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Your Road to Paving Excellence: HOA Property Managers & Board Members Guide

One of the biggest challenges facing property managers and board members of homeowner’s associations is how to best maintain and repair the asphalt and concrete pavement in their community(s). What may seem like only aesthetic maintenance can quickly turn into costly infrastructure repairs. Have you ever found yourself faced with:

  • Awarding a contract to the lowest bidder, only to discover that the lowest price isn’t always the lowest cost?
  • Confused by the proposed proposals and not confident you know what you will be getting.
  • Fighting with a contractor over warranty issues to get a problem resolved once the project is complete.

Well, our team at Black Diamond has not only worked with communities who have experienced this, but with our 27 years of experience in the industry we have helped property managers and board members resolve some of these issues. Our understanding of providing clear, easy to understand proposals, along with industry experts to guide your team every step of the way, has allowed us to develop our Diamond Standard system. We use this on every job, large and small.

 

The current system many contactors use has several flaws, including:

  • Contractors don’t know or bother to ask what the HOA’s reserves are before recommending maintenance and/or repair options.
  • The proposal process doesn’t result in comparative scopes of work, and that prevents board members from accurately evaluating competing proposals.
  • Contractor proposals often don’t clearly outline the project, the impact that project will have on the community, or the result of what the final product will look like once work is completed.
  • HOA boards don’t require or even include clear and consistent construction specifications a contractor must follow—the result being techniques that are not “best practices” and use of materials which are below par.
  • Front-end investigation such as core sampling or ambiguous language with the terms “variable thickness” or no depth at all lead to costly change orders and no contractor accountability.

 

To avoid these flaws, implement reliable pavement management solutions, and give yourself the opportunity for far greater input on your project from start to finish, let Black Diamond show you the Diamond Standard difference with our 4-step plan!

 

  1. SET GOALS & UNDERSTAND BUDGETS – Our team will meet with the board to discuss project goals and review the allotted reserves. This will give our team insight as to what’s possible based on budget. This will also allow us to help align your project goals with your budget, it will also give us the ability to set up a phased approach if needed from the start.
  2. CONDUCT AN ONSITE PAVEMENT ASSESSMENT – Once project goals are determined within the parameters of the reserves an onsite assessment of asphalt and concrete pavement is conducted. Here is where we will use PASER ratings and life cycle charts to properly document the condition of the pavement and finalize goals and budgets for the project.
  3. SET SCOPE AND SPECIFICATIONS TO DRIVE ROI – Next our team will establish specific scope and specifications for the project. This will allow our team to present you with a proper bid package that can give you the confidence of knowing exactly what needs to be done and falling within your budget from the start.
  4. CREATE A PLAN TO MANAGE THE WORK – Once the bid is accepted our team sets up a plan to manage the work. This allows our team to get everything we need to get done on time and with the least amount of disruption for the community. This plan includes a clear, color-coded map of the property, work areas, dates and times of closings, a contact name and phone number for the project, a detailed description of what to expect during the project and tips to help the community best navigate the upcoming project. All of this will be sent to the residents and takes the burden off the property manager, which gives the community direct access to the team performing the job.

For more information, check out our Diamond Standard page on our website.

The Similarities and Differences Between Slurry Coat and Seal Coat

The Similarities and Differences Between Slurry Coat and Seal Coat

 

Properly maintaining the pavement in your community or commercial parking lot not only extends the life of your investment, but it saves you money in the long run. However, knowing the right maintenance option for your pavement may be challenging because each surface is different. Two maintenance options often thought to be the same at times are slurry seal and sealcoating. While both options provide a protective layer to the top of your pavement, they vary in many ways. It is also sometimes interpreted that slurry seal is the “cure all” for pavement issues, but this is not always the case. Take a deep dive into these two important pavement maintenance terms below to understand the key differences between these two maintenance techniques so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your property.

 

What is Sealcoating?

