Wahlen Works Blog
We’ve worked in a lot of parking structures during our 49 years in business, some as small as 5,000 sq ft and others larger than 1M sq ft. Whether yours is a parking garage, a parking ramp, or a parking lot; it is a significant part of your real estate portfolio and requires both routine and preventative maintenance to maintain its value.
As an owner or manager of a parking structure, you’re well acquainted with the damage that naturally occurs over time. Potholes, cracks in the concrete, and corrosion are bound to appear: but their presence can be minimized, and sometimes almost eliminated, with regularly scheduled maintenance.
Your parking structure is the workhorse of your business and often the first point of welcome for you customers. It experiences direct exposure to vehicle traffic, weather, chemicals, and grease on a daily basis. It only takes a few missed deep-cleans for minor deterioration to start. These can turn into problems beneath the surface of the concrete before you know it.
An effective maintenance plan should include all the periodic tasks that are required for smooth day-to-day operation, as well as the tasks performed to avoid future repairs and protect the owner’s investment.
Sweeping and Washing
Your garage needs frequent sweeping — at least monthly — and quarterly pressure washing to remove sand, dirt, and other substances that wear down its concrete surface. Because of human nature, a clean garage is more likely to stay that way because people are less likely to litter in a well-maintained environment. In addition to extending the life of the facility, a clean, well-kept garage is inviting and gives you a good reputation.
In Wisconsin, it’s especially important to schedule a pressure washing in the early spring to remove deicing products and again in the fall to remove leaves and make sure the drainage system is clear.
Pavement Marking and Signage
Your maintenance schedule should include attention paid to pavement markings and signage. Parking lot striping needs to be restored as soon as it begins to fade or wear away. Concrete walks, drives, and curb landings might need to be repainted as often as twice a year for safety purposes.
The main enemies of the structural integrity of your parking structure are water penetration, chloride penetration, and freeze/thaw damage. The best way to prevent the damage is to prevent penetration into the concrete with a waterproofing barrier. Waterproofing systems that protect the concrete surface extend the life of a garage and make routine maintenance tasks easier to complete.
The ideal waterproofing system uses a calcium silicate gel to penetrate the concrete and fill cracks, pores, and capillaries; forming a subsurface barrier that can’t be peeled, chipped, or scraped away.
A regular maintenance program is critical to preserving your garage and providing excellent service to your customers. Call us to talk about a schedule that perfectly meets your needs. (414) 771-0884
Water is the enemy of your parking structure. It can penetrate the concrete causing costly damage to its steel reinforcement. Considering the large capital investment parking structures require, it’s worth taking some time to consider how best to protect them, not only from water, but also from deicing agents and freeze/thaw cycles.
We believe that the best way to prevent concrete damage is to prevent water and chemical penetration in the first place through the use of a waterproof barrier. Membranes and silane sealant do provide some protection but have drawbacks that waterproofing does not.
For that reason, we recently partnered with Alchemco, manufacturers of the TechCrete 2500 Waterproofing system—a long-term solution that creates a waterproof barrier inside the concrete.
TechCrete 2500 offers the following benefits:
It has no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are “any compound of carbon, excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates, and ammonium carbonate, which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions.” In other words, emitted gases from certain solids and liquids. Because TechCrete 2500 is VOC-free, if the concrete structure is ever demolished, the concrete remains recyclable, which is good for the environment.
It is a penetrating solution that forms a calcium silicate gel which fills cracks and capillaries up to 2mm wide. Because it forms a subsurface barrier, it can’t be chipped or scraped away by snow plow blades and it will continue to seal future cracks up to .04mm wide.
There’s no need to close your parking facility during business hours in order to complete the installation.
One of the best features of TechCrete 2500 is its longevity. It makes the concrete surface more dense which allows it to stand up to traffic from people and cars. It also has the best warranty in the industry ranging from 15-30 years depending on the current condition of the structure.
A TechCrete 2500 treated surface is easy and inexpensive to maintain, requiring only regular sweeping and a yearly pressure wash.
