The decision to launch a construction project always boils down to two major concerns. One is maintenance. If a structure is too expensive to maintain, it is too expensive to build. The other is longevity. If your new construction project has to be replaced too soon, then even if you amortize its cost you are looking at a far higher expense.
When it comes to your driveway, these concerns and others are always at the top of the list. Your costs are not limited to what you pay to have the driveway installed. There are costs of owning a concrete driveway vs. an asphalt variety. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
The first concern is weather, as over time the climate in your region of the world and the dominant weather patterns will have a far greater effect on your driveway than anything else. If you are in a hotter part of the country vs. an area that gets a lot of snow, you need to examine those considerations as part of your overall plan. Your contractor will likely have the best advice for you.
If your overall goal is a driveway that will last the longest, concrete is your best choice. From a budget perspective, concrete is more expensive, but as with all things, there is a tradeoff in choosing a material that will outlast the alternatives. Remember one of the most basic concerns is the replacement schedule. If you have to rip it up and start over too often, the cost is going to become prohibitive.
You will also want to take the total area involved into consideration. On average, concrete driveways are up to twice as expensive per square foot. If you have a large area to cover, asphalt may reduce your costs to the point where it offsets the potential of a replacement sooner rather than later.
The chief advantage of an asphalt driveway, aside from its reduced cost, is that it is easier to maintain and repair. Asphalt can be patched and filled very easily compared to the equivalent concrete material. This makes asphalt easier and less expensive to maintain over time, although such a driveway will also be more prone to damage.
If you are in a part of the country with wide temperature swings, you will want to keep in mind asphalt absorbs heat very readily and will expand and contract both with daily temperature fluctuations and the seasons. This can lead to increased breakage, wear and tear, so your maintenance costs will likely rise as a result.
One of your best resources for answers on driveway installation is your local contractor. Find one with experience building both driveways and give them a chance to evaluate your project first. It may end up saving you a considerable sum over time.