Choosing the right flooring for your home upgrade project has never been simpler with our detailed decision guide.
Upgrading your driveway is a great time not only to reconfigure its layout but also to consider a completely different material altogether. But while bluestone, brick pavers, and timber sleepers can look amazing, not everyone has the budget for them. That’s where two of the more popular and economical options come into play:
But aside from aesthetics and budget, how can you compare concrete vs. asphalt driveways?
There are actually a number of material differences between the two that give them different characteristics when it comes to usability, maintenance, and longevity, just to name a few. Let’s take a closer look at both materials so you can choose the best one for your driveway project.
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To start with, it can help to understand what each material is actually made of. After all, this is what gives each its unique look as well as a variety of special properties that differentiate them from one another.
Asphalt is made up of the remnants of petroleum deposits also known as bitumen along with a mixture of aggregates that help solidify it. The bitumen is what gives asphalt its characteristic black-brown colouration and what makes it sticky during application.
Concrete, on the other hand, is a mixture of sand and gravel aggregate with cement. Cement works as the binding agent activates when wet by water, another key ingredient in the mix. This combination also allows for a bit more combination since the naturally grey tones can be coloured with pigments that allow for a wide variety of appearances.
Comparing concrete vs. asphalt driveways
With the differences in the materials rather apparent, it stands to reason that concrete and asphalt are going to have different benefits and downsides when it comes to choosing them for a driveway. Let’s compare the two based on some of the most critical factors to consider when it comes to a concrete driveway and an asphalt driveway.
First and foremost is going to be the budget. And while both options are going to be more affordable than brick or paver driveways, there’s a definite difference between the two. Generally speaking, asphalt tends to be less expensive than cement when it comes down to material costs. In fact, the difference can be as great as 30-45% cheaper. However, asphalt prices will fluctuate with the oil and petroleum market because they are a byproduct of the industry. Keep in mind that concrete also allows for more customisation (more on that later), so you’ll have more opportunity to add to the cost based on the final look you want.
Price isn’t everything, however, and when it comes to a driveway that will face everything from foot to vehicle traffic, you’ll want a material that is going to last. While both asphalt and concrete can take a beating, asphalt is notably less durable than concrete since it is naturally a softer material. This, again, comes down to the binding agents that are used when it is poured and set. Consider that you can get up to 30 years out of an asphalt driveway, which sounds impressive until you learn that concrete can last over 50 years.
Driveways are subjected to traffic and the elements, so it’s likely that no matter what material you choose, there will be some level of maintenance and repair required over the years. Both require sealing to help them keep their appearance and integrity over the years. However, asphalt requires much more frequent sealing, every 3-5 years after initial install and sealing, an expense that you’ll have to factor into the overall cost of your driveway. In contrast, concrete
When it comes to installing, both driveways require complete removal of any materials that are already in place and a level surface to work with. However, that’s where the similarities end.
Because of the sticky nature of asphalt, it must be rolled and compressed into place to create a smooth and solid surface after setting. What’s more, it can take up to a year for the material to fully cure, meaning that the surface will remain a bit softer during that time. Sealing takes place after the year is up to ensure protection is provided after the driveway is less likely to expand or contract significantly. Concrete driveways are poured into place and harden much faster than asphalt will, with typical complete curing times less than one month. Both materials can be used after 7 days from installation.
During installation is when you’ll also want any design work or customisation added to your driveway. However, asphalt does not lend itself to much, if any, customisation. Once it is rolled and pressed into place, you are not able to add designs to it. And the nature of the material is such that you’re pretty much tied to whatever colour the asphalt comes out to be.
Concrete is much more open to customisation options. You can include additional aggregates that allow you to expose the look for a textured surface, a technique called exposed aggregate. You can also go for a smoother appearance but add pigments to the mix to change the natural grey colour of the concrete to anything from blues and reds to more natural browns and tans. Concrete can also be stamped with unique designs or pave cut after it has dried and cured.
Repairs are also inevitable as both asphalt and concrete can crack over time as temperatures cause the materials to contract and expand. Asphalt tends to be a bit easier to repair but also more likely to require repairs in the first place because of the softer nature of the material compared to concrete.
Choosing between concrete and asphalt for your driveway
Concrete seems to have the lead when it comes to most of the key factors in evaluating driveway materials. In general, residential driveways stand to benefit more from concrete because of the durability and long-lasting nature of the installation. Whereas asphalt is much more common for commercial car parks and industrial settings because of the ease of repairs. Even when it comes to cost, concrete’s higher price tag can be offset by advantages like fewer maintenance tasks, longer lifespan, and independence from the stock market.
Here’s a chart to help recap our findings as we compared concrete vs. asphalt driveways.
Install your new concrete driveway with Concept Concrete
Concrete driveways are rising in popularity throughout Melbourne and the surrounding areas as the best combination of durability, longevity, and cost compared to most options available on the market. Plus, with the right installer, you can get truly creative with your concrete application for a custom look that takes on a design of its own.
At Concept Concrete, we pride ourselves on high quality projects done professionally. We can help you design your driveway from scratch including options for colouring, stamping, cutting, and more so you have the exact look you want at a price you can afford. In fact, when it comes to cost, we believe in complete transparency and provide onsite quotes completely free to be sure that everything is accurate and based on your exact parameters.
Get your concrete driveway started with the pros at Concept Concrete. Schedule your free quote today by calling us on 1300 366 343 or contacting us online today!