Parking lots are everywhere. No matter their size or location, they all serve exactly the same purpose. They’re some of the most straightforward concrete systems. Pour it, let it cure and finish it off with some painted lines. Yet, there’s another option. Asphalt is an equally popular surface material. So, which is best? It depends on a number of factors including the installation process, environment/climate, short- and long-term maintenance, lifespan, and cost. The following will compare the pros and cons of concrete and asphalt for each type of parking lot project…
Top 3 Benefits of Concrete
- Better in Hot Weather – In warmer, extreme-southern climate areas, a concrete parking lot tends to be a better choice. An asphalt parking lot will soften in extreme heat and become oily. This happens in areas like the deep southern and western United States where summer temperatures can exceed 100 degrees for periods of time.
- Less Maintenance – Concrete is one of the most durable construction products available and requires less maintenance than asphalt. Concrete has a long lifespan and needs only joint sealing and an annual cleaning.
- Design Options – Concrete parking lots can be colored and textured to meet the owner’s desires.
Top 3 Benefits of Asphalt
- Quick Installation and Lower Cost – The asphalt parking lot can be laid in just in a few days, which can save a lot of money. Concrete usually takes twice as long to install and even longer to set and cure. The asphalt parking lot can be ready for use in two days, whereas a concrete parking lot can take up to a week to be ready for use.
- Better for the Environment – Asphalt is an environmentally friendly, sustainable pavement material. The low consumption of energy for production and construction, low emission of greenhouse gases, and conservation of natural resources help to make asphalt the environmental pavement of choice. Certain types of asphalt, such as porous or permeable asphalt, help with water drainage. This type of parking lot allows water to pass through the pavement into the soil below. With concrete, the water must run off with no permeable options, and excess water must be managed as a part of the project plan.
- Long Lifespan – Asphalt does require preventative maintenance, but this maintenance keeps the asphalt looking like new for a long time. Because of advancements in pavement technologies, asphalt has an extremely long lifespan. In fact, the average lifespan of asphalt pavement is 15-20 years with regular, preventative maintenance. In the first 5 years, your asphalt will begin to show the first signs of cracking. In most cases the top layer of asphalt will need to be replaced in 20 years but the base layer and middle layer would remain. Only the top layer would be repaved, which can make an asphalt parking lot very cost-effective .
Concrete vs Asphalt In Extreme Heat
When deciding between a concrete and an asphalt parking lot, one of the most important things to consider is the climate where the project is located. In less drastically hot and colder climates, asphalt is the right choice for the following reasons…
- Concrete will be subject to frost heaves, which requires immediate maintenance for safety
- Concrete is subject to freeze/thaw expansion and contraction. The accumulative effect of successive freeze-thaw cycles and disruption of paste and aggregate can eventually cause expansion and cracking, scaling, and crumbling of the concrete.
- Changing weather and temperatures causes damage and deterioration in concrete surfaces.
- Salt which is spread on parking lots to melt snow and ice, damage concrete.
Asphalt is not affected by the cold and does not deteriorate from salt use. The dark color of asphalt pavement can cause problems in the heat but actually solves problems in the cold. It absorbs more heat from sun, causing snow and ice to melt quickly. Asphalt gets hot for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s black. The sun is more attracted to dark colors and they absorb the heat. With asphalt, it actually stores the heat as well. Secondly, it’s oil based and when the oil products heat up, they have thermal capabilities and keep it hot for longer periods of time.
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Arrow Blacktop offers reliable asphalt and paving services to commercial and residential customers in Greater Cincinnati. We work to exceed expectations on every job we undertake. Whether your project is small or large in scale, Arrow Blacktop can help!
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