Asphalt vs. Concrete: Costs, Pros and Cons, and More

Marwa Hasan
Written by Marwa Hasan
Updated February 24, 2022
a concrete driveway outside a garage and home during sunset
Photo: Leo_Visions / Adobe Stock

Two driveway heavy-hitters duke it out

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Upgrading your driveway can level up the whole look of your house and boost its curb appeal. But, if you’re taking on this project, you may find yourself torn between concrete and asphalt, the most common driveway materials.

When comparing asphalt vs. concrete’s costs, pros, and cons, there are several factors to consider. Not only do they differ in price, but they also offer different esthetics, durability, and maintenance requirements. Examine the pros and cons of both materials to determine which is the right one for your driveway.

Concrete Driveways

A concrete driveway is a mixture of cement, sand, and gravel poured and left to cure for a week, creating a strong and durable material.

Pros of a Concrete Driveway

Cost

The initial cost can be higher than asphalt, but concrete has a low maintenance cost. Overall, it’s cost-effective.

Maintenance

It doesn’t require much maintenance, but sealing will enhance the looks of your driveway over the years. From there it’ll only require routine cleaning and degreasing. For long-lasting and best-looking pavement, look into the best time to seal your driveway.

Durability

Concrete lasts for 50 years or more with the proper maintenance and weather conditions. Plus, concrete can handle heavier loads than asphalt, making it a great choice for trucks and RVs in the driveway.

Curb appeal

Many find a concrete driveway to be aesthetically pleasing. It can enhance the curb appeal of your home and complement its style. 

Design

Concrete is customizable. If you wish to match it with your home’s color palette or create a pattern to add some character, manufacturers can stain, stamp, engrave, or tint with different colors to get the desired finish. However, your dream design comes at an increased price. Consult with local concrete driveway pros to get your dream customizable design.

Eco-friendliness

Concrete is a recyclable material. It also lasts for half a century, which reduces the number of resources and waste.

Climate

Concrete reflects light and absorbs less heat than asphalt. It’s refreshing to walk on in the summertime, making concrete a great choice for warm temperatures. 

Cons of a Concrete Driveway

Cost

The initial cost to install a concrete driveway is $3 to $10 per square foot—double the price of asphalt.

Installing

Concrete takes seven days to cure. This means you’ll have to wait before you can drive on a concrete driveway—at least one week.

Maintenance

Concrete is more durable overall, but it’s costlier and tougher to repair, replace, or resurface. Concrete also stains easily due to its light color. It requires occasional power washing and degreasing to maintain.

Climate

Concrete doesn’t perform well in frigid temperatures. It’s prone to cracking from freezing and thawing, causing dangerous gaps in your driveway. Plus, the concrete surface is sensitive to snowplows and road salt, causing stains and decreasing the driveway’s appearance and lifespan, making concrete better suited for hot climates.

asphalt driveway leading to large home with triple garage doors and green grass
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock

Asphalt Driveways

Asphalt is a mixture of stone and sand, but it contains petroleum products as an adhesive base. Local asphalt pros use high temperatures to soften, mix, and roll before it cools and becomes a solid driveway.

Pros of an Asphalt Driveway

Cost

The initial cost to install asphalt is $2 to $5 per square foot, which is significantly lower when compared to concrete and can save you on your overall driveway paving costs

Installing

You can drive on asphalt immediately after pouring—even though it takes two to three days to dry completely. 

Durability

Asphalt tends to last an average of 15 to 20 years but can last longer with the proper maintenance. 

Curb appeal

Asphalt driveways can enhance the overall look of your property. This material is a good choice if you want an appearance that matches the street. Plus, it increases the value of your home if you're looking to sell in the near future.

Maintenance

Asphalt driveway cracks and potholes are fairly easy to repair (and DIY) without any noticeable difference. These repairs blend well with the rest of the driveway. Asphalt doesn't show oil stains or rust because of its naturally dark color. 

Eco-friendliness

Asphalt is recyclable and saves energy during the construction process, as you can reuse the asphalt from your current (or other) driveway(s) to mix with the new surface.

Climate

Asphalt is better at draining rainwater since it's a porous material. It’s also flexible and less prone to cracking, especially in freezing weather. 

Cons of an Asphalt Driveway

Cost

The initial price might be cheaper than concrete, but constant maintenance gives asphalt a more expensive life cycle. 

Durability

An asphalt driveway is generally good for 20 to 30 years, but it's less durable when compared to concrete.

Design

Compared to concrete, asphalt has a lower aesthetic appeal because of its lack of options to style your driveway. However, manufacturers have started mixing asphalt with naturally colored rocks or recycled glass and using colored sealers for a more creative look.

Maintenance

Asphalt needs a coat of sealant six months to a year after installing.  It also requires constant resurfacing and sealing every three to five years to protect the surface and lengthen its life span. Consult with local driveway sealing pros near you to keep your driveway looking at operating at its best.

Good news: Repairing cracks and damage, and even resurfacing asphalt are fairly easy to DIY.

Eco-friendliness

Asphalt is a fairly environmentally friendly choice since it’s recyclable and requires 20% less energy to produce than other materials. But it uses petroleum products and can release oils when hot.

Climate

Asphalt might not be ideal for hot temperatures, as it absorbs heat and becomes hot. You should avoid touching asphalt with your bare hands and feet on an extremely sunny day. 

When the temperature reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, asphalt can become gooey. It can stick to your tires or shoes and stain your house floors, so asphalt is a better choice for milder to cold climates. 

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