Sealcoating is a protective coating applied to the asphalt pavement’s surface. It is a liquid mixture of asphalt emulsion, water, mineral fillers, and various additives squeegeed or sprayed onto the pavement’s surface. Sealcoating provides a barrier against water, UV rays, and chemicals that can damage the pavement over time, reducing its effective lifespan. It also enhances the appearance of the pavement, giving it a uniform, black color. Here are a couple of pros and cons of sealcoating:

  • Pros: 
  • Cost-effective: Sealcoating is an affordable option to improve curb appeal and extend the life of your asphalt pavement. 
  • Easy and Quick to Apply: Sealcoating can be applied quickly, and the pavement can be opened to traffic the following day.
  • Enhances Pavement Appearance: Sealcoating gives pavement a fresh, new look. 
  • Doesn’t Restrict Future Maintenance Options: Sealcoating can be paired with crack filling to help protect from water penetrating the asphalt and degrading its base layers. 
  • Sealcoating can also be done multiple times throughout the lifetime of your pavement. 
  • Multiple Uses: Used in both parking lots and on roadways.
  • Cons: 
  • Shorter lifespan: Sealcoating typically lasts three to five years, depending on the weather and traffic conditions and should be maintained regularly.
  • Not Suitable for Severely Damaged Pavement: Sealcoating is not recommended for pavement surfaces that are severely cracked or have potholes. 

 

What is Slurry Seal?

Slurry seal is a mixture of fine crushed aggregate rock, asphalt, and water applied to the surface of asphalt pavement. This mixture creates a dense, durable surface that can withstand heavy traffic and weather conditions. Slurry seal is typically used for directional city roads and streets. Here are a couple of pros and cons to slurry seal: 

 

  • Pros: 
    • Longer Lifespan: Slurry seal can extend the pavement lifespan by up to 10 years, provided it is not applied over asphalt with structural failures. 
    • Fills Minor Cracks: Slurry seal can fill minor cracks, preventing them from becoming larger and causing more extensive damage. 
    • Enhances Pavement Appearance: Slurry seal gives pavement a uniform appearance. 
  • Cons: 
    • Higher Cost: Slurry sealing is more expensive than sealcoating. 
    • Extended Cleanup Process: Once slurry seal cures, you are required to have a street sweeper come in to remove loose rocks. Over time this product wears down and breaks into chunks. Many communities and property managers prefer not to have to deal with the continuous loose rock this can create. 
    • Limits Future Maintenance Options: Once you put down slurry seal you should only cover it with slurry seal, as other maintenance options will not correct any ongoing issues. This will limit your options in the future. 
    • Band-aid for Pavement Damage: Slurry seal appears to repair damage to the surface by covering it but doesn’t repair it.   
    • Restricted Usage: Not recommended for HOA roadways or parking lots where people make turns or short quick movements, as it causes the product to break up and become loose rock.  
    • Not Suitable for Severely Damaged Pavement: Slurry seal is not recommended for pavement surfaces that are severely cracked or have potholes. 

In summary, you can see why these terms may be used interchangeably, but after carefully looking through the pros and cons of both products, they both have their applicable uses, but are very different products. Parking lots and community roadways where people make a lot of turns and sharp movements should stick with sealcoating as it won’t break apart and produce the loose rock debris that slurry seal will cause. While slurry seal has its place in the industry, we think it’s extremely important to know the difference between the products and to keep in mind no one product is a “cure-all.” As you evaluate your pavement for future maintenance, consult with a pavement maintenance expert such as Black Diamond Paving & Concrete to ensure you are implementing the right maintenance options, at the right time for your property.

We’re Growing…A Lot!

You may have noticed a small change to our logo and wondered what it means. We’re thrilled to announce that Black Diamond Paving & Concrete is expanding—we’ve joined forces with Atlantic Southern Paving! This is an exciting development for us…and for our clients, too. Here’s why:                    

National Paving Capabilities

Atlantic Southern Paving is a national family of companies, and becoming a part of their team was the best way for us to grow our footprint. Previously, we’d been operating in four states, and the vast majority of our presence was in California. But merging with ASP now allows us to offer service throughout the entire United States with our National Team and locally perform in 18 states. We have local offices in 8 of those states including FL, SC, NC, AL, MS, MO, TX, and CA.

