Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Asphalt Paving vs Concrete Paving

Read our blog post to understand the following:

How asphalt paving and concrete paving are different?
What you need to know about upkeep for both surface types?
How to determine which surface is ideal for your driveway?

You're probably reading this post to learn more about choosing the correct surface type for your existing driveway or a new driveway. When you are deciding the surface type you generally have two choices: asphalt or concrete.

Although the two surfaces are quite similar, there are several important differences that you should be aware as a homeowner before calling your provider.

Both types of surfaces have their pros and cons, and making your selection will largely depend on the following:

  1. Driveway Size
  2. Budget
  3. Location
  4. Appearance
  5. Maintenance 
  6. Local Regulations

Now let's take a look at the two surfaces.

Single Car Driveway         10-12 feet wide
Double Car Driveway 20-24 feet wide
Parking Stall 10 feet by 20 feet
Single Car Turn-around 10 feet by 20 feet
Double Car Turn-around 20 feet by 20 feet


Gravel                             $.50 - $2
Asphalt                           $2 - $5
Concrete                          $6 - $25
Pavers or Bricks                $10 - $50

Asphalt installation ranges from $2 to $5 per square foot. This cost includes excavation of the area, sub-base layer installation, and 1 to 1 1/2" of an asphalt top-layer. Asphalt pricing can vary based on existing crude oil prices, but is generally in the $2 to $5 range.

Just to give you an idea:

12'x 40' - $960 - $2,400
20'x 40' - $1600 - $4,000

Concrete costs can range from $6 per square foot to more than $15 per square foot depending upon the design and coloring effects you want to achieve. A simple concrete driveway costs from $3-$10 square foot, or $900-$3,000 for 12'x25' or $2,900-$9,600 for 24'x40', while a more intricate concrete driveway with design enhancements costs $15-$25+ per square foot, or $4,500-$7,500 for 12'x25' or $14,400-$24,000 for 24'x40'.

Driveway costs are also dependent on your house's driveway grading and drainage areas, in addition to the slopes, curves, and complexity of designs you desire as a homeowner.

VERDICT: The price difference for cement paving works out to be 45-50% more expensive when compared to asphalt paving. The main advantage of asphalt driveways is the low installation cost. Costs can vary depending on your needs for design and existing layout of driveway.  Asphalt also takes far less time to settle in and dry (several hours) than concrete— which can take several days.

The key to achieving the right choice rests in balancing expectations of the surface color and matching looks in your neighborhood. Most of our clients prefer the look of asphalt, since it compliments and acts as an extension of the neighborhood road.

While concrete driveways offer a greater selection of colors, from stained and engraved to etched and stamped, those enhancements come with a greater price tag. As far as appearance, concrete driveways tend to be lighter with a more grayish color. Concrete driveways tend to show stains more visibly compared to their asphalt counterparts.  Asphalt driveways favor a dark grey or black appearance aiding in covering imperfections.

VERDICT: Concrete paving can produce stunning designs, but budget friendly looks are not very cost-effective.

For homeowners who reside in cold and hot climates with extreme temperatures, choosing the right surface should be discussed with your pavement team beforehand. Typically the sub-base and upper base layers are the foundation of a strong, long-lasting (25 year+) driveway. These layers will be stressed and damaged during extreme temperatures; so finding a detailed and experienced crew who understands the aggregate gradation and placement process is crucial.

In cold and freezing winters, concrete tends to crack. To compound matters, salt used to combat the ice and snow can create pits in concrete leaving imperfections across your grey driveway. If the foundation is poorly laid, concrete driveways can damage very easily by extreme winter temperatures.  On the other hand, asphalt driveways adapt far easier to cold climates and offers more flexibility during freezing, snow and ice variations.

Then again, asphalt has more issues in hotter extreme climates. The liquid asphalt cement material softens in high summer temperatures and can become pliable and viscous and even deform in some cases. Concrete driveways tend to be unaffected by high temperatures.

VERDICT: It is easier to repair cracks on asphalt than those that appear on concrete. Speak to our PP&S contractor about what to expect from your local climate and how asphalt and concrete react before deciding on your solution.

