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Concrete Vs Asphalt Roads

If it is better to use concrete vs asphalt roads is not always so easy to determine. While both concrete and asphalt are popular materials for roads, there are a few pros and cons to each that can make one a far better material for the job at hand than the other. 

Concrete roads are more environmentally friendly and have more longevity compared to asphalt roads, though asphalt is more cost-effective and can be a safer alternative to asphalt in areas that get a lot of snow.

Read on as we go through the pros and cons of concrete vs asphalt roads. 

What Are Concrete Roads?

Most concrete roads are a combination of aggregates (gravel, sand, and rock), water, and cement. Cement is in the mix as a binding agent to hold the aggregate together. The stiff, unforgiving slabs of concrete form when the mixture dries. Construction crews will often try to refrain from making the surfaces of concrete roads perfectly smooth, as perfectly smooth concrete is often more prone to breakage. 

To reinforce concrete, construction crews will often use steel bars.

The Pros of Concrete Roads

Longer Lifespan

When it comes to concrete vs asphalt roads, concrete roads have a much longer lifespan. In fact, many concrete roads can last up to 20 to 40 years with minimal maintenance; it is around two to four times the average lifespan of asphalt roads. This is one of the many reasons people also use concrete to make catch basins, especially in areas with heavy rainfall. 

The pros of concrete highways

Better For Highways

Our national highways are under the constant pressure of large freight trucks that travel over them every day. Concrete handles weight much better than asphalt, meaning it is less prone to rutting or dips. If you’re planning on paving roads where there will be a high volume of large trucks, concrete is the better material.

Of course, the one major downside to using concrete on long stretches of highway is that it can get expensive very fast, which is something to consider in any road-building project.

Safer For Motorists

Thanks to the longevity of concrete roads and the strength to hold more weight without dips forming, there is a smaller chance of potholes forming. Not only does this make it safer for motorists, but it also helps traffic to flow much smoother too. 

Better Fuel Efficiency

According to a number of studies of concrete roads vs asphalt roads over the past decade, concrete roads can reduce CO2 emissions and increase driver fuel efficiency. It is said that drivers get anywhere from 1-7% better fuel efficiency when driving on concrete roads compared to asphalt roads. This is because concrete roads don’t fold as much under the weight of vehicles.

More Environmentally Friendly

In general, the production of concrete roads is more environmentally friendly than that of asphalt roads. Essentially, concrete uses less energy during the construction process with fewer vehicles and passes, giving the construction process a small carbon footprint. 

It is also worth noting that concrete does not produce any sort of toxic runoff like asphalt does, meaning it is not a threat to local waterways. With its unique permeability, concrete allows rainwater to pass through it so that groundwater can be replenished, just as grass would allow water to pass through.

Of course, neither of these options is sustainable options, though that does not mean one isn’t better for the environment than the other. 

Saving On Resources

Concrete, which is made from cement, is produced from limestone. Limestone is readily available and a very abundant resource that does not need to be imported in.

No Oil Damage

Unlike asphalt roads, concrete roads do not suffer damage from oil leaks.

Pros and cons of concrete vs asphalt roads

Better For Colder Temperatures

Concrete is a better choice for areas with colder temperatures, as it is more resistant to the freeze-thaw cycle. This also makes it a much safer choice for drivers in snowy or icy conditions. 

Recyclable

Many consider concrete to be recyclable, as old slabs of concrete can be ground up and used as gravel in other projects, such as gravel driveways

Coloring and Stamping

One of the biggest aesthetic advantages of concrete is that it can be stamped and colored much easier than asphalt. You’ve likely been in urban settings where the concrete is colored in certain places to section off bike lanes or to promote safer crosswalks. The number of aesthetic possibilities is much greater with concrete than with asphalt. 

Light Color

One of the main reasons you’ll often see concrete roadways in hot areas is that the lighter color is more reflective than asphalt. This means that it reflects the radiation from the sun instead of absorbing and storing it as asphalt does. 

With a cooler surface, concrete can help surrounding buildings, meaning businesses and homes, cut back on their energy costs. It doesn’t get as hot in urban settings with concrete compared to those with asphalt, either. 

Cons of Concrete Roads

Difficult Repairs

Repairing concrete roads if they do get damaged can be an arduous process. It is impossible to patch holes and cracks on concrete roads vs asphalt roads. Instead, to repair concrete, the entire slab must be replaced. 

Concrete Vs Asphalt Roads: costs of concrete roads

Costly

Concrete costs a lot more than asphalt, both in terms of the construction process and the potential repair process.

