Archive for: Love 2 Pave Articles

WHY CHOOSE US

Which Costs More: Asphalt or Concrete?

We know everyone’s tired of slogging through 15 minutes of clickbait just to get to a simple answer online. So, we’ll come right out and give you what you’re looking for: concrete usually costs more than asphalt. But that’s the simplified answer…the only way to understand the entire financial equation is to get a better sense of the big picture—which we helpfully spell out in this very article. Read on!

Concrete Usually Costs More

(Yes, we just said that…let us elaborate.) For the completion of the initial project, concrete can cost about 50% more than asphalt. That’s a rule of thumb, but it’s helpful to know that the upfront cost can be substantial.

Concrete Lasts Longer

We made sure to mention that concrete is more expensive for the completion of the initial project. But that’s not your only financial consideration. For example, concrete has a longer life cycle. So, in exchange for paying more, you’ll usually get more use out of it.  Typically, concrete can last 40-50 years (or more) depending on the exposure to the elements and the type of concrete used.  

Asphalt Requires Sealing Every Few Years

Our specialists can talk you through the benefits of sealing concrete. But with asphalt, you’ll definitely need to seal it every few years. That’s just a normal part of preventive maintenance and, obviously, another cost. This process prolongs the life of your asphalt by protecting it from water, gasoline, oils, and UV damage.

Your Climate Informs the Cost

Hot climates can be tougher on asphalt, which can lose structural integrity in extreme heat. While a great asphalt job will definitely hold up, all of that softening and hardening adds a little more wear and tear. On the other side of the coin, cold weather is harder on concrete. The constant freezing and thawing expands and contracts the pavement and leads to all sorts of cracking. So, it’s important to factor in the costs that come with climate-induced challenges.      

Asphalt Repairs are Easier

Degradation is normal and happens over time. And when that time comes, asphalt is easier and cheaper to repair. We also find that a patch job on asphalt matches the original surface better and looks more subtle than a patch on concrete. And while we are experts at repairing concrete as well, it’ll usually cost more, and the repairs will be more noticeable. You also might consider that it’s harder to keep concrete looking clean. Things like oil stains, tire marks, and spills can be far more obvious on concrete surfaces versus asphalt.      

Need More Guidance?

Industry-wide, you’ll usually find that concrete costs more than asphalt, but that’s far from your only financial variable. So, be sure to account for the life span of your surface, the cost of sealing, repairs, cleaning, and climate-induced wear and tear. Take all of that into account, and you’ll be sure to make the most informed decision possible. Or you can just reach out to Black Diamond Paving for an assessment and some sage advice.

Alien Life Meets Alien Concrete

How Concrete Factors Into the Race to Reside on Mars

Life on Mars never sounded so good…. Are we right, fellow Earth-dwellers? After all, an escape to the Red Planet and partying with tiny green men might be exactly what everyone needs right now. Happily, innovations in concrete are in the works that may get mankind one small step closer to calling Mars “home sweet home.”

Concrete Blasts Off

Concrete, you scoff? Why would the latest and greatest in concrete be pertinent to life on Mars? Two words: Shelter. Meteorites. Next to food (which I think we can all agree is essential), safe dwellings are most important when setting up shop on another planet. This means creating structures that are strong enough to withstand the occasional pesky meteorite. 

Why not use the same old-fashioned concrete we have down here on Earth? Well, there are a few issues with that, and researchers at Northwestern University, led by scientist Gianluca Cusatis, have delved into the task of solving them.

First, Earthly concrete, and the materials used to make it, are far too heavy to be transported to the Red Planet. Therefore, we’ll need to create the concrete from materials readily available once we’re up there. However, the aggregate typically used to create concrete, which we find in abundance here, is swapped out for a finer soil on Mars that is significantly chemically altered.

Second, and this is a biggie, is that while Mars may have a lot of good things going for it, copious amounts of water doesn’t make the list. And water is essential to creating concrete.

What’s That I Smell?