ASP is a Florida-based company, started by Mickey Curry over 30 years ago and run by him and his two sons. In 2019, ASP partnered with Harbor Beach Capital, a private equity firm that invests in middle market companies. This partnership is what kicked off the growth of the ASP Family of Companies. While they have since acquired 9 companies to date, they have managed to maintain the amazing work environment and quality of work. With Black Diamond being one of those 9 acquisitions, we are proud to be part of a family of companies that share our values and vision for paving! Joining them was the perfect way for us to grow while staying true to who we are.

We’re Able to Self-Perform More Jobs Than Ever Before

As a contractor, you can approach projects in one of two ways: 

  1. You can stay small and lean, then scale up for the big jobs by using subcontractors. 
  2. You can “self-perform,” which means you do the whole job yourself. 

Option 2 allows for much more control over the quality of the work, and it means the client doesn’t have to pay marked-up prices for unknown subcontractors. Joining ASP allows us to self-perform projects in 18 states, ensuring our clients with properties outside of California will enjoy the efficiency and quality they’ve come to expect from Black Diamond Paving & Concrete.   

We Offer You a Single Point of Contact

Most paving projects have several moving parts and if you have to interact with a different person for each aspect of the project, that can waste a lot of time and energy. It also creates a significant risk that something might be lost in translation. But this new partnership allows us to do everything under the Black Diamond Paving/ASP banner. You’ll be given a single point of contact who knows your projects inside and out. That means you’ll realize all the benefits of working with a large team, but only have to deal with a single person.     

We Manage Interstate Complexity 

Are you a property management company, commercial real estate firm, retailer, or industrial company with a sprawling empire? We now have the scale and expertise to manage those massive projects across state lines. And we’ll bring our much-valued Diamond Standard Process to every single project, both large and small. If we’ve worked together on a California-based project, you can rest assured the convenience, comprehensiveness, and quality you’ve come to expect from Black Diamond Paving & Concrete will travel with us from state to state. 

Want to Learn More? Let’s Chat!

We’re proud to be a part of the Atlantic Southern Paving family and would love the opportunity to tell you more about them, our new relationship, and how it benefits you. Give us a call today to set up an in-depth presentation of our newly expanded capabilities.

Pull the Plug on Your Parking Lot Pond

The Problem with Standing Water in Parking Lots

When it rains, you might end up with a lot of standing water in your parking lot, which creates a safety hazard for the people who use it. If you’re a driver, your tires might have trouble engaging the pavement and stopping your car. If you’re a pedestrian, you might discover the usual “pedestrian refuges,” like medians, are flooded. And that forces you into harm’s way. 

But the water isn’t just an issue for the people who use your parking lot. It’s also an issue for the parking lot itself. Water can weaken the constitution of your pavement and, over time, that can lead to cracking and breakage. Then, once your pavement is compromised, water can seep into those cracks and erode the foundation down below. That leads to potholes and expensive repairs over the long haul. 

Creating Parking Lot Drainage

You don’t have to live with standing water in your parking lot. You simply have to create a system of drainage that’s really, really effective. But creating that drainage has quite a few moving parts, including: 

1. Your Parking Lot Needs to Have a Slope.

You might think your parking lot should be completely level. But that actually creates a problem: it invites all of the standing water to stick around. So, the idea is to give your parking lot a bit of a slope, which encourages the water to leave. Here’s the key, though—you don’t want that slope to be so extreme that it interferes with the usability of your parking lot. You want that slope to be subtle. So, the rule-of-thumb is that your parking lot should have a 1-5% gradient.

2. Your Parking Lot Needs Curbs and Gutters.

As you’ve just read, the slope of your pavement ushers the water away from your parking lot. But where is all of that water headed? You want to route it all towards a drain, and the best way to achieve that is with a system of gutters (curb and gutter, valley gutter). You’re basically directing water to the place it needs to go…the storm drain system. 

3. Your Parking Lot Needs to Have a Drain.

Okay, so this is where the magic happens. You need to have a drain that allows the stormwater to exit your parking lot. And the main consideration is the capacity of that drain. How much rainfall do you get? Is the water being routed towards a single drain? Or will multiple drains be sharing the workload? These are all important factors, because if you overload your drain you create a “traffic jam,” and you end up with standing water all over again.

