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The Case for Asphalt Paving vs. Concrete

There are two main choices when paving is required – concrete, and asphalt. At one point, it was concrete that was the preferred choice, as it was used for the majority of projects including roads and parking lots. Times, however, have changed. Today, it is asphalt that is the leader in the business, for a variety of reasons. If you are looking at an upcoming paving project and you need to decide between these choices, it is important to understand the pros and cons of the two surfaces.

What’s the Difference?
First of all, you should understand what the difference is between asphalt and concrete. As you may already know, concrete is a mix of aggregate, cement, and water. The aggregate that is used is typically a blend of crushed rock and sand. While asphalt is also based on an aggregate material, it uses something called bitumen to bind it all together. This is a substance made from crude oil, so asphalt is a petroleum-based product.

Flexibility is Key
Asphalt, obviously, is hard enough to withstand the forces of cars driving and parking on top of it all day long. However, along with that hardness comes a degree of flexibility, so the asphalt is able to adjust to any imperfections that may exist under the surface. That is not the case with concrete. If concrete is poured on top of a surface that is somewhat less than perfect, there may be cracking and other problems that soon develop. Ultimately, it is the flexibility that asphalt provides which has been largely responsible for its popularity.

Speed Benefits
Compared to concrete, asphalt installation is a quick process. Since speed typically equates to cost savings in the construction world, you can expect to spend less overall on an asphalt installation than you would with a concrete job. Also, should there be a need for repairs down the road, asphalt is going to present you with a less-expensive and less-time consuming task. In fact, if the job in question is a residential project such as a driveway, you may be able to repair small cracks yourself without having to call in a professional.

Reuse the Product
If asphalt should need to be taken up for any reason, the material can actually be recycled and used again. Obviously, that is not true of concrete. There is almost always a demand for old asphalt that can be used in recycling, so getting rid of this material once it is no longer being used is typically quick and easy.

Avoid a Total Redo
When a concrete surface like a driveway begins to show significant cracking and other damage, it may reach a point where it can no longer be saved and the entire project has to be started from scratch. That means taking up the old concrete slab, disposing of all of the waste, and then starting again. This will not be the case if you have an asphalt surface to fix. Even if you have gone through the crack filling process, a layer of new pavement can be laid right on top of the old, and the whole slab can be steamrolled to bring it all together. The result will be a strong surface that was put into place with far less effort than an equivalent concrete replacement.

In the end, it is hard to find many advantages to choosing concrete over asphalt. When looking at asphalt, you will see that it is more affordable, easier to install, easier to repair, recyclable, and more. Whether the task at hand is a small residential job or a major commercial project, asphalt is almost always going to be your best bet.

What to Consider When Designing a Parking Lot

parking lot striping
On the surface, designing a parking lot seems like a pretty simple task. Simply lay down some asphalt, draw some lines, and call it good, right? Not so fast. There is a lot more than meets the eye that goes into designing a parking lot, and a project of this kind will only be successful when all of the relevant issues have been taken into consideration.

Stall Size

The first thing to think about during the parking lot striping and design process is the size of the spaces that will be used. At a minimum, spaces should be nine feet wide and nineteen feet long. Of course, they can be made bigger if necessary, such as in a parking lot that is going to see a high degree of truck traffic.

Lane Size

In addition to the size of the spaces, the width of the traffic lanes within the parking lot needs to be considered as well. If there is parking on both sides of a two-way lane, that lane should be a total of 24’ across. Naturally, if the lane is only designated for one-way traffic, it’s width can be cut down to 12’.

Angle of the Stalls

There are a number of options that can be used for stall angle when designing a parking lot – the option you choose will come down to the space you have available, the size of the cars that will be parking, the length of time they will remain in the lot, and more. Generally speaking, the three angles that are used in most parking lots are 90*, 60*, and 45*. A 90* stall is what you think of when you picture a ‘straight’ parking space, and this option is good for all-day parking where cars will not frequently be coming and going. The angled spaces (60* and 45*), however, are great for parking lots with a lot of incoming and outgoing traffic, as they are easier to move in and out of quickly.

Drainage

You have to plan for water when designing a parking lot. All water, both surface and subsurface, will need to have somewhere to drain away from the lot. If water remains on or under the parking lot on a regular basis, damage is likely to follow. You certainly don’t want to have to repair or replace a new parking lot after a short time due to drainage issues, so give this matter the attention it deserves right from the start.

