Concrete is considered one of the popular choices for constructing driveways. Concrete driveways are solid and durable and need very little maintenance.
The combined strength and durability make concrete a good value for large paving areas.
Concrete is more expensive than gravel and asphalt, but it’s significantly cheaper than a brick, Natural stone, or paver driveway – and it will usually outlast all of these.
Although regular concrete can have a dull appearance, concrete can also be colored and stamped to create a unique and attractive finish.
However, constructing concrete driveways requires a high initial investment. Such and other demerits make the concrete driveway unsuitable for some.
This article focuses on the pros and cons of the concrete driveway.
Table of Contents
Pros of Concrete Driveway
Concrete is a popular driveway solution because its neat appearance seduces the demanding user looking for an effective solution for his driveway.
The value of money is undeniable on a practical level, especially if we consider the investment over time. Here are some concrete driveway pros:
1. Strength and Durability
The service life of a concrete driveway can reach 40-50 years. It doesn’t require regular maintenance.
The durable material of concrete road can withstand loads from heaviest vehicles well. There are no deformations when heavy vehicles move along a concrete driveway slab.
Due to this, vehicles consume fuel economically. It is estimated that fuel consumption when driving on concrete roads is, on average, 15-20% less than when driving on asphalt roads.
Concrete pavement is resistant to automotive fuel that can get on it. Also, such a coating is resistant to extreme weather conditions (precipitation, high temperature).
Concrete driveway materials are indispensable for regions with a hot climate, where the asphalt becomes soft.
Due to its high durability, concrete pavement is economical even if the initial cost is high because the frequency of maintenance and repair is low and the running cost is low.
In addition, since concrete pavement is close to white, the road surface reflectance of lighting is high, and visibility is good, so it can be expected to reduce the cost of lighting.
3. Reduction of road surface temperature
The road surface temperature rises when it is warmed by sunlight, but the temperature rise depends on the target’s color.
On the white side, the absorption rate of sunlight is low, and the temperature does not rise quickly, but on the black side, the absorption rate is high, so the temperature tends to rise.
The light-color concrete driveway surface has a road surface temperature of about 10°C in summer.
The concrete surface absorbs much less UV radiation than an asphalt driveway. If you try to walk barefoot on these two types of surfaces on a hot weather, you will be able to compare and appreciate the difference.
4. Easy to find
You can get concrete almost anywhere. From hardware stores and supermarkets to online stores like Amazon, you will always be able to find concrete at an affordable price.
Since you can find concrete at almost any store that sells home improvement tools, purchasing the right amount of concrete for your driveway is always accessible and affordable.
5. Fuel economy
Concrete pavement is said to improve the fuel economy of large vehicles. It is related mainly to the rolling resistance and flatness of the road surface, and the smaller the rolling resistance and the flatness are maintained, the better the fuel efficiency.
Concrete pavement has excellent rigidity, so rolling resistance is small, preventing deformation and deterioration, maintaining flatness, and improving fuel efficiency.
6. Structurally sound
Because concrete is rugged and durable, it will not bend or damage like wood and metal. Even when concrete gets excessively hot or wet, it doesn’t lose its shape, making it far more structurally safe and sound than other building materials.
Concrete is impossible to set on fire. Because it is fireproof, many people with chimneys or gas stoves prefer to use it in their homes to prevent house fires. Some use concrete to make fire pits, candle holders, and grills.
The concrete driveway is an environmentally friendly type of driveway. Concrete, during its operation, does not emit harmful fumes or chemical compounds into the environment.
Additionally, a concrete driveway lasts a very long time – and needs lesser maintenance because you avoid undermining, tracks from vehicles, frost blasting, and so on.
Concrete is also a suitable material, as we can recycle it after any decomposition. Thus, more than 90% of all concrete is reused and recycled.
Concrete is easy to clean, so it doesn’t tend to grow fungi and bacteria like in other building materials like stone or wood.
The particles in concrete are densely and tightly packed, leaving little room for moisture or bacteria to spread.
Concrete’s non-porous nature also makes it easy to clean, and all it takes to disinfect concrete is a good wipe-down.
Because concrete is smooth and hygienic, it is also an excellent choice for floors, countertops, tabletops, and more.
10. Easy to install
The appearance of the construction floor is the advantage of its installation. The ground surface does not have the same shape in some regions.
As a result, a work of standardization of the place is essential before erecting any construction there. For this purpose, concrete paving is necessary since it allows it to be flattened while offering excellent resistance.
11. Easy to transport
Since concrete is primarily sold in dry powder form, it is easy to transport. When you buy other building materials like wood, stone, and metal, it can be challenging to transport the amount you require to your job site.
Often it would help if you had multiple truckloads of large, bulky materials. However, because concrete comes in dry powder bags, you can haul enough concrete to construct a driveway in a single truckload.
However, if you require a lot of concrete for a large driveway, you may need a concrete mixer truck to deliver the ready-mixed concrete and pour it for you.
12. Resale value
Your home may benefit from installing a concrete driveway, enhancing curb appeal and property value.
