Concrete vs Asphalt Roads (Differences + Pros and Cons)

Since the wheel invention, engineers have come up with plenty of options for road surfaces, and over the years, these options have advanced in sophistication and complexity.

Among the most common options include asphalt, concrete, composite, and bituminous solutions. In this article, allow me to compare the two most popular options: asphalt and concrete.

It can be hard to decide whether to choose concrete or asphalt when creating pavements, roads, or repairs.

Generally, neither material is superior to the other. It all depends on your budget, preferences, and the type of appearance you want on your road.

Still, it is crucial to consider the pros and cons of each before settling for either option.

7 differences between asphalt and concrete roads

These two surfaces come with a few differences, which include:

  1. Physical differences

Concrete roads are made of American materials, including limestone, water, and rock. Concrete is, by far, the most used manufactured construction material in the world.

On the other hand, asphalt is made of aggregates of sand, gravel, and instead of using limestone (cement) as the binder, bitumen is used to hold the aggregates together.

Generally, the significant difference between the two is concrete roads use cement as a binder while asphalt uses petroleum-based adhesive materials such as bitumen.

2. Construction approach

Generally, it takes some time to get the mixture of concrete right and often, heavy machinery is used. For that reason, it takes more time to construct concrete roads. Also, concrete roads take more time to cure.

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On the other hand, asphalt roads take less time to lay. They do not require heavy machinery to mix.

3. Durability

If you are looking to build a road that will last for a long time, it will be wise to choose the concrete option. Concrete roads last for 20-40 years, while asphalt lasts for 10-20 years. But with proper maintenance, concrete roads can last for up to 50 years, while asphalt can last for up to 30 years.

4. Cost

The cost of a concrete driveway is slightly higher than that of an asphalt driveway or road. Generally, it costs between $2 and $4 per square foot of asphalt, while it costs between $4 and $6 per square foot of standard concrete installation.

Finishing and getting the detail right for concrete can increase the cost up to $15 per square foot. Therefore, if you are looking to save costs, you might consider choosing asphalt roads.

5. Climate and weather

Sometimes, your location might determine the type of road construction surface you should choose. Asphalt is usually not the best option for individuals living in hot areas. If asphalt is used in places with a lot of sun, the sun can soften it, and the liquid used to bind it together might begin sticking on shoes, car tires, or even your clothes.

On the other hand, concrete is not the best option for super cold areas. The material can crack during cold winters due to constant freezing and thawing.

6. Resistance

Generally, concrete roads are more resistant to damages than asphalt ones. Asphalt roads are prone to damages from heavy rains and floods or other extreme weather conditions. For that reason, asphalt roads often require constant repairs. Concrete roads are more resistant to extreme weather conditions and do not get damaged by leaking oils.

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7. Safety

Asphalt roads are generally safer than concrete ones since they have skid resistance and have better traction, reducing the chances of accidents. Concrete roads slip more easily, increasing the risk of accidents, especially during rainy seasons.

With that in mind, both of these approaches come with their own set of pros and cons. Hopefully, understanding the pros and cons of the two will help you make an informed decision.

Pros of concrete roads

• Concrete is 100% recyclable, meaning it can be broken down and get used for other projects.
• Concrete roads are durable, lasting between 20 and 40 years on average.
• Concrete is more resistant to extreme weather conditions.
• Concrete produces less environmental pollution compared to asphalt.

Cons of concrete roads

• Repairing concrete roads takes more time.
• Concrete roads have a higher risk of accidents during rainy and winter seasons.
• Concrete roads are more costly.

Pros of asphalt roads

• Asphalt roads are relatively affordable compared to concrete roads.
• Asphalt is 100% recyclable
• Asphalt boasts of having better traction and skid resistance, reducing the risk of accidents during rainy and snowy seasons.
• It is easy and cheaper to repair.

Cons of asphalt roads

• The process of making asphalt is harmful to the environment, regardless of whether it is recycling or making a new one.
• Asphalt is not as durable as concrete.
• Asphalt requires more maintenance than concrete.

Concrete vs Asphalt Roads

When it comes to choosing between asphalt and concrete, it is never easy.

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Be sure to consider cost, durability, safety, climate, and durability factors.

Generally, concrete is more durable and resistant, but it is pretty costly. Asphalt is cheap and has less risk for accidents, but it is not as durable, and it requires regular maintenance.