The Death of a Parking Lot

the death of a parkade jpg

Lack of proper parking lot maintenance creates a number of issues that can be hard to see at first, but contribute to the death of a parking lot, greatly reducing its lifespan, attractiveness, and usefulness.

Failing to resolve a few key parking lot issues can be five times more expensive than the alternative.  We aren’t exaggerating.  Read on and we will break it down and show you what to look out for.

The Frost Cycle

In an Alberta parking lot, water is the enemy.  Water seeping into areas where it should not be can become a powerfully destructive force when frost sets in.  Asphalt will heave, swell, and break apart, leading to repairs that are more expensive than routine maintenance would have been.

Some Key Considerations

Here are the things to prioritize or keep an eye on in your parking lot:

  1. Crack filling must be done every single year to prevent costly frost damage.  Cracks need to be cleaned out properly, heated up, and filled with a rubberized tar.  This will protect the crack for two to three years.
  2. Pothole and asphalt repair not only restores a parking lot surface to pristine condition, it helps prevent injuries and falls.
  3. Drainage issues can surface as time goes on, when asphalt settles, or when construction is done poorly.  When a parking lot doesn’t drain properly, water runs to unintended areas that may need more significant repair.
    • Storm drains that poke out higher than the surrounding asphalt should be lowered,
    • Places where asphalt butts up against concrete (like sidewalks and drainage swales) should be checked for gaps and proper grading, and
    • Wheel ruts should be made flush again 
  1. Parking curb stops should be installed in areas where vehicles can cause damage to landscaped spaces or building features, and damaged concrete curbs should be repaired.
  2. Sealing asphalt (also called fogging) can overlay asphalt with a protective barrier against the elements.  As an added bonus, it freshens up the look for much cheaper than applying a new layer of asphalt. This is typically only required every five years.
  3. Are you read for a strange one?  Garbage trucks that lift garbage bins overhead and shake them out into the truck compactor create unusual wear and tear on asphalt as they shake and settle the asphalt.  These areas should be constructed with a deeper subgrade (the compressed rocks and pebbles that asphalt sits on) and a thicker application of asphalt too.
  4. Finally, a nice to have… is fresh line painting.  While not absolutely required, it can greatly enhance the visual appeal of a parking lot and make it easier to manage traffic flow.

Doing the Math

A well-maintained parking lot can have a lifespan of 50 years.  A poorly maintained parking lot will need major construction after only 20 years.  A general rule of thumb is that it costs between $0.10 – $0.50/m2 (depending on lot size) to maintain a parking lot annually, and the cost starts at $50/m2 to overlay a parking lot with new asphalt.

Let’s do the math.  We will work with small, round numbers to make it easy.  Let’s say a parking lot that is 10m wide by 10m long.  Annual maintenance on this space would be $0.50/m2, or $50/year, or $1000 after 20 years.  Replacing or overlaying the same space after 20 years would start at $5000.

As you can see, if you’ve maintained your parking lot each year, you will have spent one fifth of the cost of replacing poorly maintained asphalt after 20 years.  And, you should have another 30 years of lifespan left.

Is your parking lot maintenance up to date?   Give us a call if you’d like a quote for bringing your parking lot up to snuff and putting a sustainable maintenance plan in place.