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What You Need to Know about Your Parking Lot Paving Project

When your business or company has to proceed with a commercial maintenance project like paving a parking lot, it’s critical that you equip yourself with as much knowledge as you can so that you can make as educated of a decision as possible in order to move forward. Additionally, it’s important to remember that whether you’re installing a new asphalt parking lot or repaving an existing one, it’s going to be an investment. Because of this, you want to ensure that it’s done professionally and correctly the first time.

One major decision you’ll make for your business is what kind of parking lot you want for your patrons. Although you have options like gravel or concrete, asphalt is arguably the best choice for parking lot paving because of its versatility, cost, safety and longevity. When compared to concrete, asphalt parking lots cost less to install and repair, require less for installation, last nearly as long, are better for the environment, and look equally as professional as their counterparts. Additionally, asphalt performs better than concrete in climates subject to freeze and thaw (an ideal solution for New Jersey & New York parking lots). Overall, asphalt parking lot paving offers more benefits and a better value for your money than the other available options.

Let’s take a closer look at the key terms associated with your parking lot paving project (in alphabetical order below):

  • Asphalt: A mixture of aggregates, binder and filler that is used for constructing and maintaining parking lot surfaces. Asphalt, or bitumen, is a sticky, black, highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum that is typically mixed with sand or gravel to surface parking lots, driveways and roadways.
  • Base layer: Typically made of quality crushed gravel, this rock is generally 1-2 inches in diameter and performs double duty by establishing a solid, reliable foundation while providing adequate drainage; both critical factors in parking lot construction. 
  • Binder asphalt: A coarser grade of blacktop (than asphalt) that contains a higher percentage of larger stones, which, when added to the asphalt mix, increases stability. The binder asphalt functions to increase the load factor that the parking lot can endure before breaking or cracking. This is usually 40mm-50mm thick.
  • Blacktop: This is almost always an asphaltic concrete made from liquid asphalt cement, sand and gravel. The difference between blacktop and asphalt is that blacktop is heated to approximately 150 degrees celsius, whereas asphalt is only heated to 120 degrees celsius. Asphalt has a higher bitumen content, which means that it’s less porous and more resilient to wear and tear from high traffic. (This makes it a more optimal solution for parking lots and major highways.)
  • Grading: This is the process of preparing land for roadways or structures. These services include smoothing out the soil, flattening an area, building an area up, or sloping it to a certain degree, depending on the site requirements.
  • Milling: The process of removing the top layer of asphalt to a specified and even depth without disturbing the underlying subbase. This process allows new asphalt to be laid down without increasing the height of the road, and saves you time if the subbase doesn’t need to be fixed.
  • Sealcoating: This is the process of adding a protective layer to a paved asphalt surface. 
  • Subbase: The bottom layer of crushed stone that will sit on top of the subgrade and provide structural strength and integrity to your parking lot.
  • Wearing course (asphalt): The wearing course is ​​the surface layer of a pavement that takes the wear of traffic. Asphalt wearing course is a gap graded, ultra thin hot-mix asphalt (HMA) mixture applied over a thick polymer modified asphalt emulsion membrane. The high binder content seals the underlying surface, which protects it from water infiltration and slows down the aging process.

Here is what you need to know before hiring a New York or New Jersey paving company to tackle the project of paving your parking lot at your commercial business:

How much does it cost to pave a parking lot with asphalt?

The major cost-determining factor is a project’s square footage. The price fluctuates with the market, but you can expect to pay between $2-$4.50 per square foot for asphalt paving. To give you an idea of other ranges, it’s generally between $4-$7 for concrete. Additional factors that can impact the total cost include: density of asphalt, recycled versus new asphalt, required site preparation, and drainage needs, among others.

You will also want to consider the cost of preparing your future parking lot before asphalt is applied. What needs to happen? In general, the following actions may need to occur: 

  • Existing debris must be cleared
  • The area must be leveled
  • Herbicide should be applied
  • A layer of gravel should be laid as a solid base material 
  • A drainage system should be put into place

Once the asphalt has set, you will need pavement or line striping performed to ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians within your parking lot. An experienced contractor like Pavemaks will be able to identify and explain any issues affecting your price. 

What does sealcoating my asphalt parking lot mean?

As noted in the key terms section, sealcoating is essentially the process of adding a protective layer to a paved asphalt surface. It not only renews the appearance of your parking lot, but also reduces oxidation levels and water entry, provides oil and gas resistance, makes it easier to clean and maintain, and offers a more pliable surface to drivers during extreme (hot) weather.

How often does my asphalt parking lot need to be sealed?

In order to give your lot the best protection possible, you should reseal it every two to four years. This would be considered a part of your asphalt parking lot maintenance. A New York or New Jersey paving company like Pavemaks can advise you on the general health of your parking lot and help you to determine when your parking lot needs a sealcoat application. If your business is in an area with heavy rainfall or frequent freezes and thaws, which we regularly experience in New York and New Jersey, you may experience more cracks in your parking lot and may need to sealcoat more frequently in order to prolong its life and prevent future repairs. 

Asphalt Parking Lot Maintenance Tips

Your parking lot can serve as the first impression of your business, and conveying the impression that you care about the appearance of your property may prove to be more important than you think. While this may not be something you originally considered when analyzing your sales funnel, it is imperative when it comes to customer and client acquisition and retention. Once your new parking lot has been installed, here are some maintenance tips to keep in mind to ensure durability and reliability:

  • Perform routine visual inspections: Walk the lot to assess it for developing cracks, standing water, pools of oil or gasoline that can be damaging your property, and more. When you let these issues persist without addressing them as soon as possible, you’ll spend more money than you want to and endure headaches that you could have avoided.
  • Clean sweeps: Sweep your lot regularly to remove debris and to identify and uncover potential problems that may be developing.
  • Check the drains: Open the drains intermittently to check for debris and blockage. When rainwater doesn’t drain properly, this can indicate blockage in the drainage system; an issue that can cause long-term problems.
  • Fill and seal cracks: Weather conditions, wear and tear, and heavy usage/traffic can all lead to inevitable cracks. When you keep up with filling and sealing small cracks, you can prolong the life of your asphalt. During northeast winters, freeze-thaw cycles will cause the water in cracks to freeze and expand, resulting in exponentially larger fractures.
  • Remove oil and gasoline drippings ASAP: The chemical makeup of these materials can eat away at the surface and lead to rapid deterioration. Avoid significant permanent damage by removing them immediately.
  • Sealcoating: See section above!
  • Reroute traffic: After you’ve sealcoated your parking lot, change the flow of traffic to spread the wear. You can also re-orient parking spaces and traffic lines.
  • Incorporate natural elements: Add planted areas with shade trees to protect the surface and reduce the effects of the sun. Bonus? Your parking lot will become a more appealing and attractive space, too!

According to the experts, proper asphalt parking lot maintenance can extend the life of your lot to as long as thirty years. This certainly makes it worth your time and money to take care of it! Set a schedule and stay consistent in caring for your parking lot to ensure it can reach its maximum longevity.

Have questions about a parking lot project you’re planning? Reach out to us for a free estimate or to speak to someone directly about our specific process.