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Concrete Vs Asphalt: Which is better for your Des Moines Home?

When it comes to enhancing your Des Moines home with a new driveway, the decision between a concrete and an asphalt driveway can be challenging. Each option offers unique benefits and drawbacks, making it vital for homeowners to understand the differences. This guide will delve into various aspects, from installation costs to environmental impact, helping you make an informed choice for your property.

Understanding the Basics

Concrete Driveways: Composition and Characteristics

Concrete driveways are made from a mixture of cement, water, and aggregates like sand or gravel. This composition results in a sturdy and rigid surface, known for its durability. Concrete’s versatility allows it to be shaped and colored, offering various design options. Its light color reflects sunlight, a notable feature in hotter climates.

Asphalt Driveways: Composition and Characteristics

Asphalt, on the other hand, is a mixture of bitumen (a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid) and aggregates. This combination gives asphalt driveways their characteristic black color and slightly flexible surface. Asphalt’s flexibility can be beneficial in colder climates, as it adapts better to temperature fluctuations and can resist cracking caused by freeze-thaw cycles.

Initial Installation and Costs

Concrete Driveway: Cost Factors and Installation Process

The cost of installing a concrete driveway in Des Moines can vary based on size, design complexity, and preparation needs. Installation involves preparing the ground, pouring the concrete mix, and allowing it to cure – a process that can take several days. The initial investment is generally higher for concrete compared to asphalt but can pay off in longevity and low maintenance.

Asphalt Driveway: Cost Factors and Installation Process

Asphalt driveways usually cost less upfront than concrete. The installation process is faster, often completed in a day or two. This quick turnaround is due to the rapid cooling and setting of asphalt. However, while the initial cost is lower, asphalt may require more frequent maintenance, influencing long-term expenses.

Comparative Cost Analysis

In summary, concrete driveways demand a higher initial investment but incur lower maintenance costs. Asphalt is more budget-friendly upfront but may lead to increased spending on upkeep over time.

Durability and Maintenance

Longevity of Concrete Driveways

Concrete driveways are celebrated for their durability, often lasting 30 years or more with proper care. This longevity stems from concrete’s resistance to weathering, UV rays, and stains. Regular cleaning and periodic sealing can extend its life significantly.

Longevity of Asphalt Driveways

Asphalt driveways have a shorter lifespan, typically around 20 years. They require more maintenance, including seal coating every few years and occasional resurfacing. Asphalt’s flexibility, while advantageous in cold climates, also makes it more susceptible to damage under heavy loads.

Maintenance Needs and Long-term Care

Both driveways need regular maintenance, but the type and frequency differ. Concrete requires less frequent but more intensive maintenance, like sealing cracks and resealing surfaces. Asphalt needs more regular upkeep, such as filling potholes and seal coating to protect against weather and wear.

Impact of Weather Conditions

In Des Moines’s varied climate, both materials have pros and cons. Concrete performs well in hot, sunny conditions but can crack in extreme cold. Asphalt is resilient in the cold but can soften in extreme heat.

Aesthetic and Customization Options

Design Flexibility with Concrete

Concrete driveways offer a wide range of design options. They can be stamped, colored, or textured, allowing homeowners to customize their driveway to match their home’s aesthetic. This versatility makes concrete a popular choice for those seeking a unique or upscale appearance.

Aesthetic Appeal of Asphalt

Asphalt provides a classic, clean look with its smooth, dark surface. While it lacks the customization options of concrete, it can complement a variety of home styles. Its uniform appearance is a key selling point for many homeowners.

Personalizing Your Driveway Choice

Choosing between concrete and asphalt often comes down to personal preference in aesthetics. Concrete’s customization options can be a decisive factor for those wanting a specific look, while asphalt’s understated elegance appeals to those seeking simplicity.

Environmental Considerations

Eco-friendliness of Concrete

Concrete driveways have both positive and negative environmental impacts. On the one hand, they last longer, reducing the frequency of replacements. On the other hand, the production of cement (a key ingredient in concrete) is energy-intensive and generates significant CO2 emissions. However, recent advancements in concrete technology, such as the use of recycled materials, are making it a more eco-friendly option.

