You’re constructing a parking lot and adjacent driveway for your small business here in Whatcom County. Should you use concrete or asphalt?

Asphalt is often the default choice, because it’s generally cheap enough to install that companies are willing to overlook its relatively short lifespan. To save a few bucks today, project managers are willing to commit to replacing the asphalt in 10 to 20 years.

However, installation cost is not the only money required for asphalt throughout the life of the product. If you’re a forward-thinking person installing a paved parking lot, street or similar project, concrete might be the most cost-effective solution after you’ve factored in maintenance, lifespan and related issues.

Here are a handful of the reasons to consider using concrete instead of asphalt in your next surface-paving project:

Asphalt cracks require regular sealing.

Concrete requires less maintenance. Both asphalt and concrete benefit from regular maintenance. Cracks need to be repaired and dirt and grime need to be removed. Regular sealing also can improve the life of both asphalt and concrete. Generally, asphalt requires more frequent maintenance than concrete, with more frequent sealing required. Because asphalt tends to fail more frequently due to weather extremes, cold winters and hot summers can lead to additional repair work on asphalt.

Concrete is much more durable. Properly installed concrete generally lasts two to three times as long as asphalt. Whereas a concrete driveway is expected to last 40 years or more, the typical lifespan for asphalt is less than half that. In general, an asphalt parking lot will need to be completely redone at least once, possibly twice, during the life of a single concrete pour.

Concrete can help reduce lighting costs. Because concrete reflects more light, parking lot lighting can be reduced by 30% and still produce the same coverage – a major advantage in efficiency.

Concrete keeps the surrounding area cooler. Concrete helps reduce the heat island effect. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, asphalt at installation absorbs about 95% of the sun’s energy that reaches it, with concrete at just 60%. This can mean a difference of several degrees during the summer. Because it soaks up all that energy, asphalt can get quite hot. Due to its nature, that can be damaging for asphalt, as heat tends to accelerate issues with raveling, cracking, tracking and oxidation.

Related: What are the differences between
pervious concrete and porous asphalt

When considering whether to build an asphalt or a concrete parking lot, scoping the ongoing costs of maintenance and durability will provide a fuller picture of the true cost of your project. If you would like to discuss it, please give Custom Concrete Contracting a call. Our concrete flatwork experts, trained and tested through the American Concrete Institute, serve Whatcom and Skagit counties on projects large and small.