The first part of your property that customers will interact with is your parking lot. Whether constructed from asphalt or concrete, parking lots are significant investments expected to provide a long-term return.
The first way to achieve that is to invest in expert installation. Pavement is extremely durable, but only if it’s installed within tight tolerances. Poor installation practices are the number one cause of early pavement failure.
The second way to maximize your investment is with regularly scheduled parking lot maintenance, including fresh striping. Wear may emerge so gradually that maintenance may never be considered, but it should be. Maintenance is key to preserving the performance and longevity of parking lots.
How Often Do Parking Lots Need Maintenance?
Asphalt and concrete have different maintenance requirements, so they have different maintenance schedules. Here’s a look at each:
- Asphalt – It’s a good idea to inspect asphalt once a month and clean away any debris. Beyond that, sealcoating the surface should be done every 2-3 years, though every other year is better for pavement that receives heavy traffic. After about 10 years, an overlay may be necessary to preserve the asphalt surface. And if the parking lot is well-maintained, total replacement may not be required until the 25-year (or more) mark.
In addition to scheduled maintenance, crack and pothole repairs will occasionally be necessary to preserve the asphalt.
- Concrete – Concrete is mostly a maintenance-free material. Its excellent all-round durability means concrete parking lots will perform well with minimal maintenance. It is recommended, however, that concrete be sealed every couple of years to minimize water intrusion and wear. Every 5-10 years, the parking lot’s joints may also need to be sealed to minimize water intrusion.
It is possible for concrete parking lots to remain viable for decades. It’s likely that isolated areas of the parking lot will need to be repaired or replaced over time, as the supporting base may fail in some spots. Areas affected by extensive cracking or spalling will also need to be replaced, but this should only be an occasional issue.
Maintenance Requirements and Processes: Asphalt vs. Concrete
Here is a closer look at what each maintenance, or repair, process looks like and how it’s performed:
- Sealcoating or sealing – Asphalt sealcoat consists of asphalt cement (bitumen), water, and an emulsifier. It is fluid enough to be sprayed or broomed over the pavement surface and forms a wax-like seal that helps bind asphalt aggregate together. As parking lots tend to cover a large area, professional crews usually rely on spray applicators to apply the sealcoat. Two thin coats are preferred to a single thick coat, as this promotes thorough drying.
Concrete sealing is similar in process. First, the parking lot is thoroughly cleaned of all debris, chemicals, grease, rust, and dirt. An etching solution (acid) is applied to the concrete to ensure it takes the sealer. Then the sealer itself is applied using a roller or sprayer. Like with asphalt sealcoat, two layers are applied in opposite directions to ensure the entire surface is sealed.
- Crack filling – Asphalt and concrete both need occasional crack repair. For asphalt cracks, the preferred filler is a rubberized asphalt compound that’s melted and applied to the crack. Rubberized asphalt flexes like standard asphalt pavement, so it maintains a longer, more reliable seal than other compounds.
Concrete cracks are filled with epoxy, latex, or cement compounds, but these are generally reserved for wider cracks that are at risk of widening further. In some instances, routing is necessary before filling, and in extreme cases, the concrete may need to be stitched before fillers can be injected.
- Joint sealing – Concrete joints give the pavement its ability to flex when temperatures rise, and it’s important to keep those joints clear of incompressible materials (like dirt and pebbles) and water. When concrete parking lots are first installed, the joints should be sealed, and sealing is recommended every 5-10 years after that. During joint sealing, the existing joints sealants are first removed and either hot rubber or silicone are used to reseal the joint.
- Overlaying – During an asphalt overlay, a new surface layer is placed over the existing pavement. Overlays restore the appearance and integrity of the top asphalt layers, but they are not recommended for parking lots near the end of their functional life, or parking lots that have extensive sub-surface issues.
During an overlay, the existing asphalt is milled down to a pre-specified depth (usually a couple inches or less), the base materials are reconditioned, and a new mix (using recycled asphalt) is laid over the parking lot.
- Full-depth replacement – Eventually, all pavement needs to be replaced down to its base. Full-depth replacement services involve extracting the existing asphalt or pavement, stabilizing load-bearing soils, installing new base materials, installing a binder layer (for asphalt), and installing new hot mix or a concrete slab.
Full-depth replacement is an intensive job, but should only be needed every 20-30 years, depending on how well the parking lot is maintained. There are also modern full-depth replacement methods (like asphalt reclamation) that can decrease cost, waste, and time spent on the project.
The above is a general overview of parking lot maintenance. Every piece of pavement is different, so wear and damage will present differently with every paving project. As such, it’s recommended that commercial property owners work with an expert pavement team to address their specific maintenance and repair needs.
What is Parking Lot Striping and Why is it Important?
During striping, the pavement team will paint out the parking lot so that it takes on its final visual design. This includes marking out lines for parking spaces, creating traffic flow arrows, stenciling out handicap spots, pointing out fire lanes or loading areas, and creating any other marks or signs necessary for the lot’s function.
Drivers rely on these marks to navigate safely through high traffic lots and park in the right location. Striping is effective at keeping parking lots safe, so it’s common for property owners to restripe their lots regularly – usually every 12 to 24 months, depending on how fast the paint is fading. Regular restriping will also improve the parking lot’s appearance and make a strong first impression.
Expert pavement teams can provide parking lot striping services with parking lot installation, repair, or replacement, if it’s required.
Expert Houston Paving Professionals are Also Experts in Parking Lot Maintenance and Striping
Experienced Houston pavement contractors know parking lots, whether asphalt or concrete. They are the people to call when it’s time for scheduled maintenance, unscheduled repairs, or a restriping job.
Look for a team with experience and an impressive track record of service. These Houston teams have the manpower, equipment, and expertise to get the job done right.
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