Asphalt vs Concrete Driveways [Cost, Differences, Durability]

When I was growing up in Pennsylvania, all I ever saw were asphalt driveways. It wasn’t until I came to Florida that I saw there were other options like concrete or pavers.

With a new driveway costing between $2,500 to $6,800, according to Home Advisor, what materials you use can make a huge impact to the overall cost.

Usually you can expect to pay $2-$15 per square foot, depending on the materials and installer.

Sounds expensive, right?

In this article, we’re going to take a look at both asphalt and concrete driveways to explain their differences in durability, maintenance, and cost. This will help you to make an informed decision when replacing your existing driveway.

Let’s dig right in!

Asphalt vs Concrete Driveways: Cost

There are several reasons that can explain the vast difference in construction and maintenance costs between an asphalt and concrete driveways.

Size of Driveway

How long and how wide your driveway is the biggest factor to how much it’ll cost to pave.

In general, you’ll spend between $2 and $4 per square foot on an asphalt driveway, and between $4 to $6 dollars per square foot on a concrete driveway. If you choose to add any stains, details, or unique finishes to your concrete driveway, that cost can quickly escalate to around $15 dollars per square foot.

Type\Quality of Material Used

The cost and durability of your driveway depend heavily on the material used.

Premium building materials will most likely give your driveway a longer lifespan than typical ones. Even so, they come at a higher price, implying that you need to prepare yourself regarding finances adequately.

Did you know that there are different types of asphalt driveways? Even something as basic as concrete has more options than you might think

It’s not always possible to start with a cheaper option, then later upgrade to a higher-quality material. Usually those decisions are made when you first pour your new driveway, and you have to live with them for the next 10-20 years.

It’s definitely worth contacting several contractors to ask what kind of materials they use, and their prices to get the best bargain. 

In general, go with an asphalt driveway if you are tight on budget or don’t have heavy traffic in your home. All the same, you can go for a concrete driveway if you have the budget, or want to put a little pizazz into your home’s exterior.

Required Maintenance

You need to periodically seal an asphalt driveway. The first time is usually between 6 months to 1 year after installing it, and then every 3 to 5 years after that. This usually costs around $468 for a flat 20 x 20 driveway, per session. Luckily you can do it yourself, provided you have the required resources to bring down the maintenance costs.  

You don’t typically have to bother sealing a concrete driveway (although you can). However, this doesn’t mean you won’t have maintenance costs. In general, because concrete is porous, you’ll spend more on general stain removal (oil, chemicals, etc.) than you would with an asphalt driveway.

You also have more weeds growing on a concrete driveway than on asphalt.

New asphalt driveway

Asphalt vs Concrete Driveways: Durability

How long you expect your driveway to last is another big factor in choosing between concrete and asphalt driveways.

In general, concrete driveways last longer than asphalt driveways. For example, the a concrete driveway will usually last you for more than 50 years, while an asphalt driveway would only last around 30 years.

However, this mainly depends on the quality of materials used, and the weather in your area. In the harsh, northeast winters, we had to replace our asphalt driveway after about twenty years. But if you live somewhere with a more temperate climate, you should expect to get more life out of your driveway.

As said earlier, premium or high-quality building ingredients can give your driveway a longer lifespan. On the flip side, spending your money on low-quality materials will cost you in the long run as you’ll likely spend most of your time on constant repairs and maintenance issues.

That said, you can perform the following actions to maintain the durability of your driveway regardless of the material used:

  • Avoid the use of harmful products on your driveway
  • Develop a proper drainage system that keeps your driveway free from flooding
  • Repair and perform maintenance on your driveway at the recommended time frames
  • Clean out any stains the moment you come across them
  • Constantly clear harmful weather elements such as snow from your driveway
  • Use a mild detergent when cleaning fluids and oils from the driveway
  • Avoid heavy parking vehicles on your driveway

How Maintenance is Different

Below are some factors that influence how you should maintain asphalt and concrete driveways.

Design and Aesthetics

An asphalt vs concrete driveway comparison reveals a difference in design and aesthetics, implying you need to consider several things when maintaining them.

An asphalt driveway allows sealing with sealants containing coloring or tints. In contrast, a concrete driveway gives room for decoration. It will enable you to stamp, etch, tint, or stain it using a variety of colors to obtain that marvelous or aesthetically appealing look.

This calls for different maintenance methods and tools on each of the driveways. 

Reaction To Different Weather and Climate Changes

Comparing the two also reveals that each driveway reacts differently to weather elements or climate change.

For instance, Asphalt driveways melt under the hot sun. It’s common for asphalt to stick on your car tires, clothing, or shoes during the summer.

And on the other hand, concrete driveways might crack in cold weather due to continuous thawing and freezing. As such, you have to perform different maintenance routines for each of the driveways during such adverse weather conditions. Notably, remove ice from your concrete driveway during winter to prevent it from cracking. 

New concrete driveway

Asphalt vs Concrete Driveway: Common Differences

A concrete driveway:

  • Allows more modifications for visual appeal, for instance, the creation of patterns on top of them, among other decorations
  • Requires more aggressive de-greasing and cleaning for a clean look
  • Pricier to repair compared to an asphalt driveway
  • Requires minimal maintenance than an asphalt driveway
  • It has a longer lifespan compared to an asphalt driveway. A standard concrete driveway can stay for more than fifty years

An asphalt driveway:

  • Allows minimal creativity in its design compared to concrete driveways
  • It is less durable than concrete driveways. These driveways last for about 30 years
  • Asphalt driveways are less expensive to install than concrete driveways
  • It uses softer material compared to concrete driveways, which reduces its lifespan
  • It requires periodic maintenance. For example, you have to reseal every 6 months and 3 years