Are you starting a paving project? Are you wondering whether asphalt or concrete is best for your driveway?

If so, you’re not alone. 

Each material has its pros and cons, and deciding on the right material for your driveway depends on a variety of factors.

Here at Betz Works, we’ve been providing reliable asphalt paving services for California Bay Area & Central Coast customers since 1958.

In this blog, we’re breaking down our expertise to help you decide whether concrete or asphalt fits your project better. 

Key Takeaways

  • Asphalt and concrete are both popular driveway materials. For most applications, however, asphalt is a better option. 
  • Asphalt and concrete have some critical differences in installation, durability, appearance, cost, maintenance, ease of repair, resale value, eco-friendliness, climate sensitivity, traffic volume, and safety. 
  • If you’re unsure where to begin your paving project or which material to choose, contact Betz Works for more assistance. 

Overview of Asphalt 

asphalt paving

Asphalt is a commonly used material for constructing driveways due to its durability, low maintenance needs, and affordability. 

It is a mixture of various aggregates, such as sand, gravel, and crushed stone, bound together by a petroleum-based binder.

Main Characteristics

  • Asphalt driveways are composed of multiple materials that work together to create a durable and functional vehicle surface. 
  • The main component is asphalt, also known as bitumen, which is a sticky, black substance derived from crude oil. This serves as the binder that holds all the other materials together. 
  • Other components include aggregates such as gravel, sand, and stone, which strengthen and stabilize the driveway. 
  • Additionally, additives like polymers may be included to improve the overall performance of the asphalt mixture. 
  • The precise composition of an asphalt driveway material may vary depending on factors such as climate, traffic volume, and budget. 
  • These key ingredients work together to create a smooth, water-resistant surface that can withstand heavy use and diverse weather conditions.

Another common asphalt option is StreetPrint. StreetPrint is a cutting-edge, decorative pavement option that offers a compelling alternative to traditional stamped concrete.

streetprint

By combining the flexibility and strength of asphalt with advanced coating technologies, StreetPrint creates a visually appealing, textured surface that simulates the appearance of brick, stone, or other paving patterns. 

This innovative technique enhances the aesthetic appeal of walkways, driveways, and public spaces and offers a cost-effective, durable solution that withstands a variety of weather conditions. 

Overview of Concrete 

concrete paving

Concrete is a popular material for driveways due to its durability and strength. It can withstand heavy vehicles and harsh weather conditions, making it a long-lasting option. 

Additionally, concrete can be customized with different colors and patterns, allowing homeowners to create a unique look for their driveway. 

Its smooth surface also allows for easy snow removal during winter months. 

Main Characteristics

  • Concrete comprises a mixture of cement, aggregates such as gravel or crushed stone, water, and additives. 
  • Cement acts as the binding agent, holding the other components together. Aggregates provide bulk and stability to the concrete, while water activates the chemical reaction that causes it to harden. 
  • Additives are often used to improve concrete’s properties, such as increasing its resistance to cracking or enhancing its workability during construction. 
  • The ideal composition of concrete for driveways may vary depending on climate and soil conditions, but a typical mix would consist of about 15% cement, 60-75% aggregates, and 15-20% water. 
  • This combination creates a strong and durable material that can withstand heavy vehicles and harsh weather conditions, making it an excellent choice for driveway construction.

Key Differences Between Asphalt & Concrete

Factor

Asphalt

Concrete

Installation

Asphalt is generally easier and quicker to install. 

It requires less preparation work, such as leveling and grading of the ground, and can be installed in various weather conditions. 

Concrete is typically more labor-intensive and time-consuming to install due to the need for precise leveling, compacting, and curing processes. It requires ideal weather conditions for installation.

Durability

Asphalt is typically less durable than concrete and may require more frequent repairs or resurfacing over time due to cracking or potholes caused by heavy vehicles or extreme temperatures. However, proper maintenance can extend the lifespan of asphalt significantly. 

Concrete is generally considered a more durable option due to its strength and resistance to heavy vehicles and extreme temperatures. Properly installed concrete driveways can last for decades with minimal maintenance.

Appearance/Curb Appeal

Asphalt is often preferred for its traditional black color and sleek appearance. It can also be stamped or stained for added visual appeal. May show signs of aging over time, such as fading or discoloration.

Concrete offers a variety of design options, including different colors, patterns, and textures. It can mimic the look of natural materials like stone or brick for added curb appeal.

Cost

Asphalt is generally a more affordable option than concrete due to lower material costs and easier installation process.

Concrete typically has a higher upfront cost than asphalt due to higher material costs and labor expenses associated with proper installation.

Maintenance

Regular sealcoating is recommended every 3-5 years to protect asphalt against water damage and UV rays. Cracks should be filled promptly to prevent further damage.

Regular cleaning and sealing may be required every few years depending on climate conditions. It may also require occasional repairs for cracks or chips.

Ease of Repair

Small cracks in asphalt can be easily patched with DIY kits or by professionals at a relatively low cost. Larger repairs may require resurfacing.

Small cracks in concrete can also be patched easily with DIY kits or by professionals. However, larger repairs may be more costly and time-consuming compared to asphalt due to the need for specialized equipment and techniques.