No traditional aggregate and no water do not a viable concrete make. What does work, quite brilliantly, is combining the dusty Martian soil with sulfur. Sulfur is in big supply on Mars and, when heated to around 240°C, it becomes a liquid that can be mixed with soil. When the sulfur cools and solidifies it binds the soil into a super strong—perhaps 2.5 times stronger—medium than standard concrete. These exciting tests have been done in the laboratory using a simulated Martian soil. Take that, meteorite! Additionally, the substance lends itself well to 3-D printing applications, which means robots may be able to precede humans to Mars and build shelters prior to our arrival. 

This isn’t the first time experimentations in planetary concrete have been undertaken. In fact, it was researched in the 70’s on the moon. However, due to the moon’s atmosphere (or lack thereof), sulfur whizzes past the liquid stage and goes directly into a gas. This inconvenient reality makes the moon method impossible. 

When Red Goes Green

Even more interesting is the ability for recycling this new Martian concrete. When reheated, the substance softens and can be reformed. While we can and do take advantage of recycling standards for Earth-made concrete, the infrastructure and management of that task is quite involved and labor intensive. Having a substance that is more readily changeable is certainly a win. 

Realistically, we are quite a few years out from human habitation on Mars…as appealing as it may sound. NASA has its sights set on 2030 for sending humans up, which will be here in a meteorite second. In the meantime, we continue to celebrate the impact technology has on our dynamic industry and make it our mission to bring you the latest and greatest concrete and asphalt-related products to serve you well during your time here on planet Earth. 

Asphalt and Plastics

Crushing It, One Bottle at a Time

Do you ever wonder where plastic bottles and bags end up after you drop them into the recycling bin? As it turns out, you might be walking and driving on the answer. As our dear readers of Love2Pave know, the world of asphalt is an amazing place where technology and science meet the roadways, parking lots, and driveways of the country. In recent years, the paving industry has joined forces with the ever-changing realm of recycling, and the dynamic duo is quite unstoppable. 

There is a lot to love about plastic: its durability, its high melting point, slow decomposition rate, and resistance to UV rays means it can seemingly last forever. Which is good…and bad. How can those qualities be put to optimal use while, simultaneously, ensuring they don’t end up in our landfills? Asphalt is the answer (or at least one of them). 

Asphalt 101

Before we can fully dive into the fun stuff, let’s refresh our memories as to what asphalt actually is. What we call “asphalt” is actually shortened from “asphalt concrete,” and is made up of a mineral aggregate (tiny rocks or gravel) mixed together with bitumen. Bitumen, a crude oil derivative, is the glue that holds all the aggregate together. Think of it as the marshmallow to the Rice Krispie treat, the caramel to the popcorn, the egg to the meatloaf…you get the idea. Take loose, gravelly material, mix it with the binder, and poof! You have a substance that can be poured and smoothed into a roadway or parking lot.

Alright, we got that out of the way. On to the interesting part.

Where Plastics Come In

Remember a few paragraphs ago when we were talking about all those stellar qualities of plastics? Durability, slow decomposition rate, resistance to UV rays, etc? Some really smart people have found a way to maximize those qualities by adding plastics to the bitumen—the binder—in asphalt. In fact, they’ve been able to replace around 6% (by weight) of the bitumen with plastics. 

DID YOU KNOW?
Most asphalt is already recycled! The main ingredient of the aggregate used in paving is typically aggregate that has already been used. Reclaimed pavement is sorted, crushed, and mixed back into new asphalt—this is called Recycled Asphalt Product (RAP). Combine that with the plastics-enhanced binder, and we’re well on our way to making pavement that much more environmentally friendly.

How Does it Work?

Put very simply (we don’t even really understand it 100%), single-use plastics (like plastic bags and bottles) are ground up into granules and melted into the asphalt binder, thus replacing a good portion of what would otherwise be made up of petroleum-based bitumen. So, not only does this method help keep plastics out of our landfills, it also cuts down on how much crude oil is used in the asphalt paving process. Win, win!

To keep things even more environmentally pleasing, testing has shown no increase in leachable materials into the substrate beneath or surrounding the material, as well as no increase in fume generation when using recycled plastics as a modifier. (Basically, plastics-enhanced asphalt doesn’t seem to be any more harmful for the surrounding environment and air than normal 100% bitumen-based asphalt.) Another win!

