Is Asphalt or Concrete Cheaper?

Private Road paved with Asphalt

Do you have a new home or property that has areas that need to be paved? Or maybe the current pavement on your property has reached its age limit and needs to be entirely replaced. Paving any area on a residential or commercial property is a large project, so it is essential to consider your options. The most common types of pavement are asphalt and concrete, and each one has benefits. Here at H-H Paving, we receive a lot of questions about pavement and a recent one we were asked was, is asphalt or concrete cheaper?

Both asphalt and concrete are used often by companies for different reasons, and more than just overall costs should be taken into consideration. But let’s first begin with what each pavement type is made up of.

What are asphalt and concrete made of?

At the core of both concrete and pavement are sand and stone. What makes them different is what holds them together, also known as a binder.

The binder or adhesive that holds the concrete together is cement, and for asphalt, we use tar. These binders, mixed with sand and stone, is what give each type their distinctive characteristics, durability, and affect the overall costs.

How do you want your driveway to look?

For both residential and commercial properties, then perhaps the first thing you should consider when looking at your options is how you want your driveway or parking area to look.

You may choose to have your driveway look like the main road that is already by your property, such as the deep black of traditional asphalt. Or, you may want to customize the look to compliment the exterior of your home or other structures if so concrete may be the option you choose.

When it comes to asphalt, your options are limited because of the binder it uses being tar. Tar will always make asphalt pavement appear black.

However, concrete pavement does have a few more options to choose from. For example, tints can be applied to concrete to give it a subtle color, or it can be stamped into patterns and designs for taste. Keep in mind though that the more you add to the concrete for aesthetics, the more it will raise the overall costs.

Consider your environment and climate.

Anything outdoors is susceptible to nature’s elements, and the pavement is no different. In fact, it can be one of the features of your property that takes the most beatings from storms and temperature changes.

Concrete is not ideal for climates that have months of severe cold and a lot of winter precipitation. Treating concrete with salt to melt snow and ice can damage it causing it to flake or break off, leaving behind divots.

Asphalt, on the other hand, is more vulnerable to high temperatures in the summer months. As the tar that is in the pavement heats up, it makes it softer. With repeated traffic, this can result in depressions and ruts that make travel uncomfortable.

What type of maintenance are you willing to keep up with?

In general, the lifespan of traditional asphalt is around 20 years, and with concrete, it can last upwards of 40 years depending on the local climate.

Concrete does not require a lot of maintenance, but it can show stains. Have you ever been inside a car garage and noticed the stains that have seeped into the concrete beneath? That is because concrete is of a lighter color and oils and other liquids from cars are darker, creating a stark contrast that draws the eye. If you choose to pave with concrete, you may want to consider applying sealers or degreasers on occasion to help battle stains. On another note, if there is a need for repairs with cracks, it will also create a stark contrast that will be visible.

However, if you need to patch or repair asphalt, it can be covered up when you reseal or resurface your drive. On average, every 3-5 years, you should reseal your drive or parking area. If your asphalt is looking poorly on the surface, you can even resurface the top layer to look brand new! This is not possible with concrete which would have to be fully re-poured. You might have a little more maintenance with asphalt, but repairs and the aesthetics of it are easier to keep looking fresh than concrete.

So, which is cheaper, asphalt, or concrete?

Do you remember our discussion about the different binders above? Well, since asphalt uses tar as its binder, it makes it cost less than concrete. The cement in concrete raises the overall costs of using it as a paving option.

Commonly, asphalt ranges between $2.00-$4.00 per square foot. This is all dependent on current crude oil prices, which is where tar comes from. And concrete averages between $4.00-$6.00 per square foot for basic installations.

Overall, there are a lot of things to consider besides just price when you make the decision to pave your drive or another area on your property. H-H Paving is here to help you with all your paving needs and repairs! Contact us today to get a free estimate or learn more about our services.