Few buildings experience more exterior wear and tear than commercial facilities and entities, including office buildings, parking structures, sidewalks, industrial equipment, and more. From dirt and debris to grease and graffiti, commercial facilities require special care to keep them looking nice for the many people who use them each year.
Learn more about the benefits of commercial pressure washing and why to choose Wahlen Works’ high-quality pressure washing services.
What are the benefits of commercial pressure washing?
1. Increase the curb appeal and value of your building.
A dirty and unkempt building will leave a negative impression on all who enter your facility. This could also negatively impact future business, as people who would consider using your building may decide to opt for a cleaner facility elsewhere. Regularly scheduled pressure washing will eliminate this possibility and ensure your building has a good reputation and is viewed in a positive light.
2. Save yourself time and money.
When regular maintenance is performed on a building in the short term, you are saving yourself both money and time in the long run. Commercial buildings get much more use than residential properties, and people tend to not treat commercial buildings as nicely as they do their own houses.
If you don’t keep up with cleaning your commercial facilities, they can get excessively rundown—and cost you much more to repair. A great example? In scheduling regular power washing sessions, you’ll save money on other recurring maintenance costs, like not having to repaint the building’s exterior as often.
Regular power washing will also allow you to more easily inspect and assess any other potential damage or repairs by being able to see each element (siding, windows, walkways) more clearly. Commercial power washing should also include the roof, in order to better repel heat and water, as well as prevent roofing material decay.
3. Improve building hygiene.
Say goodbye to nasty dirt, mold, and bacteria! Particularly with mold, don’t give black mold an opportunity to grow at its leisure on the outside of your facilities. Mold and spores release toxins that contribute to building decay—dissolving materials over time.
Against power washing, however, black mold and other dirt and grime don’t stand a chance, extending the life expectancy of your building. It also guarantees that less contamination, brought into your building unknowingly by employees and customers alike, occurs—keeping everyone healthier and happier.
4. Don’t forget the sidewalks!
Your building itself is one thing, but what about the sidewalks outside of it and leading into it? Sidewalks can get disgusting over time—everything from old, smushed gum to garbage stains and general dirt. A clean facility will also only get you so far if the sidewalks outside of it are so gross that people would rather avoid your building altogether. Commercial pressure washing your sidewalks will remove even deeply set-in stains and leave them looking as good as new.
How Wahlen Works can help
It all started with pressure washing for us—over 50 years ago. Here at Wahlen Works, we have the knowledge and experience to offer high-quality commercial pressure washing services for the following:
- Industrial complexes
- Business storefronts, entryways, and walkways
- Signage and awnings
- Gutters and downspouts
- Truck and trailer fleets
- Roadways and ramps
- Parking lots
- Outdoor restaurants (including commercial patios and decks)
- Valet and foyer areas
- Government buildings
- Delivery truck bays
- Industrial equipment
We use hot water pressure washing units and have experience in using a variety of different chemicals to obtain the best results. The environmental impact of the work that we do is always at the forefront of our minds, which is why we have the equipment to recover wastewater and other measures to minimize said impact.
Are you interested in Wahlen Works’ pressure washing services? Get a free quote for your commercial facilities today!
Unless you live in the Historic Third Ward, when you visit you’ll need a place to park your car. It’s not the first thing you’re likely to think about — and you probably won’t — unless something unpleasant catches your attention.
It’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen in the parking facilities and on the sidewalks we maintain. In the Third Ward, you’re surrounded by beautiful historic structures that have been reimagined for the 21st century. We love the stories of these buildings and thoroughly enjoy our part in preserving their facilities. Let us tell you about some of the properties we serve.
The Dye House
In September 1922, a small announcement appeared at the bottom page 93 in “The Underwear & Hosiery Review”. It said, “The Phoenix Hosiery Co., of Milwaukee, will start work soon on a new addition at Buffalo and Milwaukee Streets to cost $600,000. The building will be eight stories high and is expected to be completed about the first of the year.”
Nearly 100 years later, the P.H. Dye House is still the Third Ward’s tallest building, but has recently been completely renovated as an office and retail space that marries the industrial design of its past with the creative vision of its future.
The historic landmark is called the “Dye House” because it’s the factory where Phoenix Hosiery employees dyed the high-end silk stockings that were becoming so popular during the “Jazz Age”. The concrete building, designed by Lockwood and Greene Co,” was listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1984.
In fact, Milwaukee’s Third Ward was once well-known for its factories. Roughly 18 of the 70 buildings in the National Register of Historic Places were used for manufacturing at one time or another. Today, these beautiful and well preserved buildings are home to luxury apartments, live-work spaces, restaurants, and office spaces for a variety of eclectic tenants.
The Phoenix Building
Several of those factories belonged to Phoenix Hosiery, formerly Phoenix Knitting Works. It was one of Milwaukee’s most prosperous companies in the early 20th century. In addition to the Dye House, the company eventually had six locations in Milwaukee and three in the Third Ward. The Phoenix Building, a 7-story brick structure located at 219 N. Milwaukee St., was known as building #4 when it was completed in 1917.
The Phoenix Building property record at the Wisconsin Historical Society says, “The dye and wash area was in the basement, printing, stock and shipping on the first floor, packing on the second and knitting on the floors above…Since 1956 this building has been used by several firms for offices, warehouses and light manufacturing.”
