It can be hard to know whether to use concrete or asphalt pavement. Neither material is better than the other, and some types are more ideal for specific projects. When deciding between concrete vs. asphalt roads or parking lots, you’ll need to consider a few pros and cons.
Often, people choose their paving material based on upfront costs. Many people want an economical or cheap solution. Sometimes the right pavement choice can also be a bargain; however, this is not always the case. The costs of concrete and asphalt fluctuate regularly, and you will end up with a short-term solution and added material costs if you select a paving material that satisfies your wallet but not your paving needs.
Understanding a few basic pavement advantages and disadvantages will help when it comes time to calculate your materials—both now and in the future. Here are the top pros and cons for asphalt and concrete paving materials.
What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing Concrete or Asphalt?
It’s important to conduct in-depth research when considering whether asphalt or concrete is best for your paving needs. Some factors to consider:
- Environmental impact – You may want to think about the environmental impact of both concrete and asphalt products, as each is different.
- Noise reduction – Do you require a paving material that has noise-reduction properties?
- Installation time – The installation time for each product should factor into your choice of paving material.
- Durability – Consider the durability of concrete or asphalt and whether or not a given material is appropriate for your application.
- Cost – Cost-effectiveness often plays a large role in the choice of product. Asphalt may be more cost-effective than concrete, but it might not be the best paving material for your project, so it’s important to consider your long-term goals.
- Climate suitability – When considering concrete vs. asphalt, think about each material’s resistance to your climate. Of the two, asphalt is more likely to be affected by intense weather.
Advantages of Concrete Roads
Concrete can lessen future inconvenience and tends to have a longer life. In fact, the lifespan of concrete pavement is 20-40 years on average.
Concrete roads are ideal for:
- New construction
- New roads in urban areas
- Road expansions in urban areas
- Underground utility repair
All of the areas above are exposed to natural elements and wear and tear over time, which is why concrete is preferred with its sturdy construction. In addition, concrete is 100% recyclable. It’s broken down and used for other construction projects or in new roads and bridges. And since concrete needs fewer repairs and less maintenance over time, fuel costs are lower for the heavy equipment and construction machinery required to maintain it. Lower fuel costs mean lower emissions, which help keep the environment clean.
Both concrete and asphalt offer the option of overlays. Overlays require less construction and overall maintenance, and can help a paving material last longer, providing resistance to salt, chemicals, UV rays and other harmful factors such as freezing, thawing, and vehicle spills.
The main types of concrete overlays include:
- White topping
- Ultra-thin white topping
- Bonded overlay
- Unbonded overlay
Disadvantages of Concrete Roads
Typically, the paving cost for concrete is a little higher than the paving cost for asphalt. But in many scenarios, funding a concrete road project can be difficult because concrete is not always considered a short-term solution. Repairing a concrete road often leads to replacing a whole slab, which drives up repair costs.
While concrete streets are less likely to develop potholes than asphalt streets, safety remains a concern for motorists. Vehicles tend to slide on concrete roadways more than asphalt during rainy or snowy weather.
Advantages of Asphalt Roads
Asphalt is less costly than concrete, and it takes less time to build a road made of asphalt. And like concrete, asphalt is recyclable, as it can be melted down and used again. This is beneficial for people who are concerned with the question: “How much does asphalt cost?”
In addition, asphalt is appropriate for road construction and maintenance in rural areas because certain kinds of thick asphalt structures are long lasting and only require surface maintenance. The many advances in asphalt overlay technologies have made these options especially fast and cost-efficient for city and country roads.
The options for asphalt overlays include:
- Mill and fill
- Thin overlays
- Modified mixes
- Open-graded friction courses
- Stone-matrix asphalt
- Perpetual pavements
Disadvantages of Asphalt Roads
Asphalt is more common than concrete, but this does not mean it is ideal for every situation. Regions prone to heavy rains and cold, icy winters experience damaged asphalt roads from extreme weather conditions and wear and tear. Due to this, potholes are common on asphalt roads. Maintenance crews often revisit the same potholes several times a season due to the material’s tendency to break down in cycles of freezing and thawing. This can lead to inefficiencies and increased costs over time.
So, when it comes to choosing concrete vs. asphalt for your parking lot or road, the answer can be complicated. The different qualities of each material will impact your decision the most. It truly depends on the individual situation and funding opportunities. Picking out the best paving material for your project takes planning ahead and hands-on experience. Learn about asphalt paving and concrete patching solutions from UNIQUE Paving Materials.
Asphalt vs. Concrete Roads: Which One Is Right for Your Project?
Both asphalt and concrete have advantages and pitfalls. Ultimately, the best-suited paving material for your application comes down to a number of factors. If you’re paving new roads in urban areas or working on new construction, concrete is likely the ideal choice for you.
However, if you’re debating between concrete or asphalt and budget is a large factor, asphalt will be the cheaper option. But remember, if the area you’re paving is subject to extreme weather such as heavy rain or icy winters, asphalt is more likely to be affected by weather damage.
Contact Our Team to Determine If Asphalt or Concrete Is Best for You
If the debate of concrete vs. asphalt still perplexes you, contact our team! We’re experts on asphalt and concrete products and can help you determine which paving material is the best fit for your project.