concrete vs asphalt

Which is better – concrete vs asphalt

Have you ever wondered which is better, concrete or asphalt? You might own a driveway done by either one or are planning to get one done.

There are looks to consider: how well they can do in the long run, which is easier to upkeep, what’s the cost, how easy it is to install, how fast it’s done, etc.

Concrete vs asphalt roads

The usual understanding of concrete vs asphalt roads is that concrete pavement lasts longer than asphalt, but asphalt is cheaper. Why not make it all concrete, then?

Concrete takes longer, and the whole slab often has to be changed when it needs to be repaired. Concrete is also more slippery, so in bad weather, asphalt is preferred.

Concrete pavement, as a more substantial material (can handle more weight and pressure), is preferred for heavy truck traffic. It also has better longevity, from 20 to 40 years in some cases.

Concrete pavement is also recyclable and can be used to build new roads as a bottom layer. Parts can be recycled into new concrete as well.

Price and whether it can be recycled matters

As mentioned earlier, asphalt has the price tag going for it. It’s also 100% recyclable, provides a smoother ride, and is less noisy. Asphalt is also easier to repair, but it also breaks more quickly, which makes some cities prefer concrete over it.

It is also faster to build asphalt roads, and some asphalt types are suitable for rural areas as they are long-lasting and don’t need so much maintenance.

Disadvantages

Concrete pavement might last longer, but the repairing is a bigger deal, as mentioned before. Concrete roads can also be bumpier rides, and there is that more significant danger of sliding on rain and snow.

Salt in winter can also eat the concrete, which is why some places have no salt policies.

Asphalt disadvantages are pollution while the road is being built and there is also a shorter life span. Rain and cold winters also damage asphalt and create those potholes we love. Every year, resources must be used to fix those.

We can conclude that concrete vs asphalt roads and which is better is very situational. We have to consider the weather during the year, the kind of traffic we have, and how often we have to maintain our roads.

When thinking about concrete vs asphalt roads, the traffic must be considered.

Concrete vs asphalt driveway

After glancing at how it is with roads, let’s think about something closer to us—our driveways.

All the things mentioned with roads still matter here. We need to think about cost, tolerance to weather, how long it can last, maintenance, and which is more pleasing to our eyes. That’s five easy-to-comply comparison points; the last one is up to taste.

The same applies here to concrete roads; concrete is more expensive. It also can last longer if done correctly.

Concrete is warmer in summer, comes in many colors and styles, can be stamped, and more. It is also more eco-friendly if that matters.

Concrete is also more expensive to repair if cracks happen; that winter and salt problem also applies here. More about concrete driveway cost is here.

Asphalt is a cheaper option here, too, and it can even be half the price of concrete in some places. Depending on other factors as well, such as groundwork needed, etc.

It’s easier to repair than concrete, but it’s also softer and needs more repair. Unlike concrete, asphalt doesn’t crack as it expands and shrinks with the weather. It’s also harder to notice dirt on asphalt.

It comes down to taste and expectations with this comparison. Asphalt driveway cost vs concrete is hard to estimate in the long run.

If I was going to live somewhere for 20+ years, I might go with concrete. Then again, asphalt can last as long if maintained well and is easier to repair. If I worked with cars often, I’d pick asphalt immediately as oil always leaks.

Concrete driveway thickness

To answer how thick a concrete driveway is, non-reinforced is the 4-inch standard. It should also slope away from the driveway towards the street. Even thickness is essential to avoid cracks over time.

The number of vehicles and how heavy they are should be noted when planning the thickness to avoid unnecessary trouble. Heavy vehicles should have an extra inch of thickness on the driveway.

It would also be good to use rebar for the driveway structure to avoid cracking. The same goes if you wonder if wire mesh is necessary for a concrete driveway; it can also help it to stay together, even if cracks appear.

Asphalt driveway thickness

The asphalt driveway standard is almost half of the concrete, 2½ inches. New asphalt pavement done on the old one can be 2 inches. With heavy vehicles and traffic, it can be two times 2½ that will set to 4 inches after paving. This shows that the underlying sub-base and its compaction are more critical with asphalt.

Asphalt depends on the lower layer more than the concrete driveway. Asphalt driveway’s first layer should have good drainage properties so water can get out.

In some situations, if the driveway is mostly clay, removing it and replacing it with different aggregates is necessary. With this in mind, the total thickness of asphalt and aggregate might be slightly higher.

Conclusion

Driveway thickness brings another variable to the game. Aesthetics and other things play a part, but the groundwork is essential when considering the final cost and work needed.

This applies to both concrete and asphalt; subgrade (soil), subbase (aggregates), and base (sand, for example) need to be well done to make a concrete slab or asphalt.

The slab can be done on soil, but it might cause some trouble later if the ground is muddy or uneven. So it’s good to use subbase materials and even base to be on the safe side. Also, the drainage will work well, like with asphalt.

These things might be good to consider when considering the whole concrete vs asphalt business. I also approach it by listing everything that needs to be done and deciding from that angle by estimating the cost and trouble compared to the time it lasts.