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Can You Put Asphalt Over Concrete? Pros & Cons

Looking to upgrade your concrete? Find out if you can put asphalt over it. Get insights, tips, and expert advice.

HMC Team
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Last updated: May 31, 2024

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Can You Put Asphalt Over Concrete? Pros & Cons
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Can you put asphalt over concrete? This common question arises when homeowners and property managers look for efficient and cost-effective ways to resurface aging concrete driveways, parking lots, or roadways. 

The combination of asphalt over concrete offers a unique blend of durability and aesthetic appeal, but it’s not always straightforward. Understanding the benefits and potential pitfalls of this method is crucial before making a decision. 

In this article, we’ll explore the advantages, challenges, and best practices for laying asphalt over concrete. This should give you a clear understanding of whether this resurfacing option is right for your needs and how to ensure a successful, long-lasting installation.

The Pros of Laying Asphalt Over Concrete

As with most things in life, there are pros and cons. Below is a breakdown of some of the pros:

Cost-Effective Solution

One of the biggest advantages of laying asphalt over concrete is the cost savings. Instead of removing the existing concrete, which can be labor-intensive and expensive, you can use it as a stable base for the new asphalt layer. This can significantly reduce labor and material costs.

Time-Saving Process

Since the concrete foundation is already in place, the process of laying asphalt over concrete is much quicker than starting from scratch. This means less downtime and disruption for driveways, parking lots, and roadways, making it an attractive option for busy property managers and homeowners.

Enhanced Durability

Concrete provides a strong and stable base for the asphalt, which can enhance the overall durability of the pavement. This combination can be particularly effective in areas with heavy traffic, as the concrete base helps to distribute loads more evenly, reducing the risk of cracks and other damage.

Improved Aesthetic Appeal

Asphalt provides a smooth, sleek finish that can greatly enhance the curb appeal of your property. It can be a visually appealing upgrade from weathered and cracked concrete surfaces, offering a fresh and modern look.

The Cons of Laying Asphalt Over Concrete

Lots of pros! However, we can't just skip over the cons. Here are some of the potential drawbacks:

Potential for Reflection Cracking

One of the main disadvantages of laying asphalt over concrete is the risk of reflection cracking. Cracks in the concrete base can reflect through the asphalt layer over time, leading to visible and potentially damaging cracks on the surface. This issue can be mitigated with proper preparation and crack sealing, but it remains a concern nonetheless.

Drainage Issues

Concrete and asphalt have different drainage properties. Concrete is less permeable than asphalt, which can lead to water pooling between the layers. This trapped moisture can weaken the asphalt and cause premature deterioration. Proper drainage solutions must be implemented to avoid these problems.

Compatibility Challenges

Not all concrete surfaces are suitable for an asphalt overlay. For instance, heavily damaged or uneven concrete may not provide a good base, leading to an unstable asphalt surface. Thorough assessment and preparation of the concrete base are needed to ensure compatibility.

Factors to Consider

Since choosing whether to put asphalt over concrete isn't a cut and dry decision, it may help to further highlight some factors to consider:

Condition of the Concrete Base

Before deciding to lay asphalt over concrete, it's important to assess the condition of the existing concrete. The concrete should be relatively even and free from major structural damage. Small cracks and minor surface imperfections can be repaired, but extensive damage may require the removal and replacement of the concrete base.

Proper Preparation

Proper preparation of the concrete surface is essential for a successful asphalt overlay. This includes cleaning the surface to remove dirt, debris, and any loose materials. Cracks should be sealed, and any major surface imperfections should be repaired. In some cases, a leveling course may be necessary to ensure a smooth and even surface for the asphalt.

Thickness of the Asphalt Layer

The thickness of the asphalt layer is another important consideration. A typical asphalt overlay is between 2 to 3 inches thick, but this can vary depending on the specific requirements of the project. Thicker layers may be necessary for areas with heavy traffic or where additional durability is needed.

Drainage Solutions

As mentioned earlier, proper drainage is crucial to prevent water from getting trapped between the concrete and asphalt layers. This may involve installing drainage systems or ensuring that the asphalt surface has an adequate slope to direct water away from the pavement.

Professional Installation

While it might be tempting to tackle an asphalt overlay as a DIY project, professional installation is highly recommended. Experienced contractors have the expertise and equipment necessary to ensure a high-quality, long-lasting result. They can also identify and address potential issues that might not be apparent to an untrained eye.

Conclusion

So, can you put asphalt over concrete? Well, it can be a cost-effective and efficient way to upgrade your driveway, parking lot, or local road. The combination of a strong concrete base and a smooth asphalt surface offers improved durability and aesthetic appeal. However, it's important to be aware of the potential drawbacks, such as reflection cracking and drainage issues, and to take the necessary steps to address them.

By thoroughly assessing the condition of the existing concrete, preparing the surface properly, and ensuring adequate drainage, you can successfully lay asphalt over concrete. As always, professional installation is recommended to ensure the best results and avoid potential pitfalls.