Why concrete and not asphalt?

The conversation of which is a better product, concrete vs. asphalt roads has long been a topic for many. There are a few similarities between the two, both are made up of aggregate such as crushed rock and sand, the binder is where they differ. Concrete is cement and water based whereas asphalt is bitumen which is derived from crude oil. Concrete roads are highly durable, long lasting and more environmentally friendly compared to asphalt roads, however, asphalt costs less and is very quick to install.

Life Expectancy

Asphalt roads should have a life span of 8 years but in general usage it usually has a 5-6 year life before having to be planed off and resurfaced again, which can only be done so many times.

Concrete on the other hand, once it’s been laid, has a 30-50 year life expectancy, so it’s more of a life cycle treatment with far less maintenance. Concrete has also been known to harden with age whereas asphalt is more susceptible to softening in high temperatures.


Asphalt requires a lot of maintenance due to it being a very porous material. In an example of an RTC (road traffic collision), that section of carriageway will have to be removed and resurfaced because the oils, diesels, petrol etc. will quickly be absorbed and gradually eat away at the asphalt causing quite an inconvenience for commuters and highway agencies alike.

Whereas concrete is designed and installed in a way which allows liquids such as oil and diesel to run off the slabs into the pollution drains which are located along the roads.


Asphalt is very quick and easy to lay but will start to breakdown after a few months leading to constant upkeep. You also need to ensure when installing asphalt that the substrate underneath is sound and unlikely to move, as that will immediately be reflected up through to the surface causing cracking.

Concrete however is a little more difficult to install initially but requires minimal maintenance for years after. Concrete is also more tolerant to underlying movement without causing any visible surface damage.

Both concrete and asphalt are popular material choices, and both have their pros and cons. If you need help deciding which material would be best for your project or would like to discuss the materials in more detail, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing contact@lmshighways.co.uk or by calling us on 01626 331771.