Wahlen Works Blog

properly sealed concrete

In an obscure court case over an alleged breach of lease in St. Louis, the judge ruled, “to the extent defendants based their breach of lease claim on central parking’s alleged obligation to repair deterioration…to the garage’s concrete surface before the end of the lease term, the court finds in favor of defendants”. 

Further down the page, discussing a different example of deterioration, one engineer said, “It’s a classic case of garage neglect, where the operator has failed to protect the decks with a sealer or coating and has allowed water to infiltrate the deck, rusting the rebar mats and (probably) the post-tensioned cables. The rust on the bottom mat steel has resulted in spalling concrete and general degradation, resulting in loss of deck strength and homogeneity.”

If you own a parking garage, preventative maintenance can save a small fortune. 

One form of preventative maintenance is concrete sealing and it’s one of the best returns on investment you’ll find. Last month on this blog we wrote about chloride contamination in concrete and this month we’ll address preventing that contamination and deterioration with concrete sealing.

To prevent degradation in your concrete, you need to prevent water, salt, and waterborne chemicals from penetrating its surface. A high-quality, professional sealant blocks the pores of the concrete, preventing these damage-causing elements from working their way under the surface and attacking the rebar. 

Our silane sealer is 100% solids, compared to the sealers you can buy in most home improvement stores which are about 40% solids. It’s been tested by time, having been in use now for 40 years. The small molecular size of the product enables silane to penetrate deeply into the pores of substrates but does not change the appearance or vapor permeability of treated surfaces. 

In addition to parking structures, this silane sealer can be used to protect buildings, roads, balconies, plazas, and vertical surfaces. It’s approved by the USDOT for sealing bridge decks. It is quite simply, the best product you can use to protect your property. Our sealer forms a permanent chemical bond, stops freeze-thaw damage and spalling, is not susceptible to ultraviolet or chemical degradation, and is cost-effective.

Don’t neglect the preventative maintenance of your garage. A comparatively small investment now could save tens of thousands of dollars or more down the road. Our concrete sealing service also comes with a 5-year warranty, giving you confidence in the wisdom of your investment.

chloride contamination

We talk about chloride contamination frequently because of the damage it can do to concrete that isn’t properly maintained. 

Chloride contamination comes from rock salt, the primary deicing agent used in Wisconsin. Rock salt is the mineral formed from sodium chloride. WisDOT uses an average of 526,000 tons of rock salt statewide each season. Other chloride-based deicers used less frequently are calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. All chloride deicers will initiate corrosion of the steel reinforcement if they penetrate the concrete.

Implications for Parking Garages

A major contributor to parking garage deterioration is corrosion of embedded steel. The corrosion problem is not new, but awareness of the problem has been getting more attention in recent years. 

As steel corrodes it expands, causing fragments of concrete to chip away, which exposes steel further, leading to even more damage. In addition, the rebar becomes more easily breakable, which in turn reduces the garage’s structural capacity. Unfortunately, by the time the damage is discovered, the corrosion of the steel is usually quite advanced. 

To put it more scientifically, “There are two consequences of the corrosion of steel. First the products of corrosion occupy a volume several times larger than the original steel so that their formation results in cracking…This makes it easier for aggressive agents to ingress towards the steel, with a consequent increase in the rate of corrosion. Second, the progress of corrosion…reduces the cross-sectional area of the steel, thus reducing its load-carrying capacity.”

Reducing Chloride Contamination

There are a number of ways to lessen concrete deterioration due to chloride contamination and reduce its influence on the service life of your facility. Some, such as adding corrosion inhibiting compounds, need to be implemented during construction. For an existing structure, protection is your best option. 

In a 2018 paper published by engineers at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, the authors recommend the use of a penetrating solution as one option. They say, “Another method to protect concrete from deicing/anti-icing chemicals is the application of topical treatments such as penetrating sealers. Penetrating sealers can seal the concrete, hence reduce the ingress of water and chemicals.”In the spring, when the ice and snow have melted, many property owners will be greeted by the sight of blemished concrete where the surface has flaked off. As bad as that is, the unseen damage to the steel reinforcement has also likely begun and may not be noticed until it’s become expensive to repair. Before that happens, consider applying a waterproof barrier to your concrete structure.

parking garage maintenance

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.

