Compare Asphalt vs Concrete Driveway Costs
Asphalt Driveway Overview
Asphalt is one of the most common materials for driveways. Also referred to as blacktop for its coloring, asphalt is made using a combination of stones and sand, bound together with materials left over from the production of fuels like gasoline, diesel and kerosene.
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How Much Does an Asphalt Driveway Cost?
A basic asphalt driveway costs about $2 to $6 per square foot, including installation. That provides you with a base and a top coat. The price goes up from there if you add features like a chip seal top coat, which extends the life of the driveway, or a decorative top coat that is stamped or colored. With those features, you could spend $8 or more per square foot.
If you’re building a driveway where none existed, budget about an extra $2 to install a layer of gravel beneath the asphalt.
Asphalt Driveway Pros
- Price - Asphalt is considerably less expensive than concrete. In some cases, it’s about half the price.
- Better in cold climates - Asphalt is less likely to crack in cold weather. It performs better than concrete in very harsh or snowy climates. Snow removal is also easier with asphalt.
- Won’t show stains - Because asphalt is generally dark in color, in doesn’t show oil stains.
- Easier to repair - Cracks and holes can be filled more easily with asphalt driveways. Asphalt driveways can be repaired or re-layered, while concrete generally needs to be replaced.
Asphalt Driveway Cons
- Shorter lifespan - Asphalt doesn’t last as long. The lifespan is generally about 15 to 20 years - half that of concrete.
- More maintenance required - Asphalt needs to be resealed every three to five years, particularly if you want it to last.
- Oily texture - Asphalt has an oily texture that softens in heat or direct sunlight. If the asphalt gets stuck to your shoes and you track it through the house, it can stain your floors.
- Rough edges - WIth asphalt, it can be difficult to get a straight, clean edge.
Concrete Driveway Overview
Concrete is another popular material for driveways, particularly in the south. Cement is mixed with a variety of sand and gravel to create this strong, durable material.
How Much Does a Concrete Driveway Cost?
Basic, construction-grade concrete costs about $5 to $10 per square foot, including installation. Opting for fancier, decorative versions such as stamped or colored concrete will add several dollars per square foot to the price. Very high-end concrete could cost as much as $15 per square foot.
Again, if you’re building a driveway where none existed, budget about an extra $2 to install a layer of gravel beneath the concrete. Removal of an existing driveway usually runs $50 to $60 per hour.
Concrete Driveway Pros
- Long lasting - Concrete has a long life expectancy. Properly maintained, it can last 30 to 40 years.
- Low maintenance - Concrete driveways don’t need to be resealed as often, particularly in mild climates.
- Better in warm climates - Unlike asphalt, concrete will not soften in hot weather.
Concrete Driveway Cons
- Prone to cracking - Due to frost heaves, concrete will eventually crack in cold climates. It is also susceptible to salt damage. Unlike asphalt, damage to a concrete driveway is difficult - if not impossible - to repair. The driveway usually needs to be replaced.
- Stains easily - Due to the light color, concrete shows almost every type of stain, particularly oil stains.
- Price - Concrete is significantly more expensive than asphalt.