The two most popular types of driveway materials are asphalt and concrete. They each have their own unique pros and cons. Asphalt driveways are better suited for cooler climates, whereas concrete driveways are best for hotter ones. With both, however, a solid foundation is critical for ensuring a long-lasting driveway. The base should be comprised of a thick layer of stone and gravel that has been thoroughly compacted down before pouring the asphalt or concrete over it. Without a thick and compact base, the driveway will end up cracking and/or settling from the weight of vehicles.
*Concrete Driveway Advantages and Disadvantages
Concrete driveways are ideal for hotter climates because they do no soften under intense heat and sunlight. They also require minimal maintenance. However, concrete shows oil stains much easier than asphalt driveways and are more susceptible to salt damage. Salt is frequently used on roads in colder climates to mitigate road ice. As a result, concrete driveways are infrequently installed in colder climate areas.
Concrete driveways are also difficult to repair. If a crack forms, there is not much you can do about it other than replacing the section of driveway -- or the entire driveway. Also, concrete can shear off of the driveway foundation over time, which can lead to unwanted cracks.
*Asphalt Driveway Advantages and Disadvantages
Asphalt driveways typically cost less to install, which is why they are so popular. However, asphalt needs more maintenance. They should be sealed every few years, which takes some time and money. Sealing a driveway is an easy do-it-yourself project, but it does require some heavy lifting of asphalt sealer buckets; depending on the size of your driveway, it can take upwards of several hours to complete. In addition, the driveway cannot be walked on or driven over for two to three days after it has been sealed.
Please note that a new asphalt driveway should not be sealed for at least six to nine months after it has been installed. This is because a fair amount of time is required for the light oils in the asphalt to evaporate. If you seal a driveway prior to the evaporation of the light oils, the driveway will become soft, thus making it more susceptible to damage.
Asphalt softens up under intense summer heat. As a result, these driveways are vulnerable to damage from heavy vehicles that drive over frequently or are parked for long periods of time. Ruts can form over time due to driving on them in intense heat. Similarly, depressions can form where the wheels typically sit when parked. Lastly, the driveway edges are susceptible to compression and cracking if run over on a very hot day.
Asphalt driveways are also easier to repair than concrete driveways. There are asphalt crack fillers that can be used anywhere, anytime.
*Asphalt and Concrete Driveway Options
Asphalt driveways do not necessarily have to be black. They can be mixed with dyes to color or tint the asphalt. It is a similar story with concrete driveways: Dyes can be mixed with the concrete to deviate from the standard black or white cement. Make sure to check with your contractor to see what options they can offer you.
*Asphalt vs. Concrete Life Span
If an asphalt driveway is properly installed on a solid base and maintained regularly, it can last for 25 to 30 years. Concrete driveways can last even longer, but again, a solid foundation base is critical to maximize longevity. Otherwise, the concrete will crack over the years from use and weather.
Mark J. Donovan's website is at http://www.homeadditionplus.com.