Driveways – Paving, Concrete, or Asphalt
What material is best for driveways – brick paving, concrete or asphalt?
Many people ask this question. Because your driveway makes a big first impression. Which will either add to or diminish, the appearance of your property. A great driveway can contribute considerably to the resale value if it enhances the overall look of the house and yard.
Whether you’re installing a new driveway from scratch, or renovating your existing driveway, selecting the right material is crucial. There are three main options to choose from, and each has its pros and cons when it comes to price, durability, maintenance, aesthetics and eco-friendliness.
Besides choosing the size, shape, and surface material of the driveway there are other determining factors. For example, aesthetic and practical issues, such as the:
- Architectural style of your house;
- Amount of space you have;
- Number of vehicles you need to accommodate,
- Your budget.
You will achieve the desired result if you consider these factors to make the best choices. No matter if you want a driveway that is simple and functional or eye-catching and elegant. Here are the pros and cons of each so you can choose between driveway paving concrete or asphalt.
The three most popular choices of driveway material in South Africa are – in order of popularity:
The Differences Between Concrete and Asphalt
Both are basically a mixture of sand and stone with a different adhesive to hold the components together. It is tar for asphalt and cement for concrete. The characteristics of those adhesives are the differences between the two. For both advantages and disadvantages. Either type of driveway will fail within a few years due to poor installation and neglect of proper maintenance.
Concrete driveways have been around for decades.
Some people consider them old-fashioned and not at all stylish. Yet, there are options for customising your concrete driveway. Now you can tint or stamp a concrete driveway. Or you can finish it with an exposed aggregate surface. But, this increases the cost. Stamped concrete is pretty slippery and will need to cure for a few days before using it. Concrete is very strong and endures both force and weight with no damage. Yet, force below the surface of the concrete often results in cracks. Coloured concrete looks nice, but it is more likely to crack than standard grey concrete. Stamping concrete is an affordable way to imitate the look of natural stone or brick without having to pay for the real thing. While it’s not a must-do for concrete driveways, sealing the concrete reduced the fading. Do this for a tinted driveway to preserve the colour for longer. Proprietary rubber patterns that create effects resembling natural stone, and preconfigured patterns that look like bricks or cobblestones, are available but are hard to find. Tinted and stamped concrete driveways are a fairly recent option in South Africa, but in North America and Europe, it has been popular for a long time. There aren’t many concrete paving contractors in South Africa who offer these specialist services. Be aware of the unscrupulous ones who make promises that they can’t deliver on. Concrete is cheap and durable. But standard grey concrete doesn’t look very nice and isn’t likely to increase the value of your home.
Asphalt is a good choice if you want a streamlined appearance that matches the street.
You must allow a few months after installation for full curing of your asphalt driveway. Then you have to seal it to protect the surface and lengthen its lifespan. Thereafter you’ll need to reseal it every three to five years. In very hot weather an asphalt driveway becomes gooey or sticky. It re-hardens again when the temperature drops. The cycle of softening in high heat, then re-hardening when it cools down, can cause asphalt to crack or sag. When it comes to engine oil, gas drips, rust, and the rugged use driveways typically endure, the dark surface and matte finish of asphalt hides most stains and wear very well. Concrete, however, tends to show every mark and spill, so you’ll need to do more aggressive cleaning and degreasing to maintain its good looks. While both asphalt and concrete crack, asphalt tends to deteriorate faster due to its softer consistency. Yet, it’s fairly easy to repair cracks and damage in asphalt, and the repaired areas generally blend well with the rest of the driveway. It’s also relatively easy to apply a new topcoat of asphalt if the surface is heavily marred or showing its age. Concrete is tougher to repair, and patched spots are usually fairly obvious unless you plan on resurfacing the whole driveway. Asphalt driveways cost less than poured concrete, and you can drive on them almost right away. When you choose concrete, you’ll typically have to wait about a week before you can drive on it. That is something to consider if you can’t arrange alternative parking. This might not be a problem for a residential driveway, but it can be an issue for a business with a steady flow of customers each day.
When comparing paving vs. concrete vs asphalt, it is easy to see why paving is the superior driveway option. It is widely regarded to be the most sophisticated, but it is also more expensive than standard concrete, or asphalt. However, its beauty, value, and durability make up for it.
Paving is a far more attractive surface than poured concrete or asphalt. Paving is very durable and has good drainage properties because water can escape through the gaps. They do tend to become uneven over time, but it is easy to fix by uplifting and relaying the section. This cannot be done with concrete or asphalt.
There are different types of pavers. These are categorised as:
- Clay brick pavers
- Cement brick pavers
- Cement flagstones
- Cement cobbles
- Simulated stone cobbles
- Simulated stone flagstones
Clay brick pavers make a very attractive classic paving surface that works well with almost any type of house. The colour never fades, it has the longest lifespan and requires very little maintenance. However, clay brick paving offers fewer design options. Clay brick pavers can be laid in different patterns, but the sizes are all rectangular, and colours are limited to browns and reds.
Cement brick pavers or simulated stone cobbles and flagstones offer a big variety. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colours, textures and finishes. These pavers provide the flexibility to design a unique driveway.
Simulated stone pavers, in particular, are sought-after and generally seen as the top of the range paver. They are usually the most expensive too, but also add the most value to your property.
Last, but not least; think long term.
So, while paving tends to be more expensive up front, you’ll save money in the long run. Bricks, cobbles and flagstones are durable and need very little maintenance. It is one of the best investments you can make when constructing your driveway.
Resist cutting corners to save a little time or money. You don’t want to revisit this project in the future. Nothing is more expensive or time-consuming than doing the job right the second time.