Parking areas are a large capital investment. The longer they last, the greater the return on your investment. While the value of regular cleaning and maintenance can’t be overstated, the best protection comes from not allowing the water to penetrate the concrete in the first place. Read more about our concrete waterproofing service here.
Parking structures are expensive capital investments. In 2019, the median cost to construct a new parking garage was $21,500 per space and $64.77 per square foot. If the average garage is 145,000 square feet, then you’re looking at almost a million dollars to build a new one.
Parking structures are so common that we have become oblivious to them. Customers expect them to be there when they need them, and they expect them to be safe. Property owners need them to generate a return on investment and be well maintained. Often they will hire a facility manager to ensure that their needs and the needs of their customers are met.
So it’s no surprise that a 2019 CORT survey of facility managers found that profitability is their #1 concern — up from #3 in 2018. When property managers are under pressure to do more with less, routine maintenance and proactive protection become important.
With that in mind, here are some useful articles offering good advice on parking structure maintenance.
How to Protect Your Parking Structure from Winter Weather Damage by Sarah Kloepple, Associate Editor at Buildings.com. 5 min read.
The biggest winter weather liabilities are slip-and-fall injuries, damaging deicers, improper snow removal, and clogged drains. Having your garage professionally cleaned at least once a month will minimize the risk of injuries and chemicals and ensure that your drains don’t get clogged. Pay attention to how your snow removal company does their job to ensure that they aren’t piling the snow too high or causing damage with the snow plow blades.
Protecting Parking Structures by James P. Donnelly, P.E., S.E. 7 min read.
In this article James Donnelly, a structural engineer, gives a concise but thorough overview of the ways that parking garages deteriorate, the types of routine maintenance that need to be done, how to schedule inspections, and effective waterproofing strategies.
Financing Parking Garages: Q&A with Parking Consultant Gerard Giosa. 9 min read.
Although the majority of this article deals with the costs of building structured parking rather than surface parking, it also addresses budgeting for operational and maintenance costs. Giosa says, “A good number to budget for ongoing parking garage operating and maintenance expense is about $500 per space per year…It is also critical to perform routine preventative maintenance on the garage, including sealing decks and replacing caulking and joints, to avoid major structural repair bills as the garage begins to age. With a good preventative maintenance program, a parking garage can be expected to last 50 to 70 years or longer.”
Planning for parking: How strategy and technology can improve garage integration by Stan Bochniak, former Facility Manager. 7 min read.
The focus of this article, which first appeared in FMJ magazine, is parking in mixed-use developments. These developments combine retail, entertainment, offices, and residences in a walkable space. But, people often arrive at their initial destination by car, which makes parking an important part of the experience. “Since mixed-use garages are used more than traditional garages, their maintenance demands are higher. Spaces turn over more quickly, and everything from elevators to trash cans are used more frequently. Regular maintenance tasks, like sweeping and steam cleaning, have to be done more often and scheduling is a bit more challenging.”
A common theme among each of these articles is that when you plan for the regular cleaning and upkeep of your parking structures, you are making the wisest possible use of your budget. At Wahlen Works, we can provide a single service or a combination of services to help you maximize your dollars spent. Instead of tackling problems as they occur, budget for proactive, pre-scheduled approach to maintenance.
January through March
April through June
July through September
October through December
Floor Sealing Questions
- Where is the floor located (warehouse, office building, etc.)?
- How old is the floor?
- Is it painted or intentionally stained?
- Was the concrete finished with any type of design.
- Are there accidental stains which need to be removed?
- Has the floor been sealed before? If so, how long has it been since the previous application?
- How much traffic does the floor have to bear?
- Trash and debris removal
- Concrete floor cleaning, polishing — and sealing if necessary
- Removal of oil, dirt, mineral residue, and paint from masonry
- Washing of walkways, entries, driveways, and parking areas
- Exterior building cleaning
- General pavement cleaning
Winter Preparation Checklist
- Clean your parking lot. Leaves are not as innocent as they seem. Their chemical composition can damage the surface of your concrete or asphalt. In addition, fall leaves that have been compacted and frozen by an early snowfall are a pain to remove. A professional sweeping will clear leaves and debris from places where water needs to flow freely. Then, pressure wash the entire facility for clean, odorless property.