4. You Need to Keep Your Drains Clear.

Not everyone makes this a priority, but maybe they should. Because if your drains are obstructed, they can’t really do their job. Take a broom or a rake and be sure to clear away any leaves, trash, and other obstructions. While you’re at it, give the rest of your parking lot a once over, too. Even if the debris is far from your drain, the second the wind picks up or it starts to rain, that junk funnels right back to your drain and creates a clog. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to clean the drainage pipes with a high pressure water jet.

When your parking lot has standing water, it creates a hazard for people and for the parking-lot itself. So, be sure to give your parking lot a slope, a system of gutters, and a high-capacity drain…because those puddles create a lot of headaches. Call Black Diamond today to learn more about how we can help with your drainage.

Black Diamond: More Than Just Paving

At Black Diamond, when someone asks for our elevator pitch, we just say we’re the best paving and concrete company in California. But we’re not in an elevator right now. We’re on a blog. And that means we have a lot more room to elaborate. So, here’s a detailed look at everything we do: 

We Install Asphalt and Concrete

When we say we’re in the pavement biz, that isn’t the actual material we work with. The actual material is primarily asphalt or concrete. And before we get started, our customers need to decide which of those two materials they’d like us to use for their project. That can be a fairly complex decision. Do they want to go with asphalt because it’s less money up front? Do they want concrete because it lasts longer? And how does the local weather and the property’s traffic patterns play into this? We’re here to walk you through all of this and more. And then we go to work installing your new pavement. 

We Work with Specialty Materials

Above, we mentioned that we “primarily” work with asphalt and concrete—that was a careful choice of words, because we also work with a few lesser-known materials. One of those materials is a fairly new technology called “plastic road.” That’s when plastic is recycled, melted down into a binding agent, and used to make an eco-friendly form of asphalt. 

We “Love2Pave”

We are experts in pavement maintenance, and we specialize in commercial, retail, industrial, multi-family residential properties (HOAs and apartment communities), and health care facilities. So, if you run a nonprofit, a commercial space, or a residential community, let’s pave. 

We Do Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance generally refers to both crack sealing and sealcoating. Sealing cracks doesn’t make them disappear (you’ll still see them) but it does prevent water from eroding the base and weakening your pavement. Sealcoating is when we add a thin, protective layer to the top of your pavement to protect it from the elements. The goal with crack sealing and sealcoating is to get in front of problems before they get out of control. We can help with that. 

We Do ADA Upgrades

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and was an important step towards creating equal access to buildings for everyone. If you’re a business, it’s really important that you comply with those regulations—not only to create a welcoming space for people of all abilities, but also to avoid some pretty hefty penalties. Do you have ramps in the right places? Are your walkways wide enough? How many handicapped parking spaces do you have? We know all the ins and outs of the confusing world of ADA compliance, and we’re here to help get you up to code.

We Educate

Asphalt and concrete jobs can last for decades, which means you’ll be living with your decision for an awfully long time. It’s best to get it right the first time…and we’re happy to walk you through the whole process. We host free “Lunch and Learn” seminars where we teach you about a wide range of paving topics. We do personalized consultations that are tailored to your needs. And we post reference materials on our website. So, whether you have a few questions about the job itself, or you need to do some financial forecasting, we’re always ready to engage. 

Our web address may say “Black Diamond Paving,” but we do so much more. We do all of the preventive maintenance. We help with financial forecasting. And we go out of our way to share everything we’ve learned in our decades of experience. So, if you’re interested in talking further, schedule a lunch and learn seminar today.

Just Another Bump in the Road

The Pros and Cons of Speed Bumps

People drive too fast. Way too fast. In fact, they drive so fast, society had to come up with several different ways to slow them down and keep everyone safe. Signs announce an area’s speed limits. Cops lie in wait with radar guns. Old men shake their fists at the sky and yell at people to slow down. 

But in this article, we take a look at a different approach: speed bumps. 

Speed bumps are among the most popular and most effective traffic-calming techniques. And if you’re thinking about installing some around your property, you’ll want to explore all of the pros and cons. Whether you’re running an HOA, a nonprofit, or a retail location, here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about speed bumps. 

