The cost of replacing a driveway with concrete will cost on average $5-7 per square foot.
As is the same with everything, price and quality may vary so it is important to get multiple quotes as well as weigh your options with pavement type.
When looking to replace your driveway, the two most common options you will most likely ask yourself “what is cheaper, asphalt or concrete?”
Of the two, concrete has a higher upfront cost, however, asphalt has a higher maintenance cost.
Up Front Costs (Asphalt is Better)
With concrete you will be spending around $5-7 per square foot and around $7-10 per square foot for more high end contractors. Yes there is such a thing as “high-end” concrete contractors.
As some say “you get what you pay for”, I believe the best way to find a contractor is through referrals of people you trust. Most residential concrete contractors are non union, but if it is important to you to hire a union company, there are plenty that will do residential work and they will do it well.
With asphalt you will be spending around $2-4 per square foot, making this about half of the upfront cost opposed to choosing a concrete driveway. However, as you receive quotes from contractors, you will notice asphalt being slightly more expensive than “half of concrete” because labor costs are going to be where most of your expense goes.
When it comes to upfront costs, Concrete is more expensive.
True cost of a driveway is very important to consider when you plan on living at the residence for a long time.
In general, a properly installed concrete driveway will last around 30 years before it becomes worn down and loses structural integrity. The less abuse the concrete takes from weather, weight, salt, and chemicals, the longer it will last you.
Concrete requires zero maintenance and does not need to be touched again after it is initially installed. With that being said, I always tell my clients that it is in your benefit to power wash and seal your driveway every other year, especially if you live in cold weather climates where concrete is exposed to a lot of salt.
Asphalt on the other hand requires maintenance every 2 years costing you $2 per square foot on average. Also, asphalt will only last you at best 15 years depending on how well maintained the driveway is over the years.
When it comes to True Cost, Asphalt is more Expensive.
Now that you know the general costs involved with replacing your driveway and understand True Cost versus Up Front costs of the two paving options, it is time to dive into what the difference is between asphalt and concrete.
Here are the general differences between the two paving materials and how they may benefit you.
Concrete is extremely strong and durable, bringing you the phrase “hard as a rock”. Concrete is composed of rocks, sand, water, and cement bonding together and curing in a process to create a beautiful and rock solid driveway.
Asphalt is primarily made out of crude oil, sand, and rocks, making it a softer compound than concrete. Asphalt tends to get very soft in the heat as well.
Both concrete and asphalt will crack. In good practice, concrete driveways will be cut with “control joints” either in the finishing process or quickly after to help control the direction of the cracks that will occur in all concrete driveways. This keeps the cracks from spreading and it also helps keep the driveway looking beautiful.
Most people do not even realize their concrete is cracked because the control joints hide them perfectly.
Asphalt cracks as well and has ways of managing them that may not be as pretty. When asphalt cracks you can fill the crack with tar, as you see on most driveways or roads. You can also cover the entire driveway with a seal coat covering any and all cracks. You will probably have to do that every 3 years or so if you want your asphalt driveway looking new.
Concrete and Asphalt vary greatly in this category and may be a deal breaker for some people.
If aesthetics are important to you, concrete may be your better option because it has many different styles and patterns of finishes. Asphalt on the other hand has no options for finishing.
Concrete can also come in a variety of colors, giving you many options when replacing your driveway. Asphalt is offered in the classic black.
If concrete cracks outside of the control joints and the stone base is washed away or compromised, concrete can split and cause a danger when walking. Fixing a crack concrete usually costs more than the repairs to fix a crack in asphalt.
You can mostly avoid dealing with concrete repairs by choosing the right contractor. If you hire a really good concrete contractor, they will provide a solid stone base, use the necessary reinforcement, and pour a nice thick slab; all of which ensure a quality concrete driveway.
If you hire a contractor who values money over quality, you may run into some serious problems. They may not take the time to give you a proper stone base and may pour concrete directly on dirt or a soft base. They may not use reinforcement at all because it is too expensive for them. And they also may pour a thinner slab to save on concrete costs.
Obviously they do not tell you this when you hire them, so it is important to see their previous work, make sure they are referred from a person you trust, and ask many question to gauge the quality of their character.
Repairing asphalt is extremely easy and comes mostly with the 3 year maintenance seal coating. If asphalt is properly maintained and you spend the money to keep it fresh and nice, you should not run into any major problems.
However, asphalt that is unkept can turn into rubble very quickly and the only remedy would be to completely replace your driveway again, adding a second “upfront cost”.
All in all, concrete and asphalt are the most popular choices when replacing your driveway. Asphalt has less upfront cost, more upkeep, and less reliable; but a cost effective choice for a short term resident or if you do not have the money upfront now to replace your driveway.
Concrete has a higher upfront cost, less upkeep, and very reliable; however, is more of an investment today than asphalt.
My advice is to create your budget, decide if you are okay with maintenance, and see what finishing options there are for concrete and make your best educated decision.
If you have any questions or concerns, comment below and I will be more than happy to help you make a decision replacing your driveway.