Driveways are an essential feature for any suburban home. They create a first impression for visitors and for those who are just passing by. Not to mention that a good driveway can boost a home’s value in addition to curb appeal.
Most homeowners who need to install a new driveway are often left wondering if they should pick asphalt or concrete. To help you make an educated decision, we made this guide about all the basics of an asphalt driveway.
Why Are Asphalt Driveways So Popular?
In recent years, more homeowners have selected to install asphalt driveways instead of concrete. A major reason for this is aesthetics alone. Asphalt pavements are smoother and provide a more welcoming experience.
Additionally, asphalt’s black color can complement other aspects of your home’s exterior. A beautiful painted house or green lawn pairs nicely with a black driveway.
Asphalt vs. Concrete
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are some more objective reasons to choose asphalt over concrete.
- Installation time: Asphalt is much quicker to install than concrete. Generally, concrete needs 7 days to cure, whereas asphalt is ready to use almost immediately.
- Cost: Asphalt is almost always cheaper than concrete. Typically, asphalt driveways are about 40% cheaper than plain gray concrete.
- Winter hardiness: Asphalt can tolerate salt and ice melt much better than concrete.
- Flexibility: Compared to concrete, asphalt is a much more flexible material. This means it is less likely to crack than concrete slabs. If asphalt cracks, it is likely to be isolated compared to long fault lines that are found in concrete.
- DIY repairs: Asphalt repairs are usually easier for DIY enthusiasts. Most homeowners can easily maintain an asphalt driveway on their own, including resurfacing and resealing. Repairs on concrete tend to be very visible, and usually need to be completed by experts to help keep repair blemishes more hidden.
How Much Do Asphalt Driveways Cost?
Many variables influence the cost of new asphalt driveways. Here are the most significant ones:
- Location: The location of your driveway can be a major factor. For example, driveways behind the house will need a longer driveway, thus increasing the cost.
- Total surface area: Bigger driveways will have bigger costs. Asphalt material is charged by the ton, and more material is needed for larger driveways. A ton of asphalt can generally cover 40-80 square feet, depending on the needed thickness.
- Labor costs: Generally, labor will cost between $5-7 per square foot. The actual labor cost will fluctuate based on how much prep work needs to be done, eg. stump removal or rock removal.
- Sealing: It is highly recommended that all asphalt driveways be sealed. This usually costs about $3-7 per square foot.
- Widening: If you plan on building a wider driveway, this will increase the cost. This is influenced by tree removal, debris removal, grading, etc.
- Heated driveway: Many homeowners in Minnesota love heated driveways. This makes snow removal much easier in the winter. Making a driveway heated usually adds $12-25 per square foot.
- Excavation and grading: Land that needs to be excavated and graded will increase the cost to any driveway. The actual cost will vary greatly for individual properties, but don’t be surprised if this adds $1,000- 5,000 to the project.
- Surface excavation: Depending on your property, there may need to be some basic excavation work that needs to be completed before installation. This will vary a great deal from project to project.
Different Types of Asphalt
There are several types of asphalt to choose from, and each come with their own costs and benefits:
- Recycled: $10-20 per ton. Recycled or reclaimed asphalt is a way to make your driveway more environmentally friendly. It does have some downsides, like not being as black as new asphalt. Talk to your contractor if mixing recycled and new asphalt is a reasonable compromise.
- Stamped: $12-17 per ton. Stamped asphalt can add a fun aesthetic to your driveway. Stamping asphalt can make it look like it is made from brick, stone, or slate.
- Porous: $8-15 per ton. Porous asphalt is another way to make your driveway more environmentally friendly. Instead of stormwater flushing into the gutter, porous asphalt will allow some runoff to seep into the ground. This helps keep ice melt and motor oil out of rivers and streams.
- Colored: $12-17 per ton. Color can be added to just about any asphalt. This is often used in conjunction with stamped asphalt to give it a red brick color.
Are Asphalt Driveways Environmentally Friendly?
With most environmental questions, the answer is “it depends.” However, it is easy to make your asphalt driveway more eco-friendly. For starters, asphalt is 100% recyclable. Each year, about 65 million tons of asphalt are recycled. Not only that, but new asphalt can be produced from other recycled materials such as tires, glass, roofing shingles, and blast furnace slag.
If you want to go the extra mile in making your asphalt driveway eco-friendly, opt for a porous driveway. A porous driveway will allow the stormwater that is carrying ice melt, and motor oil to seep into the ground instead of finding its way to a stream or lake.
Additionally, porous asphalt can reduce summer heat. We’ve all experienced walking barefoot on concrete or asphalt in summer as a kid. It is a mistake that most of us only make once in our lives. But porous asphalt can minimize this “urban heat island” effect. By having pores that make contact with the ground, porous asphalt tends to release its stored up heat during the nighttime.
Asphalt driveways are an excellent choice for any homeowner. They are more stylish, tend to have cheaper installations, and can be made eco-friendly. Additionally, they tend to be easier to maintain when compared to concrete. If you have any questions about asphalt driveways, or would like to request a quote, don’t hesitate to contact Richfield Blacktop today!