The Pros 

They Actually Get Traffic to Slow Down

When you post a speed limit sign, what you’re really doing is asking drivers to slow down. But they don’t always do it (admit it…you don’t always do it). Speed bumps, on the other hand, force drivers to slow down. In fact, the Iowa Department of Transportation found that speed bumps and humps slow down traffic by as much as 40%.    

They Increase Safety

When you slow down traffic, you also increase safety. And you’ll see that manifest in two different ways:

  1. You reduce the total number of accidents
  2. You reduce the severity of those accidents

For example, the National Library of Medicine found that, in cases where a child got hit by a car, the presence of a speed bump or hump reduced the odds of injury or death by up to 60%. Installing speed bumps can mean safer roads and parking lots for people, cars, and that family of raccoons that’s taken up residence by the club house. 

They’re Easy to Customize

The nice thing about speed bumps is that you can install them in a way that matches the way the property is used.  Smaller bumps are fine for slower speed private roads while larger speed tables are an option for city streets and larger roads.  If you want them painted bright yellow so they stand out, that’s easy, too. Throw some yellow or white stripes on them, or stencil large white arrows announcing their presence. You can install speed bumps that match pretty much any aesthetic. 

The Cons

They Disrupt the Normal Flow of Traffic

Most people would say the entire point of speed bumps is to disrupt the normal flow of traffic. But if you’re running a high-volume location that involves getting cars in and out quickly, speed bumps can slow things down so much that they cause congestion. That’s a trade-off you might be willing to make, but if the congestion gets extreme, you might see an increase in unwanted vehicle noise and fumes (and maybe some angry tenants).     

They Could Damage Vehicles

When a car drives over a speed bump, the vast majority of the time, that car is totally fine. But if the driver isn’t paying attention, they might take the speed bump a little too fast and end up damaging their car’s tires or suspension. Similarly, if the speed bump is designed or installed incorrectly, even a careful driver might see some damage—and you certainly don’t want to be liable for that.       

Some People Just Don’t Like Them

This may seem like an insignificant factor. But when the people interacting with your property don’t like speed bumps, that can play out in a couple different ways: They could end up hurting the curb appeal of your location, which might lower the price a buyer is willing to pay for it in the future. You also might see people going to extreme lengths to avoid those speed bumps. For example, if you run a retail location, they may choose to shop somewhere else, or swerve into the wrong lane to avoid the obstacle.      

Asphalt Vs. Removable Speed Bumps 

Let’s say you’ve had a moment to consider the pros and cons and you’ve decided to install speed bumps on your property. Now you have to decide whether you want to go with asphalt or recycled rubber bumps. Asphalt will be more expensive, but they also look better and are much more durable. Rubber speed bumps, on the other hand, look a little more “budget,” but are easier to install and rearrange. You can get concrete speed bumps, too, if you’re looking for a different aesthetic. But those first two choices are the most common. 

Other Traffic-Calming Techniques

If speed bumps aren’t right for you, there are a few other options out there. For example, speed humps have a more gradual incline, so they’re easier on cars and drivers (though they may not slow traffic down quite as effectively). Speed ditches are small dips in the pavement. And speed “cushions” have tiny gaps in them that allow emergency vehicles to pass freely.        

When it comes to speed bumps, there are no right or wrong answers. At the end of the day, it’s all about what’s right for you. But if you need help deciding what’s going to be best and most cost-effective for your property…well, you know where to find us.

How To Make Your Lot A Lot Safer

We’ve all been there…. You’re in a parking lot and a car slams into a light post. Or a truck gets burglarized. Or a scooter takes a blind corner, drives into a magical portal, and vanishes into The Spirit Realm. Okay, maybe that last situation is a bit far fetched, but you’ve seen enough to know that parking lots can be a pretty dangerous place. Here’s the good news, though: with a little bit of planning and maintenance, they don’t have to be.                                        

Take Care of Your Pavement

Does your parking lot have potholes? These dangerous divots can ruin a car’s wheels, suspension, and steering. And each of those structural problems could ultimately lead to a car accident—on or off your property. Potholes also simply look bad, which hurts your curb appeal. Bottom line, correcting these hazards can go a long way to assisting in your efforts with loss prevention.   So, call Black Diamond, and we’ll handle all of your preventative maintenance, crack sealing, and more. 

