August 12, 2021
The Ultimate Guide for Commercial Asphalt Maintenance & Parking Lot Repairs
As a facility manager, you want to ensure that every aspect of your property remains in good shape, including the asphalt. Most commercial properties will mostly have asphalt in the parking lot, but no matter where the asphalt is or its role, the process of asphalt maintenance and repairing will be the same.
We’ve compiled this guide to make handling commercial asphalt maintenance and parking lot repairs easier. By simplifying maintenance and repairs for the asphalt, you can focus your time and energy on the numerous other tasks you have as a facility manager.
Create a Monthly Asphalt Maintenance and Inspection Plan
Perhaps the most important step to maintaining the property’s asphalt is to create a monthly maintenance plan. This plan should include both general maintenance and an inspection.
The Importance of a Monthly Plan
The reasons for creating a maintenance plan for the asphalt are the same as they are for every other aspect of the building. It prevents issues in the future and ensures that you are aware of any problems before they worsen.
As for the first point, when you maintain the asphalt, you are less likely to experience issues in the future. For example, keeping piles of leaves off of it and stopping water from pooling can prevent future water damage.
Asphalt maintenance also helps to extend its lifespan. This can save you money, as it will not need to be replaced as often. You can then allocate that budget for other tasks. Not having to replace the asphalt as frequently also reduces the hassle associated with doing so. After all, the process involves the parking lot being out of service during work, forcing residents, workers, or customers to park somewhere else. Depending on the type of property you manage, you may even have to provide alternate parking, using part of your budget to do so.
The other big reason to create a monthly maintenance plan is so that an expert can inspect the parking lot at least once a month. This helps to ensure that you can take care of any issues while they are still small. After all, a one-centimeter crack will be much easier, faster, and more affordable to repair than one that is several inches across. In this way, inspections save money and time. They also save you the hassle of having to find other parking accommodations.
What’s Involved in a Parking Lot Maintenance Plan?
Simply knowing that you need to create a parking lot maintenance plan is not enough. You also need to know what is involved in it.
Parking Lot and Asphalt Maintenance and Inspection Checklist
The following list includes a range of tasks that you will likely want to include in the maintenance plan. Remember that every property is different, and some of these may not apply to you. At the same time, this list is not exhaustive, and you may also want to include other tasks.
- Sweep the entire area to remove debris and reduce risks.
- Check for rutting (permanent deformation of the surface that occurs over time).
- Check for raveling (asphalt deterioration because rocks or asphalt have come off, indicating pavement erosion).
- Inspect sub-drain outlets for cleanliness.
- Control and prevent the growth of grass and weeds in cracks.
- Control the growth of grass or plants along the edges of the asphalt.
- Confirm that any painted surfaces are visible and do not need to be repainted (including parking spot lines, loading zones, fire lanes, etc.).
- Check for ponding, depressions, edge drops, and other issues.
- Sealcoat (every two or three years).
- Fill cracks of various sizes.
- Check for and correct the cause of certain cracks. For example, edge cracks may happen because of a lack of drainage or shoulder support or because of frost action. Addressing these issues may prevent future cracks.
- Repair potholes.
- Confirm the asphalt is the ideal color of light dull gray.
- Check for loose rocks that indicate erosion or small cracks.
- Check for tripping hazards, such as gutters, concrete curbs, and parking stall stops.
- Inspect lights and change bulbs when necessary.
- Plow or shovel and salt in winter.
Your checklist should always prioritize fixing any cracks or rutting that you notice as soon as possible. These issues quickly worsen over time. That is especially true in rainy weather, as the rainwater will enter the cracks, bringing debris with it and his expanding the cracks. In the worst-case scenario, ignoring cracks can give water a path to enter under the asphalt and create even worse issues, like potholes.
Create Your Plan With Professionals
As a facilities manager, you likely have basic familiarity with a lot of tasks and maintenance, but you also need to know when to turn to the experts. Creating your parking lot maintenance and inspection plan is one of these times.
Asphalt maintenance experts will likely already have a general checklist or plan in place that they adapt to meet each facility’s needs. They can then use their expertise to figure out what services or tasks your property needs to have included and which, if any, can be skipped.
