Concrete Parking Lots
How common are concrete parking lots? The further South we travel in the United States, the more likely we see concrete and/or paver parking lots. The further North we travel in the United States, the more likely we see asphalt parking lots. This is due to the amount of freeze and thaw cycles that occur in colder regions.
Unlike asphalt, concrete is not pliable, making it much less forgiving when it comes to heaving from freeze and thaw cycles.
To install a new concrete parking lot, in most cases, you’ll need blue print drawings which includes sub grade material and preparation specs, concrete mix design and installation specs, drainage specs, and striping and marking layout specs. In most cases you’ll also need to include concrete curb and gutter, sidewalks and handicap ramp specs as well.
In instances where your commercial property is not subject to city and county specifications, you can install a new concrete parking lot without blue print drawings and engineering, but you’ll still need a solid water drainage plan! A parking lot can shed large amounts of water and that water must be managed and directed to areas where it will keep from flooding neighbors, streets and even buildings! In this case, hiring a reputable contractor is critical to avoid future problems!
If you already have a concrete parking lot and it’s beginning to show the signs of aging and exceptional deterioration, or has a tremendous amount of patching and repairs and looks patchy, blotchy and uninviting, completely removing and replacing the entire concrete parking lot may be in order! In most cases, this can also be done without blue prints and specs, but absolutely should be performed by a reputable concrete installation company that will do it right the first time.
All parking lots age and deteriorate beyond repair at some point. The goal with any parking lot should be to maximize the life of expectancy as much as possible before having to completely remove and replace it. This requires a solid plan with frequent, ongoing maintenance of every 2 to 3 years!
Life Expectancy Of A Concrete Parking Lot
A properly installed concrete parking lot with regularly scheduled maintenance can last up to 20 or even 30 years! That variation in age can be determined by the stability of the sub-grade, the quality of the installation, the type and frequency of maintenance, the drainage plan and the climate of the region you’re located in.
A new concrete parking lot should NOT be sealed until it is a minimum of 3 weeks old and should be performed on concrete parking lots located particularly in cold, snowy regions. The concrete should then re-sealed every 2 to 3 years thereafter to slow down the deterioration process. Deterioration is be caused by the elements – specifically, oxidization from the sun, rain and snow, freeze and thaw cycles and the amount of traffic the parking lot receives. The more traffic, the more frequent your concrete parking lot will need to be sealed. However, only a quality commercial grade concrete sealer is recommended and should only be applied by a reputable sealing contractor.
Concrete by nature cracks. Where and when is the question! Controlled joints are placed into the concrete during installation or sawcut into the concrete after installation to try and contain cracking within those controlled joints, rather than in the field of the concrete. When cracks do develop, they should be sealed with a concrete crack sealer. Sealing the cracks will help to prevent further damage and failures like alligatoring and even potholes by preventing or minimizing the amount of water entering into them. The best maintenance plan should include crack sealing services each year! This will most certainly save money long term avoiding costly patching services.
Choosing The Right Parking Lot For Your Commercial Property
If the short term, up front cost is a deciding factor, gravel parking lots are a great, low cost alternative to hard surface parking lots. And if installed properly, a gravel paring lot can be used as a great base prior to installing a hard surface parking lot.
Asphalt parking lots are excellent, low cost alternatives to the other hard surface options, depending on the size of your parking lot and the thickness requirements. The long term trade off however is asphalt parking lots require more ongoing maintenance than that of concrete parking lots. If cost is not as important of a factor, and aesthetics are more important, then concrete parking lots or paver parking lotsare the alternatives for a hard surface parking lot. While initially the up front costs are higher, long term they require less maintenance therefore less maintenance costs.
Also take into consideration the effects of a concrete parking lot if it’s not maintained properly or how it can look as it ages.