There’s nothing more durable than a concrete parking lot. As a paving material, concrete can last for years without the need of much in the way of maintenance, which is much different than asphalt. Yet durability isn’t the only factor when it comes to choosing a concrete parking lot over asphalt — in fact, there are a number of situations where asphalt might be the much better choice. Here’s what you might not know about the benefits and drawbacks of concrete and asphalt.
Concrete Parking Lot Pros and Cons
As a building material, concrete has some major advantages to asphalt under certain conditions. In regions where you’re going to be experiencing very hot temperatures, concrete holds up much better than asphalt, which can soften and become oily in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the amount of maintenance a concrete lot needs is minimal, with just an annual cleaning and a joint sealing often enough to keep it in good shape.
However, installation of a concrete lot is often a much more long, drawn-out, and expensive process. Whereas you can have an asphalt lot up and running in as little as a couple of days, the time required for concrete to set and cure can sometimes see turn-around time being closer to a week. In instances where time is of the essence, having a concrete parking lot installed is not often the best idea.
How Asphalt Lots Differ from Concrete Ones
So what are the characteristics of an asphalt parking lot? For one, they’re much more resilient to cold weather than concrete lots. Asphalt lots are much less susceptible to expansion and contraction due to freezes and thaws, and road salt does little damage to asphalt pavement when compared to concrete. And while asphalt stays cooler in the heat due to its lighter color, asphalt’s darker pigment makes it excellent for absorbing heat in the winter, melting snow and ice faster than concrete.
That’s not all, though — unlike a concrete parking lot, an asphalt lot is much more environmentally friendly. Not only can asphalt be ground up and recycled into new pavement, which is something you can’t do with concrete, but there are also porous types of asphalt that make it easy for water to pass through it and be absorbed by the ground beneath it. Concrete is impermeable, and a concrete lot needs to have drainage matters taken into account whenever it’s being designed and implemented.
Not Better, Not Worse — Just Different
A concrete parking lot isn’t necessarily better or worse than an asphalt one. In fact, there are circumstances where each type of pavement excels. In more hotter climates, such as the south, concrete holds up much better than asphalt. However, regions where you experience four seasons (like New Jersey) benefit from having asphalt, which is much more resilient in cold weather.
Likewise, concrete may be a good choice if you have the time and the budget to allow for its longer curing and setting requirements. If you’re in a rush, or if you have resource limitations, asphalt is often a better choice. In the end, the choice is yours — be sure your paving contractor understands your needs and they’ll work with you to give you the best parking lot for your specific circumstances.