Bumpy Rides

Concrete slabs can sit at different levels, causing rides to be bumpier than asphalt. It is also often the case that drivers can feel the expansion joints in the road when driving on concrete, especially if they don’t have newer cars with high-quality suspension. 

More Road Noise

During the construction process, the texture is brushed onto the concrete’s surface. Beyond drivers feeling the rhythmic bump of each suspension joint they pass over, it is also often the case that these roads are incredibly noisy. 

Less Grip

Compared to asphalt roads, concrete roads don’t offer that much grip. When roads get extremely wet, it becomes far more likely that vehicles lose traction quickly. It is also the case that water does not evaporate as fast, nor does snow melt as fast, as concrete has a much lower heat absorption rate than asphalt. 

High Reflectivity

If you’ve ever driven on a long asphalt road on a very hot, sunny day, you’ve probably noticed the high reflectivity characteristic. Driving on asphalt roads in this kind of heat and sunlight for a long time can be a major strain on the eyes. 

Non-Absorbant

While asphalt has a great way of absorbing spills, such as oils, chemicals, and other pollutants, concrete does not. 

Long Cure Times

After it is poured, concrete typically has to sit for seven days before it is cured. Of course, there are high-early-strength varieties of concrete too, which can cure in a day to three days, though these are much more expensive. If you’re looking to get a job done quickly, asphalt is a much better choice. 

When To Use Concrete Roads

While concrete roads can be used in a number of different projects, they are best for:

  • New construction
  • Urban road expansion
  • Build new roads in urban regions
  • Underground utility repair

It is also worth noting that concrete is a 100% recyclable material. It is pretty common for construction companies to break concrete down and use it to build new bridges and roads or use it for other construction projects entirely. 

Because concrete does not require as much maintenance or repairs, there are fewer costs to maintain it, including machinery costs, fuel costs, labor costs, etc.

Concrete Vs Asphalt Roads - Which Is The Better Choice?

What Are Asphalt Roads?

Asphalt roads are often made up of aggregates (gravel, sand, and crushed rock), filler, and binder (bitumen). Bitumen is a very different kind of binding agent than cement, as it is a dark and sticky substance that is derived from crude oil. 

When roads are built using asphalt, fine aggregate is mixed with bitumen while heated up before it is poured onto a bed of large aggregate. Once it is laid down, it is pressed into place using a steamroller.

The beauty of asphalt is that it is ready to be driven on once it cools down to the surrounding air temperature. It is also much more flexible than concrete, allowing it to better mold to the imperfections of the ground underneath. 

Pros of Asphalt Roads

Cost-Effective

When it comes to concrete vs asphalt roads, the materials for asphalt roads cost less than they do for concrete. Plus, since the construction process moves a lot faster for asphalt roads, it requires less time and energy to build, meaning less spent on labor and machinery. 

Easy To Repair

Unlike concrete, it is possible to repair asphalt in patches. If there is a small crack or dip somewhere in the road, filling it up and patching it over is quite easy. 

Better Traction

There are many people who deal with dynamic driving situations, especially those who live in hilly areas or regions that have inclement weather. Compared to concrete roads, asphalt roads offer far more traction and skid resistance, making them a safer option in many ways.

Less Noise

While concrete roads can be very noisy to drive on, asphalt roads are generally quiet. This is especially true for brand-new asphalt roads. 

Better Heat Absorption

Though asphalt can get really hot, the good thing is that it has excellent heat absorption for those who live in snowy areas. After a long bout of inclement weather, snow and ice will melt much faster off the road than concrete. Rainwater will also evaporate much faster on asphalt. 

Recyclable

Many consider asphalt recyclable as well, as you can melt asphalt down and re-use it to surface new roads.

Cons of Asphalt Roads

Cons of Asphalt Roads

Shorter Lifespan

Asphalt roads have a much shorter lifespan than concrete roads. On average, asphalt roads last around ten years. Maintaining an asphalt road requires it to be re-laid and repaired on a more regular basis. 

Easily Damaged

When heavier weather approaches, asphalt tends to take on more damage. In regions with heavy snowfall or monsoons, this can be a huge problem. Oil leaks can also have an impact on damage when asphalt absorbs it, as it can weaken the binding agent. When the binding agent is weakened, the roads can soften, leaving them open to further damage. 

Not Great For Certain Types of Roadways

Because asphalt is prone to cracking and breaking under stress, it is not the best choice for high-turning points or stopping points. Of course, to reduce rutting, it is possible to mix asphalt with harder oil. However, this can also make it more brittle, which can lead to the asphalt breaking when temperatures get low.

