Roads, driveways, and parking lots are an essential part of modern life in the United States and life worldwide. You can easily feel the difference between a quality, well-maintained road, and one that is poorly maintained simply based on the way it feels. Asphalt pavement is known for its durability and flexibility. Although these attributes are usually why asphalt is considered the best option for most paved surfaces, there are many other benefits of choosing asphalt.
What is Asphalt?
Asphalt is used to construct and maintain roads, parking lots, train tracks, seaports, airport runways, bike lanes, sidewalks, playgrounds, and sports complexes. It is made from a mixture of aggregates, binders, and fillers. The aggregates might be crushed rock, sand, gravel, or slags. Asphalt aggregate can also contain recycled materials like rubber tires, steel and iron manufacturing byproducts, and construction and demolition debris.
5 Primary Benefits of Asphalt
The benefits of asphalt paving stretch far and wide. Even if you don’t have an asphalt driveway (or a driveway at all, for that matter), you’ll be surprised to learn how deeply you benefit from asphalt every day.
1. Everlasting Pavement
One reason that folks love asphalt is its longevity. When asphalt is properly laid, it won’t need to be replaced for fifteen to twenty years. That lifespan can be increased to twenty-five years as long as the recommended maintenance is performed on a regular basis. If you have an asphalt driveway, we have an excellent care guide to help you maximize the lifespan of your driveway. Asphalt is so long-lasting because it’s laid on a strong foundation and the aggregate, binder, and filler allow it to be quite flexible. This flexibility means that it can withstand the freeze-thaw cycles that take place from fall to spring.
2. Surface Texture
Asphalt’s smooth texture produces some real benefits, especially for its larger commercial uses. A smooth surface reduces pavement damage, which means fewer repairs (and less money spent on repairs). Paving roads and highways with asphalt substantially diminish the loud noise created by tires speeding over the pavement. There are even more positive implications for drivers due to reduced rolling resistance, or the friction that occurs between tires and pavement:
- Increased fuel efficiency
- Decreased CO2 emissions
- Reduced wear and tear on vehicles
3. Projects Require Little Downtime
Not only do paving projects that use asphalt require far less construction time, but the freshly paved road is ready for traffic flow as soon as it’s been compacted and cooled. For construction projects like that, small windows of off-peak traffic can be taken advantage of because paving is done in such a short amount of time. Fewer road closures result in happier drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and city planners.
4. The Eco-Friendly Pavement
Asphalt is actually known as the eco-friendly pavement option. According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, asphalt is among the United States’ most recycled products. About 80 million tons of asphalt are recycled each year. Asphalt’s life cycle never truly ends. It is constantly reused and recycled. In fact, recycled asphalt is stronger and lasts longer than virgin asphalt. The green process of infrared asphalt repair only mixes a small amount of new asphalt with the old to repair things like potholes and driveways. If your project requires more than just patchwork, most professional paving companies offer recycled asphalt as an option.
Porous asphalt is an environmentalist’s best friend. It lets water drain through the pavement, which provides inexpensive stormwater management systems that filter water, improving its quality, and eliminating the need for run-off basins.
5. Economic Value
Asphalt is the more economically sensible option for commercial as well as residential paving projects. It’s always going to be the less expensive option for the initial cost of a road or a driveway, but repairs are quicker and cheaper, the lifespan is long, and with minimal maintenance, it will perform well. Due to asphalt’s smooth texture, a roadway’s life is increased by 25%, which saves taxpayers money.
Asphalt vs. Concrete
Asphalt’s beauty has been established, but when it comes to driveways specifically, there is an age-old debate: Which is better? Asphalt or concrete? While there is no direct answer to this question, there are a few things to keep in mind. Consider the positives and negatives of each option to decide which is best for you.
Concrete is a great option depending on your situation. There are many factors at play, such as climate, maintenance, and cost.
Concrete has many benefits:
- Lifespan of up to 40 years
- It’s extremely hard, which is good if you live somewhere very hot and bad if you live somewhere with intense temperature fluctuation, like Minnesota
- There are many color and style options
Concrete also has downsides:
- It’s challenging to maintain
- You can’t use most deicing substances, otherwise your driveway can crack, crumble, and pit
- Concrete is more expensive for installation, detail, finish, and maintenance
- It’s extremely hard, which isn’t good if you live somewhere with intense temperature fluctuation, like Minnesota.
The benefits of an asphalt driveway and asphalt, in general, have already been parsed out, but we haven’t discussed the disadvantages. What are some reasons that asphalt may deter you?
- Asphalt has a long life, but not as long as concrete
- You will have to seal cracks each time they come up to prevent further damage
Is Asphalt the Right Choice For You?
Whether your concerns are commercial or residential, deciding between asphalt and concrete is a choice that depends on many factors unique to you. Regardless of your decision, asphalt is an amazing material, and it’s everywhere. Even if your driveway is made of concrete, you reap the countless benefits of asphalt every day. It’s better for the environment, for vehicles, and everyone’s bank accounts.
At Richfield Blacktop, we know everything about asphalt paving. We are great at what we do, and we have customer testimonials and decades of experience to support that claim. Our team of professionals is ready to help you with your next paving endeavor.