When constructing or resurfacing a commercial parking lot, property managers and owners frequently ask whether they would be better off with an asphalt parking lot or a concrete parking lot. The answer is that it depends. When considering a concrete vs asphalt parking lot, you should consider cost, durability, maintenance, environmental impact, and aesthetics. Because each material has its advantages and disadvantages, let’s compare several factors, so that you can make an informed decision about your lot.

Quick Comparison Concrete vs Asphalt Parking Lot 

Concrete vs Asphalt

Advantages of Concrete

  1. Lower Costs: ★★★★★ Concrete is about 35% more expensive than asphalt. The low-maintenance needs of concrete could possibly save on costs over decades. However, concrete is much more expensive to install and to repair when repairs are required. Furthermore, concrete takes much longer to install and repair, adding to the time a commercial lot cannot be used. Asphalt definitely saves on upfront expenses and, arguably, on expenses over time as well.
  2. Installation Time: ★★★★★ An asphalt parking lot can be installed and ready for use in a couple of days, but a concrete parking lot usually takes twice as long to install and often takes a week to be cured and ready for use.
  3. Durability: ★★★★ Although concrete generally has a longer lifespan, if appropriately installed and properly maintained, asphalt lasts more than 20 years, with an average of 15-30 years. In colder climates, asphalt is more durable since it isn’t as susceptible to freeze/thaw expansion and contraction or damaged by salt. Additionally, when asphalt’s lifespan has expired, it can often be milled and resurfaced without needing to remove the base.
  4. Environmental Impact: ★★★★ Although asphalt is a byproduct of oil, it is 100% recyclable and more eco-friendly than concrete. Old asphalt can be removed and converted into new asphalt at asphalt plants, and there is no limit to how many times asphalt can be reused and recycled. Concrete, on the other hand, has recyclable components but cannot be continually converted back into concrete. It can only be reused as a rock base or fill material for new concrete, or as new asphalt.
  5. Aesthetics: ★★★★★ While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one of the greatest appeals of asphalt is its sleek black surface. Not only does this look more dramatic in a commercial parking lot, it also allows line striping to contrast more clearly, preventing confusion and potential accidents in the lot. Additionally, asphalt provides a smoother, quieter, and more enjoyable ride. Concrete joints create more bumps and interruptions to the driving experience.

Advantages of a Concrete Parking Lot

  1. Durability: ★★★★★ Typically, concrete has a longer life cycle than asphalt. Concrete lasts 20-40 years. However, this can vary greatly depending on the quality of the paving job, the volume of traffic the lot receives and the climate in which the lot is built.
  2. Low Maintenance: ★★★★★ While asphalt requires regular maintenance (crack and hole filling, sealcoating, etc.), concrete requires very little maintenance other than joint sealing and annual cleaning. Concrete expansion joints allow the material to contract and expand. This allows it to crack in a controlled way and prevents it from breaking up, eliminating serious maintenance needs.
  3. Aesthetics: ★★★★★ Concrete comes with a variety of color and texture design options. The material can be customized to fit specific aesthetic tastes.

Ultimately, choosing the right material for your commercial lot is your decision. And you should ask yourself the following questions to inform your selection: In what climate is your commercial lot located? How much traffic will your lot receive? Which aesthetic look do you want and/or need for your business? How important is environmental impact to you? Are you willing to pay more upfront for potentially less maintenance over time? Or would you prefer a lower cost investment with a regular maintenance plan?

The important thing to remember—no matter which material you choose—is that proper installation and appropriate maintenance is critical to the integrity of your lot and your investment. Contact DC Construction Services today to consult with a professional about your commercial parking lot needs.