Concrete vs Asphalt Driveways: Pros & Cons for Each

Whether you’re repaving a driveway or laying down a brand new one, one of the biggest questions that many people ask is whether to go with a concrete or asphalt driveway. As with many decisions, there are pros and cos to each material choice for your driveway.

Without further ado let’s take a look at some of the positive and negative aspects for each of these popular driveway material choices!

Concrete vs Asphalt Driveways: Pros and Cons

Looking closely at both options pros and cons will help you make your decision, so I’ve laid out the most important pros and cons to look at for each option to make your choice just a little bit easier 😉

Concrete Pros

Concrete is a great option for a driveway for multiple reasons, but the first is that it is a cost-effective option when you consider how long it will last. Because of the longevity of this material, the initial cost – though it can be high – is worth the price since you will only have to repave it once during the time that you own the home. 

This option is known to last for a very long time, around 50 years, which means that you will likely only repave it once while owning the home. It doesn’t require much routine maintenance because much of its durability comes from a proper installation. If it is installed correctly and does not sustain large amounts of damage, it could last well over 50 years. 

Concrete can also handle a lot of weight without breaking or cracking. This is very important for a driveway since you will have heavy vehicles driving and parking on it. This might not be an issue if you have a small car, but large trucks can be very heavy and cause lesser materials to crack under the weight. Concrete won’t have that problem.

It’s also durable in high-traffic areas where there might be a lot of hard wheel turning.

Think of areas such as turnarounds directly behind garage doors where your vehicles will be cutting their wheels hard to pull in and out. This can cause wear and tear or bunching on less durable surfaces, but it’s not a concern when it comes to concrete!

Concrete Cons

Although concrete is strong and long-lasting, one potential downside to this surface choice is that it can be rather plain looking.

It’s often used for industrial and commercial uses and can take on a rather boring look. However, this can be remediated by brushing in alternating patterns and other texturizing approaches to make its appearance more attractive.

While concrete driveways require minimal upkeep, that doesn’t mean that they require zero maintenance.

Concrete driveways should be resealed every few years as part of their routine maintenance. This provides a rich color, helps protect the surface from stains, and reduces the likelihood of damage from freezing.

Lastly, if you are looking for a project that you can do yourself, repaving a driveway with concrete is not the best choice!

Concrete is hard to work with and is not something that just anyone can work with. So, concrete could be a low-cost option at first, but the price goes up with the cost of a professional installation. 

Asphalt Pros

Potentially the biggest advantage of asphalt is it’s cost effective nature! When you’re trying to stick to a functional yet cost effective budget, this is one of the best choices.

Compared to concrete, it’s up-front cost is nearly half the cost! Better yet, it also has long lasting performance.

This is due to not only the material itself being cheaper, but also the ease of working with it during the pouring process compared to that of concrete.

If you’re a DIYer, this ease of workability is a big advantage over that of concrete!

Asphalt also has the benefit of being a mix of asphalt and petroleum, which makes it a lot more flexible. Because concrete is stiff, it is much more susceptible to cracking under heavier weight.

Asphalt allows for more flexibility so that cracking doesn’t occur as easily.

After the asphalt is laid onto your driveway, you are allowed to drive on it almost immediately. This makes it a fast option that won’t make you park your car on the street for a week so that the material can cure.

Asphalt Cons

One of the biggest cons of asphalt material is that it gets hot in the summer. And by hot, I mean smokin’ hot!

By comparison, concrete remains much cooler due to its lighter color. (Darker colors absorb more light, which yields higher temperatures.

Asphalt also comes with more maintenance than that of concrete. You will have to seal it now and again, but you also need to keep up with other tasks to ensure that it lasts a long time.

Whereas concrete just requires re-sealing, making it a slightly easier surface to maintain.

Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that asphalt driveways may be a restricted material in some communities. Many HOA design guidelines specify particular materials for driveways to ensure a consistent look throughout the community, and may not allow for asphalt.

Is it Cheaper to Get an Asphalt or Concrete Driveway? 

Considering the cost of installation, materials, and the amount of time it will take, the cheaper of the two options is asphalt.

Concrete requires pouring, which means installers will need to block off the area beforehand to do the job. Also, it takes time to get it filled up, which shouldn’t be rushed.

So, concrete will take more time to install!

With an asphalt driveway, you or the installer will be rolled onto the existing surface and doesn’t take as much time to do. Also, since the asphalt doesn’t need to cure as concrete does, it can be used much sooner.

What Lasts Longer Concrete or Asphalt?

The longevity of your driveway depends more on the condition that it stays in the longest.

If you take good care of the material, then both will last for 30 or more years easily. However, if you take great care to wash, seal, and fix any small cracks, then they could last more than 50 years. 

The main thing to think about here is which option will look the best over time, which means that you will not feel the need to repave it again. Concrete tends to have larger cracks over time, which can affect the look of the material.

Asphalt tends to have smaller, grouped cracks that are a bit less noticeable, but it is really up to your personal preference as to which one looks better. 

Can You Put Asphalt Over a Concrete Driveway? 

If you have an old concrete driveway, but would like to have asphalt instead, you might want to know if this is even possible. Well, the good news is that rolling asphalt onto concrete is very doable.

This is a technique that is used on many city streets since the concrete allows the asphalt to be packed on tightly and can be smoothed over well.

So, if you want to have asphalt over an old, cracked concrete driveway, you can do so. However, just make sure to get a contractor that has done this type of work before to ensure that it is done properly.

This allows the installation to cover up all the imperfections in the concrete, like the cracks or holes, so the asphalt lays flat and smooth on the top layer. 

Is Asphalt the Same as Blacktop?

Though these two terms are typically used to talk about the same thing, there are a bit different. However, both of these materials are made from the same two items: crushed stone and bitumen. The difference between the two materials is the way that they are mixed to make the product. 

Asphalt is made with enough of both ingredients so that it can handle cars driving on it. It is mixed and heated to 250-degrees to make it flexible enough to pour onto a street when repaving over it. It is also usable on driveways because it is not as strong as blacktop, which can handle many cars driving on it for a long time. 

Blacktop has a higher amount of crushed stone, which gives it a glittery effect on the surface. The mixture is also heated at a higher temperature of 300 degrees. This makes it a very long-lasting option for use on the streets.

Final Words 

Deciding between a concrete or asphalt driveway might seem like a tough decision at first, but knowing the differences between the two materials will help you see what you like better between the two. So, with the pros and cons, you can see which option will work best for what you want. 

Whether you want a strong option that will last a long time with little maintenance or you want a darker option that lets you drive over it almost right away, you can use this information to make your decision.

There are positives to each option, so take another look at the cons to see which you would rather deal with. With concrete vs asphalt driveways, you can find the best option for you.