Concrete and asphalt are both sand and crushed stone mixtures, or aggregates. The distinction is that which binds together the aggregate. Cement binds the mixture in concrete, which brings it a light gray look. Asphalt is bound with a black, viscous petroleum-based substance.   They come in a number of colors, painted or stamped for decoration. Concrete has historically been the chosen option for paving highways, lots, and other projects. That’s changed and asphalt is now the go-to option.

In order to fully understand why this turn happened, we can look at how both forms of pavement are made:

How Asphalt is Formed

Asphalt is formed by means of aggregates (such as sand or crushed rock) bound together by bitumen. This binder is a deep, sticky substance extracted from crude oil. When lots, residential streets, and roads are built using asphalt; hot bitumen combined with fine aggregate is poured on a heavier aggregate layer.

Then, a steam roller presses the asphalt, which compacts all and ensures consistent binding. The asphalt needs to cool down to the ambient air temperature at this point, at which point it’s solid enough to handle the traffic. This method guarantees toughness and hardness while still providing ample versatility to handle any errors in the underlying surface.

How Concrete is Formed

Concrete is produced using an aggregate, just like with asphalt. The binder holding the aggregate together in this case, is the cement. This is a hard, unforgiving solid as the mixture dries (which is why it is called the “rigid” form of pavement). Concrete has its benefits, but it is important to know that it may be susceptible to break and crack, specifically when the surface is not silky straight underneath. If the surface below is not perfectly smooth. 

Apart from the intrinsic durability, the use of asphalt paving over concrete or cement has many advantages. One reason is that it is relatively quick and convenient to remove and repair damaged asphalt opposed to having to do so with concrete. One is that asphalt is a substance that can be recycled 100 percent.

Yet another benefit that asphalt has over concrete is that it saves time and resources. Asphalt schemes will be ready to go quicker and cost far less than concrete ones.  These are some of the main differences between pavements made of asphalt and concrete. But perhaps the most obvious distinction is simply color-asphalt is black and concrete is brown.

Ending Comparisons

Asphalt is usually much easier to build than concrete, without any maintenance costs. In average the cost of asphalt per square foot would range from $2.50 to $4.00. Uncertainty in prices of crude oil can cause fluctuations in prices of asphalt but the price should stay in this level. Concrete, on the other hand, can range for simple construction from $4.00 to $6.00 per square foot, and can cost more based on local finishes and specifics. 

It’s not uncommon to have a painted concrete driveway costing over $15.00 per square foot with a smooth finish. Check out for more on this topic.