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Asphalt vs Concrete: Which paving material should you use?

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2It can be hard to know whether to use concrete or asphalt pavement when performing repairs. Neither material is better than the other, and some are 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, 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.

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,
  • and underground utility repair—all areas exposed to natural elements and wear and tear over time.

In addition, concrete is 100 percent recyclable. It’s broken down and used for other construction projects or in new roads and bridges. And since concrete needs fewer repairs and 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:

  • Recycling
  • Rubblization
  • Mill and fill
  • Thin overlays
  • Modified mixes
  • Open-graded friction courses
  • Stone-matrix asphalt
  • Superpave
  • 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. 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 concrete vs asphalt parking lot or road, the answer can be complicated. The different qualities of each material will ultimately matter the most to your decision. 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.