Concrete vs. Asphalt - Blog

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Concrete vs. Asphalt

in Concrete asphalt

The differences between an asphalt driveway and a concrete driveway are black and white. Many people are passionate and emotional about which is better to have. Kind of like the people who love Pepsi and Coke, both live and die for their brand. The reality is that both asphalt and concrete provide a clean smooth surface for people and vehicles to operate on. It’s two different ways to achieve the same purpose. There are advantages and disadvantages for both; the real question is which you prefer.

Concrete is considered a rigid pavement. It’s strength is self contained in the concrete. It does not have the ability to expand and contract and therefore needs expansion joint cut into the surface to accommodate the expansion and contraction. Concrete is relatively maintenance free and is cooler in the summer because it does not absorb as much of the sun’s heat. Typical life of a concrete surface is about 20- 25 years. When the original concrete surface is used up, it needs to be taken out, reformed and new drive poured.

Asphalt is a flexible pavement. The strength comes from a limestone aggregate base with 2-3” of an asphalt surface. Being flexible and able to expand and contract, asphalt does not require expansion joints. Asphalt requires some maintenance every 3-5 years. Typical life of a maintained asphalt surface is 20-25 years. Asphalt is black and absorbs and retains more of the sun’s heat. This heat absorption helps in the winter time in melting snow and ice. When the asphalt surface is used up, a new asphalt layer can be placed on top of the existing layer.
The physical differences between the two surfaces are…black and white, but the monetary difference is just as stark. A new concrete drive dug out formed and installed will run about $7.00 to $7.50 per square foot. And asphalt drive dug out and 6” of a limestone base installed and compacted with a 2” asphalt surface would be $3.00 to $3.50 per square foot. With planned maintenance for an asphalt drive over the life of the surface, the asphalt drive would still cost less than a concrete drive.   The real cost difference comes when it’s time to replace the existing drives. A concrete drive would need to be torn out and replaced at a rate of $7.50 per square foot. An asphalt drive can be “capped” or resurfaced by placing a new asphalt layer over the existing asphalt surface. This would cost about $1.50 to $2.00 per square foot, a significant cost savings to the customer.
Asphalt and concrete are usable smooth surfaces that people and vehicles can move on. The differences come in the expense of having one or the other. Which are you, asphalt or concrete?
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