Driveways: Concrete or Asphalt?

What are the trade-offs between concrete and asphalt driveways? What is a rough price ratio between the two? Finally, my yard is at a low point in the neighborhood and, as a result, my driveway collects a lot of water. In the last five years I have seen it sink quite a bit (what appears to be several inches in some places). Is either concrete or asphalt better for stability or does it have more to do with what is under the driveway?

Concrete is nicer in just about every respect. But asphalt is cheaper to put down. Concrete is pretty much maintenance-free, and high performance (re: higher compressive strength). Asphalt must be maintained (sealed, etc.), and is softer. But as mentioned, it’s also cheaper to put down.

Yeah, you’re talking about a few dollars a square foot compared to a couple hundred a cubic yard for crete. However, concrete, if installed correctly will last for a looooonnngggg time. Asphalt usually fails more quickly, cracks, heaves, etc.

A couple of other considerations…

What types of drives are in the neighborhood. If you’re the only one with an asphalt drive, it may devalue your home and piss your neighbors off.

Also, how long do you intend to live there. A concrete drive is wonderful but if you only intend to live in the house a few years, perhaps an asphalt drive would be more appropriate.

If you should go the asphalt route, be sure to buy the correct asphalt!

I know a guy who did his driveway in asphalt by himself. When he was finished, he was all proud about how nice it looked. Few days later it rained and ALL the asphalt went pouring down the driveway, into the street, clogged up the drains and made the whole neighborhood look like shit. The neighbors about killed him. I believe he bought some kind of tar or something that was not at all designed for driveways, which he found out the hard way.

Asphalt is flexible whereas concrete isn’t. If the ground under your driveway should move for any reason (e.g.: subsidence), the asphalt will move quite a bit before breaking up and is easy to repair. Concrete breaks apart easier and repair isn’t really an option.

Actually, concrete is repaired all the time. There are many cold patch options for doing so that can last as well as the original.

Sounds to me like you’re planning on applying a large asphalt or concrete band-aid over a water run-off / drainage problem.

To avoid future problems, take care of the water problem first. There are a whole host of D-I-Y drainage grates (like this) & catch basin systems (Flo-Well or Envirochambers) out there on the market. Correcting you drainage / pooling problem either with diffusion products or a regrading of the driveway should be the first consideration incorporated into the job - with material choice 2nd…

If the damage isn’t too severe, yes. Point is, there isn’t much that can be done to asphalt which would require replacement.

I’m not so sure I’ve seen too many concrete drives that were either actually patched, or where the patch actually looked good. Since the OP is in Illinois, can we assume that winter actually occurs there? For some reason I am wondering if the expansion gaps in the concrete won’t make shovelling a hassle, or plowing for that matter.

Also worth noting is that they now have asphalt repair equipment that just re-heats the material and makes it good as new.

True enough. In any case, the more important issue is correct preparation of the subsurface. If that’s done right, you shouldn’t have any future problems, barring a major earthquake.

As pointed out Asphalt just doesn’t last al long as concrete. But other factors to be considered: I personally think concrete driveways look like crap (my personal opinion YMMV). Concrete provides more traction, not a big issue usually in driveways. Asphalt ‘flows’ so it you plan to park a SUV (a real SUV, not a Rav 4 or simular weight) on the driveway or drive the same ‘pattern’ into/out of the garage ruts will develop, concrete won’t.

What do you have now???

Thanks all for your help. I was planning on going asphalt since we will only be here another year or two, but I wanted to make sure there wasn’t a really good reason to go concrete (particularily related to drainage).

Thanks for the links JohnBckWLD - a drain makes a lot of sense for our situation. We are working through the water issues before doing the driveway for the precise reason you mentioned.

Thanks kanicbird. I don’t have anything too heavy - just an Integra.