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Discover Why Concrete is Your Best Choice for Paving Projects

If you require paving services, you probably already know that you have two choices:
concrete or asphalt. So which of the two is the best choice? We'll give you a quick
rundown of their differences, and how they relate to paving projects.

Physical Differences Between Concrete and Asphalt

Hot mix asphalt is made of aggregates (stone, sand, gravel) and liquid asphalt, the oil-
based glue which is the glue that holds everything together. Concrete is made from
American materials such as limestone, rock and water. Concrete is also the most-used
manmade material in the world.

Safety Differences Between Paving with Concrete or Asphalt

Areas paved with asphalt require more maintenance than those paved with concrete.
As a result, there is less need for repair crews to handle maintenance of concrete streets
and parking lots. This means less congestion and disruption to work areas, and less
danger to road crews and drivers alike.

Rigid concrete is also more durable than asphalt. This means that streets paved with
concrete are less likely to have potholes. The surface of concrete is also better at
preventing automobile skidding, keeping drivers and their families safe.

Cost Differences of Building & Maintenance of Paving Materials

Concrete pavement's life can range anywhere from 20-40 years. But when you factor in
annual maintenance, asphalt pavement can cost four to seven times as much money to
maintain. This saves you long-term on repair and maintenance.

One recent article from an Iowa newspaper featured a town's decision to pave their
roads with either asphalt or concrete. It was pointed out that while a concrete street
would need little maintenance over a 30 year period, an asphalt street would require a
major resurfacing in just 15 years. A spokesperson for the Iowa Department of
Transportation also stated that "asphalt pavement is projected to require major
rehabilitation in approximately half the time as the concrete pavement." So paving with
concrete means less need for maintenance over the life of your street. The full article
can be found here.

Environmental Differences of Paving Materials

Concrete is 100% recyclable, and the most recycled construction material in the world.
So rather than ending up in your state's landfills, it can be broken down and used in new
pavement, or for other construction purposes.
According to a Federal Highway Administration technical advisory (T5080.3), it takes
over five times as much diesel fuel to make asphalt than it does to make concrete for a
road designed for the same amount of traffic.

America's Federal Highway Administration also reported that roughly 1.2 billion gallons
of diesel could be saved every year if paving was done with concrete instead of asphalt.
So how much fuel is 1.2 billion gallons, exactly? Enough to fill up the tank on a Ford F-
350 pick-up truck every day of the year, for 86 years straight. And that's just what is
wasted on fuel in only one year.

Since concrete pavement requires less repair and maintenance over time, less energy
and fuel is needed for heavy construction equipment. By reducing the amount of fuel
used by cars, trucks and maintenance equipment, we reduce America's dependence on
foreign oil. Not only that, but trucks use less fuel when traveling on concrete. That
keeps the cost of transporting goods down, and it means lower emissions from vehicles.

How Concrete Affects Lighting & Electric Bills

As you probably already know, it's best to wear bright or white clothing if you want to
reflect the sun on hot days. Dark colors absorb more heat, and the same applies to
paving materials. Concrete is light, and naturally reflective. Asphalt is black, and
absorbs more heat. A 2007 study (PCA Report SN2982) was done that proved lighter
paving materials reflected light the best.

So what difference does all that really make? For one, it keeps the areas around the
pavement cooler, which means less waste of electricity for air conditioning. Another
study (Stark 1986) also proved that work areas with concrete pavement required less
lighting than asphalt pavements. Since lighter colored pavement reflects indoor light
better, it means you get the same visibility, but with less lights needed. That study also
pointed out that with less lights, there would be more money saved when it came time to
install, operate, or maintain them. And as most people know, less lighting means less
heat, and less need to run the air conditioner.

For businesses that operate at night, having a concrete parking lot means better lighting,
and increased safety. Not only will it be easier for people to see, but a parking lot with
better visibility can make people feel safer, which makes your business more inviting.

So Which Building Material is Right for You?

When it comes to safety, durability, and environmental impact, concrete paving is


obviously the best choice for street paving and construction

Summary:

1. Concrete roads are more durable than asphalt roads.


2. Frequent repairs are not needed for concrete roads when compared to asphalt roads. Extreme
weather conditions are liable to damage asphalt roads more than concrete roads.