- Inspect thoroughly for damage. Perform repairs on potholes or cracks. If you defer these repairs until the spring thaw, the damage will be greater and more expensive to fix.
- Check your drainage so water doesn’t pool in the lot or run back to the foundation.
- Seal your concrete. Concrete sealing creates a barrier between winter chemicals and salt and your parking surface. By the end of October, seal coating season is just about over, so don’t delay.
- Walk around all your snow plowing routes to ensure that they are unobstructed.
- Evaluate whether or not your pavement markings and signs are clear and easy to see. If not, consider new parking lot striping. A freshly painted lot increases the odds that people will drive and park safely. When large sections of your parking lot are used to store unmelted snow, you need to make sure that the rest of your parking lot can be used properly and efficiently.
- Review all customer and employee access points into your building. wash to make sure that people don’t slip and fall. check for irregularities in the walkway that can cause people to trip.
Do you realize that your pavement marking can talk? Well maybe not talk exactly, but it certainly can communicate. In fact, that is its primary function. It’s like the project manager on your team or the traffic officer at Miller Park. Fresh, high quality pavement marking keeps vehicle and pedestrian traffic organized and moving smoothly which keeps everyone safer and happier.
What Is The Purpose of Marking?
Pavement marking is so ubiquitous and so expected that most people rarely give it a thought — until it isn’t visible when they need it. If you have ever been caught in a blinding thunderstorm or found yourself with seconds to decide if you need to merge or stay put, you know that proper road surface marking is the difference between fear and confidence.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) published by the U.S. Department of Transportation says, “Pavement markings are used to convey messages to roadway users. They indicate which part of the road to use, provide information about conditions ahead, and indicate where passing is allowed.” Symbols, such as for bicycles, tell you how you are permitted to use the lanes. They can also warn you of areas where you might want to exercise caution, such as at railroad crossings.
In parking structures and on other private property, clear easy-to-understand striping tells drivers where to go and what to do. A prominent crosswalk tells pedestrians that it is safe to walk there. Signs and symbols tell both foot and vehicle traffic where they are permitted to move, wait, and park. This is good for customers and business, but it also complies with the law, specifically in regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). When creating handicapped parking areas, a combination of clearly marked stalls and proper signage sends a warm welcome message to all visitors.
What Do Parking Lot Pavement Markings Mean?
When you enter a ramp or other parking structure, you are confronted with markings that are more complex than the standard yellow and white of the highways. Pavement marking works in conjunction with signs and (sometimes) traffic signals to direct traffic through a parking area and a yellow line (either solid or broken) is still used to indicate two-way traffic. However, you will also see stop lines, crosswalks, painted curbs, and symbol markings.
- A stop bar marking is a single white line that tells you where to stop.
- Word and symbol markings, such as yield or directional arrows, communicate to you without diverting your attention from the road.
- Crosswalk markings are parallel double white lines that tell pedestrians where they can cross the roadway. Sometimes they are accompanied by the symbol “ped xing” on the road just before the crosswalk that tells the driver to prepare to stop.
- Curb striping is used to communicate curb use rules such as no parking, fire lanes, handicapped zones, loading and unloading, parking for a short period of time, and parking allowed.
$136M Pavement Marking Project
In California, they tested a new 6-inch wide, highly reflective road striping in 2017. The $136 million project was implemented on I-80 in the capital city of Sacramento. The test was so successful that Caltrans decided to re-stripe 50,000-plus lane miles of state highway system in the next decade.
Their reasoning is that markings “must be capable of conveying information during inclement weather and evening hours when there may be little to no illumination from overhead lighting. The 6-in.-wide striping provides a valuable continuous stream of information about the roadway that signs or signals cannot supply. They alert drivers to changes in the roadway and help them maintain their position inside of the lane without requiring the driver to take their eyes off the road.”
While pavement marking obviously can’t talk, it does tell us things and communicates valuable information that we literally cannot live without. If your striping is faded or inefficient, give us a call. We’ll have it “talking” to you again in no time.