Can You Put Asphalt Over Concrete? Pros and Cons Explained

Can You Put Asphalt Over Concrete? Pros and Cons Explained


When it comes to paving, one question frequently arises among property owners and developers: Can You Put Asphalt Over Concrete? The answer is yes, but with several important considerations that weigh heavily on the outcome.

This article delves into the process of laying asphalt over concrete, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages while considering the impact on the surface’s longevity and durability.

Asphalt and concrete are two prevalent materials in paving projects, each with distinct characteristics. Asphalt is a flexible, petroleum-based product known for its durability and ability to withstand temperature fluctuations without cracking.

This flexibility makes asphalt a popular choice for road surfaces that endure constant traffic and varying weather conditions. In contrast, concrete, a mixture of cement, water, and aggregates, is valued for its strength and rigidity but can crack under thermal expansion or if subjected to heavy loads.

The significance of knowing whether you can pave asphalt over concrete lies in evaluating repair and renovation options. For instance:

  • When an existing concrete surface shows signs of wear or damage.
  • To enhance aesthetic appeal without completely removing the old pavement.
  • As a cost-saving measure compared to replacing an entire concrete slab.

Understanding the Process of Laying Asphalt Over Concrete

Laying asphalt over concrete involves covering an existing concrete surface with a new layer of asphalt. The process typically includes:

  1. Inspecting the current condition of the concrete pavement.
  2. Repairing any significant cracks or damages in the concrete.
  3. Ensuring proper drainage to prevent water from undermining the asphalt layer.
  4. Apply a layer of asphalt over the prepared concrete surface.

Pros and Cons Explained


  • Cost-effective: Paving asphalt over concrete often comes at a lower price than tearing out and replacing existing structures.
  • Aesthetic improvement: A fresh layer of asphalt can significantly enhance curb appeal by covering up old, stained, or damaged concrete.
  • Smoothness: Asphalt provides a uniform surface that is ideal for driving and parking.


  • Reflective cracking: Movement in the underlying concrete can lead to cracks in the new asphalt layer.
  • Drainage issues: Inadequate slope in the existing concrete may cause water pooling on the asphalt surface.
  • Structural concerns: Adding new layers increases height and weight, potentially affecting nearby structures or door clearances.

Impact on Longevity and Durability

The overlay’s success hinges on factors such as:

  • The stability of the underlying concrete: It must be able to support additional weight without shifting.
  • Preparation before paving: Addressing issues like cracks or unevenness ensures better adhesion and reduces future problems.
  • Climate: Extreme temperatures can affect both materials differently, possibly leading to separation or damage.

Understanding these factors not only helps in making an informed decision but also safeguards your investment by ensuring that any enhancements made will stand the test of time. Before moving forward with such a project, consider consulting with professional paving contractors who can provide valuable insights based on your specific situation.

By arming yourself with knowledge about both materials and the paving process, you make strides toward creating durable, attractive surfaces that serve their intended purpose effectively while avoiding unnecessary costs or future repairs.

The Differences Between Asphalt and Concrete

When considering a paving project, you might wonder about the differences between asphalt and concrete. Both materials are popular in construction, yet they possess unique characteristics that set them apart. Understanding these differences will help you make an informed decision.

What is Asphalt?

Asphalt, also known as bitumen, is a petroleum-based product primarily used for road surfaces or driveways. It consists of a combination of aggregates (stones, gravel, or sand), binder (usually bitumen), and filler (such as stone dust). This composition results in a material that is flexible, durable, and relatively resistant to temperature changes.

Key characteristics of asphalt:

  • Flexibility: Due to its petroleum-based binder, asphalt can flex under load rather than crack. This makes it ideal for heavy traffic or changing ground conditions.
  • Durability: Asphalt surfaces can withstand heavy loads and harsh weather conditions.
  • Resistance to Damage: Unlike concrete, asphalt is not easily damaged by oil or gasoline spills.

What is Concrete?

Concrete, on the other hand, is a mixture of cement, water, and aggregates. It sets and hardens into a rigid mass, which gives it excellent compressive strength. However, its rigidity makes it more susceptible to cracking under stress or during temperature changes.

Key characteristics of concrete:

  • Rigidity: Concrete’s composition results in a hard and rigid surface. While this gives it high compressive strength, it also makes it prone to cracking under certain conditions.
  • Use cases: Concrete is widely used for sidewalks, patios, foundations, and other flat surfaces where rigidity is a benefit.
  • Vulnerability to Chemicals: Concrete surfaces can be damaged by oil spills or other chemicals.

