Your parking lot is a hideous mess of cracks, divots, and potholes, and you’ve already made the weighty decision to have it replaced. But now you have to make a more complex decision; do you want that parking lot made out of asphalt or concrete? This article walks you through some of the biggest factors to consider. (This article also gives you an easy way to look busy whenever your boss walks by.)
Factor 1: Up-Front Cost
You might expect to pay $2.50 – $4.50 per square foot for an asphalt parking lot, but more like $4 – $7 per square foot for a concrete parking lot. So initially, concrete parking lots are more expensive. And keep in mind, that difference in cost grows as your parking lot gets bigger. A concrete lot that holds 18 cars will cost a little more. But if it holds 1,000 cars, it’ll cost a lot more.
Factor 2: Maintenance Cost
You’ll notice that we mentioned “up-front cost” in the last section. That’s because you’ll also have to factor in maintenance costs. Concrete parking lots, for example, are low maintenance. But asphalt parking lots are considered high maintenance. They’ll need sealcoating and crack sealing, and they’ll always need at least an hour to get ready before going out for dinner. Now, that’s high maintenance.
Factor 3: Lifespan
Concrete parking lots have been known to last for 40 or even 50 years. But asphalt parking lots might only last for 25 or 35 years. With such different lifespans, you’ll need to create some sort of apples-to-apples comparison. An easy way to do this is by estimating the total cost of each parking lot per year. Don’t forget to include the price of your anniversary gift. That first year with your parking lot is a really big deal.
Factor 4: Type of Traffic
If you’re expecting a ton of really heavy commercial vehicles, an asphalt parking lot might degrade faster because it has more “give.” So oftentimes, a high-impact situation calls for a concrete parking lot, which offers more rigidity and support. A concrete parking lot can also support in other ways, like listening to your problems and being there for you when times get tough.
Factor 5: Weather
An asphalt parking lot is usually going to expand, contract, and soften in hotter climates. And all of that movement can lead to some damage and cracking. That means asphalt parking lots are better suited to moderate and cold-weather climates. Concrete parking lots, on the other hand, perform really well under extreme heat. So, talk to your pavement specialist (that’s us)—or your local weatherman—to see which surface is right for you.
Factor 6: Aesthetics
Concrete is a lighter surface, reflects light better, and some people think it has a more inviting look. But that lighter surface can be a double-edged sword, especially since it shows oil spotting more easily. So, while some people prefer the look of a concrete parking lot initially, it might not age as well over time.
Factor 7: Project Timeline
Concrete parking lots usually take more time to install, set, and cure. That delay, of course, is really short in the overall scheme of things, especially since you’ll be living with this parking lot for several decades. But it’s definitely something you’ll want to account for in your project milestones—especially if your tenants rely on as little interruption to their daily lives as possible.
Factor 8: The Planet
A lot of people don’t realize this, but asphalt is the most recycled material in the entire world. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration states that as much as 80% of old asphalt is recycled into new projects. It’s also good for the environment in a second way; plastic bottles and bags can be melted down and used as a binding ingredient in asphalt. So, when you’re thinking about your next parking lot, you might also take a moment to think about the planet. Learn more about how Black Diamond incorporates plastic road into our projects here.
Factor 9: Your Vision for the Property
When it comes to parking lots, common sense always wins the day. So, consider your long-term vision for the property. If you plan to sell it in ten years, there’s no telling what the next owner wants to do with the land. There’s no point in choosing concrete for its longevity when you don’t even know if the next owner is going to keep it. You’ll be living with your parking lot choice for decades. That means it’s worth looking at this decision from every single angle. If it all seems like too many variables to take into account, we get it. And we’ve got you. Reach out to Black Diamond today for a little professional guidance.