The Essentials Of Parking Lot Maintenance

Parking lot maintenance is frequently overlooked in favor of general building maintenance. However, a parking lot must be well-maintained to contribute functionality, aesthetics, accessibility, safety, and branding to your business. 

From surface preservation tips to working with parking lot maintenance companies, this post discusses what it takes to keep your parking lot presentable.

What is parking lot maintenance?

Parking lot maintenance is the process of monitoring, maintaining, and repairing your parking lot. If done well, your lot will remain in excellent condition — both aesthetically and functionally — at the lowest possible cost. 

Parking lots endure a lot of wear and tear. Exposure to weather, traffic, and heavy machinery leaves parking lots vulnerable to damage and deterioration.

Start with a solid foundation, perform preventive maintenance, and find and fix damage and signs of deterioration quickly, and your lot will serve you and your customers for a long time.

How do you maintain a parking lot?

If you own a business or are responsible for property containing one, you must know the basics of parking lot maintenance. Even if you outsource your parking lot maintenance services to a specialist, you must still have a plan and budget to engage the right professionals to get the right work done when needed.

A strong foundation

A strong foundation in the form of a well-designed and built lot is one of the best investments you can make in your parking lot maintenance plan. Four main components make up that solid foundation.

Materials 

The most common choices for parking lot surfaces are either asphalt or concrete, with each material having its own pros and cons

  • Asphalt pavement is quicker to lay and sets faster than concrete, but it requires more maintenance after that. 
  • Concrete is more time-consuming and costly to install but holds up better over time.

Choose your surface based on budget, timing, exposure to stressors like traffic and weather, and your ability for ongoing upkeep. 

Parking lot paving (Image source)

Proper Drainage

When rainwater does not drain quickly from your parking lot, it can pool and cause damage to the surface of your lot. The holes and cracks formed by standing water can lead to a number of problems. 

  • Shortening the lifespan of the pavement
  • Increasing the risk of trips and falls
  • Breeding unsanitary conditions (especially in underground parking areas)
  • Causing damage to vehicles and surrounding infrastructure  

There are several ways to avoid drainage problems. A knowledgeable professional can build your lot with the correct sloping and internal drainage systems. These are important preventive measures. Drainage can be corrected for existing lots but could be costly for large parking areas. 

Laying drainage channels under a parking lot (Image source)

Striping and Traffic Management

Striping refers to the markings on the surface of a parking lot. Along with signage, they provide direction to organize traffic flow, indicate accessible parking spaces, and outline parking spots. Two things are key for pavement markings to be effective and durable: suitable materials and proper application.

Applying parking lot stripes (Image source)

There are several types of traffic paint available but the most commonly used paint is water-based acrylic. Water-based acrylic striping paints provide excellent durability, high brightness, and good visibility. They are also environmentally friendly.

Professional line striping contractors typically perform parking lot striping, and the paint is best applied when in temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (around 7 Celsius) and above.

Landscaping

Landscaping is an important consideration when designing a long-lasting parking lot. Well-placed trees and shrubs can reinforce traffic directions, divert water, and protect the lot from excessive heat and wear from harsh weather.

Regular maintenance 

A process to trigger regular upkeep activities will pay off in the long run. Many organizations use tools like a CMMS to trigger reminders. Whatever method you use, the more consistently the following are performed, the better.

Sealcoating

Whether asphalt or concrete, treating the surface of your lot with a sealant (seal coating) helps preserve the resilience of the pavement and minimizes the effects of continuous freeze-thaw cycles. 

Parking lot sealcoating (Image source

Perform sealcoating every couple of years. It involves applying a thin liquid layer over the paved surface to protect it from damage. 

However, sealcoating is a preventive measure. It only helps to prevent future cracks from occurring, while existing cracks or other repairs require different solutions, such as asphalt repair or crack filling. 

Some popular sealant brands are: 

Be sure to do your due diligence before choosing a brand to ensure it fits your use case.

Sweeping, cleaning, and snow removal

Regular cleaning is essential for many reasons. It removes debris and reveals areas where repairs are needed. It keeps your lot safe and clear of obstructions for drivers. Keeping your parking lot clean helps ensure that it is used correctly and to its full capacity. It also prevents the buildup of elements that can quicken deterioration.