Asphalt vs. Concrete: Composition and Structure

The key difference between asphalt and concrete lies in their composition and structure:

  1. Composition: Asphalt is a petroleum-based product, while concrete is made from cement, water, and aggregates. This fundamental difference in composition contributes to the unique properties of each material.
  2. Flexibility vs Rigidity: The binder in asphalt gives it flexibility, making it less prone to cracking. In contrast, concrete’s rigidity makes it more susceptible to cracking under stress or temperature changes.
  3. Use Cases: Asphalt’s flexibility and resistance to damage make it suitable for roads and driveways that need to withstand heavy loads and harsh weather conditions. Concrete’s rigidity and resistance to wear make it an excellent choice for sidewalks, patios, and other flat surfaces.

In summary, while both asphalt and concrete are commonly used paving materials, they offer different benefits due to their unique compositions and structures. Understanding these differences is crucial when deciding the best material for your paving project.

Understanding the Feasibility of Paving Asphalt Over Concrete

When you’re thinking about putting asphalt over concrete, the answer is yes, but there’s a catch. Several factors determine whether this project will work well in the long run. It’s important to look at these factors closely to make sure the asphalt overlay will be strong and durable. Here are the main things you need to think about:

Condition of Existing Concrete

Before you start putting asphalt over concrete, you need to check how the concrete is doing right now. Look for:

  • Cracks: Small cracks might be okay, but big ones could mean there are deeper problems.
  • Potholes: These usually mean that the concrete isn’t stable enough for an asphalt overlay.
  • Levelness: If the surface isn’t even, you might need to do some extra work before applying the asphalt.
  • Stability: The ground underneath the concrete needs to be solid enough to support both the old concrete and the new layer of asphalt.

Thickness of Asphalt Layer

How thick the layer of asphalt is going to make a big difference in how well it holds up:

  • Amount of Traffic: If there’s going to be a lot of heavy vehicles driving on it, you’ll need a thicker layer of asphalt.
  • Quality of Underlying Surface: If the concrete underneath is strong and sturdy, you might be able to get away with a thinner layer of asphalt than if it’s less stable.
  • Weather Conditions: Extreme changes in weather can affect how thick the asphalt needs to be.

Overall Cost-effectiveness

Cost is always something you have to think about when it comes to construction projects:

  • How Much Materials Cost: Asphalt usually costs less than new concrete, but prices can change depending on how much petroleum costs.
  • Paying for Labor and Equipment: Having professionals do the job will make sure it lasts longer, but it also means spending more money.
  • Taking Care of Maintenance Over Time: You should expect to spend money on fixing and maintaining the asphalt in the future.

Getting Advice from Professionals

It’s really important to get help from experts when you’re trying to figure out if the structure is strong enough:

  • A professional contractor or engineer can look at everything from how the ground is to how much weight it can handle.
  • They’ll tell you what repairs need to be done before you put the asphalt overlay on.

Seeing if It’s Technically Possible

To know if you can actually put asphalt over concrete, you have to look at:

  • How well two different materials stick together.
  • The right way to install it so that things like cracks don’t show up later.

Things That Help Make It Work

Some factors really affect whether putting asphalt over concrete will be successful or not:

  • How Strong the Concrete Underneath Is: It has to be able to hold everything up without moving around.
  • Making Sure Water Drains Well: Water shouldn’t stay under or on top of the surface because that can cause damage.
  • Taking Care of Expansion Joints: These are important for letting things move without hurting the asphalt layer.

Problems You Might Run Into

It would be best if you didn’t forget about possible issues that could come up when you’re putting asphalt over existing concrete areas:

  • Cracks Showing Up Again: If there are already cracks in the concrete, they might spread up into the new layer if they’re not fixed first.
  • Checking How the Ground Is: You need to see if there might be any problems with the soil underneath that could affect how stable everything is.

Working with experienced paving contractors is really important when you’re dealing with these challenges. They know a lot about how things like existing damage and soil conditions will affect the effectiveness of the asphalt overlay on concrete.

By working closely with professionals, you can make smart choices about whether putting asphalt over concrete will work for your project.

Now that you know all of this, you have a good idea of whether it’s possible to put asphalt over a concrete surface. It’s clear that while it can be done, you need to plan carefully and get advice from experts to make sure everything goes well.

Pros and Cons of Paving Asphalt Over Concrete

When deciding between asphalt and concrete for your paving project, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each option. This knowledge will help you make an informed decision based on factors like cost-effectiveness and long-term performance.

Advantages of Paving Asphalt Over Concrete

1. Cost-Effective Resurfacing Solution

  • Instead of removing and replacing the entire concrete slab, which can be expensive, you can pave a layer of asphalt on top.
  • This method saves money, time, and resources.

2. Smooth and Even Surface

  • Asphalt provides a smoother and more even surface than concrete, making driving and parking more comfortable.
  • It absorbs noise better than concrete, making it ideal for urban areas with high traffic noise.