DID YOU KNOW?
• An average plastic bag takes more than 500 years to degrade in a landfill. 
• An average passenger car produces around 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide in a single year.
• When paving a 20,000 square foot parking lot (about the size of a typical strip mall), using the plastics-modified/extended asphalt can save up to 166,300 plastic bottles from landfills.
• When paving a 100,000 square foot lot (the size of a large shopping center or HOA), using the plastics-modified/extended asphalt can offset up to 27.5 tons of carbon dioxide (effectively nullifying the carbon emissions of 6 cars-worth of CO2).
• Black Diamond typically places around 30,000 tons of asphalt in a year. This means we can offset 275 tons of CO2 and save 9.96 million plastic bottles from ending up in landfills…each year.

The Non-Environmental Benefits

All studies done around this subject so far have shown this asphalt to be a superior product. The testing done with bitumen that has been modified and extended with plastic has been shown to deliver a final result that is more resistant to deformation, less likely to fracture (which ultimately means less water entering the surface), and more durable across the lifespan of the asphalt. Win, win, win.

As the technology has developed, the sophistication of the formulas has also dramatically increased. This recycling wonder product can now be formulated to address key concerns regarding the anticipated use. For instance, if a surface is going to be frequented by heavy load vehicles, a formula can be chosen that is structurally denser and stiffer to reduce rutting. It makes you wonder…what will they come up with next?

Black Diamond is happy to play our part in the recycling efforts of our world by constantly improving our ability to put down a better, more environmentally friendly product. It’s one way we all can contribute to a greener reality. Are you ready to go Green with us?

Black Diamond’s Diamond Standard

When it comes to finding your best partner in the pavement industry, look no further than Black Diamond Paving & Concrete. Our Diamond Standard process is a four step comprehensive program that delivers everything you ever thought you’d need, plus a few things you may have never dreamed of. It provides an accessible solution that will save you time, money, and frustration.

Step 1: Document Your Unique Goals

Whether you have three properties or thirty-three, being able to view your investments as a whole, as well as individually, is key to gaining the perspective needed to create appropriate goals for today and years to come. Within that broader lens, special attention is paid to your overall corporate maintenance plan, aesthetic requirements, budgets, timelines, and functional needs, ensuring your plan is right for YOU.

Step 2: Perform Assessments and Ratings

There are a myriad of items to assess when it comes to determining the state of your surfaces. Entrances, sidewalks, curbing, striping, signage, and ADA considerations are just a few. We photo document the entire site, as well as areas of focus, and put that all into an easy-to-digest standard rating system. This system, called a Paser Rating, assigns a number from 1-10 based on the condition of the area. Then we take it a step further and provide a handy document that evaluates and scores your portfolio as a whole.

Step 3: Prioritize and Determine Best ROI

Pavement is an investment, and we want to be sure you put your money in the right places at the most optimal time. Think of this as your crystal ball for the next decade. We assign a value to each property and give you a forecast for what is to come in terms of maintenance and spending. It’s an invaluable asset to your short term and long range planning. We estimate that, with careful attention to maintenance, your savings can be up to 30% over the life of the surface.

Step 4: Execute the Plan Perfectly

We understand well that a pretty plan is only worth so much. That’s why we back it up with excellent project management and superb workmanship by our experienced crew. We even add a few bells and whistles, such as our real time portal that houses all the documentation, scheduling, and progress. We also take care of all of the notifications needed to complete the project. Sit back and relax knowing we’ve got it handled, seamlessly.

It’s no wonder our Diamond Standard is our client’s best friend. We pride ourselves on providing the best plan and being the best partner for all of your asphalt and concrete needs. If you’re interested in learning more about how our four step process can build and retain value in your pavement investments, call us today.

To Buy or Not to Buy?

We talk a lot on our Love2Pave blog about the steps you can take to ensure your surfaces stay in tip top shape for all of your existing properties. But our expertise in all things asphalt and concrete can be a real asset when you are considering making an acquisition as well.

The acquisition equation has a lot of parts and pieces, whether the property is large or small. Part of that decision-making is assessing the condition of the property and the intended uses and incorporating that into your bid and future plans. The sheer volume of paved surfaces in any given property means it is a real factor in future maintenance as well as a real contributor in aesthetics and ease of use for owners and tenants alike.

