Whether you are building a driveway, walkway or patio, choosing the right material is crucial to getting the best value for your project. Concrete and asphalt are poured and flattened, creating a smooth, uniform surface. Pavers, by contrast, are placed in an interlocking pattern, creating an interesting, textured look. All three materials are durable and each has its own advantages and disadvantages that you should weigh carefully to see what is best for you.
Asphalt is a plain, smooth, black layer. It looks neat but unremarkable when you first install it, and it can fade and crack as it ages. Concrete also has a relatively plain look, but it does allow more options. For example, you can dye or stain concrete in a variety of colors. Like asphalt, it will fade and can develop cracks. Pavers can consist of concrete, brick or natural stone. They come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors and form an interlocking design. Many users see them as the most attractive option.
Surface and Upkeep
Both concrete and asphalt form a smooth, level surface. If you pour a concrete or asphalt driveway, it will be suitable for playing basketball and other sports as well as driving your car. When asphalt gets hot, it can start to melt slightly, which can make it less ideal for very hot climates. Over time, the surface of concrete and asphalt can crack from thawing and shrinking in the ground underneath, so both materials require occasional repair. Pavers are smooth enough to walk or drive on but may not provide a smooth enough surface for driveway sports enthusiasts. Pavers require very little maintenance aside from occasionally resetting and sealing pavers as they settle.
The price you pay depends on the material you use and how you plan to install it. If you plan to have everything installed by a contractor, asphalt is the cheapest, followed by concrete and finally pavers. Few homeowners have the knowledge and equipment to install their own asphalt; however, concrete is simpler to install for the average homeowner. Pavers are somewhat time consuming and difficult to install since you must install them by hand, but they are within the abilities of serious do-it-yourselfers. If you have the expertise, installing concrete or pavers may be an affordable option. If you can source salvage pavers, you can save more money on the job.
The price you pay to install your driveway or walkway is proportional to the home equity you get from it. Inexpensive concrete and asphalt can slightly increase your home value, but pavers add far more equity. The more expensive the paver, the more it will increase your home value. Stone pavers are the most expensive, but they also increase your home value the most, followed by brick and concrete.