3. Maintenance is easier with asphalt roads. Maintenance of a part of the asphalt road is possible.

4. Concrete roads are not damaged from oil leaks, like asphalt roads.

5. Concrete roads come with a higher paving cost than asphalt roads. Moreover, it takes less time
to lay an asphalt road than a concrete road.

6. Asphalt roads have better skid resistance and provide good traction. Snow melts faster on
asphalt roads than on concrete roads.

Update : The statement that concrete costs more than asphalt has become obsolete with the
substantial increase in oil prices and reduction in asphaltic bitumen. The significance of the
latter item is substantial if you investigate: what were once waste products (used for asphaltic
bitumen) are now refined to higher value products via the use of cokers. These cokers have
consequently reduced the amount of bitumen available for use in asphalt pavements which, of
course, has driven up asphalt prices greatly. In fact, quick research would find that for the first
time in history, concrete and asphalt pavements are either on par or often, concrete bids are
coming in lower than asphalt. Couple this new reality with the other key life-cycle facts you
cite in your article and you have a more informative document that tells the story that we as tax
payers deserve to know that concrete pavements, dollar for dollar, are better value than asphalt
pavements. Thanks for considering and researching this important information further to the
end of being more accurate in your information provided to the world. (Credit : Rob Wallace)

Some reasons concrete pavements are selected include:

Concrete pavements are typically more expensive initially; however, the life-cycle cost of
concrete can be comparable to that of asphalt.
The increased stiffness of concrete makes it able to withstand heavier wheel loads without
risk of rutting. This is the main reason concrete pavement is used for bus stops, areas of
heavy truck traffic, and even loading docks and warehouse slabs.
Since concrete does not rut, there is less risk of water accumulation on the pavement,
which reduces the chance of vehicles hydroplaning.
During construction, concrete is less dependent upon the subgrade soils and is better able
to bridge soft spots.
Routine maintenance can be reduced for some concrete pavements. When maintenance is
required, it can be smaller in scope when having to replace select concrete areas.
Concrete can be colored and/or stamped into a pattern that can be aesthetically appealing.

While there are some recognized benefits to selecting one material over the other, many political
factors come into play. Many issues, such as life expectancy, ease and cost of maintenance, and
long-term smoothness are hotly debated in the industry. In the end, personal preference and
construction costs are often the deciding factor in whether to select asphalt or concrete for the
paving material.

Damon Thomas, P.E., is associate/ pavement engineer and division manager with
CTL|Thompson Materials Engineers Inc., the materials engineering and construction observation
division of CTL|Thompson Inc., Denver.

Concrete Roads vs Asphalt Roads


written by: Suvo edited by: Lamar Stonecypher updated: 8/17/2010

Asphalt roads wear more than concrete roads, but many countries are replacing concrete roads
with asphalt because it is cheaper, despite concrete roads having some major advantages. Learn
about the advantages and disadvantages of the different road paving surfaces in this article.
If you have traveled from Pune to Mumbai by road then you might have noticed the beautiful
concrete expressway. In almost all the new major road construction you can see the use of
concrete rather than asphalt these days. At the same time, some popular highways are still in
asphalt.

Advantages of Concrete Roadways


o Durability and maintenance free life: Concrete roads have a long service life of forty years,
whereas asphalt roads last for ten years. More over, during this service life concrete road do
not require frequent repair or patching work like asphalt roads.
o Vehicles consume less fuel: A vehicle, when run over a concrete road, consumes 15-20%
less fuel than that on asphalt roads. This is because of the fact that a concrete road does not
get deflected under the wheels of loaded trucks.
o Resistant to automobile fuel spillage and extreme weather: Unlike asphalt roads, concrete
roads do not get damaged by the leaking oils from the vehicles or by the extreme weather
conditions like excess rain or extreme heat.
o Greener process: Asphalt (bitumen) produces lots of highly polluting gases at the time of
melting it for paving. Also, less fuel consumption by the vehicle running on a concrete road
means less pollution.
o Saving of natural resources: Asphalt (bitumen) is produced from imported petroleum, the
reserve of which is becoming reduced drastically. On the other hand, concrete (cement) is
produced from abundantly available limestone.

