Permeable vs. Impervious Asphalt Pavement

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What’s the best asphalt pavement for your project?

Asphalt may seem simple, but there is much more to the blacktop than first meets the eye. You might think it is all the same, a conglomerate of gravel and sticky black stuff called bitumen, a byproduct of petroleum. The technology of the pavement under our feet and car tires has expanded into various types. You have hot, warm, and cold mix, but you also have impervious, permeable, and porous asphalt. Here, we shall take a look at the differences between permeable vs. impervious asphalt pavement.

What Are the Types of Asphalt Pavement?

  • Impervious asphalt: Traditional asphalt pavement that does not let solids, liquids, or gasses penetrate it.
  • Permeable asphalt: Permeable or pervious asphalt allows water to seep through the surface into the ground.
  • Porous asphalt: Porous asphalt has little holes that let water seep through the surface into the ground. There would likely be a gravel basin below the pavement.

The Benefits of Permeable Pavement

Reduces Stormwater Runoff

Permeable asphalt pavement gives rain and snow more places to go once it hits the ground. If it has nowhere to go, it will puddle and turn into stagnant water, which could take a while to evaporate. With impervious pavement, it hopefully will run into the nearest storm drain. When it is pervious, however, it can flow directly through the pavement and into the ground. This feature reduces the risk of floodwaters due to overfilled storm drains.

Reduces Potential for Water Pollution

Along with reducing the likelihood of flooding, permeable asphalt also reduces the risk of water pollution. A concern with stormwater runoff is the dirt, oils, and chemicals that flow with it into natural rivers, streams, etc. It is better off soaking into the ground rather than into the water.

The Benefits of Impervious Pavement

Cheaper Than Permeable Asphalt

Traditional asphalt remains cheaper than permeable asphalt. Impervious asphalt might force water to flow into the nearest storm drain or stormwater management pond, but with the correct grading (slope), there will be no puddling. A well-designed stormwater management system will also help prevent flooding. Impervious asphalt is cheaper, and with the right designs, it can still keep stormwater from turning into a flood.

Lasts a Long Time with Maintenance

Traditional asphalt also lasts a long time as long as you keep up with regular maintenance. Without sealcoating and repairing cracks, your pavement will slowly develop potholes, which can be dangerous to both vehicles and people. With maintenance, it will last for decades in great condition.


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 25th, 2023 at 10:59 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.