Less Environmentally Friendly

When asphalt is melted during the construction stage, it can emit greenhouse gases. Compared to concrete roads, building asphalt roads can cause far more pollution.

More Prone To Freeze Damage

When winters roll around and the freeze-thaw cycles begin, it can wreak havoc on asphalt roads. These kinds of roads become far more brittle in extremely cold temperatures due to their less flexible makeup.

Uses More Natural Resources

Asphalt is made from bitumen, which is produced from imported petroleum. Every day, the reserve of bitumen is reduced more and more, meaning it will eventually cost us more to import and use for major roadways.

When To Use Asphalt Roads

  • New roads in rural areas
  • Low-volume roads
  • Jobs that require cost-efficiency

Final Thoughts – Concrete Vs Asphalt Roads – Which One Is Best?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for which of these materials is better for building roads. It’s crucial to consider the specifications of your project when trying to choose the better material. 

Concrete is a more sustainable option that promotes better fuel efficiency and longevity. But it can also be expensive and difficult to repair. It is also worth noting that many governments are shifting to the use of concrete roads thanks to the reduced chance of potholes and added longevity.

On the other hand, asphalt can be more cost-effective and safer for drivers due to its skid-resistant nature, though it is less environmentally friendly and more prone to damage. 

Consider the parameters of your road-building project and the pros and cons of each when making your next decision.

How To Build A Concrete Catch Basin

Catch basins are essential to city infrastructures, collecting water runoff that would otherwise flood the streets.

To build a concrete catch basin, you’ll need to find the right location on your property, make the form out of plywood, run your drainpipe, pour some concrete, stabilize the basin with rebar, and add a metal grate for safety!

If the idea of building a concrete catch basin seems like a daunting task, then keep reading below to see how easy it is to implement water management onto your property!

Tools You’ll Need To Get Started

  • Metal Grate
  • Sand
  • Flat Trowel
  • Small Shovel
  • Concrete Mixing Container
  • Concrete Mixing Hoe
  • Garden Hose
  • Concrete 
  • Rebar
  • Drain Pipe
  • Hammer or Drill
  • Screws or Nails
  • Circular Saw
  • 2×4 Lumber and Plywood
  • Shovel
How To Build A Concrete Catch Basin

Step-By-Step Concrete Catch Basin Building Process

#1 Dig Your Hole

Dig your hole in the appropriate location next to your foundation or on your lawn. You will want to make a two-foot box, meaning the hole will need to be at least 32” wide in both directions. Account for the width of the concrete wall.

#2 Form Your Concrete

Cut your plywood to size and create a box that will act as the interior of your catch basin. To secure your 2×4 lumber on the box’s interior corners, nail or screw the pieces to one another. It’s important that you leave anywhere from four to six inches of space between the edge of the hole and the plywood form, as this is the space that will be the wall of the catch basin.

Of course, if the plan is to build the catch basin adjacent to your home, you will only need to account for three sides in your form. Your house’s foundation will act as the fourth wall.

#3 Install the Drain

Secure your drain pipe in its right place BEFORE pouring your concrete. Your drain pipe should connect at one of the side wall’s bases, connecting to your catch basin. You want it to slow away at a slight angle until it exits at the dry well or curb.

PRO TIP: When trying to determine the height of your drain, make sure to consider how thick your concrete floor will be. Ideally, you’ll want it to be around four to six inches thick, the same as your walls. 

#4 Use Rebar to Reinforce

Arrange rebar in the places where you will pour your concrete. To make sure your rebar is stable, drive it at least four inches deep. You also want to make sure that it isn’t sticking out above the ground. For a sufficient catch basin, you can use a single piece of rebar every eight inches. 

We recommend reading through your local building codes first to ensure the length of your rebar isn’t too long for this particular application.

#5 Pour Your Concrete

Now, the fun part! Pour your concrete, filling the spaces between the hole’s edge and the plywood. Make sure that the concrete is mixed together with the instructions specified on its packaging. 

PRO TIP: While there are many ways to mix concrete, we recommend doing it by hand. It’s the most cost-efficient way unless you want to spend money on hiring a big mixing truck from a concrete company. 

#6 Remove Your Form

Once your concrete has cured, remove your plywood form and any other building materials.

#7 Pour The Bottom

Before pouring your concrete base, add at least three inches of sand to your base. Sand is very helpful in making sure the concrete doesn’t settle in years to come. Once the concrete is poured, smooth it over with a trowel.

