Parking Lot Asphalt Alternatives

Most commercial parking lots are asphalt. But there are a host of new – and old alternatives that can be used. Why might you want to try a different paving material? Maybe you want to minimize your environmental impact. Maybe you’d rather use something that just looks different. Maybe you’d just like to find something more cost-effective. Either way, asphalt actually has quite a few competitors for parking lots.

Permeable solutions

These solutions basically allow drainage right through the parking lot itself. Many traditional lots made from asphalt paving require storm gutters. Benefits of permeable pavements include not needing water drainage gutters, not requiring frequent maintenance, and not requiring the gutters be cleared of debris. Permeable surfaces don’t need seal coating like traditional asphalt either.


Gravel is a cost-effective and easy solution to your paving problems. It’s cheap, easy to lay, and pretty low maintenance. But what about lost rocks? Won’t they need to be replaced over time? There are very simple and cheap solutions to maintaining your gravel parking lot. Lattice systems like the Truegrid Paver provide a honeycomb like structure what the asphalt can rest in. This keeps it from loosely being kicked around by vehicles. 

Gravel’s advantages include that it is porous- water pooling, seeping into cracks, and eventually potholing and cracking your pavement won’t be a problem anymore. With asphalt, the water just seeps right through it into the earth. The fact that potholes won’t be a concern anymore is great for vehicles, pedestrians, and business owners looking to avoid lawsuits.


Grass is great for parking lots that don’t see a too many vehicles, but what about ones that do? Well, it is a viable alternative for busy parking lots thanks to pavers like the one mentioned above. The lattice keeps the grass in place so it doesn’t quickly wear off, rut, or become otherwise damaged. Just like concrete, with grass lots you won’t have to worry about costly maintenance. Potholes, liquid seepage, and more will become a thing of the past. 

Read more about the web-like lattice material used in green alternatives to asphalt here.

Porous/permeable pavements

These types of pavements function like grass and gravel. They provide environmentally-friendly management of water. Storms, rain, and more aren’t problems because the water can work it’s way through the pavement, the pavement’s base, and into the ground below. 

Typically the base of this type of pavement is a spaced out stone bed. The stone bed let’s any liquid make its way back to the earth. The trick is to make the stone bed the right depth so that the water never rises to the asphalt level.

Alternatives to asphalt coating

Asphalt requires seal coating, which is a weatherproofing made for asphalt, concrete, and black top. This coating needs to be re-applied every few years (more depending on weather), and prevents liquids from entering the asphalt. Liquid is the enemy of asphalt, it causes damage by getting inside and then expanding as the temperature changes. In places with freeze-thaw weather cycles, this is devastating to tarmac of any kind (it’s one of the reasons that the Midwest has perennially terrible roads).

Solar reflectivity coatings

Solar reflectance is the ability of a substance to reflect the sun’s light and thus stay cool. Black has a rating of 0, while white has a rating of 100. There have been ideas posited that making every paved surface (in the world) white would help reduce or even reverse some of climate change’s effects. 

Why is it a good thing? It helps reduce the “heat island effect” that a lot of traditional black top gets on hot days in the summer. Not only is this better for the planet, it’s more comfortable for your business’s clients who visit during the summer. This coating can also be placed on walkways, trails, patios, sidewalks, playgrounds, and more to cool the surrounding area. It could even be placed on building roofs that are paved in order to reduce cooling costs.

Bio rejuvenators

Bio-based rejuvenators are an asphalt healing balm. They are derived from waste wood. When applied to asphalt, they sink deep into it, permeating beneath just the top surface. They also preserve parking lot line striping, as they are mostly transparent. Bio-based rejuvenators reduce harmful oxidization of asphalt components (rust). Bio oils also improve an asphalt’s rheology. Rheology is the how material moves/acts when under stress. Basically, this means that they help the asphalt maintain it’s form when thousands of pounds of car weight is on it without breaking or cracking. They also reduce the stiffness of aged asphalt. They are environmentally friendly, so there is not dangerous runoff after application. Additionally, bio oils dry after application in only 15-30 minutes! This means that a road being treated with them has very little down time. 

Asphalt recycling

One of the best alternatives to asphalt paving is…well… asphalt paving. Rather than have completely new pavement installed, old damaged asphalt can be pulverized. This is the process of breaking it back down into it’s component aggregate. Then, the aggregate can be reapplied with new binder and voila, a brand new asphalt surface without new materials. Aggregate makes up 90-95 percent of asphalt by volume, so the ability to recycle the vast majority of your parking lot into your new parking lot is nothing short of fantastic for the environment. Additionally, recycled asphalt is cheaper too – money doesn’t have to be spent on new paving materials.

Get your parking lot paved right

Whether you want a green, cheap alternative, or traditional asphalt, Reliable Paving can help you out. Our 35 years of experience and team of over 200 means no job is too big or too difficult. We keep on top of green paving trends, an recycle a good deal of asphalt ourselves. If you want your paving done right, on budget, on time, and in the best way for yourself and the world, look no further. You need paving that is reliable, and you need a paving contractor that is reliable. Get started today, and let’s see how we can help you.