The Phoenix building is currently home to ad agencies, law firms, investment companies, and the Historic Third Ward Association. It also boasts an amazing collection of early 20th century vintage ads for women’s hosiery as an homage to the building’s past.
The Marine Terminal
The Marine Terminal Building has been occupied by a wide variety of tenants over the years, including Herb Brumder who manufactured his Porto-Power hydraulic “workshop on wheels” on the second floor in the 1930s. He may have been there for the “three freight elevators, the heavy load capacity of its floors, its fireproof construction and its location near downtown.”
The building was designed by Albert Hecht and completed in 1918. It was a sought after warehouse location because it allowed access to the lake with only one bridge opening. Today it houses 83 luxury riverfront condominiums with heated underground parking, access to all the Third Ward offers, and fantastic views.
The Mackie Building
To walk past the Mackie Building is to step back 140 years in time. It has a fascinating history as the first Chamber of Commerce in Milwaukee. The Exchange Room “contained the first trading pit ever constructed. The pit was designed by the Chamber’s secretary, William J. Langston, and was widely copied by other grain exchanges.” After the Chamber moved out in the 1930s, other tenants moved in and the interior was renovated to keep up with the times. In 1981, the Landmarks Commission noted that “the exterior of the building is essentially as it was in 1880.” (source)
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and is currently home to the Mackie Flats Apartments. The apartments take up the top three floors replacing the 100-year old office buildings that used to be there. Residents are within walking distance to all the attractions of the Third Ward. As they step outside, they can glance up at the renovated clock tower where it still says “Chamber of Commerce”, take a few steps to catch the streetcar, or stroll leisurely to their destination.
Historic Third Ward Parking
Visitors come to the Historic Third Ward to work and to play. The 10-square block area is home to more than 500 businesses and people come year round for dining, nightlife, shopping, salons, healthcare, galleries, the performing arts, and events. The Henry W. Maier Festival Park is there, along with the Italian Community Center, the Milwaukee Public Market, and the Third Ward Riverwalk.
The historic warehouse vibe is still alive and well, only now instead of needing room for wagons, visitors need places to put their cars. They can park in the Historic Third Ward parking structures on Milwaukee Street and Chicago Street.
When you visit the Third Ward, you probably don’t think much about the parking or sidewalks and we think that’s a great thing. We keep the parking facilities and sometimes the sidewalks of these historic buildings immaculate so that visitors and residents are only aware of the beauty and history of their surroundings. We love that job!
In 2020, the average parking structure cost about $25,000 per space to build or about $65 per square foot. Office buildings in Milwaukee are required to have one parking space “for each 500 sq. ft. of the first 2,000 sq. ft. of gross floor area; one for each 1,000 sq. of gross floor area in excess of 2,000 sq. ft.” (source)
That means that if your building is 50,000 square feet you’ll need at least 52 parking spaces and your new parking structure will cost about $1.3M by the time you complete the project. You certainly don’t want to have to redo anything.
The building code of Milwaukee has more than 2,000 words in it dedicated to parking and paved areas. Buried in those pages are some obscure requirements, such as:
- The surface of all lots, spaces and areas regulated in this section shall be maintained free of holes and ruts, which may accumulate standing water.
- All storm water which is generated from a newly paved or repaved area of more than 1,000 square feet…shall be disposed of within the lot lines through a sewer, permeable paving, natural absorption or combination thereof without discharging to adjacent private or public property not specifically designed for this purpose.
- Plans for the paving of a parking lot shall indicate existing and paved areas, distance of paved areas to lot lines, finished grade elevations, swales, buildings, wheel guards and barriers, curbs, curb cuts, location of drains and catch basins, size and arrangement of parking spaces and width of aisles and driveways.
You can future-proof your parking structure and avoid expensive mistakes on parking construction projects by consulting a maintenance expert before beginning work. Here are four things to consider.
Pressure washing companies charge extra to carry water in. For large parking structures this can be prohibitively expensive. You want to know much water capacity is needed to pressure wash your entire facility using your own water sources. Planning ahead for the right water supply will save a lot of money in the long run.
Do you know what the regulations are for wastewater recovery in your area, and how much water will need some place to go during and after a cleaning? If wastewater needs to be removed or stored and filtered before being released into the sewage system, you’ll need a plan for that. You’ll also want to have the most environmentally friendly features factored in from the beginning.
Sealing your concrete can double its life and significantly reduce your repair costs. But not all concrete sealers are alike. The best ones cost more money and that cost is multiplied by the number of square feet in your garage. But that’s only one side of the equation. You don’t want to make a decision that will cost less up front only to see that savings wiped out by larger costs down the road. A top of the line, 100% solids, silane sealer should be on your short list of must-haves.
Striping and Pavement Marking
In addition to meeting the requirements of the building code, proper pavement markings need to be planned in advance. This will include vehicle parking, pedestrian walking spaces, directional driving arrows, entrance and exit signs, handicapped parking spaces, loading and unloading areas, and fire lane areas. In some instances, such as handicapped spaces and fire lanes, there must also be both marking on the pavement and on upright signs.
We are Milwaukee’s concrete experts. Call us for a consultation before you hire architects and contractors and we’ll make sure you know what you need to consider before breaking ground on your new parking structure.
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.
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.
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.
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.