Is Asphalt or Concrete Cheaper?


You have purchased your new home or property and the time has arrived for you to choose how to finish your driveway. The most common choices for finishing a drive are asphalt and concrete. Both choices have advantages and disadvantages to each that you need to consider. Considerations include the finished look, the climate in which you live, maintenance and local restrictions. But today let’s start with is asphalt or concrete cheaper?

Materials Used in Both Asphalt & Concrete

Before we dive into the costs of each of these paving methods we first have to understand what they are made of in order to understand the differences in cost.

Both asphalt and concrete are made out of sand and stone. The main difference between them is in their adhesive.

Asphalt uses tar as its binder and concrete drives have cement as its adhesive.

The adhesives used in both paving methods gives them their unique characteristics. It also affects their costs and durability.

Which is Cheaper Asphalt or Concrete?

Because asphalt uses tar, instead of cement as its adhesive, asphalt is cheaper.

In general, the average costs to install asphalt is between $2.50 to $4.00 per square foot. This is an estimation as the costs of tar depend completely on the fluctuation of crude oil prices.

However, concrete typically runs between $4.00 to $6.00 per square foot for a basic installation.

Aesthetics of Your Drive

Considering how you want your paved driveway to look will also affect the cost. You can choose to have your drive look like an extension of the road that you live on with asphalt. Or, you can choose to customize the look with the variety of finishes concrete offers.

Asphalt is more limited in how it looks when finished due to the tar as a binder. It naturally looks black.

Concrete, however, can have different patterns stamped into it, tints applied to match the surrounding environment, or even brushed aggregate. Concrete can even be stained to meet your unique vision. Nevertheless, the more you choose to customize it the more the square footage costs.

Climate & Environment

When choosing which option is best to pave your driveway with the most important aspect to consider is the climate and environment in which you live.

Since asphalt is created with tar it is susceptible to becoming softer in the summer in hotter climates. Over time this can create ruts and deform the surface of your pavement.

Conversely, concrete is susceptible to cracking in the extreme cold of freezing winters. Salt treatments can also damage the surface of concrete leaving blotches or pits throughout your drive.

Regular Maintenance

Asphalt drives tend to last upwards of 20 years with regular maintenance and concrete has been known to last up to 40 years with care.

Asphalt does require more maintenance than concrete but is necessary to prolong its lifespan.

About six months to a year after the initial installation of your asphalt drive it needs to be sealed for the first time. Following that, to restore its beauty and prolong its use we recommend resealing it three to five years regularly. We also recommend contacting your local professional contractor to perform this maintenance. Your contractor will perform a thorough inspection to look for any other issues that might need repair. Repairing an asphalt drive is much easier than concrete.

Paving with concrete does not necessarily need maintenance but to maintain its look you may want to consider using a degreaser to rid it of stains. Since concrete is of a lighter color it will show stains from vehicles. You can apply sealers to concrete to prevent staining. If cracks are found in your concrete they can be repaired but they will be more visible than asphalt due to weathering.

The added bonus of asphalt drives is that they can be resurfaced if the underlying substrate is in good shape, a new layer of asphalt can be applied. However, the top layer of concrete does not allow for this option and a new application means you have to tear out the entire project and begin anew.

Local Restrictions

Finally, before you make your decision on which type of driveway is best for you. It is always wise to check with your local Homeowner’s Association or community guidelines to see if there are any restrictions on what you can do.

Contact Us Today!

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us for a free site visit and estimate at any time. Uniform Paving & Seal Coating is here for all of your paving needs!