Should I Repair or Replace My Cracked Asphalt Parking Lot?

pavement cracksWhen brand new, an asphalt parking lot looks great. A clean, clearly marked parking lot is a great way to welcome people to your business, as those who are arriving for the first time will be given a positive impression of your company. However, as time goes by, that great looking asphalt parking lot can become marred by cracks, puddles, or just good old fashioned wear and tear.

To bring back the impressive look that your parking lot offered when it was new, you might be thinking about replacing the whole thing. While that is a viable option in some cases, you don’t want to call in the heavy machinery right away – repairing the parking lot may actually be the better option, allowing you to save a large sum of money while accomplishing the same goal. So, should you replace or crack fill that asphalt parking lot that is sitting in front of your business? To make the right choice, there are a few things you need to consider.

How Old is the Parking Lot?

One of the first things to consider when weighing whether to replace or repair your parking lot is the age of the asphalt. While there is no specific lifespan for an asphalt parking lot – the length of time they can be expected to last depends greatly on factors like weather, traffic, and more – you shouldn’t be surprised if a lot that is 20 years old or more is starting to wear out. In fact, if you are dealing with a lot that is more than a couple of decades old, a complete replacement is likely the best way to go.

How Much Damage Exists?

This is probably the biggest point to consider in this debate. If a large percentage of the surface of the parking lot is damaged, it might not be feasible to repair it properly. Before new asphalt can be laid overtop of the old surface, all of the cracks will need to be repaired. While that is doable when there are only a few cracks here and there, it is going to simply be too much to deal with when cracks are running throughout the lot. As a general rule of thumb, parking lots with damage to more than a quarter of the surface should probably be replaced.

If you are hoping the new parking lot surface can last for decades to come, the best is to tear out the old lot and simply install a new one. However, if you only need to get a few more years out of this parking lot before your business is going to relocate or rebuild anyway, then you can look at resurfacing as a viable option. Working with a good asphalt contractor is the best way to make an informed decision on this point, as they will be able to help you assess the current status of your lot before moving forward.

The Benefits of Sealcoating & Crack Sealing Parking Lots

seal coated pavement
The average asphalt parking lot has an effective lifespan of 7-12 years before repairs must be made. Oftentimes, these paving repair can be quite the expensive process. There are two main fault with pavement that end up weakening it over time.

The first weak spot is something that we see every day – sunlight. Over time, the UV radiation breaks down the liquid asphalt “glue” that binds the rock and sand together. When this glue can no longer hold the sand and rocks, the top surface gradually weakens.

The most obvious warning sign of pavement (or parking lot degradation) is the gradual change in asphalt color from black, to brown, and finally to gray. After a while, a rougher appearance will take shape, with bigger rocks eventually coming out. Finally, dirt and grass end up filling these vacant spaces.

The second weak spot of asphalt pavements has more to do with substances. Chemicals, salts from winter ice management efforts, and petroleum product residue all take their toll over time.

Petroleum products cause most of the damage as witnessed by oil spots and gas spills. The reason for its poor resistance is that asphalt is a petroleum product. They are separated only by the refining process of crude petroleum. Naturally, gasoline and oils will dissolve directly into the asphalt, soften the structure, and eventually cause major damage to asphalt pavements.

Based on the these two weaknesses, parking lot sealcoating can help protect pavements from these harmful elements.

Sealcoating acts as a barrier between asphalt pavement and the elements against it. It is the best way to fight degradation and to help preserve asphalt pavement.

The second great weapon against parking lot degradation is crack sealing. If pavement cracks are left unattended, water is able to penetrate the parking lot leading to even more damage. Crack filling takes place before the sealcoating process. While cold pour sealant can seal cracks for the short term (say around a year or so), longer term repairs can be made with hot poured crack sealant, which can last anywhere from 3-7 years.

Whatever the case may be and whatever the health of your parking lot is, rest assured Quality Sealing & Striping can help! Give us a call today at 240-882-3503!

Welcome to the Quality Striping & Sealing Blog!

parking lot lines
Our team at Quality Striping & Sealing would like to welcome you to our new blog! We also hope that you enjoy our new website!

At Quality Striping & Sealing, we take pride in serving the needs of businesses in and around Maryland and West Virginia. We provide a variety of services, including asphalt sealcoating & crack fill, concrete & rubber wheel stop installation, parking lot striping, and more!

If you have any questions about our services for businesses in Maryland or West Virginia, give us a call! If you have any comments or suggestions regarding our new website, we’d love to hear those too!