Find Ways to Manage People’s Speed

When a car is driving too fast, it increases the likelihood of collisions. It also increases the severity of those collisions. So, think about installing speed bumps in strategic places around your lot to slow things down. Depending on the type and size of parking lot on your property, you also might consider putting up speed limit signs. And have you thought about making the aisles shorter? According to SWOF Institute for Road Safety Research, long straightaways seem to encourage speeding (as do checkered flags, starter pistols, and prize money for setting the land-speed record).  

Create a Safe Layout

 Parking lot design is an absolutely crucial determiner of safety. Make sure both the stalls and aisles are wide enough for vehicles to navigate safely. You’ll also want to install a pedestrian walkway and pedestrian refuges so people on foot can easily avoid traffic. And make sure you don’t create the sort of blind spots that seem to welcome criminals.  

Increase Visibility

To drive safely, people have to be able to see where they’re going. Does your parking lot have enough lighting? Does it have any dangerous corners? Does it have mirrors to help with those corners? Visibility is everything. Make sure you take all of these safety considerations into account when planning your parking lot.                     

Have a Security Presence

Have you thought about hiring a security guard or putting in surveillance cameras? Both can be great deterrents to theft and other nefarious parking lot activities. And if those aren’t in the budget, think about adding some signage that tells people they’re being watched. Believe it or not, even just a picture of eyeballs can help decrease crime: this was enough to reduce theft at one shopping center by up to 40%. So, maybe that approach can work for you, too.                     

Create Labels and Signage

Think about the expectations you have for your parking lot, and make sure they’re clearly communicated to drivers. If traffic should flow in one direction, you’ll need to paint some arrows. If you have a two-way street between the parking lot and a commercial building, you’ll want to label those lanes of traffic. And if your parking lot has intersections, you’ll want to post stop signs. You’re basically just trying to get everyone on the same page and identify hazards before they become accidents.

Clearly Define the Parking Spots

Take a look at your parking lot through the perspective of a new visitor to your property. Are the spots clearly labeled? Or has the paint started to fade? Are they wide enough to comfortably fit the largest SUVs? Or are they a little too tight? Are there parking blocks at the end of each space? Or do people have to guess where their space ends? Parking blocks are great because they reduce human error by physically stopping people’s wheels when it’s time. Also, if you really like concrete rectangles, parking blocks can be a beautiful decorative piece.          

Poorly planned parking lots can be a dangerous free-for-all. But there are plenty of things you can do to turn the tide. If you need a little help giving your parking lot a makeover, reach out to Black Diamond today. But until then, we’ll probably keep parking in that really safe lot down the street.

Asphalt vs. Concrete Parking Lots

Your parking lot is a hideous mess of cracks, divots, and potholes, and you’ve already made the weighty decision to have it replaced. But now you have to make a more complex decision; do you want that parking lot made out of asphalt or concrete? This article walks you through some of the biggest factors to consider. (This article also gives you an easy way to look busy whenever your boss walks by.)   

Factor 1: Up-Front Cost

You might expect to pay $2.50 – $4.50 per square foot for an asphalt parking lot, but more like $4 – $7 per square foot for a concrete parking lot. So initially, concrete parking lots are more expensive. And keep in mind, that difference in cost grows as your parking lot gets bigger. A concrete lot that holds 18 cars will cost a little more. But if it holds 1,000 cars, it’ll cost a lot more. 

Factor 2: Maintenance Cost

You’ll notice that we mentioned “up-front cost” in the last section. That’s because you’ll also have to factor in maintenance costs. Concrete parking lots, for example, are low maintenance. But asphalt parking lots are considered high maintenance. They’ll need sealcoating and crack sealing, and they’ll always need at least an hour to get ready before going out for dinner. Now, that’s high maintenance.

Factor 3: Lifespan

Concrete parking lots have been known to last for 40 or even 50 years. But asphalt parking lots might only last for 25 or 35 years. With such different lifespans, you’ll need to create some sort of apples-to-apples comparison. An easy way to do this is by estimating the total cost of each parking lot per year. Don’t forget to include the price of your anniversary gift. That first year with your parking lot is a really big deal.          