Waterproofing

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

waterproof your concrete

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. There’s no need to close your parking facility during business hours in order to complete the installation. 

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Protect your parking garage

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.

facility cleaning and maintenance
2019 is almost over and 2020 is just around the corner. Here is the cleaning and maintenance you need to be thinking about when it comes to keeping your facilities in top shape throughout the next year.

January through March

During our long Wisconsin winters, property owners want to minimize unnecessary damage to their property and also keep drivers safe. It’s best for the longevity of your concrete if you simply remove snow with a plow. If you’re worried about a slick ramp, you can use sand. If you must use a deicing agent use a chemical, such as calcium magnesium acetate, that won’t damage the concrete or steel reinforcement.  
 
When the weather gets bad outside, it’s a perfect time to clean an polish your Indoor concrete floors. They are porous and need to be sealed to prevent stains and last longer.
 
Once March arrives, spring is just around the corner and you can begin to think about spring cleaning. It’s a great time to consider a complete service package for your property which includes sweeping, power washing, pavement striping, and concrete sealing. 
 
Now is the time to check signage for damage from corrosion or vandalism so that the signs can be cleaned or replaced if necessary. Inspect walkways, handrails, stairwells, and walking surfaces for hazards. If your stairwells and elevator enclosures are dirty, add them to the list of places to be cleaned.

April through June

The first thing to think about in April is a thorough sweeping of your entire facility to remove sand and dirt from parking and pedestrian areas. Then it’s time for deep cleaning and protecting with power washing and concrete sealing.
 
Pressure washing
Pressure washing gives instant aesthetic improvement to your property — a deep clean you can’t get any other way. It removes accumulated layers of dirt and grime, chemicals, and especially salt — even if it has been a long time since the last cleaning. Power washing can be used on pavement, walls, roofs, and equipment. 
 
Concrete Sealing
Sealed concrete lasts longer, looks better, and resists staining. Water penetration is damaging to roads and to masonry walls. To maximize the life of your structure, it is very important to keep water from penetrating it, which sealing does.
 
Finally, you will want to evaluate whether you need new pavement markings in time for summer traffic. Fresh, high quality pavement marking keeps vehicle and pedestrian traffic organized and moving smoothly which keeps everyone safer and happier. Removing dirt, oil, and grease with power washing will allow you to know if you need to re-stripe.

July through September

School’s out for summer which means it’s time for school (and park) improvements such as painting your playground for sports and other activities. Whether it is a basketball court, a kickball diamond, a hopscotch track, or a foursquare space, we can provide an expert layout.
 
Summer is also time for Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair, and dozens of other local festivals and activities. With all this fun comes extra food and oil spills. By August you may need your second pressure wash of the year. We also recommend ongoing maintenance like monthly sweeping and removal of graffiti from concrete and masonry surfaces.
 
By September, construction season is winding down. If you have a project nearing completion, schedule your post construction clean up early so you’re not left with potential hazards on your property.

October through December

Once we pass the fall equinox, it’s time to prepare for winter.
 
First remove leaves. Their chemical composition can  damage the surface of your concrete or asphalt. A professional sweeping will clear leaves and debris from places where water needs to flow freely. Then, inspect for damage to the concrete and perform repairs. Walk around all your snow plowing routes to ensure that they are unobstructed.
 
We recommend a second pressure washing in the fall. Seal the concrete if you didn’t do it in the spring. By the end of October, seal coating season is just about over.
 
Inspect lights for proper operation. A well-lit facility is safer for travel and feels safer to your guests, especially as the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Clean and replace lights as needed. Lastly, wash windows so that the maximum amount of that precious winter daylight can stream into your workspaces.

