A road with trees and mountains in the background

Asphalt vs. Concrete: What’s the Difference?

As experts in infrastructure services, we can tell you that our roads and highways are literally held together by asphalt and concrete. These are the materials that form the pavements we walk and drive on every day. But what’s the difference between them and what qualities set them apart? In this blog post, we dive into their differences and compare their disadvantages and advantages.

Concrete roads are made up of aggregates (rock, lime, or gravel) and cement, which acts a binder. Asphalt roads are the same except its binder is asphalt, a semi-solid form of petroleum. Most paved roads in New Zealand and around the world are made with asphalt, including the United States and the United Kingdom, where over 90% of paved roads use it. The popularity of asphalt roads is mainly attributed to their low cost and quick production. Concrete road surfacing, however, remains in high demand due to its durability and low maintenance qualities.

Advantages of Concrete over Asphalt

  1. Concrete is durable and requires less maintenance

Concrete roads are sturdier than asphalt roads and highly resistant to weathering from freeze-thaw cycles and heavy rains. They can last for up to 40 years before resealing, while asphalt is usually resealed within 7 – 14 years. Concrete roads are also less likely to develop potholes than asphalt roads. There were 1.5 million potholes recorded in the United Kingdom between 2019-2020—that’s the equivalate of one pothole appearing every 19 seconds. Concrete roads are also resistant to oil leaks, which dissolves asphalt.

  • Concrete causes less pollution

Concrete roads are 100% renewable, made from water and cement, and typically only need to be relaying every 20 – 40 years, compared to asphalt roads which need relaying every 10 years. Most commercial asphalt is also not obtained in natural form, but rather through the distillation of crude oil.

Advantages of Asphalt over Concrete

  1. Asphalt provides greater safety

The rough granulated texture of asphalt roads enables them to have greater traction, and better skid resistance than concrete roads. What’s more, asphalt’s heat absorbing black surface can better defrost winter ice, greatly reducing the chance of slippery, frozen roads, which can be a major hazard.

  • Asphalt roads are cheaper to build and maintain

It takes much less time to lay and reseal an asphalt road than a concrete road. Because of the material’s flexibility, damaged asphalt road surfaces usually only require a quick patch, compared to concrete, which often requires entire slabs to be removed. This means that concrete roads come with a higher paving cost than asphalt roads, and the cost of repairs is also significantly higher.

  • Noise Reduction

Asphalt roads are also known for reducing noise pollution, a quality that has been attributed to its texture. According to a 2013 study by the World Road Association, asphalt roads were able to reduce sound by up to 7 decibels.

Contact us for all your asphalting needs

Decided that asphalt is ideal for your project? If you’re looking forAsphalt contractors in Auckland, talk to the experts here at Traffic Systems LTD. We can help you install or maintain infrastructure on time and in budget. Contact us to find out more today.