Asphalt and the Environment

Asphalt is often praised for being recyclable. Old asphalt can be ground up and reused, reducing the need for new materials and the associated environmental impact. However, the process of producing asphalt involves petroleum, which has environmental implications. The heat absorption of asphalt also contributes to the urban heat island effect, especially in densely populated areas.

Sustainable Choices for Homeowners

For environmentally conscious homeowners in Des Moines, the choice between concrete and asphalt may hinge on these factors. It’s worth considering the full lifecycle of the driveway, from production to disposal, when making an eco-friendly choice.

Performance in Different Climates

Concrete in Varied Weather Conditions

Concrete driveways perform admirably in hot, sunny climates due to their ability to reflect sunlight. However, in areas with severe winter weather, concrete can be susceptible to damage from freeze-thaw cycles and may require more frequent repairs. The use of deicing chemicals can also accelerate the deterioration of concrete.

Asphalt’s Adaptability to Climate

Asphalt driveways are more flexible, making them better suited to colder climates where they can expand and contract without cracking. They also absorb heat, which helps in melting snow and ice more quickly in winter. However, in extremely hot weather, asphalt can become soft and may stick to shoes and tires.


In Des Moines, where the climate can vary significantly, it’s important to consider these factors. Asphalt may be more resilient in winter, while concrete offers advantages in warmer seasons.

Resale Value and Property Impact

Influence of Driveway Type on Property Value

The type of driveway can impact the curb appeal and, consequently, the resale value of a property. A well-maintained concrete driveway can enhance the property’s aesthetic appeal and potentially increase its market value, especially if it’s customized to complement the home’s design.

Perceived Aesthetics and Buyer Appeal

While asphalt driveways might not add as much in terms of aesthetics, they are still valued for their practicality and clean appearance. The decision should align with the overall style and value of the property, as well as the neighborhood trends in Des Moines.

Repair, Upkeep, and Long-Term Costs

Repairing Concrete Driveways

Concrete driveways, while durable, are not immune to cracking. Repairing these cracks can be more complex than with asphalt. However, with proper installation and maintenance, significant repairs can often be minimized. Resealing the concrete every few years can protect it from wear and tear, stains, and weather damage.

Asphalt Driveway Repairs

Asphalt driveways typically require more frequent maintenance. This includes sealing cracks and holes and applying a seal coat every few years to protect the surface. These maintenance tasks are generally less expensive and can often be done by the homeowner, but they are more frequent compared to concrete.

Cost-Efficiency Over Time

While the initial cost of an asphalt driveway may be lower, the ongoing maintenance requirements can add up over time. In contrast, concrete’s higher upfront cost is balanced by its longer lifespan and lower maintenance needs, potentially offering better cost-efficiency in the long run for Des Moines homeowners.

Making the Right Decision

Balancing Cost and Quality

When choosing between a concrete and asphalt driveway, consider both the initial installation cost and the long-term investment. While asphalt might be more budget-friendly initially, concrete could offer more value over time due to its longevity and low maintenance.

Considerations for Your Specific Needs

Think about your specific situation – the climate in Des Moines, the amount of traffic your driveway will endure, and your aesthetic preferences. Each material has its advantages, and the right choice depends on your individual needs and circumstances.

Consulting with Professionals

If you’re unsure, consulting with a professional concrete contractor in Des Moines can provide personalized advice based on your property’s specifics and your personal preferences. They can help you weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision that suits your home and lifestyle.


Choosing the right material for your driveway in Des Moines is a significant decision that affects both the aesthetics and functionality of your home. Whether you opt for the durability and design flexibility of concrete or the cost-effectiveness and cold weather performance of asphalt, ensure your choice aligns with your personal needs, environmental considerations, and budget. An informed decision will enhance your property’s value and your enjoyment of your home for years to come.

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