Keeping Your Asphalt Parking Lot in Tip-Top Shape: Get Perfect Parking Lot Rehabilitation

As a licensed civil engineer with over 25 years of experience in asphalt pavement design and construction, I’m often called upon to restore parking lots in poor condition back to proper functioning. Repairing an aged, damaged parking lot properly not only improves aesthetics but more importantly enhances safety and preserves the underlying integrity of the pavement structure.

Through methodical, step-by-step repair processes focused on addressing the root causes of deterioration, property owners can add decades of valuable life back to their asphalt parking assets. As a property owner, keeping your asphalt parking lot well-maintained should be a top priority. After all, this invaluable asset sees heavy daily use and endures exposure to all kinds of elemental damage. Without proper care, an asphalt lot can rapidly deteriorate, creating safety issues and liability risks.

The good news? With some diligent effort and strategic maintenance practices, you can maximize the lifespan and functionality of your property’s asphalt parking areas.

In this guide, we’ll explore the key steps for keeping asphalt parking lots looking pristine and performing properly over the long haul. Let’s pave the way to effective parking lot maintenance!

Best Practices for Parking Lot Care

When it comes to asphalt lot maintenance, what are some proven best practices? Let’s explore the key activities to incorporate into your parking lot care regimen:

Inspect, Inspect, Inspect

Once cleaned, conduct a thorough visual inspection of the entire lot to identify areas necessitating repair. Cataloging the types of defects present allows for matching the appropriate solution to each one based on its extent and severity. Conducting thorough inspections regularly is perhaps the most vital maintenance practice. Walk the entire parking area, looking for:

  • Cracks wider than 1⁄4 inch
  • Potholes or soft, depressed areas
  • Damage around light poles and curbs
  • Clogged or damaged drainage channels
  • Faded striping that needs refreshing

Inspections should happen at least twice annually in spring and fall. This helps address issues promptly before they worsen. For large commercial lots, a professional assessment is recommended annually using technologies like ground-penetrating radar to detect subsurface flaws.

Common Apshalt Crack Types Causes and Solutions

Some of the most common parking lot damage include:

Cracks & Potholes

Cracks and potholes represent two of the most prevalent parking lot defects. While cracks are linear fractures in the pavement surface, potholes are bowl-shaped indentations resulting from material loss.

Causes: Cracks develop from factors like thermal contraction, oxidative aging, substrate movement, and excessive loads. Water seepage through cracks produces potholes as surface material loosens and dislodges.

Solutions: Seal narrower non-working cracks <1⁄4” wide using quality crack sealant to prevent water intrusion and deterioration. For wider cracks and potholes, use a cold or hot mix asphalt patch compound tamped flush with the surrounding surface.

Ruts & Uneven Depressions

Ruts are channelized depressions from repeated tire travel over time. Depressions can also form from settled or eroded base layers.

Causes: Concentrated wheel paths, weak subbase layers, and poor drainage conditions often cause rutting and depressions. Insufficient surface compaction during paving can also contribute.

Solutions: Mill 2-4” depth including distressed asphalt, re-compact base material, and overlay with fresh hot mix asphalt for durable repairs.


As asphalt pavement ages, oxidation causes the black surface to fade to a grayish color due to UV damage of the hydrocarbon binder. Raveling often occurs in oxidized areas too.

Causes: Prolonged exposure to sun, air, and water degrades the liquid asphalt cement binder over 5-10 years, causing oxidation.

Solutions: Milling or grinding removes the most severely oxidized layer. Applying a new seal coat layer protects the underlying material from further weathering.

Crumbling Asphalt

Extremely deteriorated asphalt can exhibit complete breakdown into loose fragments – a condition known as crumbling pavement.

Causes: Severely aged binder, poor drainage, freeze-thaw cycles, and weak base layers can cause advanced deterioration.

Solutions: For widespread crumbling, I recommend full-depth removal and reconstruction. Localized areas may be repaired by milling damaged pavement and replacing it with new hot-mix asphalt.

Improper Water Drainage

Excess water pooling on the parking lot surface accelerates defects like potholes, sinkholes, and base erosion.

Causes: Insufficient crown slope to shed water, clogged catch basins or trenches, and low areas that collect runoff promote moisture damage.

Solutions: Re-grade and add base material in affected areas to restore proper drainage. Ensure nearby drain inlets remain clear through regular maintenance.

By carefully assessing and documenting specific defect types, you can then execute appropriate repairs for lasting outcomes.

Execute Essential Repairs

Once inspections identify any parking lot defects, timely repairs are crucial. This includes:

Execute repairs as soon as possible after inspections to prevent further damage. Use the proper materials and methods for long-lasting fixes.