Commercial Floor Sealing

sealing concrete floors
The use of hard surface floors is on the rise in commercial establishments. Concrete has always been a popular choice for warehouses and garages. In addition, it is becoming trendy for lofts, office buildings, and shared workspaces. There are a lot of reasons for this, including economics and aesthetics. The concrete is already there so there is no additional expense from covering it with wood, carpet, or another material. Furthermore, when properly sealed, the natural, rustic beauty of the concrete is enhanced. 
 
Concrete is porous and so it needs to be sealed to prevent stains and increase its lifespan. There is a lot to know about properly sealing an interior concrete floor, which is why we believe it’s wise to hire a professional. It is demoralizing to spend all that time, energy, and money only to have bubbles, blotches, and dull spots. Because of the rough nature of the surface of concrete, sealer that is not applied properly won’t look good.
 
Before sealing your concrete floor, it must be prepared properly. If the concrete is rough, grinding, densifying, and polishing needs to be done. Next, all dust, dirt, and debris must be removed. Any spills, stains, or wax must be thoroughly cleaned with a product designed for concrete so that the sealant will adhere. During this phase, we can also dye the concrete to enhance the decor and design. Then the floor must be rinsed and allowed to dry completely. Incomplete drying will trap moisture under the sealant. 
 
After repairing cracks, the floor is ready to be sealed. It’s important to select the correct sealant. This varies based on whether or not the floor has been painted or stained or has had design textures applied during installation. The product must also be formulated for interior use. A different sealant is used for concrete warehouse floors than is used for concrete office floors. The interior space needs to be well ventilated during this part of the process and the floor needs to be allowed to dry completely before it’s ready for foot or vehicle traffic. 
 
Another thing to keep in mind is the age of the concrete floor. A relatively new floor requires a different type of preparation than an older one.

Floor Sealing Questions

When you contact us to have your concrete floor finished and sealed, we’ll have some questions for you.
  1. Where is the floor located (warehouse, office building, etc.)?
  2. How old is the floor?
  3. Is it painted or intentionally stained?
  4. Was the concrete finished with any type of design.
  5. Are there accidental stains which need to be removed?
  6. Has the floor been sealed before? If so, how long has it been since the previous application?
  7. How much traffic does the floor have to bear?
At Wahlen Works, we know which type of sealer and process you’ll need for your particular floor sealing project in order to increase it’s life and enhance it appearance. A properly finished and sealed concrete floor can last for years before it needs to be treated again. Contact us for an estimate today. https://www.wahlenworks.com/estimate/

Construction Site Clean Up

construction site clean up
All construction projects have the same thing in common…they leave behind a mess that somebody has to clean up. Construction site clean up is not generally the responsibility of the contractor. Once they’ve removed their equipment and tools, they’re done. But the site still needs to be made ready for occupancy — or in some situations ready for the next phase of the project. 
 
Debris needs to be removed and surfaces need to be made spotless. It’s a big to-do list. Without experience and attention to detail, the client’s first walk through can be a disappointment. 
 
This is where we come in. If you need a construction clean-up crew within the next few days or the next few weeks, Wahlen Works is your best choice. We are thorough, professional, and will quickly get your building clean, safe, and ready to occupy. In addition, we are flexible enough to work within your schedule and can be available on short notice. Best of all, we work quickly and carefully which gives you a greater return on your money spent. 
 
We offer the following construction site clean up services: 
  • 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
Whether it’s a new multi-story office building or a luxury condo development, we can get the job done. We never waiver in our commitment to excellence and your satisfaction is guaranteed.
parking lot maintenance
Wisconsin has nearly perfect weather in early fall. Daytime temps in the 70s mean that just about every activity is comfortable. Temperatures in the 50s at night make for great sleeping weather. These gorgeous conditions can almost convince us that it will last forever. But we know it won’t.  Whether or not there’s another polar vortex in our future this winter, we know it will get cold. There will be snow and ice. There will be salt and sand. It will be messy. It’s time to think about parking lot maintenance.
 
As difficult as it is to think about, now is the time to prepare for winter. To make it easier for you, we’ve developed this handy checklist of everything you need to address to protect your parking facility before Wisconsin does what Wisconsin does. 

