asphalt vs concrete

How Roads Are Built: Asphalt vs. Concrete

Roads made of concrete and asphalt now are very different from those built thousands of years ago. Contractors constructed concrete roads by mixing concrete with sand and gravel, and they placed an additional layer of compacted crushed stones or brick rubble on top of the first layer.

On the other hand, asphalt, which has been in use for more than a century, is an essential component of current road construction since it is both inexpensive to produce and easy to apply over an existing open-graded surface. 

Road construction nowadays would be completed with the use of either construction materials. Both materials have advantages and disadvantages, but they both offer a high-quality and cost-effective paving alternative.

How are Concrete and Asphalt Roads Built?

Concrete is composed of aggregates, such as crushed rock or sand, cement, water, and other ingredients. Cement, which serves as a binder in concrete, is responsible for holding it together. Upon drying, the combination becomes a rigid, unyielding solid prone to cracking and breaking, significantly if the surface underneath it hasn’t been well smoothed off.

Asphalt is a mixture of several types of aggregate and binder. Bitumen is the most commonly used binder. It is a black, sticky material derived from crude oil that is used to construct roads. To build roads, parking lots, and driveways, hot asphalt is mixed with fine gravel and bitumen before being applied to the ground surface. It is then poured over a layer of heavier aggregate and crushed with a steamroller to compact the material further. After the asphalt has cooled to room temperature, it is capable of withstanding traffic.

What is Better?

Examining their cost-effectiveness, durability, ease of maintenance, and environmental friendliness are essential when comparing and contrasting different materials. These are the primary distinctions between the two types of pavement material.


Depending on the project, the cost of concrete and asphalt might vary significantly. Because asphalt is up to 20% less expensive than concrete, preventive maintenance is easier to perform. Concrete may be up to 16% less expensive than other materials when it comes to building new roads or repairing existing ones.


A minimum of seven days should pass after the pouring of the concrete before it may be utilized. On the other hand, asphalt surfaces may be used within a day or less after being laid down in most cases. It is a critical factor for projects such as public infrastructure, where roads must be opened to traffic as soon as feasible after construction is completed.

Durability and Efficiency

Concrete will crack faster than asphalt when subject to extreme pressure or movement, leading to costly repairs. In the event of larger cracks, it is possible to replace the entire slab. However, concrete’s exceptional durability makes breaking very unlikely. Concrete’s durability is tested in environments with freezing and thawing cycles. Concrete can become more porous over time due to fluctuations in moisture, prolonged exposure to salt or de-icing chemicals, and even extended exposure.


Asphalt expands and shrinks in response to changes in temperature. This kind of maintenance is more regular, requiring repairing and sealing every six months, for example. Asphalt is more challenging to repair than concrete, and typically, concrete only needs resealing once every five years.

Longevity and Sustainability

The primary benefit of concrete over asphalt is its long-term durability. If concrete roads are adequately maintained, they may endure up to twice as long as asphalt roads. Both materials are highly recyclable to varying degrees. In addition, concrete pavements may be recycled entirely, making asphalt the most recycled material in the United States.


Concrete roads outlast asphalt roads in terms of durability and can be recycled to the greatest extent practicable. The cost of asphalt paving is much lower than the cost of concrete pavement. The car will be safer on an asphalt road since it will be less susceptible to sliding and snow.

It is tough to choose between concrete and asphalt. Both materials may be employed in various situations, depending on the climate, available funds, and geographic location. It isn’t easy to decide which option is superior. In certain aspects, concrete may be superior to asphalt, while asphalt can be superior to concrete in other ways.


If you are still unsure about the paving material to use on your driveway, it is time to talk with the paving pros. Biondi Paving and Engineering is always here to assist you in any manner possible. To learn more, do not hesitate to contact us.


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