One of the most commonly used materials found in the installation of modern driveways is concrete, with its popularity as a surface material only matched by asphalt. But why is concrete so popular, and are there any downsides to its use? Let’s take a brief look at the pros and cons of concrete driveways compared to other materials.
The Pros of Concrete Driveways
A concrete driveway will fare far better in hot climates than asphalt, and with correct maintenance a properly installed surface can last as long as 50 years. Maintenance costs are considerably lower with concrete than asphalt, and it is also less susceptible to shrink and expansion damage due to temperature changes.
Another major benefit a concrete driveway has over asphalt is its low upkeep requirements; as you only need to pressure wash the surface every few years, compared to the sealants required by an asphalt surface. A concrete driveway is also less susceptible to damage from oils and gasoline spillages, but sadly such spills tend to leave more obvious stains on concrete and can ruin the aesthetic appearance.
However, if aesthetics are a major draw for you and you can keep stains at bay then the options for finishing your concrete driveway are numerous. Many more decorative elements are available for concrete surfaces than for other materials, with a variety of staining and stamping techniques enabling you to personalise the look of your driveway with ease.
The Cons of Concrete Driveways
Whilst nowhere near as expensive as brick paving, a concrete driveway will cost you approximately 45% more to install than an asphalt one, and you cannot use the surface for seven days after installation. If you are covering a large surface area it can be far more economical to install an asphalt driveway, especially since patching and repairing concrete can become expensive.
Additionally, if you live in a cold climate your concrete driveway may not fare as well as other surfaces, as despite its hard-wearing nature it is prone to some very specific problems. An incorrectly lain concrete driveway which has been placed on top of loose gravel can suffer frost heave, and the salt and grit used in de-icing roads can affect your concrete surface detrimentally, as can several chemical de-icing products.
With concrete’s tendency to crack under extreme pressure and weather conditions you will undoubtedly need to repair and patch the surface regularly, and unfortunately this is far more apparent on a concrete surface than with an asphalt one.