Winter Preparation Checklist

The Autumn list for parking lot maintenance includes:
  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. Check your drainage so water doesn’t pool in the lot or run back to the foundation.
  4. 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.
  5. Walk around all your snow plowing routes to ensure that they are unobstructed.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
If you fail to winterize, your costs could easily shift from preventative (which is less expensive) to reparative (which is more expensive).
 
Start today! The average first frost in southeastern Wisconsin happens in October. That’s now and it means you want to schedule your service within the next few weeks. Before we perform any job for our Milwaukee clientele we map out a detailed plan to ensure that the work is done efficiently and expertly. Call us today at (414) 774-0884 to schedule your winterizing services.
 
professional power washing
We write a lot about power washing on our blog because it gives your property more bang for the buck than almost any other monetary investment. Also known as pressure washing, it gives you a deep clean you can’t get any other way. It removes accumulated layers of dirt and grime, no matter how long it has been since your property was last sparkling clean. Power washing can be used on pavement, walls, roofs, and equipment.
 
Deep, ground-in dirt can come from a variety of sources including natural elements, such as the weather, and the human presence on your property. This kind of dirt won’t disappear by itself. The longer you go without a deep clean, the more difficult it becomes to get it looking like new again.
 
Professional power washing is an important part of all property maintenance. If you’re a smaller business, you might be tempted to do it yourself, but that will likely be frustrating and a waste of time. If you’re a larger business it’s easy to forget to schedule this type of routine maintenance. But you don’t want to be “that” business: the one with the dingy exterior that stands out in a bad way. 
 
In our travels around greater Milwaukee, we’ve observed 8 businesses that need more pressure washing than they currently have scheduled.
  1. Warehouses. We know that warehouses are places where work happens which is why regular power washing of walkways, loading docks, and entryways should be a given. On top of that, there is the cleaning that needs to be done in between tenants. This should include pre-treating stains and spills, removing oil and grease, and sealing the concrete. 
  1. Retail centers and shopping malls. Since these facilities welcome paying guests year-round, we are always surprised when we see that exterior cleaning has been neglected. Shopping centers require parking lot maintenance that includes frequent pavement cleaning. 
  1. Restaurants and hotels. If guests notice that exterior areas have been allowed to get dirty, what impression will that give them of the interior areas? The entrance, walkways, and parking lots are the most obvious place to start, but don’t forget that dirty dumpster area. A professional power wash will give you the satisfaction of cleanliness and keep your guests’ minds on their delicious meal or their good night’s rest. 
  1. Entertainment complexes. The remnants of people having a good time — such as peanut shells, gum, and anything with sugar in it — usually end up on the grounds outside the venue. After a few weeks of baking in the sun, only a professional power washer will be able to remove them completely.
  1. Office buildings. Most property managers know that their office buildings need regular pressure washing. Still, it’s surprising how long cigarette butts, empty beverage containers, spider webs, and last autumn’s leaves can stay put. For heavily trafficked areas, power washing should be done monthly.
  1. Apartment complexes. There are so many places in a residential community that can and do get dirty. Parking areas, stairways, and common areas are easily littered. If left too long, residential dirt has a compound effect because it’s human nature to assume that if other people are lazy with litter, you can be too. When your business is to attract renters, you want your property looking like new.
  1. Trucking centers. Most logistics centers and truck fleets are housed outdoors where they are subject to the whims of the weather. In these cases, the trucks need regular power washing as much as the facility does.
  1. Gas stations. Most modern gas stations also have a decent sized convenience store that serves snacks, soda, and fried foods which are frequently spilled on the way to the car. Then there is the oil from the constant vehicle traffic. And if the station has a car wash, there is potential for even more dirt to accumulate on the property. Regular professional cleaning is the answer here too. Your customers will notice.
Professional power washing must be frequent, thorough — and most of all — scheduled. Give us a call to set up your regular pressure washing services today. We’ll work around your schedule so that your business isn’t interrupted. And you’ll be very proud of your property.

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