There are many things that impact the condition and deterioration of parking lot surfaces, but one that we have little or no control over is the weather. In the Austin area, factors such as the sun and rain can cause fading, cracking and other asphalt damage. Today we’ll look at how weather impacts your parking lot, and how you can fight back.
How Weather Impacts Your Parking Lot
The sun emits ultraviolet rays, called UV rays. Just like these rays are dangerous to your skin, they can also cause damage to your paved surfaces. The UV rays can soak into your asphalt and start a process called oxidation. This is a slow process that will eventually change your dark-colored pavement into a light gray.
Unfortunately, oxidation is more than just cosmetic changes. The UV rays are actually deteriorating the quality of your asphalt, and when combined with other factors, this can lead to damages such as cracking.
Rain itself isn’t the cause of parking lot deterioration; rain that pools and sits on the surface is what is causing the damage. Most parking lots are designed to handle rain. This includes having slightly sloped surfaces that allow the rain water to move, and proper drainage that whisks the water away from the parking lot. However, if rain is allowed to pool on the surface, it can cause major damage.
The Asphalt Institute has a quick guide to asphalt pavement distress which lists various types of distress, possible causes and maintenance solutions. A quick glance at this list and you’ll notice a number of distresses that can be caused by pooling rainwater and poor drainage. This includes:
- Fatigue cracking (alligator cracking)
- Edge cracks
- Upheavals or swells
Water impacts parking lots because the moisture seeps down into the pavement and erodes the material, leading to cracks and other forms of damage.
Sometimes it isn’t weather specifically, but the combination of weather and other factors which causes the most damage to paved surfaces. When the asphalt is weakened by UV rays or moisture, other factors – such as traffic load or chemical spills (oil, gasoline, antifreeze etc.) – can have a bigger impact and speed up parking lot damage.
How You Can Fight Back
There is not much you can do to control the weather, but there are a number of ways you can fight back to prevent damage and maintain a quality parking lot. Two important forms of weather-related parking lot maintenance are:
Seal coating is to your parking lot what sunscreen is to your skin – it provides a protective layer that can keep the sun’s UV rays from penetrating and causing damage. Seal coating adds a layer of coal-tar, asphalt emulsions, or acrylics over the top of your pavement. This not only protects against sun damage, but also seals up tiny cracks and gives your parking lot a uniform, like-new appearance.
Want to learn more about seal coating? Check out this article to understand the seal coating process.
There are many factors working against your parking lot, so cracks are pretty much inevitable – but you can fight back. Cracks that are between 1/8” and 1” can be repaired using a mix of asphalt and rubber. This fills the cracks, preventing further expansion and damage.
Weather can have a damaging effect on your parking lot, but you can fight back with preventative steps and basic maintenance to limit the damage. Setting up a maintenance plan can prolong the life of your paved surfaces, no matter what the weather throws at it.
Integrity Paving & Coatings offers seal coating, crack filling, and other parking lot maintenance to residents and business owners in the Austin, TX area. Learn more about our services here.