All About Parking Lots

Concrete Parking Lots

Is A Concrete Parking Lot The Right Choice For Your Commercial Property?

a concrete parking lot

Looking for parking lot ideas or considering a new concrete parking lot for your commercial property?

  • Which parking lot surface is best when choosing between concrete, asphalt or pavers?
  • What are the benefits of a concrete parking lot vs asphalt or pavers?
  • What type of ongoing maintenance does a concrete parking lot require compared to the other types of parking lots?

These are all very important things to consider when it comes to a choosing a new parking lot.

Concrete Parking Lots

How common are concrete parking lots? The further South we travel in the United States, the more likely we see concrete and/or paver parking lots. The further North we travel in the United States, the more likely we see asphalt parking lots. This is due to the amount of freeze and thaw cycles that occur in colder regions.

Unlike asphalt, concrete is not pliable, making it much less forgiving when it comes to heaving from freeze and thaw cycles.

To install a new concrete parking lot, in most cases, you’ll need blue print drawings which includes sub grade material and preparation specs, concrete mix design and installation specs, drainage specs, and striping and marking layout specs. In most cases you’ll also need to include concrete curb and gutter, sidewalks and handicap ramp specs as well.

In instances where your commercial property is not subject to city and county specifications, you can install a new concrete parking lot without blue print drawings and engineering, but you’ll still need a solid water drainage plan. A parking lot can shed large amounts of water and that water must be managed and directed to areas where it will keep from flooding neighbors, streets and even buildings. In this case, hiring a reputable contractor is critical to avoid future problems.

a concrete truck pouring concrete for a new concrete parking lot
floating concrete for a concrete parking lot

If you already have a concrete parking lot and it’s beginning to show the signs of aging and exceptional deterioration, or has a tremendous amount of patching and repairs and looks patchy, blotchy and uninviting, completely removing and replacing the entire concrete parking lot may be in order! In most cases, this can also be done without blue prints and specs, but absolutely should be performed by a reputable concrete installation company that will do it right the first time.

All parking lots age and deteriorate beyond repair at some point. The goal with any parking lot should be to maximize the life of expectancy as much as possible before having to completely remove and replace it. This requires a solid plan with frequent, ongoing maintenance of every 2 to 3 years.

Of the four types of parking lots, a concrete parking lot is #2
when comparing cost and #2 when comparing ongoing maintenance.

Cost Chart:

  • Paver Parking Lot – #1 – Most Expensive
  • Concrete Parking Lot – #2
  • Asphalt Parking Lot – #3 – Least Expensive

A concrete parking lot can be a moderate expense when comparing it to other hard surface parking lots

Ongoing Maintenance Chart:

  • Asphalt Parking Lot – #1 – Most Ongoing Maintenance
  • Concrete Parking Lot – #2
  • Paver Parking Lot – #3 – Least Ongoing Maintenance

A concrete parking lot requires the 3rd most frequent amount of ongoing maintenance when comparing to other hard surface parking lots.

Life Expectancy Of A Concrete Parking Lot

A properly installed concrete parking lot with regularly scheduled maintenance can last up to 20 or even 30 years. That variation in age can be determined by the stability of the sub-grade, the quality of the installation, the type and frequency of maintenance, the drainage plan and the climate of the region you’re located in.

Types of ongoing maintenance you can expect to perform on a concrete parking lot?

Sealing cracks, patching, and re-striping

A new concrete parking lot should NOT be sealed until it is a minimum of 3 weeks old and should be performed on concrete parking lots located particularly in cold, snowy regions. The concrete should be re-sealed every 2 to 3 years thereafter to slow down the deterioration process. Deterioration is be caused by the elements – specifically, oxidization from the sun, rain and snow, freeze and thaw cycles and the amount of traffic the parking lot receives. The more traffic, the more frequent your concrete parking lot will need to be sealed. However, only a quality commercial grade concrete sealer is recommended and should only be applied by a reputable sealing contractor.

Concrete by nature cracks. Where and when is the question! Controlled joints are placed into the concrete during installation or sawcut into the concrete after installation to try and contain cracking within those controlled joints, rather than in the field of the concrete. When cracks do develop, they should be sealed with a concrete crack sealer. Sealing the cracks will help to prevent further damage and failures like alligatoring and even potholes by preventing or minimizing the amount of water entering into them. The best maintenance plan should include crack sealing services each year. This will most certainly save money long term avoiding costly patching services.

Choosing The Right Parking Lot For Your Commercial Property

When choosing between a concrete parking lot and the other types of parking lots, take into the consideration these things:

Budget – Curb Appeal – Climate – Amount Of Ongoing Maintenance – Durability

If the short term, up front cost is a deciding factor, gravel parking lots are a great, low cost alternative to hard surface parking lots. And if installed properly, a gravel paring lot can be used as a great base prior to installing a hard surface parking lot.

Asphalt parking lots are excellent, low cost alternatives to the other hard surface options, depending on the size of your parking lot and the thickness requirements. The long term trade off, however, is asphalt parking lots require more ongoing maintenance than that of concrete parking lots. If cost is not as important factor and aesthetics are more important, then concrete parking lots or paver parking lots are the alternatives for a hard surface parking lot. While initially the up front costs are higher, long term they require less maintenance therefore less maintenance costs.

Also, take into consideration the effects of a concrete parking lot if it’s not maintained properly or how it can look as it ages.

a concrete parking lot that was not maintained properly
an older concrete parking lot and the effects of aging, traffic and oxidization from the sun

Concrete parking lots can be a beautiful option for a commercial property parking lot. They provide a very clean, durable parking surface that is inviting to prospective tenants and their customers. Concrete parking lots can also be installed in a large variety of colors or, if you have an existing parking lot, it can be stained a variety of different colors as well. See some different Colorful Design Ideas For Concrete Parking Lots.

When it comes to durability, keep in mind the amount of traffic and the type of traffic your parking lot will endure. Fire stations, car washes, or any other type of business that will need to endure exceptionally heavy vehicles, an above average amount of heavier vehicle traffic, or an above average amount of water runoff, a concrete parking lot is the best, longer term solution.

If you’re considering having a new concrete parking lot installed, an existing one stained or completely removed and replaced, see our Concrete Parking Lot FAQ’s section for more information to ensure yourself a good, quality long lasting job.

You can also learn more about the ongoing maintenance of a concrete parking lot by visiting our Concrete Parking Lot Maintenance FAQ’s section.

Before you hire a contractor to install or perform maintenance on your concrete parking lot, be sure and review our video and eBook series, "The Most Common Ways Concrete Contractors Rip Us Off And How To Avoid Them”™. You’ll learn everything you need to know in order to hire a reputable contractor and get the job done right the first time!

Or make it easy on yourself and save time, money and future headaches by hiring one of our pre-screened and background checked concrete companies to install, remove and replace, color or stain, or perform maintenance services on your concrete parking lot. Learn more or request an estimate from one of our Trusted Concrete Installation or Concrete Repair Contractors in your local area!