If you are building a new home or your current driveway is showing signs of age, you may be thinking it's time to replace your driveway. Then comes the debate of concrete vs. asphalt for a driveway. There is no right or wrong answer of which material is best; it is more of what is best for you and your home.
Asphalt and concrete are both laid or poured over a subbase of compacted aggregate. Both are primarily made of sand and stone, but what binds the sand and stone together is what makes them different. Cement is used to bind tighter the sand and stone, and when cured, its called concrete. Bitumen, a petroleum product, is the binder for asphalt.
Regardless of which product you choose, preparation for your driveway is essential for a long-lasting driveway. The appropriate base material and compaction of the base material can make or break a project. Also, a proper slope for drainage is essential, you want water running away from your house, not towards it.
A properly installed concrete driveway should last 30-40 years. At the same time, a properly installed asphalt driveway will last 20-30 years with proper maintenance. The life span of both can be shortened if heave equipment is driven on it or you allow chemicals to leak on the surface.
Concrete is virtually maintenance-free. You need to keep the surface clean and free of chemicals. Asphalt driveways need to be seal coated. In Chicago, it is recommended that you seal coat your driveway every 2-3 years. Driveway Sealcoating helps protect the asphalt from oxidation, which causes the asphalt to become brittle and easy to crack.
Asphalt and concrete will crack over time, additionally, because of the freeze-thaw cycles in Chicago heaving in parts of your driveway. The heaving can cause trip hazards which should be fixed. Asphalt repairs are typically cheaper, faster and they will be less noticeable. Concrete repairs can be costly, and due to the way concrete ages, the repair spot will be more apparent for a more extended period.
Regardless of your choice of materials, both need an adequately installed subbase. On average, a subbase can be installed in one day. There are some exceptions when this might take more time. Once the base is installed, an asphalt driveway can be installed in one day and can be used in about 4-5 days. A concrete driveway will take 1-2 days to install and needs 7-10 days to cure before being using.
Asphalt driveways are substantially cheaper to install than concrete. In fact, it is about 50% less to install asphalt. The cost of a concrete driveway in the Chicago area can range from $5-$15 a square foot, while an asphalt drive will cost $2.5-$7.5 per square foot to install.
Choosing between an asphalt driveway or a concrete driveway is not easy. There are many different things to think about. Such as the driveway's appearance, how much it costs, and if you will have any need for repairs in the future.