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Asphalt or Concrete? The Pros & Cons of Each

It’s time for you to install a new driveway or parking lot and the first question that comes to mind is: asphalt or concrete? Of course there are advantages and disadvantages of each, so today we’ll look at the pros and cons of asphalt and concrete to help you make your decision.

Asphalt

Asphalt pavement is a mix of stones, sand and liquid asphalt cement. These components are heated and mixed together in exact proportions to create the right balance and consistency. It is added to a prepared base or subgrade while it is still hot. After this, the mixture cools and hardens quickly, and you can drive or park on it typically within 24 hours.

Pros of Asphalt

  • Installation Time: As we just mentioned, asphalt cools down and hardens fast – you’ll be able to drive and park on the surface in about 24 hours.
  • Cost: An asphalt driveway costs considerably less than concrete – typically between $2 and $5 per square foot.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Asphalt maintenance is much easier than concrete maintenance. You can seal coat, resurface, repair cracks and more.
  • Flexibility: Asphalt is designed to shrink and expand, so it is less impacted by extreme pressure, temperature, or surface movement.

Cons of Asphalt

  • Lifespan: Asphalt paving doesn’t last quite as long as concrete. An estimate for the Austin area is about 25 years (whereas concrete can last up to 30 years).
  • Amount of Maintenance: Asphalt paved surfaces tend to require more maintenance than concrete; for example, seal coating should be performed every three years. Although the amount of maintenance is a disadvantage, as we mentioned in the Pros section, the maintenance is easier to do.

Concrete

Concrete is gravel that is mixed with water and cement. The surface of the ground is first properly prepared, to make sure it is even and compacted. Next, reinforcing steel bars are placed to add strength. Finally, the concrete is mixed and poured into place at a minimum thickness of four inches. It then dries and sets slowly – after about one week it is okay to drive and park on the concrete surface.

Pros of Concrete

  • Lifespan: Concrete paving lasts longer than asphalt. A concrete driveway or parking lot can last up to 30 years.
  • Amount of Maintenance: Concrete surfaces not only last a long time, they also require less regular maintenance to keep them in top shape.

Cons of Concrete

  • Installation Time: While you can drive and park on an asphalt driveway in about 24 hours, you’ll have to wait about 7 days for a concrete driveway to dry and set.
  • Cost: Concrete is more expensive than asphalt – typically between $3 and $10 per square foot.
  • Ease of Maintenance: We mentioned that concrete surfaces require less maintenance than asphalt; however, when maintenance needs to be performed, concrete repairs are much more difficult (and often costlier) than asphalt.
  • Flexibility: Concrete is not a very flexible material. Because of this it can crack under conditions such as extreme pressure, extreme temperature, or surface movement.

A final difference between asphalt and concrete is the appearance – asphalt is black and concrete is white (although it can be stained, tinted, or stamped with designs). Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the pros and cons of color will depend on your preferences. Asphalt and concrete each have unique advantages and disadvantages, so if you are trying to decide between the two, there is no right answer. Asphalt or concrete? Review the pros and cons in this article to make the choice that is right for you.

Integrity Paving & Coatings offers both asphalt paving and concrete paving, as well as all the maintenance and repairs you need to keep your paved surfaces in top shape. Once you have made your decision, give us a call at (512) 853-9009 for a free on-site consultation.

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