Posted on June 14, 2018
Concrete Driveway Benefits
Here are eight key advantages of having a concrete driveway.
1. Lifecycle expense
A lower upfront cost is the primary benefit of an asphalt driveway. For some, budgetary considerations may drive their decision to go with asphalt.
However, a concrete driveway lasts longer. The service life of a concrete driveway is, on average, about 50-60 percent longer than its asphalt counterpart. As a result, the upfront cost savings of asphalt is typically offset by higher maintenance costs. The liquid binder that holds the aggregates together is subject to cracking, disintegration and distortion due to exposure to UV radiation, oxidation, water and chemicals.
2. Beauty and curb appeal
For many, the standard light gray surface offers considerable curb appeal, although creative design options exist. Colored concrete is the answer for homeowners who want a darker surface. Stamped concrete surfaces add a pleasing texture that often blends beautifully with a home's architectural design. Exposed aggregates offer a highly textured, three-dimensional look.
3. Reaction to heat and light
Do you want the heat absorption of asphalt or the heat reflectance of concrete?
Concrete pavements are cooler since they absorb less UV radiation than their asphalt counterparts. You only need to compare walking barefoot on the two types of surfaces on a hot day to appreciate the difference. Although asphalt's heat absorption is a benefit in the winter, this cold-weather advantage is countered by the consequences of having a hotter driveway in the summer.
Standard concrete's light reflectance also reduces lighting requirements. Since asphalt absorbs so much light, an asphalt driveway may require about a third more lighting than one made of concrete. With a concrete driveway, energy savings multiply for years to come.
4. Load-bearing capacity
Concrete is a rigid, non-flexible material that can handle heavier loads than asphalt. Since asphalt flexes, trucks or other heavy loads may cause rutting or other damage. In addition to a larger truck, boat or RV you may own, consider the likelihood of other heavy vehicles driving onto your property.
5. Maintenance expense
It is possible to reduce concrete maintenance costs through the use of contraction joints and penetrating sealers. Clear sealers protect against de-icers and moisture absorption. Contraction joints isolate cracking that occurs as concrete shrinks.
From the day an asphalt drive is installed, the binder begins to dry out. To slow this process, periodic sealcoating is required. Even with occasional resealing, an asphalt drive usually does not last as long as a concrete one.
6. Surface characteristics
When an asphalt driveway is first installed, it releases evaporative oils that can get on the soles of shoes. Should an oily or corrosive compound get on the asphalt surface, there is the possibility of tracking sticky, oily material into your home or vehicle. This concern is greater in hot weather. The surface of a concrete driveway is not subject to this kind of dissolution.
7. Environmental considerations
Since the embodied energy costs of a concrete driveway are lower, it is a more environmentally friendly paving solution. That is, it requires less energy overall to both produce and place concrete.
By contrast, a great deal of energy is required to heat hot mix asphalt to the required 200-250 degrees F. Sealcoating an asphalt driveway every 3-5 years consumes more petroleum products. Finally, a driveway that lasts longer does not consume as much energy through future replacement cycles.
8. Resale value
Do you think you might put your home on the market at some point? If so, put yourself in the shoes of prospective buyers for a moment. Would you prefer a home with an asphalt or a concrete driveway? A concrete driveway may make it easier to sell your home in the future, and you'll likely recover a portion of your investment when you do.
Recommended Mix for a Concrete Driveway
Concrete mixes for Pennsylvania driveways should exhibit these characteristics:
- Minimum 4000 psi
- Maximum water/cementitious ratio of .45
- Five to seven percent air entrainment
However, even a perfect concrete mix is only as good as proper placement, finishing and curing by a qualified contractor.
Although the traditional broom finish is the most common and least expensive, it is possible to choose from a wide range of decorative finishes. A broom finish roughens the surface enough to improve traction in icy and snowy conditions.
Also, it is important to avoid the use of deicing agents for 12 months after placement and to moderate their use in future seasons. The use of a concrete sealer offers added protection against the impact of deicers, and they reduce unwanted staining.
Selecting the Right Contractor
There are a number of things you should check out as you select a concrete contractor.
Determine if the contractor:
- Is registered with the PA Attorney General's Office as required by law. State law also stipulates insurance levels, and it requires the use of compliant contracts.
- Maintains a membership in a concrete trade association and/or builders association
- Is certified as a flatwork finisher by the American Concrete Institute
- Provides references and examples of their work
Once you decide on a particular concrete contractor, make sure you enter into a written contract that notes the starting and finishing dates of the project while allowing for the possibility of weather delays. Any warranties and guarantees should be clearly stated in the contract. Finally, should changes be required at any point, get them in writing.
The Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association (PACA) provides up-to-date technical, educational and promotional information about the use of concrete. For further assistance, please contact us.