3. Improved Aesthetics

  • Laying asphalt over worn-out concrete can significantly improve the appearance of your driveway or parking area.
  • Asphalt’s uniform, dark appearance offers a neat, clean look that enhances the overall appeal of any property.

Drawbacks of Paving Asphalt Over Concrete

1. Risk of Reflective Cracking

  • If the underlying concrete has cracks or damage, these defects can transfer through to the asphalt layer over time, resulting in similar cracks on the asphalt surface.

2. Potential Drainage Issues

  • If your existing concrete isn’t properly sloped or if the new layer of asphalt isn’t installed correctly, water may not drain well, potentially leading to pooling or damage to the asphalt surface.

3. Height and Weight Concerns

  • The additional height and weight from the new asphalt layer could pose issues.
  • For example, door clearances might be affected if your garage floor is paved with asphalt over existing concrete.
  • Similarly, if the asphalt is applied to an elevated concrete deck, the extra weight might compromise its structural integrity.

Weighing Your Options

Choosing to pave asphalt over existing concrete areas has its benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, it’s a cost-effective way to rejuvenate an old or worn-out concrete surface without the need for complete removal. It offers a smoother ride for vehicles and can significantly improve the aesthetics of any property.

On the other hand, potential issues such as reflective cracking, drainage problems, and structural concerns due to the added height and weight of the asphalt layer are factors that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Each paving project is unique; hence, it’s crucial to consider these pros and cons carefully. You may find that despite some risks, paving asphalt over concrete is still your best option. Or you might decide that addressing potential issues head-on before they become a problem is more prudent.

While this analysis provides useful insights into the advantages and disadvantages of paving asphalt over concrete, it’s important to consult with professional paving contractors who can assess your specific situation and offer expert advice tailored to your needs.

Important Considerations for Paving Asphalt Over Concrete Surfaces

When deciding to pave asphalt over concrete, there are several important factors to keep in mind. These include:

  1. Condition of the Existing Concrete Surface: Before proceeding with an asphalt overlay, it’s crucial to assess the condition of the existing concrete surface. Look out for any visible cracks or damage that could affect the stability of the future asphalt layer. Also, check if there’s any movement in the concrete slab, as this can impact the integrity of the new asphalt layer.
  2. Potential Height and Drainage Issues: Adding an asphalt layer over concrete can increase the overall height of the pavement, which may lead to potential drainage problems. Consider how this extra height will affect door clearances and structural integrity. Additionally, ensure that the existing concrete is properly sloped for effective water runoff.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: While asphalt overlay is generally considered a cost-effective solution, it’s essential to compare it with other options. Factors like maintenance costs, potential repairs, and long-term durability should be considered when determining if an asphalt overlay is truly the best choice for your specific situation.
  4. Evaluation of Drainage and Water Runoff: To prevent water pooling and damage to your new asphalt surface, it’s important to evaluate the drainage system and ensure proper water runoff before laying down the asphalt.
  5. Professional Consultation: Seeking advice from paving professionals can be extremely helpful in making informed decisions about paving asphalt over concrete. They can assess the suitability of your existing concrete surface for an overlay, identify any potential challenges, and offer appropriate solutions based on their expertise.
  6. Addressing Expansion Joints and Reflective Cracks: It’s crucial to address any issues related to expansion joints and reflective cracks before applying the asphalt overlay. This involves filling expansion joints and treating significant cracks in the underlying concrete to minimize their impact on the new asphalt surface.

Considering all these factors will ensure that you make the right choice when deciding whether to pave asphalt over a concrete surface. It’s not just about achieving a fresh, smooth appearance but also about ensuring long-term benefits and durability.

In the next section, we’ll discuss the proper process of preparing and installing asphalt over concrete surfaces. We’ll cover essential steps like excavation, pavement grading, and binder application to give you a clear understanding of what this process involves.

The Proper Process: Preparing and Installing Asphalt Over Concrete

When you’re thinking about putting asphalt over an existing concrete surface, it’s crucial to prepare everything properly. This is the key to having a strong and stable pavement that will last. There are several important steps involved in the preparation phase, from getting rid of any damaged concrete to applying a special substance that helps the asphalt stick. Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps:

Step 1: Getting the Concrete Ready

Before you can lay down new asphalt, you need to make sure that the current concrete surface is ready for it. Here’s what this involves:

  1. Removing Damaged Concrete: If there are any parts of the concrete that are in really bad shape, they have to be taken out. This is important because if you don’t remove them, they could cause problems with the layer of asphalt later on.
  2. Checking the Sub-Base: The sub-base is the layer underneath the concrete, and it needs to be strong enough to support the new asphalt. If it’s not, you might have to add some extra material like gravel and then pack it down so that it’s solid.

