The Benefits of Asphalt vs. Concrete

Written by Alicia Wagoner, July 2014.

Often times you seek to do business with companies that specialize in the explicit thing you need. It gives you confidence in the work to be done – after all, they specialize in it, right? It just so happens DRYCO Construction, Inc. specializes in a whole lot of things; from concrete to striping and saw cutting to fencing. But let’s talk about pavement options. Better yet, let’s talk about asphalt.

An alternative to the smooth black pavement option may be concrete and I’m not going to talk about which option is better for you – we sell both and we deliver awesome quality no matter what service we’re completing for you! It just seems like lately people have been wanting a whole lot of cement and I’m beginning to wonder why asphalt is being so neglected. It occurred to me that maybe you might not know just how great asphalt is. There are some key things to know if you’re considering, or even open to considering, choosing asphalt over concrete. Some of the benefits of asphalt include:

  • Go Green! – Asphalt is 100% recyclable
  • Low Cost – Asphalt is cheaper upfront than concrete
  • Time – Cure time is pretty quick, as well as the time for the job to be completed
  • Safety & Smoothness – Asphalt offers safety features that concrete lacks as well as the preferred quiet & smooth ride

 

Sustainability

First, let’s talk about that ‘Go Green!’ initiative. According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), “asphalt is America’s most recycled material” with more than “100 million tons of old pavement reclaimed every year.” 100 million tons – that’s 13,333,333 elephants (and one poached elephant to be exact: 13,333,333.33). Not only is this amazing ecological-advocating news, but a trending one. Of all the general aviation airports in the United States, 85 percent use asphalts on their runways. Similarly, asphalt seems to be a popular option for parking lots, with 85 percent of U.S. parking lots being comprised of asphalt.

DRYCO Construction, Inc. prides itself in being one of the recycling leaders in the industry. As a business we hold our own recycling yard where we grind up old asphalt and reuse it as a base for future jobs. Annually, DRYCO recycles over 65,000 tons of asphalt and concrete. We bring bins to our job sites for our crew members to utilize, separating materials for recycling. At this point, I’m sure you’re on board for the eco-friendliness of asphalt, but I can anticipate the question on any commercial property manager or public work official’s mind: what’s the sticker price for this fantastic asphalt stuff?

To read more about the environmentally friendly qualities of asphalt, you can find NAPA’s report here.

 

Price

You can do your own research, and I suggest you do when making any important decision, but all sources will agree that asphalt is the cheapest upfront paving option. I won’t attempt to ignore the fact that yes, it doesn’t quite have the longevity of concrete and will need some maintenance. Let’s go ahead and crunch the numbers.

Two tons of asphalt and two tons of concrete with DRYCO will cost the same. However, the surface area covered by each is different. As explained by DRYCO’s owner, Daren Young during a pavement seminar, though asphalt and concrete cost about the same inch by inch and weight by weight, jobs require laying out more concrete material over the base than asphalt. In the image below (Figure A) you can see Daren holding visual representations of the differences of asphalt and concrete quantities used for a basic driveway: Holding concrete in his left hand and asphalt in his right. The other image (Figure B) will also help you understand further how each of the two are laid out and how maintenance costs play into the job. After the seal coating, to be done every 3-5 years, the two pavement jobs will end up costing you about the same amount (Figure C). Strictly speaking about the sticker price, it’ll really boil down to how much capital you have up-front for the job you need. This should definitely not be the only thing to take into consideration though. Things like weather conditions, and how much weight you plan to have driving over the pavement are among other important things to take into consideration. Keep in mind however, maintenance fees and the life of your asphalt will largely depend on the quality of the sub-grade and design which DRYCO is sure to do well. Let’s say one of your important considerations is how long the entire process will take. What if you need the job to get done fast?

Figure A
Figure A
Figure B
Figure B
Figure C
Figure C

 

Timeliness

There isn’t much to be said when comparing asphalt and concrete on dry time and layout time. Inarguably, asphalt is the quickest. Regardless of what ways you manipulate concrete to cure it quicker, asphalt will still be set in a shorter amount of time. This may or may not be relevant to you. If it’s a job you need done quickly and you need to be able to sustain weight on the surface within a short period of time, then asphalt is a superior option. The Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa (APAI) explains in an article that “asphalt concrete is machine-placed, removing the need for time-consuming form work and steel reinforcement.” This means that traffic, people, and other vehicles can use the asphalt almost immediately. All this information is pretty technical but we also care about more individual, subjective concerns of the people who will be using the pavement on a day to day basis. This raises the question of safety and comfort. To read more about asphalt benefits you can read the article here.

 

Safe & Sound

A safety feature to consider is simply the contrast of dark asphalt against white or yellow striping making for visual clarity of traffic regulating signs. In accordance with popular beliefs, asphalt also tends to help keep ice and snow off the roads due to the science of heat absorption by dark asphalt. This is particularly beneficial in the rainy and winter season.

Due to the machine-placement of the pavement, APAI tells us that the surface “has a uniform surface unsurpassed by other pavements.” According to studies reported by the Asphalt Pavement Alliance, “driving on smoother surfaces can reduce fuel consumption in the neighborhood of 4.5 to 5 percent compared to the fuel consumption on a rough pavement” – like concrete. Concrete usually gets laid down in sections which creates a rough surface with bumps between slabs. A Swedish study concluded that “vehicles traveling on the smoothest roads in the country’s network consumed up to 10 percent less fuel than vehicles on their roughest roads.” That’s just another little environmental bonus for you on the smoothness. Of course, most of us can agree that we prefer a nice smooth and quiet ride as opposed to the rough bumpiness typically associated with concrete. Again, I’ll leave this up to your own preference.

 

Conclusion

It would quite honestly be bold of me to tell you one is absolutely better than the other. It really is a decision to be made with lots of consideration of a lot of things. Things to consider are what the job is, how much capital you have in hand to invest in the project, what sort of things you expect to be utilizing the pavement (heavy trucks, airplanes, cars, people, etc.), how quick you need to get it done, among many other things – even personal aesthetic preferences. This blog post focused on the benefits of asphalt, but that’s not to say concrete won’t be the product for you. In hopes that it may help a bit, you can view the image below to see what each of the two are generally used for. Whatever your paving needs are, DRYCO Construction, Inc. is confident that we will deliver excellent quality and satisfaction.  Click here for to schedule a free estimate today! Check out our other services as well to see how DRYCO can service any other needs such as ADA Upgrades, Game Courts, and Fence/Iron.

Note: We have recently acquired the company Northern California Fence. Read the press release here.

Typical Uses

References:
http://www.asphaltpavement.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=824&Itemid=1250
http://www.asphaltpavement.org/images/stories/sustainability_report_2009.pdf
http://www.asphaltroads.org/why-asphalt/why-choose-asphalt/
http://www.dryco.com/assets/downloads/DRYCO_spring_08.pdf
http://www.pwmag.com/bridges/asphalt-versus-concrete.aspx
http://www.greatdayimprovements.com/asphalt-vs-concrete-driveways.aspx
http://www.buildingspeed.org/blog/2012/09/dover-cement-vs-asphalt/

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