Factor 4: Type of Traffic

If you’re expecting a ton of really heavy commercial vehicles, an asphalt parking lot might degrade faster because it has more “give.” So oftentimes, a high-impact situation calls for a concrete parking lot, which offers more rigidity and support. A concrete parking lot can also support in other ways, like listening to your problems and being there for you when times get tough.

Factor 5: Weather

An asphalt parking lot is usually going to expand, contract, and soften in hotter climates. And all of that movement can lead to some damage and cracking. That means asphalt parking lots are better suited to moderate and cold-weather climates. Concrete parking lots, on the other hand, perform really well under extreme heat. So, talk to your pavement specialist (that’s us)—or your local weatherman—to see which surface is right for you.

Factor 6: Aesthetics

Concrete is a lighter surface, reflects light better, and some people think it has a more inviting look. But that lighter surface can be a double-edged sword, especially since it shows oil spotting more easily. So, while some people prefer the look of a concrete parking lot initially, it might not age as well over time. 

Factor 7: Project Timeline

Concrete parking lots usually take more time to install, set, and cure. That delay, of course, is really short in the overall scheme of things, especially since you’ll be living with this parking lot for several decades. But it’s definitely something you’ll want to account for in your project milestones—especially if your tenants rely on as little interruption to their daily lives as possible.

Factor 8: The Planet

A lot of people don’t realize this, but asphalt is the most recycled material in the entire world. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration states that as much as 80% of old asphalt is recycled into new projects. It’s also good for the environment in a second way; plastic bottles and bags can be melted down and used as a binding ingredient in asphalt. So, when you’re thinking about your next parking lot, you might also take a moment to think about the planet. Learn more about how Black Diamond incorporates plastic road into our projects here

Factor 9: Your Vision for the Property

When it comes to parking lots, common sense always wins the day. So, consider your long-term vision for the property. If you plan to sell it in ten years, there’s no telling what the next owner wants to do with the land. There’s no point in choosing concrete for its longevity when you don’t even know if the next owner is going to keep it. You’ll be living with your parking lot choice for decades. That means it’s worth looking at this decision from every single angle. If it all seems like too many variables to take into account, we get it. And we’ve got you. Reach out to Black Diamond today for a little professional guidance.

Crack Sealing 101

Everyone knows it’s bad when your pavement cracks. But very few people understand why. Here are three main reasons:

  1. Cracking leads to more cracking; if it goes untreated, the problem escalates.
  2. Water makes its way through those cracks, which can lead to potholes. These are objectively worse than cracks.
  3. Cracks are just so dang ugly.

So, here’s how to seal the cracking in your pavement, protect your surface, and preserve your curb appeal.

You Can Only Seal “The Right Type of Crack”

This is a bit of an oversimplification. But speaking broadly, we seal the cracks that look like a straight or crooked line. If you’re interested in the technical terms, those are usually called transverse cracks and longitudinal cracks. But cracking that looks more like a spider web—called “alligator cracking”—isn’t right for sealing. Neither is cracking that looks like an elaborate sequence of alien crop circles.

Try to Catch the Cracking Early

Cracking is like any other problem; it gets worse over time. For example, when the temperature fluctuates, your pavement expands and contracts. That’s normal. But when you have cracking in your pavement, that expansion and contraction will make the cracking even worse. Once the crack is wider than 1.5 inches, it’s not right for sealing and has to go through a different, more complicated (more expensive) process. So, you always want to jump on these things early. (Or call Black Diamond and we’ll jump on it for you.)

Cleaning the Crack

The first step we do is to make sure the crack is completely free of debris. That cleanliness creates an ideal surface for the sealant to stick to.

The Hot Air Lance

As we’ve mentioned above, the sealant has trouble bonding to wet surfaces. But it’s not just water we need to worry about. Asphalt has a natural presence of oils, and we have to blast the crack with a hot-air lance that burns those oils away. These things can get up to 2,000 or 3,000 degrees, so it’s important this is done by a true professional. There’s a delicate balance between burning away the oils and using so much heat you damage the remaining pavement.

