Why Choose Asphalt Over Concrete?

August 9, 2020

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When it’s time to install a new driveway or parking lot, you typically need to choose between asphalt and concrete. Both materials are strong and durable and each offers their own benefits for property owners, but asphalt is quickly becoming a favorite choice even for homeowners. Knowing why asphalt is often chosen over concrete ensures you choose the best one for your property and are happy with that new installation for years to come.

Some advantages of asphalt versus concrete include:

  • Asphalt provides added traction, reducing the risk of skidding and traffic collisions.
  • Asphalt’s dark color cuts down on glare while also helping melt snow and ice.
  • The soft texture of asphalt absorbs sound waves, creating a quieter outside environment.
  • Asphalt is typically cheaper to install and its installation process is considered more eco-friendly than concrete.

Before you decide on a paving material for your property, note some added details about an asphalt installation and why it’s often considered a better choice than concrete. You might also note some added tips for keeping new asphalt in good condition over the years, including some details about chip sealant, tar and chip paving, and sealcoating.

Once you’ve reviewed all this information, don’t hesitate to discuss any questions you have with an asphalt installation contractor near you. He or she might note some added advice for your property in particular, and help you choose the right paving material based on average vehicle traffic, weather conditions, and your budget!

Advantages of Asphalt Over Concrete

Consider some details about asphalt paving especially when compared to concrete so you know why blacktop is the perfect choice for your residential or commercial property paving needs!

  • Asphalt contains a high concentration of aggregate, giving its surface a bumpy texture. That texture creates more traction for vehicles, reducing the risk of skidding and sliding when behind the wheel. This feature is especially vital if you live in an area with lots of rain and snowfall, as wet pavement is always more slick and hazardous for driving than dry!
  • Asphalt’s bumpy texture also reduces standing water that softens pavement and leads to cracking, splitting, and spalling.
  • Asphalt’s dark color reduces glare in bright sunlight and provides a crisp backdrop for parking lines and other such markings.
  • The dark color of asphalt also helps melt snow and ice, reducing the need for snow salt and clearing services. Faster melting also reduces the risk of vehicles skidding and sliding during inclement weather!
  • Blacktop is very porous, which helps it absorb sound waves and vibrations. If you live near a busy highway or other noise nuisance, or own a commercial facility with lots of heavy, loud trucks coming and going, asphalt can help reduce bothersome noise and damaging vibration.
  • As asphalt absorbs vibration better than concrete, this can also mean less wear and tear on vehicles as they drive.
  • Soft asphalt underfoot protects you during play; if you’re deciding on paving material for a tennis or basketball court, for example, note that soft asphalt can mean less wear and tear on your joints and back as you play. Soft asphalt also slows down ball speed, often making play more enjoyable for amateurs who can’t always keep up with the game!
  • During installation, concrete must be mixed constantly to keep it from drying and curing before it’s poured. In turn, a concrete installer might run their mixing truck, resulting in lots of fumes and emissions and making asphalt installation much more eco-friendly overall.
  • Aggregate in asphalt gives the material its color, toning down the black shade of its petroleum base. If you prefer a lighter shade for your property’s pavement, you can choose any number of aggregate tones and colors, for a unique and less industrial look on your property.

What Is a Tar and Chip Driveway, Chip Seal, and Asphalt Sealcoating?

To ensure you make the best choice for pavement installation on your property and know how to maintain new asphalt over the years, it’s helpful to review the differences between a tar and chip installation, a chip seal, and asphalt sealcoating. First note that asphalt contains a mixture of liquid asphalt cement, sand, and crushed rock or aggregates. These “ingredients” are mixed together and spread while hot, and then rolled into place and allowed to set.

A tar and chip installation uses the same materials; however, rather than mixing these together and then spreading that over the area to be paved, the liquid asphalt is first spread and then aggregates or chips are scattered over its top. The material is then pressed into place and allowed to cure or set. Tar and chip installations are more affordable than premixed asphalt but not as tough and durable, so they’re often used for residential driveways but not parking lots and public roads.

A chip seal is similar to a tar and chip but not meant for pavement installation; instead, a chip seal is spread over current asphalt, to fill in small cracks and cover unsightly spalling. A chip seal is an excellent choice for repairing large areas of asphalt and for restoring its overall color and tone. Chip sealing can even extend the life of your asphalt installation by several years.

Sealcoating adds a layer of protection over asphalt, protecting it from harsh weather and sunlight, moisture, and heavy traffic. Sealants are not meant to fill in cracks or correct spalling and other such damage, but they can restore asphalt’s appearance and provide a fresh new background for parking stripes and other markings.

Is Asphalt Difficult to Maintain Over the Years?

When deciding on a paving material, it’s vital that you consider its overall maintenance and not just its installation costs! More needed maintenance means more work and cost for property owners, and can also mean pavement in disrepair if you cannot afford the work or time needed to ensure that pavement is in good condition.

To ensure you maintain new asphalt and keep it looking its best, first consider what typically damages asphalt over the years. Motor oil and other corrosive fluids break down asphalt’s petroleum base, allowing it to become soft and more prone to chips and cracks. Regular pressure washing removes damaging oil, chemicals, snow salt, and other such substances, while also ensuring asphalt looks its best.

Sealcoating also protects asphalt, as said. It’s vital that you schedule regular sealcoating services for your property’s pavement, typically every three years. However, you might consider sealcoating more often, even annually, for properties exposed to harsh sunlight and long, cold winters, and for pavement subject to heavy vehicle traffic and other excessive wear and tear.

Water seeping into lower layers of asphalt breaks down the material and increases the risk of cracks, chips, and spalling. Repairing cracks and other damage right away, while also ensuring proper drainage on your property, protects asphalt from water damage and premature breakdown. Your asphalt installation contractor can also note added tips for ensuring your new pavement is in good condition over the years.

Is Asphalt an Eco-Friendly Paving Option?

With more and more consumers worried about making eco-friendly choices for their properties, it’s vital to consider whether or not asphalt is an eco-friendly paving option. Some homeowners and commercial property owners might assume that asphalt is damaging to the environment simply because it’s made with petroleum; however, note that petroleum emits fumes and emission only when it burns, not when used to create blacktop!

Sand and aggregate used in asphalt are also readily available and not difficult to harvest. Old asphalt is also recyclable, and manufacturers might add chunks of reclaimed asphalt to new batches, reducing the new for virgin materials and keeping that reclaimed asphalt out of landfills.

While asphalt does require the use of rollers to compact the material before it dries and hardens, these might run for far less time than concrete mixers used on a jobsite when concrete is poured. This makes asphalt a very eco-friendly choice for any property.

Can You DIY Asphalt Installation?

Before you start shopping prices for a roller and other equipment needed for asphalt installation, it’s vital that you consider why you’ll want to leave this work in the hands of a pro. One consideration is that asphalt must be a certain thickness to withstand everyday traffic on your property, but you don’t want to pay for unnecessary layers!

Asphalt can also only be so thick before it adds too much weight to your property’s soil; applying just a few inches now means that you can add a chip sealant or new layer of asphalt when needed, saving the cost of a full tear-out while providing you with fresh pavement. A professional asphalt installation contractor can note the recommended thickness for your property while ensuring your new pavement isn’t overly thick.

Proper pressing and curing is also vital, to ensure asphalt stays strong over the years and resists chipping and other such damage. Before you attempt to take on asphalt installation yourself, consider investing in a paving contractor instead, so you know the work will last for years to come.


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