Last but not least, a tidy lot gives the impression that the business and surrounding property are well cared for and maintained. And this can only reflect positively on your business.

Security

To keep the area as secure as possible, some options to explore are:

  • Ample lighting: bright illumination that minimizes shadows and dark areas, and frequent checks for burnt-out lighting.
  • Staffed access control measures: the traditional security arrangement using security personnel or guard dogs.
  • Automated surveillance measures: CCTV, voice-activated security system (VASS), and motion detectors. 

Research from the National Institute of Justice shows that violent crime is more likely to occur in parking facilities than in other commercial spaces. Visitors will not come to your business or property if they feel it is unsafe. 

Improving parking lot security (Image source)

Research various parking lot security methods for more resources on preventing crime in parking lots.

Regular Inspections

The nature of the parking lot surface means that damage repairs are extremely time sensitive. Get out there regularly to check the parking lot conditions and stay aware of cleaning or other work that needs to be done. The sooner you notice damage to your parking lot, the sooner you can repair it and prevent further deterioration. 

Repair damage

Damage will eventually occur, and you must address it immediately to keep your parking lot in good shape. Deferred maintenance can be a slippery slope, allowing the elements to permeate the pavement and accelerate deterioration. 

Here are the most common repairs you will need to be prepared to make.

Filling potholes and sealing cracks 

When water seeps into even the tiniest cracks, it accelerates the breakdown of the pavement. In colder months, freeze-thaw cycles cause the water in cracks to freeze and expand, resulting in a faster breakdown of your lot’s surface. 

That’s not the only reason to fill potholes and cracks at their first signs. Small-scale sealing (or crack filling) is also far easier and more effective than filling a large pothole. This kind of patching can prevent the large potholes from developing in the first place.

Removal of oil and gas drippings

Corrosive chemicals that drip from leaky engines can cause significant and permanent damage. They can break down the material that holds asphalt and concrete together, leading to rapid deterioration. Remove these as soon as you see them.

Eventual repaving

Depending on traffic and other factors such as weather, an adequately paved and maintained concrete or asphalt parking lot should last between 20 and 30 years. Within that time, ongoing pavement maintenance activities will primarily consist of cleaning and removing snow and oil deposits. 

This regular maintenance will pay off in the long run by keeping resurfacing and other major parking lot repairs at bay. The more consistently and thoroughly you perform parking lot maintenance, the better. Even if you outsource much of the work, ensuring that reminders are triggered, and maintenance history is maintained is essential and can be achieved through software like a CMMS.

Building Maintenance Checklist

Use this helpful template as a starting point for your building maintenance program.

What are the long-term costs of parking lot maintenance?

The costs of all these maintenance activities can add up. But as with any other costly asset, spending a little on maintenance throughout its life can delay paying a lot for replacement and repaving. 

It may seem like a lot to reseal your lot at the cost of $0.20 per square foot after just three winters, but the cost of not doing so is to repave a lot earlier than expected.

HomeAdvisor says the total cost for pavinga parking lot varies drastically based on size. Owners can expect to spend anywhere from $10,000 for a 10-car space spanning 4,000 square feet to $700,000 for a 300-car area covering 100,000 square feet. Therefore, it makes economic sense to protect this investment. 

Who performs parking lot maintenance? 

If you are a general maintenance technician, parking lot repair or maintenance duties may be included in your day-to-day work. Or, if you are a small business or homeowner, you may seek the years of experience found with specialized parking lot maintenance vendors.

Parking lot maintenance workers and careers

A more specialized parking lot maintenance professional may focus on: 

  • Grading/paving: Grading and paving crew members operate heavy machinery and perform routine concrete repair work.
  • Mechanics: Mechanics keep paving equipment in good working order.
  • Parking lot stripers: Striping crews measure and paint lines and signs on finished asphalt parking lots, keeping them clear and legible.

There are certifications available for this type of work. Two notable certification programs specialize in parking lot maintenance:

  1. Certified Administrator of Public Parking: Offered by the International Parking and Mobility Institute (IPMI), an organization dedicated to advancing all professions involved in parking and transportation. 
  2. Certified Parking Professional: The National Parking Association (NPA) offers the CPP program, which helps candidates prove their knowledge of several relevant areas, including maintenance, operations, design, safety, loss prevention, human resources, and equipment.

