Considerations for Parking Lot Water Management
There are many benefits that come from paving the parking lot for your business. Some businesses might use loose material to finish a parking area, but the loose materials do not last as long and make the parking lot less user-friendly for clients, customers, and deliveries. However, loose medium does have one advantage: it offers more natural drainage in wet seasons.
Paving usually makes rain and snow runoff more difficult. However, with proper planning, installation, and materials, you can ditch the loose material, and your paved parking area can be just as effective at draining off excess water. Here are some considerations for designing a parking lot that drains well.
Properly Grade the Parking Area Before Paving
No matter what kind of asphalt you install, you want to make sure that the parking lot itself is optimized for good drainage. Heavy rain can make standing water build up fast on your pavement, so you need to make sure that you have designs in place to direct water flow away from parking spaces and toward storm drains and road gutter areas.
If you simply pave over a parking area without worrying about drainage, you drastically reduce the overall lifespan on your asphalt. Standing water can weaken the sealcoating, and during the winter, water will seep into the cracks in your pavement and turn to ice. As the water expands into ice, it will widen the cracks and further damage your parking lot.
Standing water on your pavement also defeats the purpose of having a nice paved area, because one of the significant advantages of pavement over loose medium is that it can maintain its own drainage; loose mediums do have better porosity over pavement, but they shift around, especially with heavy traffic, creating high and low spots that need to be graded out often.
Invest in a Good Base Installation
Base installation also helps with water management — when it is done correctly. Sometimes, businesses and homeowners choose to skimp on base materials like gravel and fill sand in order to save on costs. However, this is only a short-term gain. The surcoat provides the support of the top structure. If the base starts to break down, the pavement will begin to weaken and crumble.
A thick, packed stone base supports good drainage because it does not wash away in heavy storms. The base will continue to support to asphalt even after years of heavy rain and snowfall. Poor installation, on the other hand, will start to weaken when exposed to extreme weather, even washing out from under the paved surface. If you’re not sure what base will work best for you, reach out to your local paving contractor.
Consider Street Gutter and Storm Drain Location
When planning to pave your parking lot, consider the locations of drains that are already present. You might need to add your own drains in your parking lot, depending on the size of the lot. You also might need to install collection gutters to direct water flow toward existing city infrastructure.
You can’t ignore the mechanisms that are already in place to handle water runoff. Just keep in mind that adding the trough, drains, and guttering needed for drainage can add to your overall installation cost.
Make Sure the Stripes Are Visible
Even with the best drainage in the world, when a parking lot gets wet, drivers can have a hard time seeing the lines that mark the parking spaces and where to drive or which way to go. This is annoying for drivers, but poor striping can also be dangerous if drivers go the wrong way in the parking lot or are too busy watching for the stripes to look for pedestrians.
Make the process easier on everybody by making sure that the paint you choose for your parking lot will show up when the asphalt is wet, especially during the night when the streetlights will reflect off any water on your asphalt. Your customers and guests will be safer and happier this way.
Keep the Parking Lot in Great Shape
Once you’ve designed and installed your parking lot, make sure that you don’t forget about it. While a properly installed asphalt parking lot will last for years, you’ll still need to perform the occasional maintenance to keep it working properly.
Make sure you regularly fill cracks, sealcoat the asphalt, and patch problem areas. These small repairs will keep your drainage working properly, and your drainage in turn will prevent bigger problems that can come from too much standing water on your asphalt — especially during the winter when ice will widen the cracks.
If you need help planning, installing, and maintaining your parking lot to properly manage water, outsource these tasks to an expert. An experienced asphalt contractor will know how to make your lot safe, functional, and attractive and how to keep it that way throughout the year.
For more information on paving with water management in mind, contact us at Plehal Blacktopping.