Attractive building material will help you get a reasonable resale price for your home if you decide to sell it to prospective buyers.
13. Highly customizable
Because concrete is made into a paste before pouring, you can shape it however you like. You can make concrete molds for everything from bowls to counters to pavers.
People often make leaves, flowers, and handprints on their concrete slabs. There is no limit in designs when it comes to concrete.
You can also add colorants to unmixed concrete for various color schemes. Adding colorants like mica powder will make your concrete shinier. An upgrade from the existing plain-gray driveway curb to gray driveway curb appeal!
Including dyes and colored powders in your wet concrete mixture is excellent for personalizing your attractive driveway.
14. Easy maintenance
In today’s world, homeowners don’t have much time and energy to work on their homes regularly.
You don’t want to constantly worry about moving pavers, weeds, or stray bits of your driveway. A concrete driveway allows you to relax and take advantage of the minimal maintenance.
Performing maintenance tasks for concrete driveways is relatively quick and easy. If you find stubborn stains, you need a simple soap and water solution, and you can remove them.
You don’t have to spend much of your hard-earned money and valuable time maintaining your concrete driveway.
The most crucial task homeowners may have to do annually is clean their driveway with a granular cleaner to bring out the natural and beautiful look of the material.
You can also reduce maintenance costs by using penetration sealants and contraction joints.
Clear sealants help protect against moisture absorption, while contraction joints isolate cracking that occurs when the concrete shrinks.
15. Frost resistance
You can achieve excellent frost resistance when you use high-quality concrete and some additives often offered by construction companies.
Therefore, even at minus temperatures, the status of the tracks will remain excellent. Of course, the driveway will show the effect of low temperatures sooner or later, but we can delay this outcome.
16. Increased functionality
Concrete is the best choice if long-term structural strength and integrity are your goals. There’s a reason they’re typically used for roads, highways, and bridges.
The material is stiff, solid, and not flexible, allowing it to endure heavier loads than asphalt. Regardless of the weight of your car or the footfall in the area, you can be sure of incredible long-term results if you opt for concrete.
You can use concrete driveways for over thirty or forty years, and you don’t have to waste a lot of money to maintain them.
Concrete is one of the most robust materials available, so you don’t have to worry about insurmountable damage from parking any size vehicle, whether it’s a sedan or a large truck.
The material will hold up well, especially if it is poured by a trained professional. If you see any damage, you can spend less money and only repair the damaged part.
The convenience of working with concrete also makes concrete driveways trending in the present time.
Today, the process of pouring concrete can be fully automated. For these purposes, concrete pumps are used, making it possible to quickly and efficiently deliver concrete to great depths and distances.
18. Use of waterproofing additives
It is important to emphasize that concrete is a porous material; therefore, there is no utterly waterproof concrete.
But, we can improve this impermeability characteristic by using additives that increase its compactness.
Additives can bring other benefits to concrete, such as increased strength and durability.
However, it is worth mentioning that these products must be used in correct proportions and seriously, so it is essential to have technical support.
Cons of Concrete Driveway
Although the concrete driveway has multiple advantages which can force you to opt for concrete, it also comes with a few disadvantages which you have to be aware of, such as:
1. Difficulty in construction
The concrete road has much higher requirements for precise adherence to technology. Making mistakes when working with concrete is unforgivable.
If we violate the work technology, poor-quality materials, or the coating does not receive proper care, the road may begin to collapse right before our eyes.
The price of a mistake is global – you will have to remove all the concrete and lay a new one.
2. High cost
Concrete driveways typically stay functional for 30-40 years, depending on how well they were built and how well they’ve been maintained.
A simple concrete driveway installed by a professional crew over gravel ground costs $4 to $15 per square foot.
The average upfront cost is about $6 per square foot, bringing the cost of a 16 x 38 driveway to about $3900 US dollars.
However, that cost can double if you opt for a colored or stamped finish, tearing off a previously affected plate.
3. Long time wait to use
Concrete does not harden as quickly as other driveways, such as those made from asphalt. Depending on the thickness of the concrete to be constructed, it may take a month to harden.
If you have a busy schedule, this may not be the suitable material for your project. Concrete dries about 24 hours after you pour it, but it takes much longer to cure.
Concrete hardens when the water used in the mixture evaporates. As the water evaporates from the concrete, the limestone, and cement powder chemically combine to form a solid slab. Before the concrete hardens, it is fragile and brittle.
After pouring your concrete, you should leave it undisturbed for two days. After two days, you can remove the supports and forms.
At this point, your concrete driveway is safe to move or walk on, despite being brittle and easy to chip, crack, or break.
Your concrete can also pick up dust or dirt at this stage, so keep the driveway away from it as much as possible.
Concrete is safe to drive within seven days of drying. The water has evaporated from the concrete mix, leaving only the stone particles. Your driveway will be much more robust and won’t pick up dust and dirt.
Your concrete driveway will be fully cured after 28 days. Limestones and cement base will take four weeks to bond, and over time the base will continue to bond resulting in a solid concrete slab.