Step 2: Making Sure the Foundation Is Stable

Having a stable foundation is essential if you want your asphalt surface to last a long time. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Packing It Down: Once you’ve added any extra materials or made adjustments to the base, you have to use special equipment to pack it down really well. This creates a strong sub-base.
  2. Leveling It Out: It’s also really important that the sub-base is flat and even so that when you put the asphalt on top, it’s all the same thickness.

Step 3: Using a Special Substance

There’s one more thing you have to do before you can start putting down the new layer of asphalt. This step is all about making sure that the asphalt sticks to the concrete underneath. Here’s how it works:

  1. Getting Rid of Dirt and Debris: Before you can apply the special substance, you have to clean off the concrete surface really well. This gets rid of any dirt or debris that could get in the way of the asphalt sticking properly.
  2. Putting on the Substance: Once the surface is clean, you can apply the substance that helps the asphalt bond with the concrete. It’s important to put this on evenly so that there aren’t any weak spots that could cause problems later on.

Step 4: Putting Down the Asphalt

Now that all the preparation work is done, it’s time to start laying down your new layer of asphalt. This part has to be done very carefully and should only be handled by experienced professionals. Here’s what it involves:

  1. Putting It On: The asphalt, which is heated to make it easier to work with, is carefully spread out on top of the prepared sub-base and bonding layer.
  2. Packing It Down: After the asphalt has been laid, it’s important to pack it down really well. This gets rid of any air bubbles and ensures that it’s tightly connected to the layers underneath.

Tips for Making Your Pavement Last

The way that you install your asphalt has a big impact on how long it will last. Here are some expert tips to keep in mind:

  • Making It Thick Enough: The layer of asphalt needs to be thick enough to handle all the traffic without being too heavy for the sub-base.
  • Taking Care of Joints: When new asphalt meets existing pavement, special attention needs to be given to sealing those joints properly.
  • Watching the Temperature: Asphalt must be laid when the weather is just right so that it can be packed down and stuck properly.

In conclusion, preparing and installing asphalt over concrete involves careful planning and execution. Starting with excavation work for sub-base preparation to ensuring expert techniques during installation are employed, each step is vital in paving a path toward a smooth, durable roadway or parking area. With adherence to these guidelines, you can expect a finished product that not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also stands up well against time and traffic.


Revisiting the question, “Can You Put Asphalt Over Concrete?” the answer is a definitive yes. However, it’s important to note that this solution may not be suitable for every paving project. Certain factors need to be taken into account before proceeding.

The Pros of Asphalt Overlay

There are several potential advantages to choosing asphalt overlay over concrete:

  1. Cost Savings: If your existing concrete is in good condition, it can serve as a solid base for the asphalt overlay. This eliminates the need for extensive excavation and site preparation, resulting in significant cost savings.
  2. Time Efficiency: Applying asphalt over concrete is typically quicker than removing the old concrete and replacing it entirely.
  3. Enhanced Appearance: Asphalt overlays can effectively cover up minor cracks and rough spots on the existing concrete surface, providing a smooth, new driving surface.

The Cons of Asphalt Overlay

However, it’s equally important to consider the potential disadvantages:

  1. Risk of Cracking and Shifting: Cracks may appear on the asphalt surface due to movement in the underlying concrete. If the concrete is unstable or hasn’t been properly prepared, it may shift or heave under the weight of the new layer.
  2. Possible Drainage Problems: Adding a layer of asphalt raises the height of your pavement surface. Without proper adjustments, this could lead to drainage issues.
  3. Ongoing Maintenance Required: An asphalt overlay doesn’t address underlying problems with damaged concrete. Regular maintenance will be necessary to prevent these issues from affecting your new asphalt surface.

Key Considerations for Asphalt Overlay Projects

To ensure a successful asphalt overlay project, here are some key steps to follow:

  1. Assess Your Current Pavement Condition: Examine your existing pavement closely and determine if there are numerous cracks or areas of instability that require repair work.
  2. Evaluate Height and Drainage Factors: Consider whether adding an asphalt layer will cause any problems with water runoff or impact doorways and structures due to increased height.
  3. Seek Professional Advice: Consult with experienced paving contractors who can offer valuable insights and help you assess the feasibility of your project.

The Importance of Ongoing Maintenance

Lastly, it’s crucial to understand that ongoing maintenance is essential for the longevity and durability of any pavement surface, including an asphalt overlay. Even with a well-executed overlay, regular upkeep is key to preventing damage and ensuring optimal performance.

Making an Informed Decision

In the world of paving, there are no shortcuts to success. While laying asphalt over concrete may seem like a quick and easy solution, it’s vital to grasp the implications involved fully.

By carefully weighing the pros and cons outlined in this article, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision that aligns with both your immediate needs and long-term expectations.