Why Are Commercial Parking Lots Made with Asphalt?

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Why Choose Asphalt Over Concrete?

Pavement projects are supposed to be designed to last, and the companies that contract paving firms to provide them expect to receive durability, easy maintenance, and project completion within a set budget.

They also expect that the paving professionals with which they work will know what their projects need, but that nearly blind trust can leave teams wondering what, exactly, they’re paying to receive — and whether they’ll see a return on their investments.

After all, when it comes time to lay the plans for a commercial parking lot, companies may think they have two choices: concrete or asphalt. The reality is that that decision has been made for them, and most commercial parking lots are completed with asphalt — not concrete — for a variety of reasons.

Whether your company needs a commercial parking solution to be added alongside one of its business locations, to create an additional lot across the street, or you are considering parking lot repaving, this quick guide will help explain why so many commercial parking lots are created with one material over the other.

Asphalt Makes for Easy Maintenance

Concrete is comprised of crushed rock and sand aggregate bound together with cement and water. It stiffens as it dries, but it is prone to cracking and breaking if the underlying surface isn’t even. Asphalt is also created using an aggregate material, but its binding agent is bitumen instead of cement.

Bitumen comes from crude oil, making it hard and durable but also flexible — which, in turn, allows it to be more forgiving of imperfections below the surface. This flexibility prevents cracking and breaking, which makes asphalt paving projects more manageable in the long run.

Maintaining an asphalt commercial parking lot is very simple. Every 12 to 20 years, your construction company will need to come back to mill the surface (remove at least part of the paved surface), recycle what it strips away, and replace the removed materials with an overlay (new asphalt added to the foundation of the old pavement). A steamroller goes over the entire surface once this milling and overlaying resurfacing process is completed, ensuring your company’s commercial parking lot is smooth and ready for traffic.

Resurfacing adds structural integrity to an asphalt paving project, too, which results in a strengthening of the surface layer while utilizing the existing base layer.

This process saves your company money, improves the quality of the paved surface, and protects your commercial parking lot investment for years to come. Best of all, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, this milling and overlaying process can be repeated for decades without needing to tear up the asphalt completely to start from scratch.

Construction Speeds: Asphalt vs. Concrete

Concrete projects require long curing times and specific conditions to set properly, then result in a hard, brittle surface that is prone to cracking and breaking over time. Asphalt, on the other hand, has a much shorter curing time, thereby minimizing disruptions to traffic patterns, parking needs, and other commerce issues.

Asphalt projects can be completed in a weekend or during the night when sections of a parking lot aren’t needed, keeping daily life frustrations to a minimum and reducing negative impacts to regular business hours. When considering concrete vs. asphalt the timeline of the project is one significant factor in the overall decision-making process. 

Durability That Will Last for Years

When it comes to parking lots, concrete has a specific purpose. It’s only necessary if the pavement in question must withstand heavy loads from trucks, machinery items or other weight-intensive structures.

Also, because concrete is less porous than asphalt, water tends to accumulate on concrete pads. This creates additional opportunities for pavement breakage as well as potential hazards for those driving on the concrete surface.

Asphalt is more porous than its concrete counterpart, meaning it drains faster. Parking lots and roadways constructed with asphalt tend to see less standing water than those made from concrete, meaning less hazardous driving and parking conditions.

Asphalt is recyclable, too, meaning it’s easy to remove the top layer, replace it with a new surface, and recycle the discarded materials.

Should your company’s asphalt project crack, a repair can be completed by one asphalt professional in one afternoon, restoring your commercial parking lot surface’s functionality in just a few hours. Concrete, by comparison, requires sections to be removed and completely replaced, making long-term durability less of an option.

The Price Factor

Concrete lots are expensive. That their materials are unforgiving and often crack, require longer curing times, and are more challenging to maintain makes them a much more costly option than turning to asphalt. Asphalt’s flexibility, durability, shorter curing times, and easy maintenance makes for fewer repair requirements and fewer disruptions the business, making it the better investment of the two for most facilities.

Other Factors

While it may not seem like a massive issue for a parking lot, the materials involved in asphalt paving conduct sound more effectively than concrete. Studies have proven that asphalt is more effective at reducing tire-pavement interference noise and roadway noise pollution than adding noise barrier walls to highways. As such, paving with asphalt will likely minimize disruption for those who drive and park on it.

Give Us a Call

Asphalt parking lots last longest when they’re done correctly, and having an industry-proven, time-tested paving partner can go a long way toward getting the best return on your company’s investment. Best of all, working with a contractor that has extensive experience with paving needs like yours ensures that all elements of your project have been taken into consideration.

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