It can be tricky to decide. There are some advantages to both.
However, when it comes to quick installation, driveway maintenance, enduring cold weather conditions (like those found in the northeast), and cost, asphalt is very clearly the best option. There is almost no comparison in these areas.
But first let’s break it down by category: cost, installation speed, maintenance, and ability to deal with cold temperatures.
Asphalt vs Concrete
A concrete driveway (completely unadorned) will normally cost you around $3-10 per square foot. This adds up to about $1,080-3,600 for a standard two car driveway. Decorations and embellishments could potentially drive the cost up to $9,000
In contrast asphalt is far cheaper, running about $2-5 per square foot adding up to about $720-1,800. Decorations and embellishments are unlikely to drive the price any higher that $3,240.
Asphalt is thus clearly the cheaper option even if you intend to decorate and customize the driveway.
Asphalt is also very quick and easy to install. While the size of the project may alter the exact number, it normally takes no more than one to two days to install. An asphalt driveway is also often ready for use within the day or occasionally the next day.
Concrete takes far longer to install at around 3-4 days and takes far longer than concrete to cure. While asphalt driveways can sometimes be used within the day, concrete generally takes almost a week before it’s ready.
Asphalt requires sealing (which can be done by anyone) around a year after installation in order to fully preserve it. So long as this sealing is maintained, most would say it should be resealed around every 2-3 years, the driveway could last up to 30 years.
Concrete does have an advantage though in this area as it does not need to be sealed and lasts longer than asphalt normally. However, without sealing concrete is very prone to stains and even with sealing it is more prone to staining than asphalt.
Additionally, asphalt is far easier to repair than its concrete counterpart. While asphalt and concrete can both crack, it is easy to repair asphalt with materials available at home improvement stores. These cracks once repaired are also very hard to notice.
Concrete is far more difficult to repair and attempts to do so are far more noticeable. It is also possible to resurface asphalt if needed while effectively impossible to do the same for concrete.
It should also be noted that it is possible to resurface asphalt if the damage is more serious. It is not possible to resurface concrete though forcing you to replace the driveway in these cases, which is considerably more expensive.
Dealing with the Cold
One last crucial advantage of asphalt over concrete, especially for the cold northeast, is its behavior in the cold. Asphalt is designed to flex and can handle extreme temperature fluctuations, like those we have up here in the northeast.
Concrete has great difficulty handling these types of temperature changes. Unlike asphalt, temperature changes often cause concrete to buckle and crack.
One final advantage of asphalt in the winter is that it is easier to treat for ice and snow. One of the most common ways of melting ice is to lay down salt. This works just fine for asphalt driveways. Putting salt on concrete though is another story. Ice on concrete can create pits, eventually leaving ugly splotches across the driveway.
Which Should you choose?
While there are some benefits to both concrete and asphalt, asphalt is ultimately far cheaper, faster to install, can be used far sooner, is easier to maintain, and is clearly more suited to the types of weather we receive up here in the Northeast.
If you are interested in installing an asphalt driveway in your home we here at Greenway Industries are experienced professionals and Connecticut’s trusted driveway technicians. Whether you are looking for residential or commercial paving, please do not hesitate to call us at 203-544-2169.