Resale Value

Asphalt may not significantly impact resale value as it is a common option for driveways and does not add significant aesthetic value.

Concrete can enhance curb appeal and potentially increase resale value due to its durability and various design options.

Eco-Friendliness

Asphalt is made from petroleum-based materials so it can be recycled

Concrete is considered a more environmentally friendly option as it is made from natural materials such as sand, gravel, and cement. It can also be recycled.

Climate Sensitivity

Asphalt is prone to damage from extreme temperatures, especially in areas with frequent freeze-thaw cycles. May also soften in hot temperatures.

Concrete is less susceptible to damage from extreme temperatures but can crack under severe temperature changes or heavy loads.

Traffic Volume

Asphalt can handle moderate traffic volume, but may deteriorate over time with heavy vehicle use.

Concrete is ideal for high-traffic areas due to its strength and durability. Can withstand heavy vehicles and frequent use without significant wear or damage.

Safety

Asphalt provides good traction for vehicles during wet weather conditions.

Concrete offers excellent traction even during wet weather conditions. However, if not properly maintained, it may become slippery when icy or covered in snow.

Note: It is important to keep in mind that the comparison table above is based on the general characteristics of asphalt and concrete as driveway materials. 

The performance of each material can vary depending on factors such as installation quality, maintenance practices, and climate conditions. 

It is recommended to consult with a professional contractor before making a decision on which material to use for your specific driveway needs.

Betz Works: Your Source for Reliable Asphalt Paving Services

For most applications, asphalt is the best paving material for driveways and commercial applications. 

If you’re not sure where to begin your asphalt paving project or which paving material is right for you, our team is here to help. 

We provide driveway paving services for Santa Cruz, Monterey & Santa Clara Counties. 

Contact us today to learn more about us or request a quote. 

FAQ

1. What is the best material to use on a driveway?

The best material for a driveway is asphalt. Asphalt has excellent durability and can withstand heavy loads, making it perfect for driveways where cars will be constantly driving and parking. 

Additionally, asphalt is resistant to extreme weather conditions, such as freezing temperatures and heavy rain, which can damage other materials like concrete.

Another advantage of using asphalt on a driveway is its ability to quickly melt snow and ice. This is due to the dark color of asphalt, which absorbs heat from the sun and helps in melting any frozen precipitation on the surface, making it safe for vehicles to drive on.

Asphalt also provides a smooth and seamless finish with no joints or seams that can shift or crack over time. This not only enhances the overall appearance of the driveway but also reduces the risk of tripping or falling for people walking on it.

In terms of maintenance, asphalt is relatively low-maintenance compared to other materials like concrete. If any cracks or potholes do appear over time, they can easily be repaired by filling them with new asphalt without having to redo the entire driveway.

Asphalt is also a recyclable material that can be reused multiple times, reducing its carbon footprint and saving resources. Its porous nature allows water to seep through instead of pooling on top, allowing for better drainage.

2. How can you tell if you have an asphalt or concrete driveway?

There are a few ways to determine if you have an asphalt or concrete driveway:

  • Color: Asphalt driveways are typically dark black in color, while concrete driveways can range from light gray to beige.
  • Texture: Asphalt driveways have a smooth, flat surface, whereas concrete driveways may have a slightly textured or rough surface.
  • Sound: When driven on, asphalt driveways tend to be quieter than concrete driveways, which can produce a loud rumbling noise.

It is important to note that the only sure way to determine the type of driveway you have is to consult your builder or check the records of your home’s construction. 

If you are unsure about the type of driveway you have, contact a professional for assistance.

3. How long does it take to install an asphalt or a concrete driveway?

The time it takes to install an asphalt or concrete driveway can vary depending on various factors, such as the size of the driveway, weather conditions, and the experience of the contractors. 

The installation process generally takes a few days to complete. However, it may take longer for larger driveways or more complex projects. 

It is best to consult with a professional contractor to get a more accurate estimate for your specific project.

4. Can I do my own asphalt or concrete driveway installation?

Possibly, but it depends on your level of experience and expertise with concrete or asphalt installation

If you’re handy and comfortable using the tools needed to install asphalt, you may be able to do it on your own. If you’re not familiar with the process, though, we recommend that you hire a professional contractor.

Asphalt and concrete driveway installation require specific tools, skills, and knowledge to ensure a proper and long-lasting result. 

Without the necessary equipment and expertise, the project can become challenging and may result in costly mistakes. Moreover, improper installation can lead to cracks, uneven surfaces, and other structural issues that could potentially damage your property.

Hiring a professional contractor not only ensures a high-quality job but also saves you time and effort. 

They have the necessary resources and experience to handle the project efficiently and effectively. 

Additionally, they can provide expert advice on choosing the right materials for your driveway installation based on your budget, location, and specific needs.

5. How often should you apply a sealer to an asphalt driveway?

It depends on factors such as climate, usage, and the overall condition of the driveway. However, a general rule of thumb is to reapply a sealer every 2-3 years. 

This will help protect your driveway from harsh weather conditions and maintain its appearance. 

It’s also important to regularly clean and inspect your driveway for any cracks or damage and seal them appropriately before reapplying the sealer.