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Choosing the Best Paving Materials for Your Driveway – Concrete Pavers vs. Asphalt

Driveways carry a lot of weight, literally. In addition to holding up under years of vehicle traffic, your driveway plays a big role in your home’s curb appeal. Choosing the right paving material is an important consideration.

Asphalt is arguably the most tempting solution for your driveway because of its lower cost, but how well does it stand up to time compared to paving stones? Let’s take a closer look.

Durability

Pavers are designed to stand up to heavy loads such as the weight of a vehicle, and harsh freeze-thaw cycles. Unilock pavers have some of the highest compressive strength and lowest water absorption in the industry. Simply put, this minimizes the risk of water freezing and expanding, causing damage to your driveway. In fact, Unilock paving stones are so durable, they are guaranteed for life.

Asphalt is naturally porous, which means that it absorbs water from the environment. When water penetrates asphalt in winter, it can expand and freeze beneath the surface of the driveway, causing cracks and rutting, making the surface uneven and potentially dangerous.

Permeability

Many homeowners look for permeable solutions for their driveways that allow rainwater to flow back into the earth rather than stressing storm sewers. Some municipalities have even placed limits on the size of impervious surfaces – such as concrete and asphalt – you are allowed to have on your property.

If permeability is an important consideration, then paving stones are your only option. Unilock permeable paver solutions are made with wider joints and are installed on a permeable base to encourage water to flow through. Browse our permeable pavement options.

Maintenance

On average, asphalt driveways need to be re-sealed every two years to maintain the color and protect the surface from oil stains.

Paver stones do not require sealing – unless you like the look that a sealant provides, and they are resistant to oil stains. If your paver driveway does happen to stain from vehicle oil or leaves from surrounding trees, it is relatively easy to clean with regular dish soap and a pressure washer.

Many people believe that paver driveways are prone to weed growth. The truth is, if a paver driveway is installed on a proper base, it is impossible for weeds to grow from the ground below. Weed seeds can blow in between the joints, but this is typically controlled by adding polymeric jointing sand.

While asphalt will not have weeds sprout in the middle, it will eventually lose its edge inviting weed growth along the sides. Some contractors will recommend a poured-in concrete edge to prevent this, but the picture below tells a different story.

In preparation for winter, fixing cracks in your asphalt driveway is a good idea, as the more water it can absorb will lead to further cracking and deterioration due to the natural freezing and thawing that occurs.

Once winter arrives, clearing your asphalt of snow will require a snowblower or a shovel with a plastic edge to avoid damaging the surface. Just a reminder, salt and de-icers shorten the lifespan of your asphalt eating it away over time.

When clearing snow from paving stones, always use a plastic shovel and/or blade covers on your snow blower, and sodium chloride de-icer.

Repairs

If an issue arises with your paver driveway, paving stones can be replaced one at a time with little disruption. Most homeowners can do this without the help of a contractor.

Any major repairs to an asphalt driveway typically means intense work by a professional. The damaged area must be patched with asphalt and the end result is unsightly. In worst-case scenarios, it means ripping out the entire project and starting over.

Design choices

It may surprise you to learn that beyond the classic black, asphalt can be colored in a variety of earth tones like brown, grey and brick, but you are limited to one color and very few design choices.

Unilock pavers come in many different colors, textures and sizes, giving you unlimited options to be creative when designing the driveway of your dreams. Pavers also provide clean, crisp lines and make edging next to grass or flowerbeds look flawless. See the comparison in the images below.

While it may be tempting to choose asphalt as a quick, inexpensive option for your driveway project, a properly installed paver driveway will perform better, and provide enjoyment for years to come.

To ensure you are working with the best professional on your paver driveway, connect with
a Unilock Authorized Contractor.