There are several things the experts at Black Diamond Paving & Concrete can do to help you navigate acquisitions from the very beginning, through purchase and implementation of any repairs that need to be addressed.

1. Observe and Assess

First, we’ll walk the property with you and do an assessment of where it hits on the Pavement Life Cycle. This will give you great insight into what you’re looking at in terms of future maintenance dollars. Every surface contains markers of where it stands on its overall life span, and breaking this down into accurate and easy language keeps current and future decision-making simple.

2. Discuss Goals

Second, we’ll discuss the short term and long term goals of the property. This is important when coming up with the budget going forward. Specifically, we’ll talk about investing in the conditions of your surfaces as they apply to the timeline of owning the property. The timing of future planned maintenance is also a worthy topic to explore. For instance, if the property will not be occupied during the purchase transition it may make sense to be proactive and achieve great strides before tenants are present.

3. Present Recommendations and Estimate

Third, we’ll present our recommendations and plans to you along with a budget estimate. This information is a critical part of the file you build for the property and will act as a blueprint for work going forward for property managers as well as investors.

4. Provide Scope and Proposal

Once the acquisition is complete, we’ll provide a work scope with any revisions that are necessary along with a formal proposal. Then we’ll get to work doing what we do best, ensuring that your asphalt and concrete surfaces look great and serve you well for years to come.

The sum total of this knowledge means you will be well prepared to approach the purchase confidently and minimize budget surprises. As with all things surface-wise, a penny of prevention will lead to a pound of cure.

Octopuses and Concrete: Not So Different, After All

The world of concrete innovations often seems to take on a surreal ingenuity. Take for example, the glowing concrete we wrote about a few months ago which played on what could best be described as lighting bug technology. Now, to add to the list, we introduce the concept of Bio-Concrete with self healing capabilities.

Concrete has long been lauded as a popular material due to its density and strength, as well as its unique abilities to be formed and reinforced. The biggest downfall of concrete has always been degradation due to its number one enemy, water. Enter: a way to keep the water out.

The original inspiration for self-healing concrete came to Dutch researcher and microbiologist, Hendrik Jonkers through his early career work in marine biology, specifically, the ability for octopuses and other marine life to self-heal and regenerate.

The expansion of that theme included him identifying a unique bacteria that withstands dry and alkaline environments and can remain happily dormant. This bacteria is encapsulated within 2-4mm wide clay pellets and is integrated into the concrete mix.

Additionally, a nourishing combination of nitrogen and phosphates is similarly encapsulated and incorporated in the mix. Then, their high-tech, encapsulated tiny selves just hang out and wait for things to start to crack. Because, no matter how perfect the mix, concrete eventually begins to open up with little cracks. And all those little cracks allow moisture to seep in.

When the moisture begins to permeate the structure, the capsules degrade, allowing the bacteria and the nourishing cocktail to mix. Upon mixing, it begins to transform into a limestone type material as it forms, takes in the moisture, and fills in the crack.

This magical little process takes about three weeks and can be identified across the surface as a small line or puddle-shaped color variation. As cracks form across the surface the process is repeated, sealing out the moisture and providing an impervious surface once again.

The impact of this technology, at once so complex and yet so simple, is one that will continue to transform the way the world builds and maintains infrastructure such as buildings, bridges, roadways, and dams. Also in development by Jonkers are repair mortars and liquid repair applications for this technology.

As always, we love to see how our world continues to evolve and change. In the meantime we will pair the new and exciting with our tried and true best practices when it comes to process and customer service. You can’t go wrong with that combo!

Every Crack Tells a Story

We talk a lot about the importance of regular maintenance when it comes to your paved surfaces. After all, catching problems early on is one of the best ways to get maximum life out of your asphalt, saving you money and headaches in the long run. That’s why doing a yearly visual assessment of your property can pay great dividends. But before you head out the door and start wandering across the parking lot, let’s talk about a few things to keep in mind.