Essentially, creating the plan with professionals is the best way to ensure that you do not accidentally leave something out of it. At the same time, it lets you customize the plan, so you won’t have to pay extra for services you don’t need.
Remember that the plan should always include professional inspections. You could do some of the basic tasks yourself, like sweeping, or hire someone to do them. But you should always make sure professionals inspect your asphalt regularly. After all, the point of inspections is to spot potential issues early, and those without asphalt maintenance experience are less likely to do this successfully.
When Should You Completely Replace Your Commercial Asphalt?
Asphalt is designed to last for a very long time, so you should not need to replace it often. Most facility managers will only have to do so once or possibly twice during their time in charge of a facility unless they have worked there for almost their entire career.
Even so, you need to learn how to recognize when it is time to replace the asphalt completely. Failing to replace it when you should have could increase your maintenance costs due to endless or costly repairs. It could also pose a serious safety risk, and the property may be liable for injuries or damages that occur in the parking lot.
The Best Way to Tell: Ask an Expert You Trust
As with any other part of the property you are in charge of, the absolute best way to tell that it is time to replace your asphalt completely would be if a trusted professional tells you that it is. Their experience means that they are equipped to tell when repairs no longer make sense or are ineffective.
The important point here is that it must be a professional you trust. This eliminates the risk of an asphalt company trying to make more money by convincing you to replace the asphalt sooner than necessary. All facility managers should have an asphalt company they trust, as you likely use one for asphalt maintenance anyway. You can also ask other facility managers for suggestions.
If you want more reassurance that they gave you an unbiased answer, get a second opinion.
Understand Some of the Repair Options
To better understand when it is time to replace the asphalt parking lot completely, you should also have a basic understanding of the types of repairs that are possible, including what each achieves. This gives you realistic expectations about the results of repairs, letting you decide if those results are enough.
With resurfacing, for example, you will replace just the top layer of the asphalt on the parking lot. This makes the surface look new and somewhat improves the asphalt structure. If your main goal is to improve the parking lot’s curb appeal, this is a good option, as it saves a lot of money compared to a complete replacement.
You can also fill in cracks in the parking lot to make it look better and take care of minor structural issues. Filling in cracks can also prevent moisture from getting in, along with the problems that it causes. You would typically fill in the cracks and then resurface the lot.
How Often Do You Need to Replace the Parking Lot Asphalt?
Another way to determine if you need to replace the asphalt in your parking lot is to consider its age. In most cases, you will need to replace the pavement about every 20 to 30 years.
If it has been close to that amount of time since it was replaced, you may want to start budgeting for replacement.
Just keep in mind that how often you need to replace the asphalt completely depends on a long list of factors. These include the amount of traffic and the level of maintenance you perform. It also depends on your local weather, especially the freeze-thaw cycles.
When to Consult an Expert About Replacement or Repair
Smart facility managers are also familiar with the various signs that your parking lot needs repairs if not replacement. You should be on the lookout for the following warning signs. If you notice any of them, it is time to ask your trusted professional whether repairs are enough or if you need to replace the asphalt.
- Buckling: When the parking lot is buckling or warping, there is a fair chance that you will need to replace the asphalt completely, but this is not always the case. The need for a complete replacement comes from the fact that the base will also frequently require replacement.
- Cracks: Most minor cracks can be easily repaired. If you ignore them, however, you may need a replacement sooner rather than later.
- Disintegrating Edges: In most cases, repairs will be enough to resolve this issue. The cause is usually poor installation, but surface repair is typically enough to meet industry standards.
- Drainage Problems: If your parking lot has drainage problems, then the substrate is likely uneven. You may not have enough drainage on the lot, or the existing drainage may be blocked. You can frequently fix this problem with surface repair. Sometimes, however, a full replacement will be necessary, as the professionals may need to access the substrate.
- Fading: Fading naturally occurs as the asphalt oxidizes due to sun exposure. The good news is that fading rarely requires a full replacement.
- Potholes: Depending on the severity of the potholes and how many you have, it may be smarter just to replace the asphalt. However, it is also possible to fix them individually without a full replacement.
