Parking lots do not seem to change much to most people. A familiar lot may have been in place twenty years ago and will likely be there for twenty more. Who notices the condition of a parking lot as long there is a parking space available?
Building and maintenance supervisors must always be aware of their parking lot conditions. After all, the parking lot is often a visitor’s first impression of a business. From the time the surface is installed, building and maintenance supervisors must monitor the impact of harsh weather, oily deposits, standing water, hot sunlight, and heavy traffic. These elements continually work to diminish the useful life of the paved surface until it is replaced, hopefully, many years later.
To ensure an asphalt parking lot reaches its maximum serviceable life, responsible facilities managers develop annual strategic plans for maintaining their parking lots in the best condition possible.
Here are some procedures for keeping the surfaces in good working order.
1. Perform Routine Visual Inspections
Problems can arise quickly. Regularly walk the lot to discern where issues such as developing cracks, standing water, or pools of harmful oils or gasoline may be present. These problems require immediate attention to fill and seal the cracks, clear drains or remove chemicals. Allowing these issues to persist will result in bigger headaches later.
2. Clean Sweeps
Frequent cleaning of the lot removes the dirt and debris that tend to accumulate. Too much grime creates the right conditions for standing water that weakens the surface and begins to seep into the substrate to cause more deterioration. Sweeping also allows you to uncover new problems that might be developing.
3. Check the Drains
If rainwater is not draining properly, you may be experiencing blockage in the drainage system that can cause long-term problems. Open the drains and inspect for blockage and accumulation of debris.
4. Fill and Seal the Cracks
As a result of weather conditions and heavy use, cracks will inevitably appear. Small cracks do not necessarily indicate the surface is doomed, but they must be handled immediately. Filling and sealing small cracks is far easier than trying to make a large one disappear. When water begins to seep into even the smallest voids, the asphalt will continue to deteriorate. In colder months, freeze-thaw cycles will cause the water in cracks to freeze and expand, resulting in an exponentially larger fracture. A sustainable PAH-free sealant like BioSealcoat®, produced from renewable soybean oil, is an ideal product for sealing these cracks. It lasts longer and is better for the environment than traditional sealcoats.
5. Remove Oil and Gasoline Drippings Immediately
Harmful materials that drip from leaky engines can cause significant permanent damage. The chemical makeup of these materials eats away at the “glue” that holds asphalt and concrete together, leading to rapid deterioration. Remove these as soon as you see them.
Sealcoating the entire lot with a high-quality product every few years is necessary. The frequency depends on weather and traffic, but a fresh coat will make a huge difference and extend the working life of your existing asphalt. BioSealcoat™ is a long-lasting option that is environmentally positive and provides a long-lasting, jet-black finish to keep your lot looking great year round.
7. Reroute the Traffic
Once the sealcoating is applied, change the traffic flow to spread the wear by re-orienting parking spaces and traffic lanes. Adding planted areas with shade trees will protect the surface and reduce the effects of the sun while creating a more attractive environment.
The use of sustainable marking paints by BioStripe® will substantially reduce VOC emissions and remain bright for a longer period.
BioStripe's Sustainability eBook
Learn more about parking lot maintenance by downloading BioStripe’s free eBook entitled The New Sustainability Frontier: Parking Lot and Road Maintenance. The eBook discusses future trends in paving that are designed to last longer and be far less harmful to the environment.