There are some common signs of distress that point to underlying issues with your asphalt, and nearly all manifest themselves in an easily identifiable disruption of the surface, whether it be cracking, dipping, or holes. The following are some of the most common culprits to keep an eye out for:

Generalized Cracking

As common as dandelions, and just as pesky, these may seem random, popping up here and there across the pavement surface. They can be caused by a variety of things, including the most common of stressors: sun and moisture.

Fatigue Cracking

Characterized by an alligator skin appearance (but not suitable for making purses), these cracks tend to indicate weight overload or a poor substrate.

Block Cracking

When asphalt is unable to adequately expand and contract due to temperature variations, interconnected cracks in a rectangular shape can occur over large areas of your pavement. Like Legos, but way less fun.

Edge Cracking

Texture along the edge of an afghan is stylish and pretty. Texture along the edge of your pavement is a sign of something gone horribly wrong. Typically occurring a foot or two from the lip of your asphalt surface, edge cracks generally point to poor drainage and a lack of underlying structure along the perimeter.

Depression

A condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal, typically caused by the notable dips in one’s paved surface area. Overloading and settling of the substrate can also be key factors.

Raveling

Just as a raveling sweater leaves behind loose threads, a raveling pavement is characterized by loose debris. In the simplest of terms, this happens when the bonding agent in asphalt isn’t adequately holding the aggregate (different sized rocks) together. The result is a pavement that’s as crumbly as Grandma’s blueberry cobbler.

Potholes

Water seepage and temperature changes are the #1 and #2 enemies of asphalt (are you starting to notice that pattern?). Add the two together and throw in a healthy dose of heavy traffic, and you end up with literal holes all over your paved surfaces. If you’ve ever driven a car, we’re 97% sure you’ve hit a pothole at least once. The bane of motorists everywhere.

Some of these signs of distress can be fixed with a simple sealcoat. Others may require a more involved approach, possibly even a full replacement. At Black Diamond, we are always happy to expertly assess your surface and come up with a plan that meets your budget and needs.

Every crack tells a story. What is your pavement telling you?

Pool Projects that Go Swimmingly

You may associate Thomas Edison most closely with the harnessing of electricity and the invention of the lightbulb, but did you know that he also attempted some wild innovations in concrete? He even went so far as to patent and implement concrete homes. These structures were entirely constructed with a single pour mold that encompassed all parts of the house. The exterior and interior walls, floors, and even bath tubs were all glorious concrete.

Unfortunately, the concept didn’t go far, as the 2,300 piece mold was a bit…ahem…unwieldy for the average builder to handle. On top of that, the public wasn’t exactly clamoring to live in the houses. Perhaps it was the questionable luxury of soaking in a concrete tub? Still, think of it…an entire house built in one pour. It’s pretty incredible.

We’ve never tried our hands at concrete houses here at Black Diamond, but we do regularly undertake some pretty note-worthy concrete projects. Top amongst them is our work on pool decks (an essential feature for any California living community). Like Edison, we have a comprehensive and innovative approach to getting your pool into tip-top, splash-worthy condition…even if it might take more than one pour.

The to-do list for a pool project can seem daunting to property owners. After all it goes far beyond just the surface replacement…but that’s okay, because so do we. Not only will we do the concrete work, but we’ll coordinate with other industry professionals to ensure the entire project is done and done well, with as little hassle for you as possible. Here are just a few of the aspects we can help manage:

  • Concrete surface replacement
  • Plumbing system repairs and pressure testing
  • Electrical system repairs
  • Handrail and skimmer replacement
  • Coping
  • ADA compliance
  • Landscape repair
  • Fencing
  • Permits

As the warmer weather approaches, a poolside lifestyle means a lot to residents, and beautiful, safe, accessible surrounds do so much to enhance the general atmosphere of your space. Think back to your last barefoot trip around the pool. Are the surface areas smooth and free of cracks and slippery areas? Do you feel comfortable that your property is up to date on ADA regulations? Is the layout conducive to people having a safe and relaxing time in a fresh, welcoming atmosphere?

If not, give us a call, and let us take on the project. You’ll be happy you did as it may even free up a little time to do some lounging on your own.