- Sinking: If the parking lot is sinking, repairing the surface may be enough. However, if the damage is severe, you may need to access the base of the parking lot, which will require removing and replacing the asphalt.
- Stains: Depending on what caused the stains, there may be structural concerns underneath, such as erosion. Repairs will likely be enough to take care of the issue, but if the damage is extensive, you may need to replace everything.
How to Properly Budget for a Commercial Asphalt Maintenance Plan
Proper budgeting for a commercial asphalt maintenance plan should start with reaching out to several local companies that offer services. Do some research to figure out which ones are reputable.
Narrow your options down to about three and request estimates or quotes for a maintenance plan. This should give you a good ballpark figure of how much you can expect to pay. As you ask for estimates, be sure to ask what is included and what will be charged separately.
It is also smart to ask for the typical cost of as-needed services you would pay for separately, such as filling cracks or seal-coating.
Remember that prices will vary based on the company you choose, the size of your parking lot, which services you want to be included in the maintenance plan, and what city the property is in.
To give you an approximate idea of what to expect, here are some figures as of August 2021. Sealcoating usually costs between $0.14 and $0.25 per square foot. Or consider that sweeping and cleaning a parking lot with 200 spaces will cost about $79, and one with 25 spaces will be a few dollars less. When it comes time to resurface the parking lot, expect to pay about $1.50 to $7 for each square foot.
As with any other aspect of your facility’s budget, the key to properly budgeting for the maintenance plan is to estimate costs and then plan for them accordingly. Remember to include room in the budget for other repairs, such as seal coating, every few years. You may want to alternate the seal coating so it gets done in different years than other expensive property maintenance.
Should You Invest in Sealcoating Your Parking Lots?
Yes, in most cases, it is smart to invest in seal-coating your parking lots. Sealcoating seals small cracks or voids in the surface of the pavement. It relies on a liquid product, which only seals cracks. You should not use it to fill them.
Sealcoating your parking lot will cover up those minor cracks and will protect the pavement from bad weather conditions. Remember that without sealing the cracks, air, and water can enter. This can cause the asphalt to oxidize and harden. That, in turn, can create larger cracks that are more difficult to fix.
The Benefits of Sealcoating for Asphalt
Overall, choosing to seal-coat the asphalt parking lots on the property you manage is a smart choice to reduce future expenses and problems.
It will prevent the pavement from hardening and oxidizing. Sealcoating protects against moisture and chemicals. It will also improve the appearance of the pavement by making it look more uniform.
Overall, taking the time to seal-coat the parking lot every two or three years can add up to 20 to 30 years to its lifespan.
Coal Tar Sealers vs. Asphalt Emulsion Coatings
When you schedule seal-coating, you will typically have the choice of two types of materials.
Coal tar sealers are much more affordable but will require the team you hire to manage it more carefully during application.
Asphalt emulsion coatings are the more popular option and are easier to apply. They also release fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds) during application, making them better for the environment. These coatings are particularly popular on asphalt where you want to prevent fuel spills or chemical spills.
Other Types of Seals
You may also want to consider one of the other types of seals.
Chip seal combines hot mix asphalt with at least one layer of fine aggregate. This is a surface treatment for the asphalt pavement.
A fog seal is a slow-setting emulsion that you dilute and then apply to the pavement that has oxidized.
A slurry seal is a combination of aggregate, water, additives, and asphalt emulsion.
Best Practices For Handling Cracks, Potholes, and Sinkholes
As you consult an asphalt maintenance professional to create your maintenance and inspection plan, you will also likely discuss the best practices for dealing with potholes, cracks, and sinkholes. Whether or not you explicitly discuss these things with a professional, there are some things to keep in mind.
It is smart to familiarize yourself with what causes cracks on asphalt so you can prevent them. Some cracks come from repeated traffic, and these are commonly called alligator cracks. Other cracks come from shrinkage, meaning the expansion and shrinkage of the pavement as the temperatures change. Reflective cracks are due to pavement overlay being installed in an unsecured condition. Edge cracks can happen because of a lack of drainage, frost action, or poor shoulder support.