Implement Preventative Maintenance

Sealcoat & Block Off Parking Lot Access

Once all noted defects, I recommend applying a new protective seal coat layer over the entire parking lot surface. Quality seal coating provides several restoration benefits:

  • Seals microcracks and pores to prevent water intrusion
  • Provides UV protection to retard binder oxidation
  • Restores rich black color hiding previous repairs
  • Delivers fresh skid resistance for safety

When selecting seal coat products, I advise using an asphalt emulsion-based formulation designed for parking area use. Polymer-modified emulsified sealers offer enhanced durability. Crucial application steps include thoroughly cleaning the surface, applying for even coverage across pavement sections, and proper drying/curing time before allowing vehicle traffic. I block access for at least 24 hours after seal coating.

By renewing the parking lot’s protective seal coat barrier, you can extend the lifespan of repairs and restore attractive curb appeal to your property.

Asphalt Maintenance & Repair: Should You Sealcoat or Resurface?

When restoring an aged parking lot beyond just repairs, clients often ask my recommendation on whether to apply a new seal coat or pursue deeper resurfacing. Here are key factors I consider:

Sealcoating involves applying a thin protective coat of asphalt emulsion to the surface. It preserves existing pavement in fair condition by sealing cracks and preventing moisture damage and oxidation. Sealcoating costs around 6-12 cents per square foot applied.

Resurfacing entails overlaying the lot with 1-2 inches of fresh hot mix asphalt material after milling or grinding off the top deteriorated layer. This renews the wearing course structural integrity. Resurfacing runs 35-60 cents per square foot.

If the underlying pavement structure remains sound with no major base issues, seal coating provides a cost-effective preservation solution. For parking lots exhibiting extensive cracking, deformation, or weathering damage, resurfacing becomes the better option for fully restoring the asphalt surface.

By proactively using seal coating and crack sealing, you can slow deterioration and boost durability.

Embrace Eco-Friendly Practices

Implementing sustainable maintenance options aligns with green facility management while still protecting your parking lot. Strategies include:

  • Using environmentally friendly seal coat materials with recycled rubber
  • Exploring porous asphalt options to reduce stormwater runoff
  • Incorporating cool pavement technologies to lower urban heat

Discuss opportunities to “green” your parking lot maintenance with qualified contractors.

Tailor Care to the Climate

The local climate dictates additional maintenance considerations:

Check out our guide for detailed tips on seasonal parking lot maintenance best practices.

Create a Maintenance Plan and Budget

Finally, develop a customized multi-year maintenance plan and allocate an appropriate budget. This allows proactively addressing needs versus reacting to problems as they arise. Leverage a lifecycle cost analysis to make informed financial decisions.

By following these essential best practices, you can keep your asphalt parking lot looking great and performing optimally year after year. Protect your investment with proper maintenance!

How often should I get my parking lot seal-coated?

We recommend seal coating every 2-3 years to protect the asphalt surface. Cynthia Grant seal coating CT. More frequent applications may be warranted in regions with extreme weather fluctuations.

What is the best way to repair potholes?

For proper pothole repairs, completely remove loose material and saturate the area with water before filling it with a high-quality asphalt patch compound, smoothing evenly with the surrounding surface.

Should I use asphalt or concrete for my commercial parking lot?

Both offer benefits, but asphalt is preferable for heavy-use parking lots because of its relatively lower cost and easier repairability. Concrete lasts longer but needs joints and costs 30-50% more.

How can I make my asphalt a lot more eco-friendly?

Use environmentally responsible seal coating, explore permeable options, reduce light pollution with motion-activated lighting, and sweep instead of hose for cleaning. Check with local contractors experienced in green parking lot maintenance.

What causes cracks in asphalt parking lots?

Frequent causes include freeze-thaw cycles, inadequate drainage, excessive loads, poor subbase preparation, thermal expansion/contraction, improper mix design, and normal aging. Promptly sealing cracks is key.

Please contact us with any other asphalt parking lot maintenance questions!

Take Action to Protect Your Asphalt Investment

An attractive, smooth-functioning parking lot plays a major role in your property’s curb appeal and accessibility. Following the best practices outlined here will help safeguard your asphalt asset – reducing costs and liability while elevating aesthetics. We hope this comprehensive guide provides a valuable resource as you maintain your property’s integrity through diligent parking lot care. Please reach out with any questions about implementing an effective maintenance regimen tailored to your unique needs!

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I'm Steve Axton, a dedicated Asphalt Construction Manager with over 25 years of experience paving the future of infrastructure. My journey with asphalt began by studying civil engineering and learning about core pavement materials like aggregate, binder and additives that compose this durable and versatile substance. I gained hands-on experience with production processes including refining, mixing and transporting during my internships, which opened my eyes to real-world uses on roads, driveways and parking lots. Over the past decades, I have deepened my expertise in asphalt properties like viscosity, permeability and testing procedures like Marshall stability and abrasion. My time with respected construction companies has honed my skills in paving techniques like milling, compaction and curing as well as maintenance activities like crack filling, resurfacing and recycling methods. I'm grateful for the knowledge I've gained about standards from Superpave to sustainability best practices that balance longevity, cost and environmental friendliness. It's been an incredibly rewarding career working with this complex material to build the infrastructure future.

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