Is Asphalt or Concrete Better for a Patio?

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A patio is a huge part of your outdoor living space and, as such, the material you use to construct it must look good, be functional and be able to withstand the traffic it will endure over the course of its life. Although concrete and pavers generally receive the most attention as patio materials, asphalt is another player in the game. Deciding whether it's best to go with asphalt or concrete isn't always a simple choice.

Weather Durability

  • In general, concrete is more durable than asphalt considering everyday wear and tear because asphalt is a softer material than concrete. Climate, however, plays a big role in which will be better for your patio. Concrete cracks and heaves in cold and freezing weather; asphalt's tar has a tendency to soften in extreme heat and may even become tacky.

Cost and Maintenance

  • Asphalt is usually less expensive to install than concrete, although both materials fluctuate in price with the current price of core materials; asphalt production relies on crude oil. Problems can happen to both asphalt and concrete, making repairs an important consideration. In general, asphalt is easier to repair than concrete, although cracks in both don't pose much of a problem. If you come across a severe problem in a concrete patio, however, portions of the patio have to be removed and refilled. An asphalt patio should be sealed within its first year and every three to five years afterward. On the other hand, sealing concrete also is recommended because it can preserve the finish and make staining less of an issue.

Design Factors

  • Forget dark gray and black for asphalt and plain gray for concrete; both materials are available in a wide array of color and design options. According to the Paver Search website, asphalt color options include white, sand, smoky gray, chocolate brown, slate green, red rose and brown brick. The color options for concrete are even more diverse and include various blues, reds, yellows, greens and grays. Both concrete and asphalt can be stamped, allowing you even more options as far as design is concerned.

Bottom Line

  • Neither asphalt nor concrete is necessarily better or worse for a patio. The material to use depends on your personal preferences. It also can depend on where you live. If you live in a cold climate, then consider asphalt or be prepared for concrete to need serious repairs due to freezing water and other issues. If you live in a hot climate, then choose concrete unless you are fond of your shoes sticking to tacky asphalt.

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