Disadvantages of Concrete Roadways


o Paving cost: The paving cost of the concrete road is little higher compared to asphalt paving.
o Maintenance Problem: In case the concrete road breaks, the whole concrete slab needs to be
replaced.
o Safety features: In rainy and the winter season vehicles tend to slip or slide on concrete road
due to rain and snow.

Advantages of Asphalt (Bitumen) Road


o Economical: Asphalt is still less costly compared to concrete. Moreover, it takes less time to
build a asphalt road than a concrete road. (Asphalt dries faster.)
o Recyclable: Asphalt is a recyclable material. It can be used again and again by melting it.
o Easy maintenance: Repairing just a prt of the asphalt road is easily possible. Asphalt roads
even can be relayered over the old layer.
o Safe: Asphalt roads provide better traction and skid resistance for vehicles. Asphalt tends to
help keep roads free from ice and snow.

Disadvantages of Asphalt (Bitumen) Road


o Durability: heavy rain and other extreme weather conditions damage the asphalt road, and
the roads need to be repaired frequently.
o Weather Pollution: Melting asphalt produces lots of harmful green house gases. Also costly
petroleum is required to produce asphalt.

Conclusion
Concrete roads are highly durable and more environmentally friendly as compared to asphalt
roads. However asphalt paving costs far less than concrete paving. Also, asphalt road provides a
little better safety of the vehicle against snow and skidding.
Concrete Roads vs Asphalt Roads

Asphalt roads wear more than concrete roads, but many countries are replacing concrete roads with
asphalt because it is cheaper, despite concrete roads having some major advantages. Learn about the
advantages and disadvantages of the different road paving surfaces in this article.

Advantages of Concrete Roadways

1. Durability and maintenance free life: Concrete roads have a long service life of forty years, whereas
asphalt roads last for ten years. More over, during this service life concrete road do not require frequent
repair or patching work like asphalt roads.

2. Vehicles consume less fuel: A vehicle, when run over a concrete road, consumes 15-20% less fuel than
that on asphalt roads. This is because of the fact that a concrete road does not get deflected under the
wheels of loaded trucks.

3. Resistant to automobile fuel spillage and extreme weather: Unlike asphalt roads, concrete roads do
not get damaged by the leaking oils from the vehicles or by the extreme weather conditions like excess
rain or extreme heat.

3. Greener process: Asphalt (bitumen) produces lots of highly polluting gases at the time of melting it for
paving. Also, less fuel consumption by the vehicle running on a concrete road means less pollution.

4. Saving of natural resources: Asphalt (bitumen) is produced from imported petroleum, the reserve of
which is becoming reduced drastically. On the other hand, concrete (cement) is produced from
abundantly available limestone.

Disadvantages of Concrete Roadways

1. Paving cost: The paving cost of the concrete road is little higher compared to asphalt paving.

2. Maintenance Problem: In case the concrete road breaks, the whole concrete slab needs to be
replaced.

3. Safety features: In rainy and the winter season vehicles tend to slip or slide on concrete road due to
rain and snow.

Advantages of Asphalt (Bitumen) Road

1. Economical: Asphalt is still less costly compared to concrete. Moreover, it takes less time to build a
asphalt road than a concrete road. (Asphalt dries faster.)

2. Recyclable: Asphalt is a recyclable material. It can be used again and again by melting it.

3. Easy maintenance: Repairing just a part of the asphalt road is easily possible. Asphalt roads even can
be relayered over the old layer.

4. Safe: Asphalt roads provide better traction and skid resistance for vehicles. Asphalt tends to help keep
roads free from ice and snow.

Disadvantages of Asphalt (Bitumen) Road

1. Durability: heavy rain and other extreme weather conditions damage the asphalt road, and the roads
need to be repaired frequently.

2. Weather Pollution: Melting asphalt produces lots of harmful green house gases. Also costly petroleum
is required to produce asphalt.
Conclusion

Concrete roads are highly durable and more environmentally friendly as compared to asphalt roads.
However asphalt paving costs far less than concrete paving. Also, asphalt road provides a little better
safety of the vehicle against snow and skidding.