When it’s time to decide on the materials for a parking lot, you have two traditional choices from which to choose, asphalt or concrete. Though they are similar, they have key differences that should be considered prior to making a decision. These considerations include aesthetics, maintenance, cost, restrictions and in Northwest Ohio, climate. Both have pros and cons.
Asphalt is flexible, and is used most often for road construction because of its low cost and installation time. It can also be driven on the same day it’s laid. However, asphalt requires regular maintenance to keep it in proper condition, where concrete does not.
Concrete is a rigid pavement, and is more expensive because it’s more labor-intensive to construct. Since it can be more pleasing, it is often used for driveways and smaller surfaces. Its also used on areas that require a strong pavement surface, such as areas where trucks drive, loading docks and gas stations. Concrete is also less susceptible to water and Petro-chemicals.
Even with a parking lot, appearance plays a roll. Since asphalt is black, it extends the look and concept of a parking lot or driveway from the road. Traditionally, concrete is off-white. However, there are things that can be done to both asphalt or concrete to get away from the traditional black vs. off-white colors.
A general rule of thumb is that concrete is an easier material to work with in order to get different finishes. It can be tinted or stained in a wide variety of colors. Concrete can also be stamped with different designs, etched or engraved to give it a custom look. Additionally, there are choices of finishes such as exposed or brushed aggregate. All of these options can give your parking lot or driveway a look tailored distinctly for you.
Asphalt is more limited. Since it must be rolled and compressed, there is little that can be accomplished in the way of unique finishes. Moreover, until recently, there was very little that could be done to move away from the standard black when it comes to color. Now, there are tints that can be added at the end as a sealant or even integral coloring added during mixing.
When considering maintenance, there are definite differences between asphalt and concrete. After roughly six months to a year, asphalt needs to be sealed. Followed by subsequent sealing every three-five years thereafter. When properly maintained, asphalt can have an extended life of up to thirty years.
A concrete surface does not necessarily need to be sealed, and can last up to fifty years. A concrete surface that is sealed can preserve the look and finish. It stains easier than asphalt, and requires a degreaser to remove any oil-based stains that may occur.
Both asphalt and concrete surface cracks can be repaired. Asphalt cracks are easier to repair and blend into the original more closely. With a concrete surface, the repairs are more obvious due to weathering. Additionally, with asphalt if the surface falls into disrepair, it can be resurfaced fairly reasonably, whereas with concrete, that isn’t possible.
Concrete has a tendency to crack and suffer from frost heaving in the cold, frozen winters. Salt used for melting ice can create pits leaving it blotched across the surface.
Asphalt on the other hand, has issues in the extreme heat. The tar in asphalt becomes soft and tacky, and will even deform in some cases.
As you can see, choosing asphalt or concrete has pros and cons. There are other factors involved, such as pricing and perhaps regulations, but these are a few things to consider before making a decision.