Concrete Wear and Tear—Northern Vs. Southern States

Concrete Wear and Tear—Northern Vs. Southern States

Is concrete wear and tear worse in Northern or Southern states? Find out which part of the US puts the most pressure on concrete.

Concrete wear and tear is dependent on level of care, attention to maintenance and repairs, as well as wherever it is positioned in the United States. The US is broken up into seven different regional climates, all of which experience different extremes when it comes to hot and cold weather.  While Southern states get more sun, Northern states experience greater dips in temperatures, generating increased likelihood for freeze-thaw cycles—one of the largest sources of wear and tear on concrete.

Overall, Northern states are more likely to experience faster wear and tear than Southern states. Allow us to explain. 

Regional climates in the US are broken up into the following divisions:

  • Northwestern (Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Wyoming)
  • The High Plains (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota)
  • The Midwest (Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri)
  • The Mid Atlantic/New England
  • Southeast (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee)
  • Southern (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma)
  • Southwestern (California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah)

In Tennessee, we are considered a part of the Southeast climate, characterized by milder winters than Northern states. While areas in this region get light snow, most moisture in the winter is derived through precipitation. An occasional ice storm will strike now and again, but the toll of occasional ice storms on concrete is far less damaging than Northern states that experience ice storms on a more regular occurrence.

The more north you live in Tennessee, as well as those at higher elevations do see more snow and lower temperatures, and therefore greater potential for asphalt damage. Summers tend to be hot and humid, the perfect environment to breed thunderstorms—which means more water for asphalt or concrete surfaces to contend with.

How Winter Weather Impacts Asphalt

To truly understand Southern states vs Northern states in terms of concrete wear and tear, you must first understand how weather impacts concrete in general. For one, the sun very slowly breaks down concrete surfaces the moment it sets. Water is a much larger culprit, especially if asphalt is doted in holes or does not have adequate sealcoat protection.

If snow, rain, or any form of moisture enters concrete it has a chance to cause issues and undermine the foundation. Moisture that becomes trapped in surfaces freezes and thaws as the weather cools down and heats up, this causes pressure that can lead to surface cracks and other damages.

Freeze and thaw cycles are far more likely when temperatures regularly dip below the freeze point of 32 degrees F. This is not nearly as common in milder conditions found in Southern states. Northern states are no strangers to cold winters where temperatures more often dip into the low thirties and below.

What About Sunshine & Concrete?

Sunshine wears away at asphalt surfaces, albeit much slower than moisture and freeze/thaw cycles. Still, sun has a better chance of getting the best of asphalt in Southern states as opposed to Northern states. While sunlight is determined by more than just placement on a map, in general, the farther north you travel, the more sunlight levels decrease. For instance, the states that border the Great Lakes, from New York to Minnesota, get some of the lowest levels of sunlight distribution. While here in Tennessee, we see more sunshine, yet not as much as southwestern states such as California or Nevada.