• Home
  • /Articles
  • /Concrete or Asphalt: Which Makes a Better Driveway?

Concrete or Asphalt: Which Makes a Better Driveway?

Concrete driveways are superior

Driveway Contractors in Tulsa Prefer Concrete for Good Reason

Have you ever noticed that the majority of residential driveways in the Tulsa area are made with concrete rather than asphalt? You’ve probably seen it, but perhaps you’ve never considered why that’s the case—at least, not until your own home’s driveway begins to show signs that it needs some care. When you notice cracks, potholes and stains, you can’t help wondering how best to add value and curb appeal to your home driveway.

And that’s when the questions arise: What’s the difference between concrete and asphalt? Is a concrete driveway better than an asphalt driveway? Does it matter which you choose for your Tulsa area home? What are the pros and cons of each?

As a residential concrete contractor, our team hears these questions often, and we want you to make a good decision that fits your home’s needs. Here’s a look at how concrete driveways compare to asphalt, and why homeowners in our region of the country turn so frequently to concrete as their solution of choice for their residential driveway.

How Concrete and Asphalt Are Made

Concrete’s Makeup

Concrete is a mixture of water, Portland cement (a powdery combination of clay and limestone), and about 75% of what is known as aggregate (a mix of sand, crushed stones, gravels, and shells).

Asphalt’s Makeup

Asphalt is made up of two ingredients—liquid asphalt (aka tar, which is a petroleum-based product), combined with about 90-95% aggregate.

How Concrete and Asphalt Driveways Compare

Of course, the way concrete and asphalt are made isn’t the only way these two driveway options compare. In fact, there are several areas in which concrete can be advantageous, particularly for your residential concrete needs. Here’s a closer look:

1. Longevity

The average lifespan of an asphalt driveway is 10 to 15 years, while a concrete driveway typically lasts around 20-30 years, in some cases as much as 40 years. This difference in longevity is even more pronounced when the concrete is carefully laid by an experienced residential concrete contractor, properly sealed, and well cared for.

Concrete is a clear winner here, making it an especially good option for those who plan to stay in their home for many years.

2. Weather Resistance

In Tulsa and the surrounding areas, hot summers combined with rainy seasons and occasionally icy winters make concrete a better choice. Here’s why.

Asphalt is susceptible to high temperatures, and can soften and become sticky in the hot sun—which means that Tulsa’s frequent 100-degree heat in the summertime can be rough on asphalt.

But concrete handles the heat very well. And while it can be susceptible to repeated cold and icy weather, our occasional ice and snow are less likely to wear down concrete driveways, especially if they are properly sealed. Just avoid using salt to melt the ice and snow, because salt is tough on concrete.

3. Care and Maintenance

Over time, asphalt tends to need more frequent care than concrete. Asphalt needs to be resealed every 2-3 years, and recoated completely every 5-10 years. It also deteriorates faster than concrete, so it will need more regular patching.

By comparison, concrete that is properly laid and sealed by a trained residential concrete contractor needs resealing less often—about every 5 years or so. It is less likely to crack under the weight of cars and trucks. But it tends to show stains, so it should be sealed and cleaned regularly.

4. Color Options

Concrete is easily tinted to be just about any color you like. Use black or grey to mimic asphalt, or get creative and use shades like brown, adobe red, or multiple colors to mimic the look of stone. The tints are permanent, giving you lasting results.

By comparison, asphalt is only available in dark grey or black. When freshly laid, it will look neat and traditional, but it won’t provide customizable style to your driveway the way concrete can.

5. Specialty Designs

Concrete can be stamped to take on a variety of looks. This versatility allows your residential concrete driveway to feature creative and colorful designs, or to mimic the look of brick, stone or tile. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Asphalt, by contrast, isn’t a material you can imprint. In fact, it performs and looks its best when it is smooth. Freshly laid asphalt will look nice, but it lacks the eye-catching curb appeal of stamped concrete.

6. Sustainability

In terms of eco-friendliness, concrete and asphalt are pretty similar. One isn’t necessarily going to create a smaller or bigger carbon footprint than the other. But for those who prefer to reduce their use of petroleum products (which is a component in asphalt), choosing concrete is one way to do so.

7. Cost of Concrete vs. Asphalt Driveway

When it comes to a straight cost per square foot comparison, asphalt is typically less expensive than concrete, requiring a lower initial investment for your new driveway. For those on a very tight budget or who are doing minimal upgrades for a rental property, asphalt may be appealing.

Keep in mind, though, that material and installation are not the only costs to consider. To make the best decision, think about the added costs vs. benefits your driveway will provide you. Asphalt’s higher maintenance requires more long-term budgeting than concrete’s lower maintenance. And specialty concrete adds overall home value that can be advantageous when you decide it’s time to sell.

Turn to Tulsa’s Top Concrete Driveway Contractor

Our team at Falcon Exteriors is here to help you create attractive, durable concrete solutions for all your home needs. To get a picture of the beautiful results you can enjoy from a residential concrete driveway, check out our residential concrete services, and reach out to our team with questions or to receive a free quote.