Roadway Surfaces: Does Asphalt Or Concrete Make A Better Road?

Asphalt and concrete are the two major surface choices for paving roadways. Both surface options offer their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Today, asphalt and concrete are commonly used to pave streets by companies like Bituminous Roadways, Inc. in communities across the country, and neither material has been definitively declared as superior. 

The decision between asphalt and concrete is generally made based on either cost or climate considerations. When is asphalt better and when is concrete a better choice? In general, making the right choice of paving material depends on the unique characteristics of the particular road project in question.

Differences in production processes

Both asphalt and concrete are created using aggregate materials. Asphalt- or bitumen- itself is a viscous, liquid form of petroleum that is mixed with aggregate. Concrete is produced by combining cement, aggregate, water, and sometimes additional additives. 

Asphalt roads

Asphalt roads normally appear darker than concrete roads, but they can be tinted to look like concrete. Modern asphalt pavement has been used as a roadway surface material since the 1920s

Advantages

The primary advantage of asphalt roadways over concrete roadways is that asphalt is a less expensive surface material. Many communities use asphalt to pave roads because the upfront costs are significantly lower for a road repair project done with asphalt than they would be if concrete were used. 

However, low cost is not the only advantage offered by asphalt roads. Asphalt is also preferable for colder climates because it is less easily damaged by cold weather than concrete. 

Disadvantages

The disadvantages of asphalt include its shorter lifespan and its maintenance needs. Asphalt roadways usually need to be resealed every few years. 

Concrete roads

It can cost as much as twice as much to construct a road using concrete as it would cost to construct the same road with asphalt. However, a concrete road can be expected to last several decades, and it usually won't need to be resealed. 

Advantages

Typically, concrete is the best option for roads in warmer climates where surfaces won't be susceptible to cold weather damage. However, the high price of this type of road surface often discourages communities from investing in concrete roads. The price can even make concrete unaffordable for many cities and communities.  

Disadvantages

Some disadvantages of concrete include a difficult repair process and susceptibility to damage from salt. Often, concrete does not have as pleasant an appearance as asphalt. It can become stained because of its light color, and it is more likely to become cracked than asphalt.  

Share