Asphalt Parking Lot Dark vs Light
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Could Asphalt Parking Lots & Roads be White Instead of Black?

Wouldn’t white or even a lighter color be a better option for roads and parking lots, especially in Florida? Sure, lighter color pavement certainly has it’s advantages and if you’ve ever had to walk across a hot asphalt parking lot at the beach, bare-footed you’ve certain felt one of the biggest pitfalls in the everyday asphalt surface… the HEAT! Darker colors, such as the often dark grey and black appearance of asphalt tend to attract and hold heat much more than lighter colors such as regular concrete. Reason being, darker colors absorb more light, such as the suns rays and thereby also will emit more heat. On the other hand, lighter colors like white actually reflect a great amount of the sun’s rays back upward, absorbing less, and thus emitting less at the surface.

So then, why not pave parking lots and road-ways with concrete instead of asphalt?

Two primary factors come into play here:

1. Costs to pave asphalt vs. concrete:

Although concrete may appear to have a better longevity, it is not only more costly to use as an initial paving material, it also cost much more to maintain over time. In order to make concrete grippy enough to serve as a viable road-way option, additives are used on the surface layer. These increase the costs even further.

2. Safety comes first

Ultimately, this is the number one reason why asphalt is the chosen option instead of concrete. Asphalt is more porous than concrete, which allows oils and moisture to penetrate the surface as opposed to settling on top and creating a slick, dangerous surface.

Asphalt’s darker, heat absorbing color also allows it to help moisture evaporate faster both after a morning fog, or a heavy rainstorm.

For this reason, using some form of pigment or even paint atop the surface of the asphalt to lighten it’s color is not a viable option. Sure, your feet may feel the burn however your car will have a better chance of staying on the road.

Secondary factors to choose asphalt over concrete:

Like a smooth ride? Concrete roads are not only louder (to both the driver and those near the roadway) but also are much rougher and as time passes often crack or form lumps, even furthering the roughness in the roadway or parking lot.

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  1. I am writing a proposal to ask the local government to use black asphalt instead of concrete on its roads. Could you please send me some examples of “before” (the concrete) and “after” (black asphalt) to show how much better black asphalt looks?
    Examples for city streets would be best (rather than driveways, or country highways) because the location is a medium-size city.

    Please consider this request to be URGENT because there is a deadline for submitting proposals to the local government. Thank you!

  2. I’ve read somewhere that asphalt pavement is actually better to drive on than concrete pavement. And one of the reasons is that you are not at risk of hydroplaning during rainy season when driving on asphalt. And being smoother to drive on too? I don’t actually drive so I don’t have first hand experience but this is cool.

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