Concrete Vs. Asphalt Driveways

Concrete or asphalt are the most common materials used to pave driveways. While both have distinct advantages, in general your climate will dictate which driveway is the best choice for you. However, if you live in a moderate climate or just want to know the advantages and disadvantages of both material, this article is for you.

Asphalt

Asphalt driveways are the cheapest to install. They are often preferred in colder climates, and avoided in hotter climates, where the asphalt can become soft. Soft asphalt is prone to ruts and unsightly bumps. It also has a lifespan of 25 to 30 years, which is less than other driveways.

While most people thing asphalt must always be black, new techniques allow you to tint your asphalt to match your home. Although certain colors cannot be achieved, there are several selections beyond basic black. Consult your contractor before installing to find out your options.

Asphalt requires a well prepared surface before installing it. A licensed contractor will know what requirements are necessary for your area to ensure that the asphalt does not crack. Cracks in the asphalt can be easily repaired if they ever appear.

Asphalt driveways require much more time and maintenance than concrete. Asphalt driveways should be sealed every three to five years without fail. This job can be completed by most homeowners, but it requires three days to dry before you can drive your car on it again.

The first sealing should take place 6 to 9 months after your driveway is installed. You want to be certain that the oils within the asphalt have evaporated fully before applying a sealant. If you are too impatient and apply the sealant to soon after the installation, you can make your asphalt soft forever.

Concrete

Concrete driveways are often preferred because of their low maintenance. While asphalt requires upkeep ever several years, concrete, once installed and sealed, requires very little care. However, the concrete costs more than asphalt to install, so you do pay a price for the time you will save.

Concrete driveways are not desirable in colder climates because the concrete often cracks due to frost heaves. Concrete is also particularly susceptible to salt damage, an unavoidable material if you live in the Northeast. However, if you aren’t particularly concerned about salt damage and you are willing to add extra gravel and compact carefully before pouring, a concrete driveway can be built in colder climates.

No matter where you install your concrete driveway, you should be very careful to hire a contractor who is willing to create a good foundation prior to pouring the concrete. Concrete that is poured on a faulty foundation will eventually crack. Although concrete cracks can be repaired, if the underlying cause still exists it will often crack again.

Concrete driveways can be tinted or stained to complement the exterior of your home. Although you may prefer the look of off white concrete, you may want to consider a darker color that is less likely to stain. The easiest way to alter the color of concrete is to add tint to the mix before pouring, so be sure to consult your contractor if you would like to alter the color.

The most important part of installing any driveway is the contractor that you choose. Once you’ve decided which material is right for your home, call a contractor that specializes in driveway installations. He will be able to give you specific pointers to maintain the appearance of your driveway, while ensuring it will stay crack free for years to come.

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