You might have noticed your neighbor up keeping their asphalt driveway recently. With time, asphalt driveways tend to lose their black, shiny appearance and turn into a more grayish hint; the gray tone is from the liquid asphalt cement drying.  Asphalt driveways should be seal coated six months to one year after installation.  Being proactive and seal coating your asphalt driveway after installation will ensure a softer, black color that is more resistant to cracking and rutting.

Asphalt should also be seal coated every three to five years afterwards. You as a homeowner can do this simply without the need for a professional crew or equipment. This seal coating will extend the life of the driveway up to 30 years. Improper maintenance can lead to your asphalt driveway deteriorating noticeably in as little as 5 years.

Concrete driveways do not require a seal coat and can last 30+ years. However, we recommend sealing a concrete driveway to maintain the look and finish. Concrete driveways stain easier than asphalt and require a degreaser product to take out any oil stains.

VERDICT: Both asphalt and concrete driveway breaks, cracks can be repaired. However, asphalt cracks are easier to repair and retain their appearance. On the other hand, concrete repairs stand out more prominently.  Asphalt can be resurfaced by the homeowner for a fraction of the price of concrete repair, which can be very very difficult once damaged.

It is always a good idea to check with your local neighborhood committee for building and city codes. For development areas, your home owners association can have details on specific colors and finishes that are acceptable.

Final Decision: Asphalt vs. Concrete – A Close Call
While both surfaces present pros and cons, the South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina areas are best suited for asphalt. The overall gains from asphalt paving are greater over the long run.

What's the Difference between physical properties of asphalt and concrete?
Concrete and asphalt have several layers of graduated (various sizes) rocks, sand, and gravel creating a strong, supportive sub-base and base layers. The difference between the two surface types is from the type of adhesive (binder or "glue") that connects the layers and creates the surface.

Asphalt is made from mixing aggregates (various rocks, sand, gravel) with <a href="http://pavprod.com/asphalt-driveway-repair.html">liquid asphalt cement</a>, a sticky, black, substance extracted from crude oil. Concrete is made from missing aggregates (various rocks, sand, gravel) with a cement binder. Asphalt has a black to brown color, whereas concrete has a grayish appearance.

Asphalt vs. Concrete Driveway

Asphalt Driveway Concrete Driveway
Cost         $2.50 - $4.00 /sq.ft.         $4.00 - $15.00+ /sq. ft.
Durability Less durable More durable
Weather Issues Softens in high temps Cracks in freezing temps
Longevity 25 years+ 40 years+
Maintenance Seal Coat every 3-5 years Seal coat optional
Finishes         None         Various Types
Colors Primarily black Multiple Options
Repairs Easy Difficult
Resurfacing Yes No

Pros of asphalt
More cost-effective than concrete
Preferred in cold climates as it’s less likely to crack and snow removal is easier.
Stains and imperfections are hidden due to dark color.
Can be repaired without professional crew, no need for relayering
Can be tinted, and designed to look similar to concrete.

Cons of asphalt
Shorter lifespan (30 years vs 40 years)
Seal coating required every few years (3-5 years)
Softens in extreme heat
Edges can be slightly rough

Pros of concrete
Long-lasting up to 30-40 years
Low maintenance without need for resealing
Performs better in warm climates as it does not soften.
Can be tinted, and designed, etched

Cons of concrete
Will eventually crack in cold temperatures
Repairing requires replacing concrete surface
Very expensive to repair
Salt can cause damage
Stains and shows imperfections easily due to light color
Cost can be 45-50% (double) the cost of apshalt

What we Offer at PP&S 

  • Cold Asphalt
  • Asphalt Milling
  • SCDOT Paving
  • City & County Paving
  • Commercial Paving
  • Concrete Sidewalks and Curbs
  • Sealcoating
Who we Are
Started in 1992, Jack Hagood, CEO, has strived to make PP&S the best asphalt milling company in the Southeast. Jack and his team have provided excellent milling services for over 21 years and continue to perform the best quality work. In addition to milling, PP&S does Asphalt Repair & Seal Coating for private and commercial clients throughout Upstate South Carolina. Our team at PP&S looks forward to serving you as a customer and hope we provide the best service possible.