Ever caught yourself wondering which is better, concrete vs asphalt? You might own a driveway that is done by either one or is planning to get one done. There are looks to consider, how well they can do in a long run, which one is easier to upkeep, what’s the cost, how easy it is to install, how fast it’s done, etc.
Concrete vs asphalt roads
When it comes to concrete vs asphalt roads, the usual understanding seems to be that concrete pavement lasts longer than asphalt, but asphalt is cheaper. Why not make it all concrete then? Concrete takes longer and when it needs to be repaired, often the whole slab has to be changed. Concrete is also more slippery so in bad weather asphalt is more preferred.
Concrete pavement, as a stronger material (can handle more weight and pressure), is more preferred for heavy truck traffic. It also has better longevity from 20-40 years in some cases. Concrete pavement is also recyclable and can be used to build new roads as a bottom layer and parts can be recycled into new concrete as well.
Price and can it be recycled matters
Like mentioned earlier, asphalt has the price tag going for it. It’s also 100% recyclable and provides a smoother ride, being less noisy. Asphalt is also easier to repair, but it also breaks easier which makes some cities prefer concrete over it. It is also faster to build asphalt roads and some asphalt types are good for rural areas as they are long-lasting and don’t need so much maintenance.
Concrete pavement might last longer, but the repairing is a bigger deal like mentioned before. Concrete roads can also be bumpier rides and there is that bigger 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 polluting during building the road and there is also that shorter life span. Rain and cold winters also damage asphalt and create those potholes we all love so much. Every year resources must be used to fix those.
I guess we can come to the conclusion that concrete vs asphalt roads and which is better is very situational. We have to think about the weather during the year, the kind of traffic that we have and how often we have to maintain our roads.
Concrete vs asphalt driveway
After glancing how it is with roads, lets think about something that is a bit closer to us. Our own 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 5 easy to compare points and the last one is up to taste.
The same applies here as with concrete roads, concrete is more expensive. It also can last longer if done correctly. Concrete isn’t as hot in summer and it comes in many colors and styles, can be stamped, and all that. It is also more eco friendly if that matters.
Concrete is also more expensive to repair if cracks happen and that winter and salt problem also applies here. More about concrete driveway cost is here.
Asphalt is a cheaper option here too, 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.
I guess 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 straight go with concrete. Then again asphalt can last as long if maintained well and it is easier to repair. If I would work with cars a lot I’d pick asphalt straight away as oil always leaks.
Concrete driveway thickness
To answer how thick is a concrete driveway, non-reinforced is 4-inch standard. It should also slope away from the driveway towards the street. Even thickness is important 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. Heave vehicles should have an extra inch on the thickness of the driveway. It would be good to use rebar for the driveway structure as well to avoid it cracking. The same goes if you wonder if wire mesh necessary in a concrete driveway, it can also help it to stay together, even if cracks appear.
Asphalt driveway thickness
Asphalt driveway standard is almost half of the concrete, 2½ inches. New asphalt pavement done on top of 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 goes to show that with asphalt the underlying sub-base and its compaction are more important.
Asphalt depends on the lower layer more than the concrete driveway. Asphalt driveways first layer should have good drainage properties so water can get out. In some situations, if the driveway is mostly clay, for example, it might be necessary to remove it and replace it with different aggregates. With this in mind, the total thickness of asphalt and aggregate might be a bit higher.
Driveway thickness brings another variable to the game. Aesthetics and other things play a part, but the groundwork is important as well when we think about the final cost and work needed. This applies to both concrete and asphalt, subgrade (soil), subbase (aggregates), and base (sand for example) needs 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.
All of these things might be good to consider when thinking about the whole concrete vs asphalt business. I might also approach it by listing everything that needs to be done and making a decision from that angle by estimating the cost and trouble compared to the time it lasts.