Houston is one of the world’s largest concrete jungles, with an emphasis on “concrete.” The material is everywhere, forming parking lots, highways, walkways – you name it.
Concrete Paving is Built for Houston’s Punishing Heat and Humidity
H-town is famous for a couple more H’s – heat and humidity. The temperature regularly pushes or exceeds 100 degrees during the summer, and the average relative humidity is 90 percent.
Few materials are built to handle this level of heat and humidity long term, but concrete is one of them. When the heat’s on, here are a few advantages that concrete paving brings to the project:
- Better resistance to thermal stresses – Concrete resists the wearing effects of intense heat and sunlight, so it is ideal for Houston summers. However, to achieve this high heat durability, concrete must be professionally installed and jointed. It’s these expansion joints that give the concrete room to swell when subjected to thermal stresses.
- No loss of road performance – Concrete retains its surface texture and traction, even in the presence of high heat. Compare this to asphalt, which may soften or “bleed” small amounts of surface oil, leaving it sticky.
Concrete’s superior high-heat performance makes it an ideal option for Houston roads and driveways.
- Higher albedo and lower heat radiation – Concrete is a reflective surface with a higher albedo than asphalt, so it absorbs less light and emits less heat. We’ve all scampered across an asphalt parking lot during the Texas summer where the heat can be oven-like.
Concrete paving is cooler and helps with pedestrian comfort. And if you manage a commercial property, concrete pavement will help manage property-wide heat levels and reduce the load on your HVAC equipment.
Concrete and asphalt complement each other climate-wise. As you can see, concrete holds up better than asphalt in hot climates. In cold climates, asphalt’s better frost resistance and flexibility make it a good match for harsh winters.
Four More Reasons Why Concrete is Houston’s Ideal Pavement Material
Concrete gets along well with the city’s extreme heat and humidity values, but warm weather performance isn’t concrete’s only standout advantage. In addition to its excellent fit with Houston weather, concrete is a frontline paving choice for these four reasons:
Concrete is Extremely Durable and Requires Little Maintenance
Concrete possesses unmatched compressive strength, making it an ideal load-bearing material. Again, though, this depends on installation and maintenance quality. Generally, the higher the concrete’s internal pressure (psi) during installation, the better its compressive strength. Experienced paving crews know how to achieve adequate concrete pressures to attain the desired compressive strength.
Concrete’s excellent durability is also reflected in its low-maintenance profile. The material requires little ongoing maintenance once installed, especially in a flat area like Houston. The occasional crack repairs may be needed, but you can expect upwards of 30 years (or more) from your concrete pavement before total replacement is required.
Concrete is an Effective Material for Houston Drainage Systems
In addition to Houston’s ever-present heat, there’s a lot of rainfall. The city is in a subtropical climate zone which means active wet seasons. Water is a serious threat to pavement once it intrudes past the surface layers, as it can destabilize the pavement’s base.
Between concrete and asphalt, concrete better withstands exposure to water. If it’s waterproofed, concrete is a reliable material for curb and gutter systems, as well as catch basins and various drainage structures. Concrete’s excellent hydraulic efficiency is also noteworthy and ensures high volumes of runoff can be managed without affecting the material’s performance.
Concrete Can Handle Houston’s Heavy Traffic Patterns
If professionally installed and maintained, concrete offers a reliable, safe surface for motorists. While asphalt offers a smoother ride, concrete holds up better under heavy traffic – like the commercial trucks that fill up Houston’s highways. Concrete tends to be better for winding roadways, too, because it withstands loading stresses better than asphalt when shaped into curves.
Concrete also provides better road performance in a few key areas. For one, braking distances are shorter on concrete, compared to asphalt. Two, concrete dries out faster than asphalt, so it’s less likely to cause hazards due to standing water. Three, concrete is less likely to warp, buckle or develop potholes, which can all put vehicles at risk.
Concrete Can Also Be Colored, Designed and Decorated
Concrete and asphalt are both effective options for parking lot pavement. That’s because they can both be striped and marked to point out parking spots and establish traffic flow patterns.
However, you wouldn’t think of asphalt as a decorative material. New asphalt certainly looks attractive and has strong curb appeal, but concrete pavement offers far more decorative versatility.
Concrete is available in an impressive array of colors and can be stamped with intricate patterns. Both coloring and stamping are handled prior and during installation, so no post-installation work is required. Further, concrete can be adorned with decorative objects, such as ceramic tiles, colored glass and stones.
If a pavement project has an aesthetic element to it, concrete is the ideal material.
Work with an Experienced Houston Pavement Expert to Minimize Challenges
As versatile and reliable as concrete is, Houston’s climate and activity does pose challenges for pavement contractors. High heat accelerates water evaporation, which can affect curing conditions – so your pavement team will need to adjust accordingly to ensure optimal concrete strength.
Houston’s constant traffic can also cause issues if your project is in a busy area. Site access and traffic safety are concepts your paving team must be familiar with.
To ensure these challenges are met, and to ensure your pavement lasts, work with an experienced pavement contractor. With experience comes adaptability and best practices, both of which are valuable traits to have in a pavement team.
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