4. Possibility of crack
Concrete is vulnerable to sudden temperature changes and has the property of expanding when the temperature rises and shrinking when the temperature drops. As a result, the concrete can crack due to sudden temperature changes.
Additionally, concrete is a solid slab that rarely bends or warps and can crack under stress.
When you put significant weight on a concrete slab, it cannot bend under the pressure of the heavy object, and sometimes it cracks. A solid and flat foundation is key to keeping your concrete stable.
5. Uncomfortable ride
Since general concrete pavement has lateral shrinkage joints at appropriate intervals, vibration and noise will occur during running.
However, the continuous reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP), which does not have joints, provides a comfortable ride while driving and can be expected to reduce noise and vibration.
6. Drainage problem
Construction of concrete driveway is often not accompanied by the construction of drainage or waterways along the sides.
It causes puddles and even floods. When it rains, water from the road flows wildly into the houses of the surrounding residents.
If the concrete pavement is appropriately designed and constructed, it can maintain good road surface properties for a long time.
There are many repair methods for concrete pavement, but specialized knowledge is required to perform repairs according to the type of concrete pavement and the damage situation.
Many people consider concrete driveways virtually maintenance-free, but it pays to keep the driveway clean and sealed to ensure longevity.
You can clean your concrete driveway with good scrubbing or use a hose and stiff brush. It would help if you also considered applying concrete sealer at least once a year.
If you live in snow country, the best time to caulk a driveway is in the fall to ensure the slab can withstand road salt and harsh winter weather.
9. Stain susceptibility
Concrete material for driveways is very susceptible to stains. Oil stain, paint, or concrete stain can ruin concrete driveways.
It will make the concrete look ugly, and it will be difficult to remove. A simple oil change while the car is still on the driveway requires the expertise of an expert.
10. Professional help needed
Although a homeowner can pour a concrete driveway himself, it’s quite a tough job. Time is critical as the concrete begins to harden very quickly after pouring.
For this reason, it is usually left to the professional contractor for proper maintenance who can quickly dig, prepare forms, pour the concrete and finish the surface.
A professional crew can complete the entire project in a few days. A homeowner typically takes a week or more to excavate and prepare alone and another long day to pour and finish.
For homeowners brave enough to pour their concrete, it is essential to have a group of willing and able helpers on hand.
11. Unsuitable for cold climate
Concrete driveways are not suitable for cold climates. Due to its stiffness, concrete is poor in expansion and contraction.
Therefore, when ice covers its surface, it compromises the molecular structure of the concrete, causing it to disintegrate.
Concrete driveways in colder areas must be repaired more often than in other areas. Concrete driveways may not be the best option if your area has low temperatures.
12. Susceptibility to moisture
Without proper compaction and concrete laying, moisture can accumulate on the concrete driveway, leading to mold and excess moisture in the room.
It can be avoided if all levels and horizons are maintained to prevent moisture accumulation during the concrete laying.
When much water runs over concrete, it softens and slowly erodes. Concrete usually takes a long time to deteriorate but is more likely to wash away if you use a steel bar in the foundation.
Because steel is water sensitive, the more water your concrete structure is exposed to, the faster the steel bars corrode and disintegrate.
To prevent erosion, you must use a waterproof impregnation concrete sealer to keep all moisture from your slabs.
These sealers can make concrete last longer and prevent spalling, cracking, and erosion.
14. Monotonous color
Concrete material is often gray, so most concrete structures look dull with a matte gray finish that isn’t necessarily pretty or exciting. Depending on your project, this can be a deal-breaker.
However, you can use mica pigments to add some color to your concrete mixture. Still, the result is usually monotonous.
So if you want a nice, marbled effect, concrete might not be the right choice.
Comparison (Pros and Cons of Concrete Driveway)
|Highly strong, durable, and does not need to be repaired|
|Lifespan 40 years|
|Vehicles consume less fuel|
|Not deformed during the movement of heavy special equipment|
|Demonstrates high resistance to heavy precipitation or sudden changes in temperature|
|Protecting the environment from harmful emissions|
|Recycle and reusability of removed material|
|Economical consumption of natural resources as raw materials|
|Works on weak soil surfaces without having to pave them first|
|The high initial cost of construction|
|The lengthy process of construction|
|Difficulties in repairing road surfaces in case of repair|
|During heavy precipitation, the surface becomes slippery|
|Risk of pooling water in lack of proper drainage system|
|The color of the concrete is quite monotonous|
|High maintenance cost|
Requires yearly maintenance, especially caulking, to ensure long slab life
|Oils and liquids spilled from vehicles can cause stains that are difficult to remove|
|Not a very DIY-friendly material for large projects|
These are the significant advantages and drawbacks of concrete driveway, which will determine your decision on whether to use it or not.
As you can see, concrete driveways have many more positive aspects than negative ones, especially if you hire a professional construction company to lay concrete, which is an even better choice.
If you think only gravel driveways will be more cheaper option with better aesthetic appeal, here are the pros and cons you must consider.
(Last Updated on September 6, 2022)