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How paint is like a good concrete road

One-coat painted concrete | Bye Bye Potholes

While helping a friend repaint several rooms in her house recently, I found myself comparing the paint to a good concrete road. You see, I had plenty of time to think about how picking the right product makes a difference in the end result –- whether you’re talking about a home improvement project or building a road.

At first glance, this paint project appeared daunting. My friend wanted to transform her deep brown walls with a light grey paint. We also needed to repaint her son’s red bedroom walls and the blue walls downstairs. Wherever I turned, it looked like a two-coat job to me.

“Nope,” she said. “The paint I bought is supposed to cover the old paint in one coat.” Sure enough, she was right. We managed to get the job done with one coat of paint. And given the quality of the paint she bought, I’m betting it will last a long time.

Less work and less money in the long run

Kind of like a good concrete road. She was willing to pay more for the paint on the front end, knowing that in the end, it was more cost-effective and definitely less labor intensive.

Had she picked a less expensive paint, we’d have needed at least two coats to cover the old paint. And, she’d be repainting a few years down the road.

But not this gal. She’d done her homework. She knew that the type of paint finish you pick can extend the life of the paint itself. She chose an eggshell finish.

In its Paint Buying Guide, Consumer Reports called the stain resistance of the paint she chose “impressive.” Unlike a flat finish, the eggshell finish should wash up nicely and won’t look dirty or worn out for quite some time.

Strength and durability matter – whether you’re talking about paint for your house or a road in your city. The paint we applied won’t last 50-plus years like a good concrete road, but clearly, my friend purchased paint with a sheen to last.

Next time you talk with members of your city council, ask what they’re doing to ensure that your roads are both cost-effective and built to last.


Are potholes bad for your car? They sure can be

Hitting a bump in the road is one thing, but hitting a pothole is another. Just ask your local mechanic who will be more than happy to explain why potholes are bad for your car.

Hitting a baby pothole isn’t likely to cause much damage, but the bigger ones can take a big bite out of your checkbook. Either way, if you take a hit be sure to check for damage.

5 car parts to check for damage

1. Tires are the first place to check.  You might be able to fix a flat tire, but tires with bulges and separations need to be replaced.

2. Wheels. If you hit a pothole, check to see if the wheels have been bent, chipped or cracked. You might be able to fix a bent wheel, but you won’t be so lucky if the wheels are chipped or cracked.

3. Suspension systems include your of springs, shock absorbers, tie rod, drive shafts and ball joints that connect a vehicle to its wheels. Suspensions bent out of joint can usually be realigned. Broken ball joints, struts or shocks need to be replaced.

4. Exhaust pipes run along the bottom of your car and are likely targets for pothole damages. Check your muffler and exhaust pipes for holes.

5. Body. The lower your car sits to the ground the greater the chance that hitting a pothole will cause damage to the body, especially the bumpers.

Granted, most potholes aren’t big or deep enough to damage your car. But some potholes are bad for your car and will likely cause damage to the tune of $300 or more.  And even if you have insurance you can expect some out of pocket costs.  Read more. 

Six advantages of a concrete road

Summer roadwork with its detours and traffic jams test even the most patient of drivers. But if you’re lucky enough to be slowed by the construction of a new concrete roadway, this summer’s delay should be the last you’ll experience for some time. Durability is one of the many advantages of a concrete road.

Here are six advantages of a concrete road.

1. Durability. Concrete is less prone to rutting, cracking and other common forms of road damage, including potholes. That’s right, no potholes. In fact, when you factor in annual maintenance, concrete pavement can cost four to seven times less to maintain than asphalt.

2. Life expectancy. A concrete road built today should last 40- to- 50 years compared to a new, well built, asphalt road with a life expectancy of 15-20 years. Again, that means fewer traffic delays and while it may cost more to build initially, it means lower costs over the life of the road. Read more.

3. Safety. According to the Concrete Paving Association of Minnesota (CPAM), concrete provides better and longer lasting skid resistance. It also provides better visibility on rainy nights. Both results in fewer accidents and that’s good news for all motorists.

