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Can You Put Concrete Over Asphalt? Pros & Cons

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

HMC Team
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Last updated: May 30, 2024

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Can You Put Concrete Over Asphalt? Pros & Cons
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Have you ever wondered if you can put concrete over asphalt to enhance your driveway or create a more durable surface? 

This common question arises for homeowners and builders looking to improve existing pavements without completely starting from scratch (which is more time, effort and money). The idea of layering concrete over asphalt may seem straightforward, but it comes with its own set of considerations and potential challenges. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the feasibility of this approach, the steps involved, and the pros and cons of such a project. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of whether this method is suitable for your needs and how to execute it effectively if it is. 

The Pros

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 primary advantages of putting concrete over asphalt is cost efficiency. By utilizing the existing asphalt as a base, you can save on demolition and disposal costs. This makes the project more affordable compared to completely removing the old surface and starting anew.

Improved Durability

Concrete is known for its strength and durability. By layering concrete over asphalt, you enhance the load-bearing capacity of the surface, making it suitable for heavier traffic. This combination can extend the lifespan of your pavement significantly compared to asphalt alone.

Faster Installation

Since the asphalt base is already in place, the installation process for the concrete overlay is quicker. This means less downtime and faster project completion, which is beneficial for both residential and commercial properties.

Better Aesthetics

Concrete offers a clean, polished look that can significantly enhance the curb appeal of your property. With various finishes and color options available, concrete can be customized to match your design preferences, providing a more attractive surface than plain asphalt.

The Cons

Those were some pretty great pros. However, we can't just skip over the cons. Here are some of the potential drawbacks:

Potential for Cracking

One of the significant drawbacks is the potential for cracking. If the underlying asphalt is not in good condition or has movement, it can cause the concrete layer to crack. This is especially true in areas with significant temperature fluctuations.

Requires Proper Preparation

Laying concrete over asphalt is not as simple as pouring concrete on top. The existing asphalt must be adequately prepared, which includes cleaning, leveling, and potentially applying a bonding agent to ensure proper adhesion. Without these steps, the concrete may not bond correctly, leading to premature failure.

Limited to Certain Conditions

This method is not suitable for all situations. If the asphalt is severely damaged, has drainage issues, or is unstable, it might not serve as a suitable base for concrete. In such cases, a complete removal and replacement might be necessary.

Factors to Consider

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

Condition of the Asphalt

Before deciding to put concrete over asphalt, it’s crucial to assess the condition of the existing asphalt. If it has major cracks, potholes, or drainage problems, these issues must be addressed first. The asphalt should be relatively stable and in good shape to provide a solid foundation for the concrete.

Thickness of Concrete Layer

The thickness of the concrete overlay is an important factor. Typically, a minimum of 2 inches is recommended for light traffic areas, while heavier traffic areas might require up to 4 inches or more. The thickness will affect both the durability and cost of the project.

Climate and Temperature

Consider the local climate and temperature variations. Areas with extreme temperature changes can cause the asphalt to expand and contract, potentially leading to cracks in the concrete layer. Using proper expansion joints and choosing appropriate concrete mixes can help mitigate this issue.

Proper Bonding

To ensure the concrete adheres well to the asphalt, a bonding agent might be necessary. This helps to create a strong bond between the two materials, reducing the risk of delamination and improving the overall durability of the surface.

Steps to Lay Concrete Over Asphalt

If you've made the decision to pour concrete over asphalt, you can follow these steps yourself, or hire a pro (if you aren't one) to do it.

Step 1: Inspect and Prepare the Asphalt Surface

Begin by thoroughly inspecting the asphalt surface. Repair any significant cracks or potholes and ensure the surface is clean and free of debris. This may involve pressure washing or sweeping.

Step 2: Apply a Bonding Agent

Depending on the condition of the asphalt and the recommendations of your concrete supplier, apply a bonding agent to the asphalt surface. This will help the concrete adhere better to the asphalt base.

Step 3: Install Forms and Reinforcement

Set up forms to define the edges of the new concrete surface. If needed, install reinforcement such as rebar or wire mesh to provide additional strength to the concrete layer.

Step 4: Pour and Spread the Concrete

Mix and pour the concrete over the prepared asphalt surface. Use a screed to spread and level the concrete, ensuring it fills all areas evenly.

Step 5: Finish the Surface

Apply the desired finish to the concrete surface, whether it’s a smooth finish, broom finish, or decorative texture. This step is crucial for both aesthetics and safety, providing the desired look and slip resistance.

Step 6: Cure the Concrete

Allow the concrete to cure properly. This typically involves keeping the surface moist and protecting it from extreme temperatures or direct sunlight for a specified period, usually at least 7 days. Proper curing is essential for achieving maximum strength and durability.

Conclusion

Putting concrete over asphalt can be a viable and cost-effective solution for enhancing your paved surfaces. By understanding the pros and cons, considering the critical factors, and following the correct steps, you can achieve a durable, attractive, and long-lasting result. 

Whether you're upgrading a residential driveway or a commercial parking lot, this method can provide a practical and efficient pathway to improved pavement.