#8 Attach Your Grate

Top off your catch basin with a metal grate for safety. You can either build your own metal grate or purchase one pre-made. Make sure that your grate is secure enough that an animal or grown adult could walk on it without fear of falling through. 

How To Build A Concrete Catch Basin

Where Should I Build My Catch Basin?

A catch basin should sit at the lowest point on your property. You want it to be a place where water pools or puddles after a rainstorm. Of course, before that, you’ll want to analyze the foundation of the home

Remember, your home’s foundation will likely be one of the four walls of your catch basin. If the foundation of your home is not in good condition, you could end up diverting water into it, which would be an absolute nightmare. 

As a rule of thumb, you want to find a spot along your home’s perimeter that not only looks aesthetically pleasing but is out of the way of most foot traffic. 

How Large Should My Catch Basin Be?

For most residential properties, a 2×2-foot catch basin should do the trick. The drain should be anywhere from four to six inches. The only reason you’d go larger is if you were building a commercial catch basin. 

If you don’t have serious water management requirements, you may even consider going smaller with a 1×1-foot catch basin. It’s up to you to consider how much rainfall you get along with your roof’s surface area when building a catch basin. 

What Are The Different Types of Residential Catch Basins?

If you’ve done any research prior to stumbling upon this article, you may have seen that there are numerous options for catch basins out there. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular choices for residential catch basins.

  • Plastic Catch Basin: If you’re building a smaller catch basin, plastic is a great option! These types of catch basins are typically made out of PVC or high-density polyethylene.
  • Polymer Concrete: This type of concrete is far more durable than regular concrete, as it uses a unique polymer binder with natural mineral aggregates.
  • Pre-Cast Concrete: A pre-cast concrete catch basin is very common and won’t often cost you very much. However, you will need a backhoe or a small crane to install one.
  • Cast-In Concrete: A cast-in concrete basin will be a good choice if you can’t deal with a heavy pre-cast basin. With a cast-in concrete basin, you will have to dig a hole, plot your meal frame, and sturdy with rebar.

How Much Does It Cost To Build a Concrete Catch Basin?

For professional concrete catch basin installation, you can expect to spend anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the size of your catch basin and the materials used. If you’re on a budget, you may consider going with a plastic catch basin that you can pick up from a local hardware store for under $100. Of course, plastic is far less durable than concrete, so we wouldn’t consider it unless your water management needs are minimal.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, building a concrete catch basin is not an incredibly difficult task, as long as you can build your frame and pour your concrete. Not only will it solve a number of water management dilemmas, it will also increase the value of your home and prevent any problems with drainage in the future!

driveway thickness

You might believe that concrete driveway thickness in residential and commercial settings is roughly the same. After all, they all appear to be the same and can withstand the weight of automobiles, right? Nevertheless, the degree of concrete thickness we choose when constructing a concrete driveway can significantly impact the driveway’s long-term condition.

Cracking is a common problem in driveways, especially those constructed with concrete. So, to prevent this, ensure that the concrete is of uniform thickness. Besides, your contractor will most likely ask you a few questions to determine the thickness of your concrete.

So, what is the best concrete driveway thickness?

In terms of thickness, a minimum of 4 inches is the standard requirement for passenger car driveways. However, for heavier automobiles, it is recommended to increase the thickness from 4 inches to 5 inches. According to the Tennessee Concrete Association, this adjustment will add about 20 percent to your concrete price but will increase your driveway’s load-carrying capacity by almost 50 percent. 

For adequate drainage, the driveway should be sloped a minimum of 1%, or 1/8 inch per sq, towards the street to prevent water from stagnating on the driveway.

Even though many municipalities have enacted codes requiring a specified minimum thickness, the absolute amount may be larger than that needed by the code in some situations.  As a result, before choosing concrete driveway thickness while creating the slab, a concrete contractor ought to consider several factors.

concrete driveway thickness

 So, what factors should you consider when choosing driveway thickness?

Constructing a new concrete driveway is a time-consuming task that also necessitates some pre-planning preparations. The success of the final driveway depends on determining the required concrete thickness before delivery and placing any prepared concrete. 

Your driveway may well not be able to handle the load and pressure exerted on it if you misjudge concrete thickness by pouring insufficiently prepared concrete. On the other hand,  if the concrete is overly thick, it could result in an unappealing driveway as well as more money spent on the delivery than required. So, the following are the factors to consider before choosing driveway thickness:

Soil condition

When determining the thickness of the concrete to be used for your driveway project, consider the stability of the underlying soil since unstable soil necessitates more reinforcement. If you are unsure whether or not the ground is solid enough to handle the ready-mix concrete once it has dried and hardened, we recommend consulting a professional for help. 

