Installing a parking lot on a commercial property you manage can lead to higher rents and higher-quality tenants. You generally have two choices for materials for a tenant’s parking lot — concrete or asphalt.
While concrete and asphalt are sometimes confused with each other, they have distinct differences. You’re likely to find yourself comparing the cost of asphalt to concrete, the sustainability of each material and their maintenance requirements.
ToriTom Services offers asphalt paving and concrete flatwork services for commercial property managers. Whether you manage a shopping center or gas station, we can work with you to help you choose the paving material that works best for your project.
What Is Concrete?
Concrete is made using a mixture of about 10%-15% cement, 60%-75% aggregate — a combination of pebbles, sand and stones — and 15%-20% water. Concrete is easily malleable after it’s mixed. After it hardens, concrete becomes a durable material, able to resist damage from chemicals and weather. Concrete is a popular building material because it can withstand excessive pressure and weight. Once dried, concrete is rigid and can crack and break if the ground underneath is not smooth.
What Is Asphalt?
Asphalt also contains a mixture of aggregates and includes bitumen as a binder. Bitumen is the most prevalent material in asphalt, which is where its adhesive, sticky quality comes from. Bitumen also has waterproofing qualities that are ideal for asphalt. The majority of U.S. roads are made of bitumen or a combination of bitumen and aggregates. This mix of bitumen and aggregates is then poured and compacted using a steamroller to ensure proper binding. Asphalt dries quickly and is a flexible material that accommodates any underlying imperfections.
Similarities of Concrete and Asphalt
Although concrete and asphalt have many differences, they can be used for similar projects. Both materials are widely used in construction projects because they are strong and reliable. The main similarities include:
- Both concrete and asphalt are laid in layers and both start on a gravel base.
- Both materials use an aggregate of sand and stone.
- Different finishes can be applied to concrete and asphalt to add different textures and colors to the material.
- Both can be used for commercial paving.
- Both materials require a cure time before they can be used.
- Both are respectable options for parking lots and roadways, and ToriTom Services can help you make repairs.
Asphalt vs. Concrete
Both concrete and asphalt have their benefits, depending on the needs of your project.
Concrete has its benefits, especially when it comes to the Florida climate. In general, it makes a great material for parking lots and sidewalks. Asphalt is the most common roadway material, especially as engineers and scientists find more ways to make it environmentally friendly.
Compare the cost, maintenance needs, durability, looks, environmental impact, installation requirements, texture and drainage properties of asphalt and concrete to choose the material that’s right for your project.
If your driving factor in weighing asphalt versus concrete is cost, the choice is clear — asphalt is cheaper than concrete, at least in terms of upfront installation expenses.
Concrete repairs can also be costly, as they usually require pouring completely new concrete. While the cost of repairing concrete can be higher, it’s worth noting that well-maintained concrete often needs fewer repairs over time than asphalt.
Asphalt is typically more maintenance-heavy than concrete, although its repair needs are largely based on the location where it’s installed. In areas that experience a freeze and thaw each year, concrete is more likely to experience a considerable amount of wear and tear, as it’s susceptible to damage from cold weather.
Asphalt can develop potholes, often due to the combination of pressure from vehicles’ weight, heat and water damage. To protect your parking lot and minimize the number of complaints you receive from tenants, potholes need to be repaired and filled regularly.
Although more susceptible to deterioration than concrete, asphalt is simple to repair. Unlike concrete, you can easily repair a small section or the top layer of asphalt, and the repair seamlessly blends in with the existing pavement.
Oil leaks and extreme weather cause frequent deterioration on asphalt surfaces, which affects their life spans. Because of its durability, concrete generally lasts longer than asphalt. There are many factors that contribute to the life span of concrete. Depending on the level of use and the amount of care you put into protecting the material, concrete can last around 50 years.
In contrast, asphalt usually lasts around 20 years, provided it’s well-maintained.
In terms of appearance, concrete and asphalt have distinct differences. Asphalt is bound together with tar, which typically gives it a dark color. Concrete is held together with cement and is usually light grey or beige in color.
The installation process is different for asphalt and concrete. If you decide on concrete, your tenants will need to find somewhere else to park for about a week after the installation, as concrete needs several days to cure.
Asphalt is ready to be driven and parked on the same day it’s poured. To cure, asphalt must cool to the surrounding air temperature. This can happen almost as quickly as it was laid, which means asphalt can be used the same day it was installed. A few months after the installation, your asphalt parking lot will need a coat of sealant to help maintain its condition.
Asphalt can be recycled and is more environmentally friendly than concrete. Old asphalt can be ground up and reheated to be added to new asphalt pavements. In fact, asphalt is America’s most recycled product. In 2019, 89.2 million tons of asphalt were recycled into new mixes.
While concrete can’t be recycled, it doesn’t contain petroleum products.
Asphalt has more of a coarse texture than concrete. Drivers have better traction and more skid resistance on asphalt surfaces. However, it is possible to brush or stamp patterns into concrete to create a more abrasive finish and achieve similar results.
Concrete is impermeable and creates stormwater runoff during storms. Some types of asphalt, like permeable or porous asphalt, allow water to percolate through the pavement instead of creating more runoff into streams and other bodies of water.
Concrete is rigid, making it prone to damage in cold climates where frost expands and contracts the ground underneath and around a slab of concrete. Concrete can also deteriorate when salt is used to melt snow and ice, which is more prevalent in colder climates.
Cold climates don’t affect asphalt, and it doesn’t deteriorate from salt use. Due to its black color, asphalt can absorb the sun’s heat, naturally melting snow and ice faster than concrete. However, asphalt can soften and release oils in extreme heat, and the black surface can become very hot during summer temperatures.
Contact ToriTom Services for Concrete or Asphalt Repairs
At ToriTom Services, we understand the importance of maintaining the appearance of the sidewalk and parking lot outside of a commercial property. Customers and clients will be impressed when you take care of the outward appearance of your property. A well-paved parking lot or sidewalk can keep their cars in good shape and make for an easy walk from the parking lot.
If a sidewalk or parking lot on a commercial property you manage could use a touch-up, contact ToriTom Services for commercial asphalt repairs and maintenance and commercial concrete repairs. With a combined experience of several decades in the business, we’re confident you’ll be satisfied with our work. Contact us today with any questions or to request a free quote on our commercial property maintenance services.