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Parking Lot Paving: Why It Fails and Ways to Repair It

Around this time of year, business owners and property managers turn their eyes toward their parking lots. Asphalt paving takes a beating in winter, and any damage will only worsen come spring rains and summer heat. Asphalt paving has a 20- to 30-year lifespan under the right conditions. If yours looks like it is failing or showing signs of serious wear, the causes could be one of (or a combination of) any of the following.

Water, one of nature’s most destructive forces. Kansas City paving and sealing companies see and repair a lot of failed asphalt paving. Regardless of the pavement’s age, cracks, use, etc., water is often responsible for shortening its lifespan. Your parking lot paving company can use a well-compacted base—one that allows water to pass through but not pool beneath the surface, is meant to withstand extreme summer and winter temperatures, and can withstand predicted traffic load. However, if asphalt paving isn’t routinely sealed and maintained, water will cause it to fail no matter what.

Insufficient depth to support traffic loads. The depth of any parking lot paving has to be sufficient for the types of vehicles it’s meant to support. Logically, parking lots with car traffic can have a thinner depth of asphalt paving than those intended for heavy truck traffic. When heavy commercial trucks drive on asphalt paving too thin, eventually ruts and cracks appear, which allow water to seep through and cause failure.

Petroleum-based products left to sit on asphalt paving. There are bound to be spills from petroleum-based products, like oil and gas, on any parking lot surface. Leaving these spills gives them the chance to work on dissolving the cement that bonds the asphalt’s aggregates. Once that bond is gone, the asphalt is loose, like gravel, and cracks and potholes appear. Once again, water easily enters the surface and drains into the subgrade, compromising the parking lot.

A weak subgrade. The subgrade sits below the asphalt and helps it support wheel loads from traffic. If the subgrade is weak, weight from traffic above will cause it to shift and move the asphalt paving along with it. This leads to cracks, which are an opening for water and its damaging effects.

Improper compaction, lack of repair and maintenance, weak subgrade and poor construction. All of these reasons can be avoided by choosing an experienced and reputable parking lot paving company. McConnell & Associates conducts detailed inspections and follows strict quality control procedures during construction to avoid asphalt failure. Whether your parking lot was installed by us or another company, our team provides asphalt service, repair, maintenance and replacement across the Midwest, helping business owners and property managers extract the longest lifespan and most value.

Lack of ongoing maintenance and repairs. Asphalt surfaces can last two to three decades, but only if they’re correctly installed, repaired quickly when needed and maintained annually. Left unchecked, unrepaired and without regular sealcoating, asphalt parking lots will suffer significant damage that dramatically shortens their lifespans. Even small cracks require quick repair to avoid growing into bigger cracks that let in water and result in failure.

Your Options for Fixing Parking Lot Paving

Too many asphalt parking lots’ small cracks and ruts unnecessarily turn into eyesores and expensive replacements because they’re not repaired early on. By paying attention to your pavement’s condition and scheduling routine maintenance, replacing your lot can be put off for many years. Options for repairing parking lot paving include the following.

Hot rubber crack sealing. This protects your pavement by preventing water from flowing into the crack and disrupting the base and soil beneath the asphalt. Cracks are sealed by filling them prior to sealcoating. Crack sealing is a necessary part of every good preventative maintenance program and should be performed every year.

Asphalt sealcoating. Sealcoating should be done every two to four years, depending on use and condition of the parking lot or surface. Sealcoating, performed after any needed crack filling, gives asphalt a fresh look, and protects the underneath layers. A new coat of sealant on the surface acts as a protective layer against weather, the sun and spills.

An overlay. If crack sealing and sealcoating aren’t sufficient to repair damage, then a new 1 ½- to 2-inch layer of asphalt can be overlaid on existing surfaces. An overlay adds a decade or more to the asphalt’s lifespan at a fraction of the cost of a total asphalt replacement. We recommend and use Tack-Coat for adhering the new layer to the old layer of asphalt. Cracks and potholes must be repaired before adding an overlay.

Milling. Milling removes the parking lot’s asphalt surface (up to 1 ½ inches). Then, it’s replaced with new asphalt or reclaimed asphalt from the milling process. Though more expensive than crack sealing, sealcoating and overlaying, milling is an affordable option when it’s necessary to keep the same height for proper drainage or other reasons. Milling is an economical and environmentally-conscious option.

Asphalt Replacement is in Order When Damage is Beyond Repair.

Asphalt replacement. When the above aren’t sufficient to repair your parking lot, replacement is necessary. Replacing a parking lot is a financial investment and requires professional planning and installation to minimize disruptions and ensure longevity. When an asphalt parking lot hits its end of life OR a quarter to a third of it requires milling or overlaying, replacement is recommended and will last another 20 to 30 years with proper maintenance.

McConnell & Associates provides asphalt service, repair, maintenance and replacement across the Midwest and helps our customers extract the most value from their investments. Between our services and maintenance programs, you can avoid failures and replacement for decades.