Concrete or Asphalt: Which Is Better for Your Commercial Parking Lot?

Asphalt and concrete are both durable, desirable materials for your project, but one will be better suited than the other based on the climate you live in, the intended use of your parking lot and your budget. Learn more about each material before making a final decision.

The Differences

Concrete is a mix of an aggregate, cement and water. The cement is the binding ingredient that holds the aggregate (which is typically sand or crushed gravel) in place after the mixture is circulated.

Asphalt also uses an aggregate, but instead of cement as the binding ingredient, it uses bitumen. Bitumen comes from crude oil. It is heated and mixed with the aggregate, poured into place, then press down with a steamroller.

Benefits of Concrete: Low-Cost, Long-Lasting

Concrete is an environmentally friendly material. Water runoff is clean and safe for the surrounding ecosystem. The product is less expensive and less labor is needed for installation, resulting in a lower bill all around.

Since concrete is a lighter material, it does not absorb as much heat as asphalt, so you will not have to worry about the “heat island” effect, which can be a common problem with asphalt parking lots in the summer months. The lighter color also makes it possible to install fewer lighting fixtures and still retain the same amount of visibility, which will save you money on electricity costs.

Concrete is a durable, reflecting material that can work for a parking lot for up to 40 years. While minor repairs may be necessary for cracks and crumbling, no major resurfacing has to be completed while the slab is in use if it is used properly.

Benefits of Asphalt: Sturdy, Recyclable

Asphalt is commonly used for roads and parking lots, mainly due to its ability to stand up against freezing winter temperatures. While concrete is unacceptable to damage from the contract involved with the freeze / thaw cycle, asphalt is less affected by this condition. Also, since the material is dark and absorbs heat from the sun, even in winter, snow melts quickly off of an asphalt surface.

Asphalt is also completely recyclable. When it comes time to rip up and replace it, the material will not go to a landfill, but can be reused for other purposes.

The drawback to using asphalt is the price-it is typically much more expensive to pave with asphalt than concrete because the cost is directly tied to the price of oil.

The use of an oil derivative in this material is also cause for environmental concern. Water that runs off an asphalt parking lot will be tainted with chemicals and have a much higher temperature than water than runs off concrete.

Finally, asphalt must be resurfaced every few years to retain its durability, which adds maintenance costs to the total expense.

Deciding between concrete or asphalt is difficult, but a professional can help provide more insight into the positives and negatives associated with each choice-trust the opinion of a concrete repair specialist when making your decision.

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