When it comes to paving materials, concrete and asphalt are the most common options. Asphalt is a blend of sand, aggregate, and a liquid cement. These parts are mixed and then heated until the right consistency of asphalt is created. It is commonly used for the construction of airport runways, roads, railway platforms, and parking lots.
Why is Asphalt Commonly Used in Construction
There are many reasons why asphalt might be used over concrete, but probably the main one is the fact that it has a much quicker installation time. Unlike concrete that can take up to a week to fully set before it can be used, asphalt is poured when it is hot, after which it will cool and harden very quickly. In fact, according to the good folk at Parking Lot Pros, asphalt paving is usually ready to use after just twenty-four hours.
Another benefit of asphalt paving is the price. When compared to concrete, the cost of an asphalt parking lot is considerably lower. It is not just the installation price either. The cost to repair asphalt is also lower than it is to repair concrete.
Those who advocate for asphalt over concrete also champion the ease of maintenance of this material. Asphalt seal coating keeps roads and parking lots looking good and protects them from cracks and water penetration. Furthermore, the nature of asphalt is for it to expand and contract, meaning that it is not as severely impacted by surface movement or extreme temperatures in the same way that concrete might be.
What are the Disadvantages of Asphalt?
Just as there are downsides to using concrete, there are also some disadvantages associated with asphalt paving. Although you might be told that maintenance of asphalt is easy to do, it does require more maintenance than alternative paving materials such as concrete (which is incredibly low maintenance). In fact, although you can have your asphalt paving seal coated, this is something that must be done every three to five years. And although asphalt can be used after 24 hours, if it is seal coated, it can take up to 72 hours before it is ready to drive on.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of asphalt paving is the fact that it does not have as long of a lifespan as concrete. Most asphalt paving will last for up to 25 years – but only if it has been properly cared for and installed correctly. This means getting the asphalt seal coated every three to five years to prevent cracks. Concrete paving, on the other hand, can last for 30 years or more with little to no maintenance.
In environmental terms, asphalt is by far the inferior choice. During the making of the asphalt mixture, hydrocarbons that contribute to pollution are emitted. Asphalt is petroleum based, and even once it has been laid it can be a major source of pollution, especially in hot, sunny conditions. A study conducted at Yale University found that ‘asphalt could be a long-lasting source of pollution’ and that emissions are higher in sunny locations.
There are many good reasons for using asphalt for paving. It is cheaper and quicker to install, and with regular care and maintenance, it can last for up to 25 years. However, there are also downsides to asphalt paving such as the fact that it does require more maintenance than other paving materials and that it does not have as long of a lifespan. Furthermore, asphalt can be harmful for the environment, emitting greenhouse gases that contribute to air pollution and global warming.