Comparing Commercial Paving Materials

Commercial-Paving-2

Commercial paving comes in many forms. The most popular materials are asphalt, concrete, and alternative types of pavement like permeable plastic pavers.

Asphalt is the most widely used because it was the first to be easily mass-produced. Concrete comes in second, with alternatives like plastic pavers gaining ground rather quickly. 

Asphalt

Image Credit: mydecorative.com

Composition

  • filler, aggregates, and a binder. The aggregates in asphalt are usually crushed minerals like sand, gravel, rock, or other recycled materials. The binder is usually Bitumen or tar. 

Benefits

  • Moderately durable.
  • Less expensive than concrete
  • Good for use in cold weather areas.
  • Maintenance is inexpensive, though frequent. 

Drawbacks        

  • Requires regular maintenance to last as long as possible.
  • Is very susceptible to water damage. Cracks, potholes, erosion is common.
  • Becomes hot  in the summer and sticky at high temperatures. Adds to local heat island effect in urban areas.
  • Is prone to many types of damage concerns.Not good for heavy trucks.
  • Ugly. Lack of stylistic variety.
  • 100 % impervious. May require additional drainage and stormwater detention areas.

Cost

  • The higher the quality, the thicker the surface and the higher the expense. 
  •  Asphalt usually requires additional drainage systems, adding to the cost of using it for commercial paving purposes.

Durability

  • Has a lifespan of 15 to 25 years.·        
  • Water is the greatest danger to asphalt, penetrating and destroying it when not properly sealed, so the surface needs to be resealed every 3 years.
  • Since the aggregate in asphalt isn’t locked into place with anything other than a temporary binder, loose gravel will develop over time and require repaving. 
  • Once a pothole occurs, it is a weak spot and will frequently recur even after repair.

Installation

  • Has to dry for 24 hours before it can be used.
  • Requires a team of workers to install and several days’ work for even a small driveway.
  • Involves multiple different pieces of machinery and equipment, as well as a full team of workers to install.
  • Requires 1 or more permits before installation can begin.

Thickness

  • Thickness can vary, with 4 inches being a common thickness for many commercial lots.
  • Some contractors choose to use up to 8 inches of compacted aggregate with 3 inches of asphalt pavement on top.

Damage Concerns

  • Water
  • Edge Cracking
  • Grass or Weed Growth
  • Block Cracking
  • Depressions
  • Failed Patches
  • Potholes
  • Bleeding

Equipment Used

  • Milling machines
  • Distributer tanks
  • Dump trucks
  • Machine Pavers
  • Asphalt Compactors

Climate Considerations

  • Petroleum-based asphalt releases harmful gases into the air when it’s being converted to asphalt.
  • Displaces natural rainwater, putting a larger burden on local water systems. 
  • Does not help save water, plastic, or Co2 emissions.
  • Adds heat to the urban heat island effect.

Concrete

Image Credit: vallejopaving.com

Composition

  • Made with the same types of aggregate as asphalt, but with Portland cement used as the most common binder. It is usually grey or white in color and smooth on the surface.

Benefits

  • Most find it more aesthetically pleasing than asphalt.
  • Better for heavy truck loads
  • Performs much better in high temperatures. 
  • Maintenance needs are slightly less frequent than asphalt.

Drawbacks

  • Takes a long time to dry.
  • More expensive than other paving materials.
  • Maintenance is complex and time-consuming.
  • Performs poorly in cold weather.
  • Susceptible to water damage, especially after long winters.
  • 100% impervious. Requires added drainage and stormwater detention areas or pond.

Cost

  • $4 to $9 per square foot
  • Price can fluctuate widely depending on the local market.
  • Other costs include more land and expense for detention ponds and drainage system.

Durability

  • Stronger and more rigid than asphalt.
  • Can last up to 30 years if perfect maintenance is performed throughout its lifetime.
  • Easily penetrated by water if the surface layer is eroded at all.
  • Often requires total resurfacing and repaving if compromised, a very expensive job.

Installation

  • Paving permits required before installation can begin.
  • Many different pieces of heavy, complex machinery required.
  • Drying time for concrete is much longer than asphalt, with 7-10 days of waiting required before the surface can be used as intended.
  • Full team of workers required. 

Thickness

  • 4-inch thickness.
  • 5-6 inches recommended if heavy loads are occasionally expected.

Damage Concerns

  • Prone to most types of damage such as chipping, cracking, and water damage.
  • Weather and traffic can strip the surface of its protective layer faster than expected, resulting in unusually frequent maintenance needs or unanticipated degradation.

Equipment Used

  • Mixers
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Compactors
  • Levels
  • Moisture retarders
  • Saws
  • Shovels
  • Rakes
  • Tampers
  • Vibrators
  • Screeds
  • Bull floats
  • Kneeling boards
  • Trowels 
  • Grinders
  • Dust collectors

Climate Considerations

  • Production of the binder in concrete, cement, releases high levels of harmful VOC emissions.
  • Impervious concrete displaces water and burdens local waterways, similar to asphalt.

Permeable Plastic Pavers

Image Credit: plasticgridpaving.blogspot.com

Composition

  • Made from 100% recycled plastic. They are generally shaped into a grid of cells that are all attached or linked to one another. They are interlocking and can be quickly assembled or disassembled. 

Benefits

  • 100 % pervious. No additional drainage system required.
  • 100% land utilization. Can add stormwater detention below paving surface int the aggregate.
  • They never need to be resealed, repainted, or resurfaced.
  • They are the most eco-friendly paving material available. 
  • Some plastic permeable pavers can absorb rain at a rate of 1000 inches  per hour for instant drainage..
  • Versatility. Gravel or grass fill.

Drawbacks

  • When detention and extra drainage is not required, it can be more expensive than asphalt.
  • Rollout systems can become clogged and are not strong for heavy loads.

Cost

  • Permeable concrete and brick is expensive, costing from $9.00 to $18.00 per square foot.
  • Plastic pavers are cost anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot.

Durability

  • These pavers require almost no maintenance throughout their lifetime.
  • A commercial lot built with permeable pavers can last up to 60 years.
  • Unlike concrete, they are not prone to cracking, chipping, or weather damage. 

Installation

  • The installation process requires minimal usage of heavy vehicles or equipment, compared to asphalt and concrete.
  • Can be completed in under a day, depending on the size of the paved area.
  • No waiting around for materials to dry.
  • Less costly and time consuming overall.
  • Requires less workers to complete.
  • No permits required if working with a grass lot or a pre-existing gravel lot.

Damage Concerns

  • Permeable pavers are incredibly durable and not prone to any types of cracking, chipping, or other forms of damage.
  • Perform well in hot and cold weather.
  • Base preparation, while easy, is important.

Thickness

  • 1-2 inches thick for the pavers. Base will vary.
  • Total excavation is no deeper than 1 foot in most cases.
  • Able to handle identical and heavier loads than asphalt or concrete.
  • Can detain stormwater under pavement to save land.

Equipment Used

  • Excavator
  • Dump truck/flatbed truck

Climate Considerations

  • Almost zero emissions or harmful gasses released during production.
  • Allows water to take it’s natural course without putting any additional strain on local water systems. 

Takeaways when Comparing Pavement Types

When you compare the stats, it’s clear that plastic permeable pavers are by far the most cost-effective and efficient material to use for commercial paving. They require almost none of the maintenance of asphalt, allow 100% land use, are easy to install and are more eco-friendly.

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