A well-designed and constructed parking lot can last anywhere between 20 and 30 years with proper care. Unfortunately, even the highest quality asphalt pavement isn’t entirely invincible, though, and it can be damaged by harsh wear and tear. Winter weather patterns and driving habits are particularly hard on asphalt parking lots with the cold climates, heavy snowfalls, snow removal methods, and oftentimes corrosive de-icing agents that are used.
By all intents and purposes, owning and managing a commercial parking lot requires a lot of hard work, attention to detail, and accountability. Identifying potentially damaging elements as early on in the game as possible is essential to extending the lifespan of your asphalt pavement
As all professional asphalt paving contractors know, these are the six most damaging elements that can cause your commercial asphalt parking lot to breakdown over time.
Harsh Weather Conditions
Whether it’s the heavy torrential downpours we often see in the spring and early summer months or the dreaded first snowfall of winter, harsh weather conditions can do a number on your asphalt pavement, especially if it’s not protected by sealcoating. Over time, runoff water, standing water snow, ice, hail, and sleet can erode the asphalt and penetrate its surface, eventually causing potentially severe internal structural damage. Even constant exposure to strong UV rays from the sun can slowly cause the asphalt to breakdown as time goes on.
On top of that, many of the methods used to melt ice and remove snow can also be harmful. These include de-icing agents that usually consist of toxic chemicals and even snow removal tools like shovels and plows with sharp edges that continuously scrape against the pavement.
Drastic Temperature Changes
In addition to harsh weather conditions, drastic temperature changes from hot to cold and vice versa can also damage your asphalt pavement over time. Colder temperatures cause the asphalt to contract which leads to increased friction between the aggregates. Throughout the winter months, the more the ground freezes, the higher the chances are of cracking both below and on the surface of the pavement. With all of the snow and ice melting, this causes even bigger problems as water begins to penetrate the surface of the asphalt, further expanding the cracks. Another problem is that once that water penetrates the surface of the asphalt, the freezing temperatures may cause it to freeze. When this happens, the cold water forces the ground to heave, which leads to more cracking and an uneven pavement.
Conversely, asphalt absorbs heat from the sun as well. An overabundance of heat can actually breakdown the binding agent in the asphalt, causing it to crack. This allows water and other debris to seep in, which further expands the cracks below the surface. Hot water isn’t quite as rapidly damaging is as cold or frozen water, but it can still erode and degrade the asphalt from within over long periods of time.
Heavy Vehicular Weight
If the structural integrity of your asphalt parking lot has already been compromised by all of the abovementioned elements, then adding heavy vehicular weight onto it will only worsen the problem. Constant exposure to heavy vehicular weight and pressure like large trucks, 4x4s, SUVs, tractor trailers, and large vans can all cause the asphalt to crumble from top to bottom. Preliminary cracking caused by other external elements will eventually evolve into potholes as large chunks of asphalt continue to break off under the weight and pressure of large vehicles and machinery—a problem that plagues many large commercial parking lots.
While it’s easy to fix these structural pavement issues in the summer when the weather is more agreeable, it’s nearly impossible to do so in the winter with the freezing temperatures, ice, and snow on the ground. That’s why regular commercial asphalt parking lot maintenance is necessary to keep your pavement in tiptop shape for a very long time.
Pedestrian foot traffic combined with usage from heavy vehicles, harsh weather conditions, as well as people’s rough driving habits can all impact the longevity and well being of your commercial asphalt parking lot. Think about how many people use your parking lot daily. Whether it’s for commercial or industrial purposes or even if they’re simply walking across your parking lot as a shortcut to reach the other side of the street, constant usage as well as the type of usage matters.
Some drivers are a lot more careless than others and might make sharp turns around corners or speed through your parking lot when no one else is around. Oftentimes, motorists even ignore stop signs, speed limits, and traffic calming speed humps because they’re too impatient. Driving too forcefully and quickly in limited spaces can cause tire friction which leads to skid marks and dips over time. Unfortunately, you can’t change people’s driving habits, but you can invest in keeping your parking lot safe and clean for everyone to use.
Design and Construction Flaws
If the design of your asphalt parking lot is flawed to begin with, then the construction and final product will also be problematic. High-quality and long-lasting asphalt parking lots need a strong foundation. Without it, your pavement and investment will begin to crumble quickly. The type of materials and techniques used to design and construct a high-quality and reliable asphalt parking lot are absolutely essential to its longevity. Make sure you hire a professional paving contractor in your area to ensure the job is done right the first time.
Inadequate or Damaged Drainage System
Your drainage system is a key component to extending the lifespan of your asphalt parking lot. If your drainage system isn’t working properly or is poorly designed from the get-go, then all of the runoff water from rain or melted snow won’t have anywhere to go. When that happens, the excess water will begin to pool. The more standing water that’s collected on your asphalt pavement, the more it will erode and crack over time, causing both external and internal damages.
Sure-Seal Pavement Maintenance Inc. has been the leading pavement installation and repair contractor in Toronto and the GTA for over 20 years. All our materials, labour, and services are backed by our comprehensive seven-year warranty. Contact us today to learn more.