The pavement we drive on every day is more important that we give it credit for. When we’re driving on really bad pavement, we definitely notice it. Apart from being an inconvenience, it can wreak havoc on tires, axels, and steering systems. When pavement is really nice — smooth and professionally installed — people also tend to notice. There’s nothing like a perfectly smooth, aesthetically pleasing paved surface to drive, walk or cycle on.

So how important is the material used? In particular, are asphalt surfaced noticeably (and statistically) better than concrete, or vice versa? Knowing the answer might be nothing more than a curiosity for some — but when you’re investing in your own driveway or parking lot, it becomes much more interesting to know the difference between these two common materials.

Pros and cons

The reality is, both of these materials have their pros and cons. Which one will be better for your residential or commercial project? It depends on a few difference variables, including the usage and weight to which the pavement will be subject, the local climate and seasonal weather patterns, and various other factors. Let’s break the difference between these two materials down further.

Cost

The difference in cost between asphalt and concrete is obviously going to be a very important consideration for the average home or business owner. Driveways and parking lots are expenses that we would rather keep as low as possible, as long as we’re getting a good long-term value.

Asphalt is undoubtedly cheaper than concrete. This is true no matter where you go in the country, or what local market you’re searching. People also like the dark color of asphalt. It doesn’t show wear and tear as much, and it’s difficult to stain. Asphalt is also incredibly durable, with an expected lifespan of 10-20 years (when installed correctly). It usually costs between $2 and $6 per square foot.

Concrete comes at nearly twice the cost. However, it’s important to take into account that concrete typically lasts 20-30 years or even more, when expertly mixed and installed. When it comes to cost, the overall lifespan and value of the installation has to be taken into account.

Durability

We’ve already hinted that concrete is more durable than asphalt, and this is true. However, asphalt is still very, very durable. Considering the lower price point, the fact that asphalt is completely recyclable, there is a very strong case for choosing it over concrete. But if you’re going for durability (and some of the other ‘pros’ of this material) then concrete is a great choice.

Maintenance requirements

Sealcoating and more frequent cracking are two reasons why asphalt requires more maintenance than concrete. Asphalt should be sealcoating every 1-2 years, while concrete doesn’t require this service. Lower maintenance requirements are definitely one reason why people love concrete.

Appearance

The appearance of asphalt versus concrete is down to personal preferences. It’s worth noting that concrete can actually be mixed in different tints and colors. It’s much more difficult to manage the color of asphalt — although many people like the simple, black (or dark gray) appearance anyway.

So what’s the better choice?

For its price point and overall value, asphalt remains the more popular choice. But the fact of the matter is, there’s a strong case for both asphalt and concrete. Finding a quality pavement specialist who regularly installs both materials will help you to find the best material for your unique location and personal tastes.