Other advantages of a concrete road

4. Smoother, long-lasting ride. That means less fuel consumption. Statistics show that heavier trucks, running over a concrete road, consume 15-20 percent less fuel than that on asphalt roads. That’s not only cost-effective, but it’s one of the many environmentally friendly aspects of concrete.

5. Recyclable. Concrete is produced from abundantly available limestone. On the other hand, asphalt is produced from imported petroleum.

6. Aesthetics. Concrete is easier on the eyes. Its clean appearance brightens neighborhoods and downtown areas, both day and night. In addition, concrete can be colored and textured to produce attractive designs and patterns.

Pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $3 billion annually

Pothole Damage A study from AAA reveals that potholes contribute to the cost of driving, with pothole damage costing U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years. This adds up to approximately $3 billion annually. AAA urges state and local governments to fully fund and prioritize road maintenance to reduce potholes and related repairs.

“In the last five years, 16 million drivers across the country have suffered damage to their vehicles,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “The problems range from tire punctures and bent wheels, to more expensive suspension damage.”

Middle and lower income drivers worry most about pothole damage

Middle- and lower-income individuals worry the most about potholes, according to AAA. Most survey respondents with annual incomes under $75,000 expressed the highest levels of concern. This is likely because pothole damage can lead to expensive, extensive repairs. Also, very few cities reimburse for pothole damage.

“On average, American drivers report paying $300 to repair pothole-related vehicle damage,” continued Nielsen. “Adding to the financial frustration, those whose vehicles incurred this type of damage had it happen frequently, with an average of three times in the last five years.”

AAA urges drivers have properly inflated tires with adequate tread depth to create a cushion from the potholes. Drivers should slow down, release the brakes and straighten steering before hitting a pothole. They need to be alert, scan the road and increase following distances behind the car in front of them.

Five things to do to ensure a successful concrete street project

Bye Bye Potholes | concrete flatwork
Photo credit: Bill Jones concrete flatwork

We know cities can be a bit nervous about paving concrete streets, especially if the engineer and public works folks have only worked with asphalt. These two pavements are as different as banana bread and French bread. Both are breads, but require different handling, techniques, and knowledge.

A number of cities paving with concrete tap into the expertise of their county engineers or MnDOT. It’s a smart way to try something new, to learn, and to reduce the risk of errors. Many engineers are highly risk-averse. In this situation, they’re sensitive to the risk of having to pay thousands of dollars for repairs on a concrete paving project that might go wrong.

Five things to ensure a successful concrete street project

Here’s a handy list to help ensure success on concrete street projects.

  1. Rely on a pro
    Have your street designed by an engineer with experience. If it is not properly designed or if it’s over-designed, it will increase your costs. Learn more about our free design service for cities.
  2. Look for Minnesota experience
    Refer to the Minnesota Concrete Flatwork Specifications because they specifically deal with city streets, sidewalks, curb and gutter, and driveways. It was written to provide consistency from city to city for these “flatwork” projects. Specs from outside the state may not factor in our weather or what might be unique about our aggregates.
  3. Hire a contractor with concrete experience
    Concrete can last for decades with little maintenance especially if you use a contractor with plenty of concrete paving experience. It’s a very different material than asphalt.
  4. Check out whether people are certified
    Find out if the contractor’s personnel and the concrete producer are certified through the American Concrete Institute (ACI). The Aggregate & Ready Mix Association sponsors ACI certification training programs. Learn more here.
  5. Buy aggregates and concrete from an association member
    Choose a company that stays on top of industry trends and changing regulations through a membership in the Aggregate & Ready Mix Association or Concrete Paving Association of Minnesota. These members provide quality materials and know how to make your projects succeed.

Are you interested in learning more about the benefits and risks of switching to concrete? We’d be happy to speak with you, and even do a presentation at a city council meeting. We’re not going to hard-sell you as we have members who sell asphalt and others who sell concrete!

Contact Tumer (TooMARE) Akakin, our concrete technical adviser, to learn more: