even in a hot climate, concrete stays cooler because of its light color.
Overall, asphalt is better in extreme weather since its soft surface can withstand more underground pressure, especially during the first extreme season.
Concrete vs. Asphalt: Which Looks Better
Concrete and asphalt have excellent visual appeal even in their simplicity. The standard driveway in a neutral color works in most areas.
Asphalt is a typically black driveway that blends well with any exterior. With the backdrop of your house in any color, the black shimmering asphalt surface makes the front or back area look good. However, some homeowners go a step farther and improve their asphalt driveways.
They put in lights, decorative markings, and colors. The driveway customization looks good, but it also increases the exterior appeal and home value. However, the additional decor comes at additional costs.
The average cost of coloring an asphalt driveway ranges from $10 to $18. But you can dye only the topcoat and spend up to $10 per square foot.
Concrete, on the other hand, has plenty of customization options. These include:
Coloring: Staining your concrete with contrasting colors to give your house and driveway a new look boosts the visual appeal of your home. It gives your home individuality while increasing the monetary value of the home.
Etching: etching takes personalization to a new level. To give your home a unique identity, you can etch names, patterns, and designs to your concrete driveway. If you resell the house, the new owners would not have to spend too much on improvement unless the etched design was specific to you.
Resin reinforcement: resin reinforcement on a concrete driveway uses simple things such as glass in the concrete covered in resin. Decorative options give your driveway instant appeal and set it apart from other homes if you live in a controlled development area.
Stamping: lets you keep the same grey color but improves the look by including designs into the driveway. You can give the driveway the appearance of tiles or stones simply by applying pressure to the concrete surface while still soft.
If you’re looking to make a statement, concrete has more options than asphalt for aesthetics.
Concrete vs. Asphalt: Resale Values
A well-maintained driveway can increase the value of your home by up to $7000 or more. If you live close to an asphalt road, an asphalt driveway gives your home instant appeal as it looks connected to the street. On the other hand, a concrete driveway gives your home a unique sight.
The resale value here depends on how much you have spent improving the driveway. If you have added several features to the driveway, such as ornamental lights on the sides of an asphalt driveway, incoming buyers can expect a brilliant look and improved visibility.
The difference in resale value might be debatable. However, some factors will tip the value of one element in favor of the other. See, a concrete driveway has a lifespan of up to 30 years. Since it is less susceptible to damage, prospective buyers might be inclined to spend more on a house with a concrete driveway than an asphalt driveway.
However, if the prospective buyer is more focused on maintaining the overall look of the surrounding area, they might favor an asphalt driveway.
A concrete driveway is better than asphalt in raising home resale value based on durability and customization options.
Concrete vs. Asphalt: Environmental Consciousness
With homes switching to green energy, the eco-friendly approach must extend outside the driveway.
Installing a new asphalt driveway requires hot mix asphalt. And while asphalt production causes significant environmental stress, it is highly reusable for repairs. If you were to relay or repair an asphalt driveway, you would need to heat the asphalt from your driveway to get it ready for use.
Reusing asphalt saves you the cost of new installation and reduces carbon emissions.
Alternatively, you can use cold mix asphalt to repair cracked sections of the driveway. You will use a fraction of the repair costs, and it is more environmentally friendly.
Also, you can use porous asphalt. Porous asphalt means that rainwater doesn’t stagnate under the driveway but goes back to the water table.
Concrete lasts a long time — about 40 years with utmost care. With proper drainage structures in place, you don’t need to repair a concrete driveway as often. You would, however, need to be careful not to stress the support structure underneath by limiting heavy vehicles on your driveway.
We cannot sidestep that asphalt uses environmentally unsustainable resources despite being recyclable. A concrete driveway is better than an asphalt driveway for an environmentally conscious homeowner.
Concrete vs. Asphalt: So Which is Better for a Driveway?
The key to deciding is finding out what matters most to you and finding the right professional to install the driveway you want. Get a licensed home inspector who’ll assess your home and help you make an informed choice.
Both concrete and asphalt have their upsides. Depending on your priorities, either would be a great choice. However, it would help if you got the right people on the job to maximize the benefits of the driveway you choose.
Asphalt performs better in places with fluctuating weather conditions. Concrete has more customization options. Asphalt is a better choice if your long-term goals involve the home’s resale since it gives the incoming homeowners more overhaul options.