When people find themselves in a position of needing pavement, whether for a home or business, they often find themselves wondering whether concrete or asphalt is a better choice. Asphalt is the most popular choice, and there are good reasons for that. It’s cheaper, it’s totally recyclable, it looks great, and it lasts a long time. The majority of America’s streets, roads and parking lots are made of this versatile material.
Concrete is also a very interesting choice, however. It’s harder and tougher than asphalt, and can last 5-10 years longer in some cases. When a concrete surface is done by professionals, it can last upwards of 20 or even 30 years, depending on the factors such as climate and usage.
Many people also prefer the look and feel of a beautiful concrete surface.
But there are some definite drawbacks when it comes to concrete installations. Here are a few problems you might deal with at some point, if you choose to pave with concrete. We’ll cover asphalt in another post.
Concrete installations frequently start to show cracks before they really ought to. There are several possible culprits, but one of the most common reasons for premature cracks is the faults beneath the surface of the concrete. Every concrete surface involves careful installation of base and sub-base layers, which form the “bedrock” on which the concrete itself is poured. When these deeper layers are not property installed, the resulting instability can cause the concrete to crack up. Severe weather, temperature swings, and too much pressure (weight) on the concrete can also produce cracks over time.
Crazing is a term not just for cracks, but for entire areas where cracks seem to have formed a network. In many cases these are very thin, fine cracks that may not even be noticeable until the concrete is splashed with water. Unfortunately, one of the most common causes of “crazing” is a concrete installation company who makes serious errors during installation, including not allowing the concrete to full dry before finishing the installation.
Actual deterioration and “crumbling” is another problem we sometimes see with concrete installations. It’s more common in areas with extreme weathers, and a large swing between summer and winter temperatures. If you live in an area like this, talk your concrete specialist about special techniques to prevent this. Also be aware of the chemicals you use on your driveway, such as de-icers, and how they can affect concrete.
Concrete, due to its lighter color, is definitely more susceptible to stains and other coloration problems. We’ve all seen concrete on which oil from cars and trucks has dripped; these marks seem impossible to remove. Improper concrete mixtures prepared by inexperienced concrete specialists can also lead to problems with color and consistency of color.
Is concrete the right choice for you?
These are a few of the problems that can go wrong with concrete. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that concrete is the wrong choice. Asphalt comes with its own set of challenges; and it’s safe to say that no matter which material you choose, finding a trustworthy specialist to do the installation work is crucial to the long-term success of your concrete (or asphalt) installation.