Parking lot maintenance companies

Many business and property owners do not have the specialized expertise and equipment to complete parking lot maintenance and repairs themselves. If you are reading this post, there is a good chance that you are one of them. 

Luckily, there are many options for those who must outsource their parking lot maintenance. The US parking lot and garage industry was estimated at $9.1 billion in 2021. If you are in this boat, read on. We will cover more about the process of outsourcing parking lot maintenance in the next section.

How do you find a parking lot maintenance vendor?

Entrusting your parking lot to a maintenance company is no minor decision. The importance of keeping the lot in good condition, along with the associated expense, means that finding a suitable partner is critical. Here are some key things to look for when choosing a parking lot maintenance company. 

Local knowledge and experience

Knowing how long a company has been in business will tell you a lot. If they have maintained a successful operation for decades, you can assume they have a certain amount of happy customers that keep returning and referring others to the business. 

In addition, being local is even better. Not only will they have a greater understanding of how local conditions such as weather might impact maintenance, but they will also have a vested interest in creating a good relationship with their local customers. 

Scheduling and organization

You will likely want to have some input on when your parking lot repairs and maintenance are performed. Look for vendors that have transparent scheduling practices. They should be able to tell you how they handle and schedule maintenance requests at all hours to avoid impacts on your customers.

Pricing

Usually, companies will provide free quotes on initial service requests. By comparing quotes from various vendors, you can get an idea of how pricing stacks up across your options. Make sure to consider all levels of service the company provides as some of the most expensive options may provide more in terms of customer support and organized business operations. How much of that you are willing to pay for will depend on your company’s needs and resources.

Reputation

While many companies post positive testimonials from their customers on their websites, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to hear unfiltered reviews. Many websites can help you here. 

Online reviews

Sites like Thomasnet.com, Angie’s List, and Yelp provide customer ratings and reviews and can be filtered based on the services you need.

Referrals

Asking other local business owners and property managers in your network about their experiences with a particular paving contractor will provide an unvarnished assessment from someone you trust who has been in your shoes.

Google searching or social media

Sites like Facebook or LinkedIn can provide more insights on the way the vendor runs their business. 

If a company has been in business for a while, you should be able to find information using one of these approaches. Each of them will uncover helpful information and give you peace of mind, knowing that you have done your due diligence to find the right partner.

Why is parking lot maintenance necessary?

Parking lots are one of the most essential yet overlooked assets any business can have. A well-maintained parking lot will ensure your business is safe and accessible to patrons and staff. Functionally, parking areas are the gateway into your business, and you want them to be useable at all times. 

Not only that, but the appearance of your parking lot directly reflects on your business. It creates curb appeal, contributes to brand image, and leaves a lasting first impression. 

How can a CMMS help with parking lot maintenance?

A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is a software that helps companies organize all maintenance work, manage maintenance vendors, track MRO inventory, and stay on top of all maintenance costs

Parking lot maintenance is a perfect example of how businesses in a variety of industries can make use of a CMMS to help stay on top of their physical assets. Whether you are doing the work yourself, or partnering with a service provider, a CMMS can:

  • Organize and document all maintenance tasks related to your parking lot maintenance
  • Enable convenient communications and work order requests
  • Manage your maintenance calendar and work assignments
  • Track work progress and costs
  • Help track and manage vendor activities and costs for outsourced work

In addition, a CMMS like Limble that was built for ease of use, mobility, and seamless communication will make managing parking lot maintenance simple for those who might not be in the maintenance field to begin with. You can use the software to share tasks and work instructions with your maintenance vendors and track work progress, compliance, and costs across multiple contractors. 

Conclusion

While parking lots are not a factor that will make or break a business, it doesn’t mean they should be an afterthought. When the functionality of a parking lot degrades enough, people will take notice. The good news is that by taking a few steps to proactively protect and maintain your parking lot, it should have a good long life. 

If you want to see how Limble CMMS can help you manage parking lot maintenance and contractors, you can:

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