Perhaps you go through with the project despite the fact that the soil beneath it is unstable; it may not be able to resist the weather conditions in your area for long. In a nutshell, ensure you seek expert advice regarding your soil type before proceeding with the project.

The driveway’s function

The purpose of the driveway has a significant impact on how a concrete driveway thickness should be. A 3″ to 4″ thick pad is sufficient for lightweight automobiles, but a forklift, RV, or dump truck are heavyweights and need a thicker slab. However,  you should not be concerned about intermittent delivery trucks using the driveway since they are not usually wholly laden. 

Notwithstanding, many professional contractors choose to build residential concrete driveways between 4,” and 6″ thick on a prepared base since thicker concrete provides more strength.

Budget

The impact on the budget is determined by the driveway’s preparation work, dimensions, and concrete thickness. For instance, the cost of installing four full-sized car garage driveways will vary significantly from the cost of constructing a parking pad that accommodates a small motorcycle or compact car. 

In addition, the thickness of the pour, the use of rebar, the addition of a compacted base and subbase, as well as the type of color additives, finish, and texture will all affect the budget.

Driveway

Should I use concrete for my driveway?

The simple answer is YES! For a good reason, concrete is a popular choice for constructing driveways as its slabs are incredibly sturdy and long-lasting, and they need very little upkeep. So, it would not be a bad idea if you consider using concrete for your next driveway project in both residential and commercial settings. The following are a few advantages and disadvantages of a concrete driveway to help you decide whether or not to opt for it 

Pros

  • Affordability: When it comes to cost, concrete is a reasonably inexpensive alternative to consider. With concrete, you may only be requiring work done on your driveway just once during the period you own your house. Notwithstanding, concrete driveway thickness requirements can influence the cost.
  • Durability: concrete is a very long-lasting material. A concrete slab can endure 50 years or more if properly built and maintained.
  • Load-bearing capacity: concrete is an inflexible, strong material that can withstand even the heaviest vehicles when properly installed with the appropriate base and reinforcement.
  • Eco-friendly: Concrete driveways have lower embodied energy costs, making them a more environmentally sustainable paving option. That is, both producing and placing concrete uses less energy altogether.
  • Low maintenance: concrete driveways require little to no maintenance, which helps to save both money and time over time. It can last indefinitely, and no weeds will develop on the paved surface.
  • Heat reflectance: concrete driveways are cooler than their asphalt counterparts as they absorb fewer UV rays. They reflect the sun’s heat and do not significantly warm the air. If you want to appreciate the concrete reaction to the sun’s heat, consider walking barefoot on both asphalt and concrete surfaces on a hot day.

Cons

  • Unappealing: Concrete is not the most appealing construction material, even though color embossing and stamping are feasible. However, opting for such decorative treatment will necessitate additional upkeep and do not often last as plain concrete.
  • Difficult to repair: concrete driveway requires removing and replacing the entire concrete area during repair, which is hard to carry out. Besides, vehicle oil and fluid leaks can leave stains that are hard to eliminate.
  • It is labor-intensive to instal: for huge projects, a concrete driveway is not a very do-it-yourself-friendly material. Because pouring a concrete driveway requires a lot of hard work, most people choose to hire a professional to do it. However, the concrete driveway thickness can add to the labor needs.
  • It may crack with time: concrete, like asphalt, can crack with age. Nevertheless, this issue may be prevented if the concrete driveway is constructed by a professional contractor who strictly follows all necessary procedures.

Do you need rebar or wire in a concrete driveway?

Homeowners want to ensure their driveway is thick enough to avoid cracking, but there is another factor to consider. Concrete has a low tensile strength despite its compressive strength, rendering it susceptible to expanding over time, which leads to cracking. 

However, the concrete thickness can not be used to increase its tensile strength. Consequently, another material (either wire or rebar) will be used to reinforce the concrete. 

For residential areas with lower thickness and strength requirements, wire is more commonly used than rebar. In contrast, rebar is often an excellent option to consider for thicker driveways and areas with a lot of traffic.

Conclusion

Some factors determine concrete driveway thickness; however, most concrete driveways in residential settings are 4″ thick 3,000 to 4,000 per square inches concrete slabs on a 4″ to 8″ prepared and compressed gravel base. Nevertheless, it is wise to consult with an expert contractor when determining the actual thickness that would be best for your driveway project.