Concrete or Asphalt for West Michigan Driveways?
West Michigan driveways face nonstop wear and tear, both from daily vehicle traffic and a wide range of temperature and weather conditions season after season. But, despite these demanding conditions, you still find both asphalt and concrete driveways all across West Michigan.
Which of these two common options is the better driveway material for our climate, and what are the pros and cons of each?
What they have in common:
- Both surfaces require a well-compacted gravel base prior to application and should be graded for water management.
- Both are made from stone and sand but use a different adhesive mix for each. The binding used in asphalt is tar, while the binding used in concrete is cement.
- Both, when laid well and maintained, can offer a smooth and functional surface with a long functional lifespan.
Asphalt and Concrete Differences:
While both surfaces need time to cure (harden) before they can be driven over by vehicles, asphalt cures far faster and can be used within a few hours of being laid. Concrete, on the other hand, takes several days depending on the current temperature and humidity.
If your car has a leak, it often means oil or gas stains getting onto your parking surfaces. Asphalt, due to its dark coloration, is better at hiding these stains while the lighter color of concrete leaves them very obvious.
In general, asphalt driveways require more service than concrete. However, sealcoating or crack repairs are typically fast, cheap, and low profile. Concrete, when it does crack or need a repair, often requires the removal of entire paving sections which are then re-paved with new concrete. This process is more demanding, expensive, and time consuming.
When it comes to severe Michigan weather, asphalt driveways perform much better than concrete. Because asphalt is flexible it can move and flex through extreme moisture and temperature shifts. This is in contrast to concrete, which is unyielding and more likely to crack in extremely cold conditions.