Visitors form an opinion about your home (and you!) from the minute they arrive. This means your driveways and walkways play an outsized role in guest reactions to your home. Consider some reasons to choose concrete or asphalt paving.
Both concrete and asphalt are affected by the weather. Asphalt becomes soft and sticky in high heat and relentless sunlight. When asphalt that has softened in the heat cools, it can crack or sag.
Concrete is subject to cracking from freeze-and-thaw cycles in cold weather. Left unrepaired, existing cracks will expand in winter as water from thawing seeps in and refreezes, exerting pressure that will further crack the concrete.
Ice melt products can also harm concrete surfaces, causing pits that are vulnerable when melted snow and ice refreezes. Winterizing concrete by filling cracks with expansion joint materials like silicone or rubber and cleaning and sealing the surface can help protect your drive or walkway.
Asphalt isn’t damaged by salts used to melt ice, and its dark color retains heat, which helps melt winter precipitation.
When it snows, both types of surfaces are easy to clear with shovels, snow blowers, or plows. Asphalt is slightly more prone to damage from heavy equipment. Both surfaces can be very slippery in icy conditions, harboring treacherous “black ice” that is hard to see.
Overall, New England homeowners must consider how frequently their property is subjected to extreme summer heat or winter cold to determine which paving surface will work better for them.
Newly poured concrete will crack. There is simply no way around it, although you can contain cracks with control joints. Your concrete contractor will use special diamond cutting blades to create control joints in a pleasing, even pattern across your new concrete paving.
Concrete requires significantly less maintenance over time than asphalt paving. Concrete doesn’t require resealing every few years. The most you may need to do is remove occasional grease or oil spots.
Cracks in asphalt are easier to repair than cracks in concrete, and the repairs are less noticeable, which is a plus on the asphalt side. But asphalt will need repairs more often than concrete, raising the cost over time.
Durability and Aesthetics
A properly poured concrete driveway can last for 50 years, whereas asphalt driveways last 20, maybe 30, at the most.
Asphalt gives you a black driveway that may fade to a light, white-ish grey that needs sealcoating. Concrete, on the other hand, can be tinted in a variety of colors and stamped with patterns to make it look like pavers or feature more ornate designs, depending on your taste.
Concrete is substantially more expensive than asphalt. It’s possible that concrete’s durability and minimal maintenance could earn back its extra cost over time, but that won’t mean much when you must pay upfront.
Asphalt is cheaper to install and is ready to drive over much faster than concrete, which has a longer curing time but is more vulnerable to heavy vehicles and heavy use.
Whether you choose concrete, asphalt, or another surface like gravel or pavers for your driveway and walks, you should always work with an experienced, licensed, and insured professional with good references. Ask to see examples of their work, then decide whether you should choose concrete or asphalt paving based on your needs and budget.