Hey Asphalt, Hold My Water

In a world that increasingly demands our natural resources be protected, there’s a lot to be said for asphalt’s nearly 100% recyclability. The life cycle of pavement creates a neat circle, beginning with crushed stone mixed with liquid asphalt and then spread along our roadways, driveways, paths and other surfaces throughout the country. When its usefulness in those places is complete, it is simply gathered and crushed, and the cycle begins again.

However, asphalt also plays a big, but lesser known, role in the conservation and treatment of water. It may seem counterintuitive that an essentially stone and petroleum-based product would be so instrumental in preserving and protecting our greatest resource, but the impervious properties are exactly right for many applications.

When you order fish for dinner you may not immediately think of asphalt. Who would? But fish hatcheries have used asphalt to their advantage for several decades. As it turns out, those little fish babies are quite susceptible to chemicals and contamination. When their water-filled playpen is lined with asphalt, those toxins can’t seep through, and the fish grow and thrive in their fresh, clean environment.

On the other side of the spectrum, industrial plants use asphalt-lined retention ponds to keep pollutants and hazardous waste IN until it can be mitigated. The strong, watertight surface of the asphalt effectively keeps contaminates out of the soil and groundwater and can also be used to cap hazardous waste.

These days, plastic and soil liners—once standard in landfills—are increasingly replaced with asphalt liners. The benefits of this switch are quite impactful. For starters, when asphalt is applied and layered with a geosynthetic fabric, it can reduce the amount of liquid making its way through the plastic and soil barrier. Former liners allowed around 140 gallons of toxic gunk per acre per day to escape. Asphalt has brought that leakage to a nearly immeasurable amount. Additionally, the longevity of asphalt liners is over 300 years longer (asphalt liners last more than 1,000 years whereas plastic/soil liners only last around 700 years).

Drinking water also benefits from the applications of asphalt. The Metropolitan District of Southern California has been using asphalt lined reservoirs for over 40 years. Asphalt makes reservoirs and dams cost effective, practical, and long lasting.

The world of asphalt is constantly evolving and changing to meet the needs of society and do it in a responsible manner. We are happy to be a part of this bigger whole and look forward to new advances in our industry that we can continue to bring to you, our customers!

Supervillains of the Asphalt Universe

Here at Black Diamond, we don’t make our employees wear capes with their uniforms, but maybe we should. They wage war every day against villains threatening the longevity of your asphalt surfaces. But who are these culprits looking to wreak havoc on your smooth and perfect pavement? Allow us to introduce the greatest offenders of all things asphalt.

Mr. Sunshine

He seems like a nice enough guy, showing up every morning like clockwork. The truth is, sunshine is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to breaking down the binder that holds together all the rocks that make up your asphalt surface. This process is chemical in nature, combining UV rays and oxygen, which work together to break the chemical ties that bind them.

To stop this villain in his tracks, look no further than a regularly scheduled sealcoat application. Sealcoat will help fill in the micro cracks and crevices, keeping your surfaces nice and shiny and offering your best defense against Mr. Sunshine’s death rays.

Ms. H2O

She saunters in at the most unexpected places, settling into dips and grooves, and she’s often a slippery one to catch. While she puddles into the corner of the parking lot you rarely visit or that little crease where the asphalt meets the sidewalk, she seeps downward into the carefully laid layers, using her erosive powers to undermine the integrity of your pavement.

Hold Ms. H2O and her evil ways at bay by performing crack sealing and sealcoating and by keeping the asphalt draining to our friendly storm system.

Mr. Heavy and the Boys

This gang rolls in acting like they own the place. Although we wouldn’t necessarily call it “dainty,” asphalt is only made to support a certain amount of weight. If overloading occurs—whether that be day-to-day heavy traffic or even just an occasional super heavyweight—the additional stress can push the upper layers past their flex point and create ruts or cracking.

You are the biggest enforcer against the incidents of heavy loads. Patrol your property carefully, post signs where necessary to limit the loads, and plan on having extra heavy vehicles park off-site when possible. If you’re planning to install new asphalt in a heavy traffic area, let us know so we can accommodate your specific needs.

We don’t like to toot our own horn too much, but we would consider ourselves asphalt superheroes. Let us help you combat these dastardly villains and allow your pavement to emerge victorious. For Black Diamond, it’s all in a day’s work!