You could repair smaller cracks on the property yourself or have your regular maintenance team handle them. This involves thoroughly cleaning the crack to get rid of debris, vegetation, and dirt. Then, you fill it in with sand. Finally, you pour the crack filler and let it dry.
While you can handle smaller cracks yourself, it is best to leave anything over an inch wide to the experts. That will help ensure that the crack is repaired properly. The risk of repairing cracks under an inch wide yourself is less; if you make a mistake, there is still time to hire a professional before it gets worse.
Potholes can be a serious problem for parking lots. They can pose safety concerns, and the property may be liable for injuries. Even if you aren’t liable, they can create legal hassles that you don’t want to deal with. Potholes are most likely to damage the tires, wheels, and suspension of cars. They also reflect poorly on your property, as they indicate you don’t maintain it.
Potholes occur when water gets through cracks and goes under the surface of the pavement. There, it combines with air, softening the soil. The result is depression. Once there is a small depression, it will start to hold more water. That water breaks the asphalt up into smaller particles, including gravel, sand, and stone.
The good news is that you can prevent potholes with preventative maintenance. You can also stop them from getting worse by taking care of them as soon as you notice an issue.
There are some DIY options when it comes to repairing potholes, such as cold-patch products. However, it is best only to use these for smaller potholes. If you plan to do the repairs yourself, start by cleaning the pothole, including removing debris and any large loose rocks. Then, pour the cold-patch material and spread it. You want it to go about a half-inch above the surface. This gives you enough extra product for it to compact. Then, use a hand tamper or something similar to compact it and create a level surface.
For larger potholes, consider hiring professionals.
Sinkholes are a more complex problem, so you should always leave the repairs to the professionals. Expect this to be a more involved repair that may require engineers in addition to the company that provides your parking lot maintenance. That being said, that company should be able to arrange everything for you or point you in the right direction.
The good news is that you can prevent sinkholes by caring for the parking lot with general maintenance. Preventing ponding, flooding, and drainage issues will go a long way in avoiding the formation of sinkholes.
If you manage a property that is building a new parking lot, you can also reduce the risk of sinkholes by making sure to have a survey done first.
Should Parking Lot Light Repairs Be Part of Your Maintenance Plan?
As you create your parking lot and asphalt maintenance plan, don’t forget about the lights in the lot.
Parking lot lighting is incredibly important for your property. It helps prevent accidents, as drivers and pedestrians can see each other. This keeps people on your property safe and reduces the risk of lawsuits. Well-lit parking lots also boost security, as criminals know they are more likely to get caught on a well-lit.
If your parking lot is not well-lit, it reflects poorly on the property, as well as your ability to manage the facilities. When the property is well-lit, it showcases your attention to detail as well as your concern for the property. It also helps create a great first impression for anyone who visits the property.
How Can a Facilities Management Company Help Facilitate Parking Lot and Asphalt Maintenance and Repairs?
A facilities management company can help facilitate parking lot maintenance and repairs in the same way they would do so for any other type of maintenance and repair for the property.
These companies can help property owners or even other facility managers find the right company to hire for maintenance and repairs. Working with a recommendation from a facility management company can save time that may have been spent teaching on your own. It can also provide confidence, and you can trust the recommendations of the company you hire, something which comes in handy when you need to decide if it is time to replace the asphalt.
Facility management companies can also take care of nearly all the organizational aspects of parking lot maintenance and repairs. In addition to finding the right professionals to hire, they can figure out an appropriate budget for the repairs and determine how to fit it into the building’s overall budget.
A facilities management company can also create processes to streamline future issues or repairs. This can include outlining processes for people to submit a work order for an issue in the parking lot or for taking care of specific issues. For example, they could determine which repairs the facility’s maintenance team will take care of themselves, such as minor cracks, and which ones they will pay professionals to complete.
In summary, a facilities management company like Branded Group can play a crucial role in budgeting for parking lot maintenance and addressing emergencies, all while preventing future problems. With this comprehensive guide and our expertise, you’ll be equipped to manage parking lot and asphalt maintenance effectively. Take the next step towards seamless facility management by scheduling a consultation with Branded Group today. Learn how our services can optimize your maintenance strategies and ensure your facility’s longevity and functionality.