Asphalt vs. Concrete: Which Is Best for Driveways?

If you’re considering getting your parking lot paved, you may find yourself trying to decide between asphalt and concrete.
Both materials have their pros and cons, but in recent years, asphalt has become the preferred choice for property owners.

The Difference Between Asphalt and Concrete Driveways

There are similarities between asphalt and concrete; for one, both are aggregates made from crushed rock or sand mixed with water and cement, with the cement acting as a binder. But while concrete forms an unyielding surface once it dries, it is prone to cracking if the surface underneath is not smooth.

Asphalt pavement is similar, except its binder is made from bitumen, a derivative of crude oil that is mixed with a heavier aggregate and compacted using static and vibratory rollers. Asphalt has been proven to be a durable parking lot material and can stand up to heavy traffic, making it a popular choice for parking lot contractors.

Cost of Installation and Maintenance

When it comes to choosing between installing concrete versus asphalt pavement on your driveway, pricing and your overall budget are important factors to take into consideration. Technically, concrete has a much lower upfront installation fee and requires far less frequent repairs and maintenance than asphalt. Albeit, when concrete does get damaged, necessary repairs are more complex and the cost of implementing them can be astronomical to the point where a lot of property owners tend to forgo getting them done. Asphalt may come with a slightly higher installation fee and it also requires regular maintenance from asphalt repair contractors in Toronto throughout its lifetime, but in the long run this can save you a great deal of money on repairs and repaving.

Weather Conditions

Asphalt is a far more versatile aggregate than concrete in the sense that it has the capability of withstanding a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures. Warm weather causes asphalt to expand, while cooler temperatures cause it to contract without the risk of becoming cracked or damaged. Concrete, however, is an inflexible solid material that lacks the ability to adjust to mild or extreme weather conditions and often literally cracks under immense pressure.

Maintenance

Proper routine maintenance is essential to keeping your asphalt or concrete driveway in tiptop shape. Most professional asphalt paving contractors advise their clients to perform some form of maintenance or service work on their driveways approximately every 3-5 years to prevent the development of major damages. Concrete is more susceptible to damages that require complex and costly repairs than asphalt. In most cases, the damages are so advanced, that a complete overhaul is required.  All in all, asphalt pavement repair is more feasible and costs less.

Appearance and Lifespan

As long as it’s well taken care of and all minor damages are repaired before they manifest into larger, more complex problems, asphalt driveways can last anywhere from 20-35 years without needing to be replaced. On top of that, asphalt has a much cleaner and smoother appearance than concrete, not to mention the fact that it can withstand a great deal of pressure from inclement weather conditions and vehicular traffic.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Asphalt Paving

One of the biggest advantages of asphalt is that it can be easily removed if damaged. And for eco-conscious property owners, asphalt is also 100% recyclable. An asphalt parking lot is also ready to drive on only a short time after application, meaning minimal disruption to your business.

Cracks in asphalt pavement can also be repaired quickly and easily by your asphalt maintenance contractor. Resurfacing asphalt can be done quickly and efficiently, restoring the original smoothness and adding a layer of structure, which means additional durability.

Asphalt is also a popular choice for property owners in cold climates since it will expand as the temperatures drop, yet keep its integrity. However, this is also one of its disadvantages, as it can soften in the heat of the summer.

Because it’s made with bitumen, there can be a light odour that accompanies a newly paved asphalt driveway or after sealcoating your asphalt surface.

Asphalt has a lifespan of approximately seven to 12 years without proper pavement maintenance and 20–35 years with proper preventative pavement maintenance performed at regular intervals of three to five years. All paving work should be completed by a qualified asphalt paving contractor.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Concrete Paving

While concrete pavement may be more expensive than asphalt, it can last for 30 to 40 years and is easy to maintain. It’s also made using natural materials, making it another popular choice for property owners looking to do their part to help the planet; however, for this same reason, supplies may be limited and costly. There is also no odour, unlike asphalt, and it can also be coloured and scored. Concrete is also a better choice for warmer climates since salt can cause damage to the material and stains are highly visible.

Why You Should Choose an Asphalt Driveway Instead of Concrete

Here are a few compelling reasons to go with an asphalt driveway instead of concrete:

Durability

Asphalt driveways offer greater durability and versatility while only needing occasional minor and cost-effective repairs. Routine examination, cleanups, and maintenance will guarantee that your asphalt driveway will last for many years to come. In contrast, concrete is a much weaker and less resilient aggregate that’s no match for the strong and constantly fluctuating weather conditions in Toronto and the GTA.

Cost-Effective

Despite requiring more routine maintenance and minor repairs than concrete, asphalt is still the more cost-effective choice. The reason for this is that asphalt has the ability to adapt to varying weather conditions and temperatures. Also, damages typically start off very minor so that any necessary initial repairs are typically very affordable and easy to do. Concrete has more of an all-or-nothing approach to it. When it gets damaged, it’s usually more serious and may even require complete removal and repaving, which can make for some very expensive driveway repairs in Toronto.

Easier to Repair and Maintain

As long as you regularly and thoroughly remove debris from your asphalt driveway and keep it as clean as possible, then maintenance and repairs should be minimal whereas concrete has a tendency to succumb to forces that are beyond your control.

If you choose asphalt pavement, contact Sure-Seal Pavement Maintenance Inc. We are the top asphalt driveway and parking lot contractors in the GTA and use only the best asphalt for your driveways or parking lot that is guaranteed to last.

Sources:

“Why Use Asphalt Instead Concrete?” Dykes Paving web site; http://www.dykespaving.com/blog/why-use-asphalt-instead-of-concrete/, last accessed February 20, 2015.

Wood, D., “Deciding Between Asphalt and Concrete Driveway? The Pros and Cons,” Athens-Atlanta Asphalt Co. Inc. web site, December 6, 2012; http://pavingatlanta.com/blog-0/bid/246375/Deciding-Between-Concrete-or-Asphalt-Driveway-The-Pros-And-Cons.

Braen, D., “Asphalt vs. Concrete; Which is Better?” Braen Stone web site, December 2, 2013; http://www.braenstone.com/2013/12/asphalt-vs-concrete/.

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