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In terms of paving materials, concrete isn’t the only choice. Asphalt is a popular construction material alternative especially for applications like driveways, sidewalks, parking spaces, etc. When compared, the materials have strengths and weaknesses. It’s up to the builder to decide which suits the project best. Some important considerations when selecting between these materials are appearance, cost, and maintenance factors.
Concrete wins hands down. There’s not much visual variety to asphalt, which is limited to gray or black, and virtually no finishing options to speak of. Concrete flatwork is the complete opposite, offering a multitude of finish, color, texture, and pattern options that make it stand out from any paved surface.
Installing asphalt is generally cheaper than concrete, averaging $4.00 to $5.00 per square foot. In comparison, concrete costs about $4.00 to $6.00 per square foot without finishes and detailing. When service life is considered, however, concrete is more cost-efficient in the long-run than asphalt, which the following section explores.
Asphalt’s material composition requires constant maintenance (like sealing) every two years to maximize its average 20-year service life. Concrete doesn’t need constant sealing and can last for 30+ years.
Most of the world’s ubiquitous and recognizable man-made structures — highways, skyscrapers, bridges, houses — are testaments to the versatility of the most commonly used construction material on Earth: concrete.
What makes concrete such a popular construction material is its dynamic composition. When newly mixed, concrete can be transported and applied, or poured, easily, but when it hardens it becomes the strong, durable material we know so well.
People have discovered and developed numerous applications for concrete. One of its more notable uses is as the material for concrete flatwork. As the name implies, this type of construction job entails pouring concrete on a horizontal plane, creating a perfectly flat and smooth surface.
Concrete flatwork installations are popular with property owners due to the material’s strength and decorative options. Much like any concrete application, however, there’s more to flatwork than just pouring and finishing: with structural integrity as one of its selling points, using premium quality concrete should always be standard. The precise mixture of aggregates, proper curing, and careful application techniques ensure that the concrete isn’t damaged even after going through different finishing methods.
Various finishing methods produce different effects, depending on the purpose of the flatwork job. For example, smoother finishes work best for indoor flatwork, while brush-textured concrete is ideal for exterior flatwork (smooth finishes make concrete slippery when wet).
Concrete flatwork’s durability and finishing options provide an excellent base for its decorative possibilities and other paving alternatives like asphalt. Decorative flatwork techniques give much-needed cosmetic enhancements to what is otherwise just bland, gray concrete. Home builders use a variety of methods to apply texture, color, stamping, etc. on flatwork to mimic the look of other, often more expensive, surface materials.
Thanks to concrete’s workability, designers can make ordinary flatwork look like brick, flagstone, hardwood, marble, cobblestone and more. These aesthetic options help complement both interior designs and liven up facades (forming patterns with stamped concrete).
Builders have found plenty of uses for a material as versatile as concrete in flatwork projects for residential and commercial purposes. Driveways, courtyards, patios, pool decks, walkways, and garage floors are just some of the residential applications of concrete flatwork, mostly due to its inventive visual appeal.
Commercial and industrial property owners, meanwhile, recognize the material’s durability by installing concrete flatwork on their parking lots, warehouse floors, loading docks, access ramps, curbs, and sidewalks.