I think that everybody is well aware of the rising cost of oil and oil related products. This has placed enormous price pressure on asphalt (blacktop) contractors. The price difference between a concrete driveway and a asphalt driveway in many cases is the same. If you have never thought of having a concrete driveway placed on your property, hopefully this page will convince you to do so.
Asphalt is similar to concrete except that rather than using Portland cement it uses liquid asphalt as the binder. Liquid asphalt is a residue left over from refining crude oil to make gasoline. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of liquid asphalt has increased 250% in the past five years, leading to a doubling of asphalt paving costs. Not only that, improvements in refining techniques mean that today only 10% of a barrel of oil ends up as liquid asphalt, when in the past that was as high as 40%. This has led to a severe asphalt shortages.
Maintenance costs for concrete are nearly zero–only some joint sealing and annual cleaning. Asphalt parking lots need to be coated with liquid asphalt every few years and be completely resurfaced every 10 years or less. This means no business interruptions with concrete parking lots, which saves you time, headache, and money.
Concrete surfaces are much lighter colored, meaning that lighting costs can be reduced. You can eliminate 3 of 10 lighting fixtures and still have the same level of lighting, according to Vance Pool of the National Ready Mix Concrete Association. This creates a safer parking lot and also reduces energy costs.
The lighter color also results in a lower temperature for the parking area during the summer, reducing the heat-island effect and lowering cooling costs for adjacent buildings. According to Pool, ambient air temperatures above a concrete parking lot can be as much as 10 degrees cooler than an asphalt parking lot.
Concrete pavements can carry heavy loads without rutting or developing potholes. With concrete’s rigidity and high strength it takes only a 5″ thick pavement to provide the same load carrying capacity as 8″ of asphalt.
Concrete parking lots can be colored and textured to meet the owner’s desires.
Concrete parking lots are green–runoff is low toxicity and cooler than from asphalt surfaces and the concrete can contain recycled materials (fly ash, slag, recycled concrete aggregate). All this can yield LEED credits.
Over the typical 20 year life of a parking lot, concrete will have very little maintenance expense while maintenance for an asphalt lot will be as much as 80% of the initial construction cost. Think of that and add in inflation over those 20 years and the cost projections go out of sight.
Concrete is highly Durable and Maintenance Free unlike asphalt. A properly placed concrete driveway with a compacted sub-base and steel reinforced concrete spaced every 2′ O.C. should easily last over 30 years with no maintenance. Concrete is very environmentally friendly as any concrete can be crushed into gravel and used as a sub base.
The longest life that you are ever going to get out of a asphalt driveway without any maintenance is only two to three years. You must seal your asphalt driveway at least every two to three years, and another layer of asphalt may be needed in as little as five years. Asphalt remains soft and pliable until fully cured in six to twelve months.
Also on any hot sunny day over 80 degrees, you can leave a permanent embedded impression on your asphalt from your vehicle or other heavy object. You must avoid driving on the edges of the asphalt since they will crack and crumble over time.
Even after the asphalt has cured, do not expect it to be as hard or as durable as concrete. You may have noticed that on a warm or hot day, the asphalt will become “sticky” and the layers of asphalt may separate from one another. We humorously refer to this as the asphalt is becoming “unglued”. You should not place any heavy weight in concentrated areas, such as motorcycle kickstands, trailer jacks, carjacks, ramps, and similar items as they will cause depressions in the asphalt at any temperature, but even more so in 80 degree plus weather.
If you want to receive the most value for your money, then you should divide the cost of the driveway by the expected number of years you hope to receive from either concrete or asphalt. On average a concrete driveway will easily last 30 years, and the asphalt may run 8-10 years but you must also add in the cost of the sealer. When you add this cost into the asphalt cost, you will see that concrete is a much greater value! Another great feature is that once the concrete is in place, nothing more needs to be done to it again, which leaves you with a lot more TIME and MONEY for your other interests. On your next project, GO CONCRETE, you will be glad that you did!