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Concrete vs. Asphalt for Driveways

Kelly ShamblinJune 25, 2021
asphalt driveway

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.

Life Span

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. 

Repair Costs

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.

Installation Time

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. 

Characteristics of a Concrete Driveway

  • Concrete lasts longer than asphalt
  • Concrete is less flexible and is more likely to crack, especially in cold climates
  • Concrete shows oil stains and they are harder to remove
  • Concrete repairs cost more and can cause more downtime

Characteristics of an Asphalt Driveway

  • Asphalt is flexible and less likely to crack
  • Asphalt repairs are typically cheaper
  • Asphalt needs to be seal coated every 2-3 years
  • There is fewer design options with asphalt (coloring, stamping while available, very few companies offer it)

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.

What Customers Say About Us
  • Quick to respond, take measurements, give an estimate and most importantly get the job done. Very reasonably priced as well. My husband and I will definitely be using them next time the driveway needs a fresh coat. I would recommend them!! Thanks guys!!
    Jodie Blank
  • Excellent work I have a deck that meets up to my driveway no seal coat on deck. The work was so professional and looked outstanding. If you want your driveway done this is the company you want to hire and pricing is very reasonable.
    Michael McQueen
  • Great communication with customers. I was able to schedule an appointment via email in a matter of an hour- they are more than willing to work with your schedule. When they came out to seal my driveway, they informed me of what they would be doing and gave an approximate time for the job. It looked amazing afterwards. Highly recommend!
    Jessica Hankins
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Big Rock, IL 60511
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