If you are a business owner constructing or resurfacing your commercial parking lot, one of the first questions to cross your mind will probably be, “Which should I use: concrete or asphalt?” To answer this question there are many important factors to consider: cost, durability, maintenance, environmental impact, aesthetics and more. There is no simple choice; each material has its advantages and disadvantages. This blog offers a comparison of concrete and asphalt so that you can make an informed decision about what it best for your business.
Advantages of Concrete
- Durability: Typically, concrete has a longer life cycle than asphalt. On average, asphalt lasts 15-30 years, while 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.
- Low-Maintenance: While asphalt requires regular maintenance (crack and hole filling, seal coating, 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.
- Environmental Impact: Run-off from concrete parking lots is low toxicity and cooler than that of asphalt parking lots. In addition, concrete surfaces are lighter and more reflective than asphalt. This means that lighting in a concrete lot can be reduced, minimizing energy costs. Furthermore, many components of concrete are recyclable. Finally, concrete is a better material for warmer climates, such as the southern and western United States. When temperatures near or exceed 100ºF, asphalt can soften and become oily. Concrete, however, can endure extreme heat.
- Aesthetics: Concrete comes with a variety of color and texture design options. The material can be customized to fit specific aesthetic tastes.
Advantages of Asphalt
- Durability: Although concrete generally has a longer lifespan, if appropriately installed and properly maintained, asphalt can last over 20 years. Additionally, when asphalt’s lifespan has expired, it can often be milled and resurfaced without needing to remove the base.
- Low-Costs: Overall, concrete is 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 overtime as well.
- Environmental Impact: Although asphalt is a byproduct of oil, it is 100% recyclable. Meaning, old asphalt can be removed and converted into new asphalt at asphalt plants. 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.
- Aesthetics: One of the greatest appeals of asphalt is its sleek black surface. Not only does this look sharper in a commercial parking lot, it also allows line striping to contrast more clearly. This helps to prevent confusion and potential accidents in the lot. Additionally, asphalt provides a smoother, more enjoyable ride. Concrete joints create more bumps and interruptions to the driving experience.
As this blog demonstrates, asphalt and concrete are fairly comparable. Choosing the right material for your commercial lot depends on your needs for your business. In what climate is your business located? How much traffic will your lot receive? Which aesthetic look do you want for your business? How important is environmental impact to you and your business? Are you willing to shell out more cash for 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 and consult with a professional about your commercial parking lot needs.