Concrete vs. Asphalt. The Facts!

Are you planning a paving project? Maybe you’re looking for a paving contractor for something like a new commercial parking lot? Maybe you’re in search of a company with the experience needed to replace the streets in your municipality? Either way, you’ll have to choose between concrete and asphalt — not an easy decision unless you’re armed with the information you need to know the difference.

As with any commercial construction projects, there are several factors you should weigh when making the decision to pave with asphalt or concrete. Our team of paving pros have come up with a comprehensive guide to help you make the best choice.

Both asphalt and concrete have a few things in common. For one, each method of paving starts with compacted bases of gravel and both take some time to “cure” before you can drive on them. That’s where the similarities end; asphalt uses tar to help that gravel stick while concrete uses cement. This means that concrete can take days to cure while asphalt is ready in hours. (Yes, HOURS.) From there, the differences between the two are literally black and white.

AESTHETICS

Some people think that concrete has more options in terms of finishes and texture, but you may be surprised to find out that asphalt has the same ability to be customized. Perpetual, porous, and quick-mix are just a few types to consider. Asphalt is also a great canvas for painting, whether it be a logo design or parking spaces. Pavers can even add tints during the sealing process or mix in tints during the paving process.

CLIMATE

We’re no strangers to rough winter weather here in St. Louis, so keep that in mind. In climates like ours, concrete can be prone to frost heaves and expansion and contraction. This takes a toll on the condition of concrete and increases overall maintenance costs. The condition of concrete also degrades with the use of salt and de-icing treatments. Asphalt does not break down under ice treatment, resists cracks from freezing, and absorbs more heat which can help melt snow faster.

MAINTENANCE

This may be the most important benefit to using asphalt over concrete. As we mentioned earlier, asphalt is much quicker to install and is ready much sooner than concrete. About 6 months after your asphalt is laid, you should seal it for longevity and then repeat the process every 3-5 years. Sealing should be done by the pros but it’s a speedy, cost-efficient step to keep your asphalt maintained. When done right, this means your asphalt surface can last up to 30 years!

While both asphalt and concrete surfaces can be repaired, asphalt cracks are much easier to fix and can be blended in with the rest of the surface. Concrete repairs often require much more (expensive) labor and can be quite noticeable. Another disadvantage of concrete is that it stains easily and permanently in many cases.

COST

Maintenance costs aside, it’s much less expensive to install asphalt surfaces than it is to pave with concrete. The average cost for asphalt can be $2.50 to $4 per square feet while concrete is in the $4-$6 range. If you want any specialised finishes or coloring, that price can go up even more. Can you believe that some concrete installers charge up to $15 a square foot? For big projects, choosing asphalt can offer big savings.

ENVIRONMENT

If you’re concerned about sustainability, asphalt is the way to go. Asphalt can be recycled and reused for other paving projects and is considered a “green” technology. Porous asphalt can allow for better water drainage and keep the soil below the surface healthy. Concrete is not porous, can’t be recycled, and requires being disposed of at a specially-approved facility.

Overall, concrete can end up being 35% more expensive than concrete from installation to maintenance. While the lifespan of a structure depends on variables such as thickness and quality, asphalt pavements that are designed and constructed as “perpetual pavements” never need to be removed and replaced, they are permanent structures. The only maintenance needed is infrequent (every 20-25 years) replacement of the surface – and the material that is removed is recycled.

The next time you’re considering a commercial paving project, consider asphalt. Remember that it takes skill, knowledge, and access to the right manpower and equipment for the job to be completed successfully and to see ROI from your investment. For nearly 30 years, Leritz and Busy Bee have built a reputation for quality and dependability — we’ve paved many of the largest projects in the St. Louis region with asphalt! Get in touch with our team to find out about the many benefits of choosing asphalt.