They say first impressions are important, and nowhere is that more true than your home. When people pull up to your address, what does your home's exterior and yard say about you? Perhaps you are content with your landscaping and decor, but have you considered another main feature of your home--your driveway? Driveways provide a convenient place to park your car but are used just as often as play areas and makeshift work spaces. Such a valuable and visible space should receive the same thought and care as any other element of your home. This Old House reports that 90 percent of driveways in the United States are either asphalt or concrete. If you're considering updating or repairing your old driveway, read on below to find out which material is right for you.

Cost

For many people, the first factor to consider is cost. The Citizen Tribune states that concrete generally runs about 45 percent more to install versus asphalt. Similarly, it costs more to repair a concrete driveway than it does to repair an asphalt driveway. If you have a long driveway, installing asphalt paving rather than concrete can save you 40 to 60 percent.

Climate

Your climate is an important thing to consider when choosing your driveway material. Asphalt can soften under extreme heat, leading to dimpled surfaces, whereas concrete performs well under high temperatures. On the other hand, if you live in an area that frequently experiences very cold temperatures, asphalt might be the right material for you; concrete can crack due to shrinkage during cold weather, and salt-based ice melt can damage it with extended exposure. Moreover, asphalt's dark color helps it warm more quickly when the sun is out, meaning snow and ice will melt off an asphalt surface much more quickly than a concrete one.

Maintenance

Both concrete and asphalt should be sealed every five years or so to protect them from the elements and everyday wear and tear. In most cases, properly maintained concrete driveways can last up to five decades, whereas asphalt tends to top out around 30 years.

Staining

Concrete tends to show stains from oil spills or other leaks more easily due to its light color, while asphalt's dark color camouflages most stains. But just as important to take into account is the tendency of warm asphalt to release oils that can stick to the bottom of shoes and then be tracked into the home and onto the carpet or linoleum.

Styles

When it comes to asphalt, there isn't much in the way of custom design, other than choosing the path to be paved. On the other end of the spectrum is concrete, which can be tinted, embedded with colored rocks or other decorative elements, stamped, and more.

Whether you decide on concrete or asphalt for your driveway, both will need to be installed by a professional; both will require regular maintenance; and both will provide a durable surface for your parked car, family basketball games, or weekend projects. For more information, contact local paving companies, like Construction Asphalt Paving Services Inc.

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