So, how do you determine if asphalt or concrete is better for your paving project? In this comprehensive guide, follow along as we take a closer look at the pros and cons of each option to help you decide which is best for your needs. We’ll cover the different benefits and drawbacks of asphalt and concrete, and we’ll also discuss what you should consider when selecting the right material for your project. By the end, you’ll have the information you need to make an informed decision.
The Primary Differences between Asphalt and Concrete
Generally speaking, asphalt and concrete have different properties, which make them better suited for different applications. These differences should all be taken into account when choosing a paving material for your project, as the best decision will depend on the needs of your specific project. You should take all the following factors into account when making the decision between asphalt or concrete paving.
Generally speaking, asphalt provides a smooth, quiet ride for vehicles, especially when it’s new. Concrete tends to be rougher and noisier due to its tined or broomed texture, which gives it a grip.
The dark coloration of asphalt means it heats up quickly, which helps snow melt faster in winter. However, it can become blazingly hot in the summer and is not ideal for extremely hot areas. Asphalt has been known to soften to the point that it clings to other surfaces when warmed by regular exposure to intense sunlight.
Unlike asphalt, concrete generally performs well in hot climates, but doesn’t in the cold. Regular sessions of freezing and thawing can lead to nasty cracks in concrete, and road salt in winter can actually erode the material. That’s why some cities actually adopt policies mandating that no salt be used on new concrete roads.
In dense urban areas, concrete holds up well under heavy traffic and needs fewer repairs. But in smaller, more isolated areas, asphalt is more commonly used.
Something that can be an important consideration when choosing between concrete vs asphalt is that the former offers a great deal of flexibility in presentation; as you can stain it, etch it, stamp it, and give it all sorts of colored finishes. This makes concrete a better choice when you need to mark certain areas, either for safety (like crosswalks) or aesthetics.
Asphalt requires rolling and compression to install, which makes it less flexible than concrete with regard to aesthetics. While you may find the occasional sealant with tint or coloring, black will usually be your only color choice.
Asphalt is ready for vehicles to travel on it as soon as it is compacted by a roller. Alternatively, concrete usually needs to cure for up to seven days after it is laid down.
What’s Cheaper: Asphalt or Concrete
When it comes to big paving projects (particularly commercial ones), the cost is an important consideration for many people. In fact, while the aforementioned factors are important to consider when choosing between asphalt and concrete, the cost is often the deciding factor for many homeowners and businesses.
Traditionally, asphalt paving projects tend to have a cheaper price tag than concrete projects. Rising oil prices over the past 20 years have started to trim the price gap between the two, but this hasn’t really stopped people from choosing asphalt.
Nowadays, asphalt paving will generally cost you between $2-$4/square foot – the variance in cost is due to dependency on the going rate for crude oil. Paving a concrete driveway, on the other hand, will cost between $4-$6 per square foot for installation, but you’ll also need to pay for finishing, detailing, and staining, making the total cost more along the lines of $15/square foot.
Other Considerations: Maintenance and Longevity
Sealcoating is an important step in protecting and preserving asphalt and concrete surfaces. Not only is it an inexpensive way to maintain the appearance and integrity of these surfaces, but also prolongs their life. That said, there are some key differences between sealcoating for asphalt and sealcoating for concrete, which you should also consider when choosing between the two.
Asphalt driveways, roads, and parking lots need to be sealed sometime between 6 to 12 months after the installation, followed by a subsequent resealing session every three to five years to protect it from the elements and replenish its oil-based content.
While concrete does not call for as much sealing as asphalt, sealing is what keeps the finish intact, so it’s important to seal your concrete immediately after it’s been installed, when the concrete is clean, dry, and free from any cracks or damage. From there, it should be resealed every 2-3 years to keep it looking fresh and prevent it from cracking or fading.
Keep in mind: Unlike asphalt, concrete does need the occasional de-greasing to purge the buildup of chemicals and oil that happens over time.
While both asphalt and concrete are extremely durable materials, there are a few key differences in how long each will last.
Asphalt is more susceptible to wear and tear due to the oil-based material used in its construction. Asphalt driveways and roads can last up to thirty years, depending on the quality of installation and how much maintenance is done. Concrete, on the other hand, is a much more durable material. With proper installation and maintenance, a concrete driveway or sidewalk can endure for over half a century.
Asphalt vs Concrete: Which is Better For You
In conclusion, both asphalt and concrete have their own benefits and drawbacks, and the best choice for your needs depends on your specific situation.
Asphalt is more susceptible to wear and tear and should be resealed more often, while concrete is much more durable and requires less maintenance. Moreover, while asphalt may be a more affordable option, concrete is a great long-term investment with a lifespan of up to fifty years.
When it comes to choosing between asphalt and concrete for your specific paving project, our best advice is to consider your climate, budget, and maintenance needs before making a decision. And, especially, to factor in the quality of installation and maintenance you plan on getting for your project as well, as oftentimes, the difference between paving that lasts and paving that doesn’t comes down to the paving contractor you choose to do the job.
To ensure your project is successful, consider working with the professional paving contractors at Lone Star Paving today. With our experience and expertise, you can count on us to get the job done right the first time, as well as help you choose the right material, install it seamlessly, and maintain it properly.
Contact us today to learn more about our quality paving services in Austin, Temple, and San Antonio, and find out how we can help!