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Asphalt vs concrete driveways/paving

When you need new driveway or paving, some of the traditional materials you might know and to choose from such as concrete or asphalt to consider to be applied. In general, both materials are similar, however, it has key differences that need to put into mind before deciding.

In general, both need to have well-compacted bases of gravel before application. They need time before can be driven on, despite the asphalt is relatively faster -in several hours- than concrete -several days-. Both applications also require stone and sand, however, it has the difference in term of the adhesive. In asphalt, the adhesive is tar and in concrete its cement. These two substances not only giving the unique appearances but also affect cost, durability and maintenance.

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Aesthetically speaking about Asphalt Paving

Aesthetically speaking, some people perceive the concept of paving, especially if applied in the house surrounding is an extension of the road, thus it should be asphalt while others want to personalise their paving space. In term of appearances, asphalt and concrete are literally black and white.  For concrete, it is easier to work with different finishes whereas asphalt is more limited. If concrete finishing can be stained or tinted to an array of colours, formed in different designed, etched or engraved, apply of different finishes; the asphalt is the total opposite the colour is limited and unique finishes is almost little to choose from.

In term of durability against the climate, Concrete has the tendency to crack and suffer from frost heaving in cold and freezing winters. Furthermore, salt used for ice melting can create pits in concrete leaving blotches across the driveway. Alternatively, asphalt has issues in hotter climates. It is advisable to look for advice from a reputable contractor about the effects the local climate will have on both asphalt and concrete prior to finalising any decisions.

Maintenance of both materials is different. Asphalt after the installation it should be sealed, not only after immediate application but also every three-five years afterwards. In addition to that, sealing the asphalt will extend the life of the driveway, which when properly maintained may last upwards of 30 years. Concrete driveways do not necessarily need to be sealed to last upwards of 50 years. However, sealing a concrete driveway can preserve the look and finish. Concrete driveways will stain easier than asphalt (although sealing will help) and will require a degreaser to remove any oil based stains that may occur.

In term of cracks, both can be repaired. However, asphalt cracks are easier to repair and blend into the original. Meanwhile, concrete repairs are more obvious due to weathering.  An added plus with asphalt is that it can be resurfaced fairly inexpensively leaving a brand new top coat if the old layer falls into disrepair, which is impossible for concrete.

In term of cost, ignoring any maintenance costs, asphalt is generally much cheaper to install than concrete. On average, the cost per square foot for asphalt will run between $2.50 to $4.00. Concrete, on the other hand, can run between $4.00 to $6.00 per square foot for basic installation and can cost more depending on different finishes and detail. It can be beyond, depend on the design.

Lastly, before deciding, it is also recommended to check with any local building codes to see if there are any specifications. For those that live in a development, your HOA may have very specific restrictions on colour, finish or even type of driveway material you can use.