Pavement can be broadly divided into two main categories, flexible and rigid. Though to the layman they may look identical, they are made up of different compositions of materials, which provides each type of pavement with a distinct set of characteristics that suits different needs. Understanding the differences between rigid and flexible pavement can help you choose the type of paving that best fits your project's needs.
Rigid pavement is most commonly made out of Portland concrete cement, which is a type of paving material that provides a high degree of durability and is generally, like the name suggests, fairly rigid. Rigid pavement installations also commonly have steel reinforcement within the pavement to add extra support. Rigid pavement is installed directly over the subgrade without a supporting base.
Rigid pavement can withstand a high degree of wear and tear before it begins to break down and require replacement or repair. This makes it extremely well suited for high density urban areas that experience a great degree of traffic each and every day. It can also reduce long run costs, as less maintenance has to be done.
However, it is extremely important to note that rigid pavement repairs are also more expensive and take longer to implement when compared to flexible pavements. This means that while fewer repairs have to be made, the repairs themselves run a higher cost and require crews to be working for longer.
Flexible pavement is more common than rigid pavement, and is made up of bitumen based asphalt, which is then installed over a supporting base that is laid over the subgrade. Flexible pavement moves with the weight that is placed on it to a greater degree than rigid pavement.
Flexible pavements will require more maintenance than their rigid counterparts, as the fact that they move under loads more means that the material itself will degrade much quicker. This means that crews will have to be sent out to work on flexible paving installations more often.
However, flexible pavement is much easier to work with than rigid pavement, and repairs are much more affordable, which means that less money will have to be spent on each repair. In order to determine whether flexible or rigid pavement should be used, the expected lifespan of the pavement should be compared with estimated repair costs, to find the option based on climate and traffic conditions that demands the least amount of money. For assistance, talk to a professional like Construction Asphalt Paving Services Inc.