Knowing your Commercial Parking Lot
There are various types of parking areas at commercial properties, ranging from multi-story parking structures to gravel parking pads.
Brick Parking Areas
Brick is also a method for finishing parking areas or other exterior areas, such as walkways. However, it requires special engineering and design to help control drainage. When water-draining pavers or permeable pavers are installed, the ground under the pavers can be designed to be the drainage plan, instead of adding storm sewers or catch basins. These pavers may also be installed to help the building attain energy use awards or certifications.
Asphalt Parking Lots
Alligatoring in asphalt parking area
Asphalt is a popular and cost-effective method of paving parking areas. Asphalt is comprised of both large and small aggregate and a bitumen binding material. Bitumen is a petroleum-based product, so the cost can fluctuate with the price of oil.
It is essential for drainage elements in parking areas to be thoughtfully designed, installed, and maintained to avoid flooding during heavy rains.
Protection Features: Bollards and Parking Logs
A bollard is a short post that diverts vehicle traffic way from a building, exterior structural components, and pedestrian walkways. Bollards should be solid and bright colored for visibility. These are important safety features used to prevent damage to building features, such as garbage corrals, landscaping, gas meters, etc., as well a way to direct vehicles to designated parking zones.
Gravel Parking Area
Gravel or crushed aggregate may be the most affordable type of parking area. The rock consists of crushed limestone, cinders, recycled concrete, and/or recycled asphalt. These are spread to an even layer and graded to provide drainage.
One of the disadvantages of gravel is the constant maintenance due to gravel displacement by vehicle traffic, erosion, water damage, or other factors.
Concrete Parking Areas
Concrete is exothermic, which means that it creates heat during the curing/hardening process. During this process, concrete is prone to cracking, so sawn or tooled control joints (also referred to as contraction joints) are added to slabs to minimize random cracking, or, in other words, to “control” the cracking to pre-determined locations.
Most commercial parking areas are composed of concrete, asphalt, or a combination of both. Brick and other materials are less common. The inspector will report on the condition of the entire area, including cracking, spalling, potholes, and other signs of deterioration. They will also take inventory of any safety features, such as paint, bollards, and parking logs. This information is important for building safety.