Selecting the Right Sealant

We’re almost ready to seal the crack, but there are different types of sealants we could use. Some are more flexible. Others are more rigid. When we take a look at your pavement, we assess many factors, such as the climate in your location, the amount of traffic your pavement gets, and the overall scope of the project. Like most things, crack sealing isn’t a one-size-fits-all job.

Sealing the Crack

Now it’s time to seal the crack. And for that, we need to bring out our trusty “pour pot.” As the name suggests, this helps us pour the sealant over the crack. Then we even it out with an asphalt squeegee. And after the sealant cures, traffic can get back on the surface. Keep in mind that you will still see the cracks but they will be sealed.

For all you #satisfying fans, we have a video where you can see our crack sealing process in action. Or give us a call to watch us fix up your pavement in real life—which is more than #satisfying. It’s just good sense.

Common Sidewalk Issues to Keep an Eye On

The average lifespan of a sidewalk is between 20 and 30 years. Along the way, that sidewalk will naturally experience a little wear and tear. This article highlights a few of the most common sidewalk problems and why it’s important to fix them. So, whether you’re running a nonprofit, a retail location, or Jeff Bezos’ HOA in outer space, keep an eye out for each of the following:  

Cracking     

It’s inevitable that, after several years (even in the most well-made sidewalks) you’ll start to see some cracks. Cracking—as with all sidewalk issues—can have a number of causes, but oftentimes it’s caused by changes in temperature. 

Keep an eye out for “edge cracking,” as this means the edges of your sidewalk aren’t supported as well as they should be. You might also see something called “alligator cracking,” in which cracks form patterns that vaguely resemble the scales of an alligator. There are also cracks that look like spider webs (caused by premature drying of the concrete), cracks caused by overloading the sidewalk (think big, heavy equipment or dumpsters resting for too long on your concrete), and cracks caused by the concrete settling or expanding. 

Don’t worry, no one expects you to keep all these different types of cracks straight. Just know that if you see any type of cracking, it’s time to call in the pros.

Lifting

Another common sidewalk issue is when a section of your walkway begins to tilt or lift. That leads to a sidewalk that’s uneven, disjointed, and possibly even dangerous. The culprit is often tree roots, which exert an impressive amount of force as they continue to grow underneath your sidewalk. This sort of lifting can also be caused by the expansion of the ground below.  

Sinking

This is similar to the “lifting” issue…but in reverse. A sidewalk begins to sink when its support system—the ground—gets washed away.                

Potholes

Everyone’s seen potholes in the road. And unfortunately, sidewalks are just as susceptible. Potholes usually have the same root cause as the sinking you just read about; water washes away the soil beneath the sidewalk. And with no support down below, the structural integrity of the sidewalk weakens, and part of the sidewalk caves in.   

Spalling

Spalling, commonly referred to as “flaking,” happens when the smooth upper layer of a sidewalk erodes. That exposes a gritty layer that can end up looking patchy or gravely. Flaking, unfortunately, typically leads to even more flaking. And while it has a number of causes, it’s usually due to poorly mixed raw materials, settling of the sidewalk when it’s first being installed, or the expansion of any moisture that’s trapped inside the surface.       

Accessibility Problems

Accessibility is a fairly unique issue because it’s not caused by the deterioration of the sidewalk. Instead, it’s caused by the sidewalk’s design. If someone is in a wheelchair, they’ll need the sidewalk to be a certain width, they’ll need it to have a ramp, and they’ll need the ramp to be close to the handicapped parking spots. So, it’s important that sidewalks are designed with equal access in mind. (Did you know Black Diamond can help with your ADA needs? In fact, we’re experts in the field—click here or give us a call to learn more!)    

Bears

If an actual bear wanders out of the forest and onto your sidewalk, that’s one of the biggest sidewalk problems you’ll ever run into. Do not call Black Diamond. Just ditch your salmon and run.

The Importance of Fixing Sidewalk Issues

You want to stay on top of your sidewalk’s maintenance for several reasons: 

  1. A damaged sidewalk can lead to injury, which is bad in and of itself. But you also open yourself up to the legal liability that comes with those injuries. 
  2. Your sidewalk might create issues with your local government. For example, if your sidewalk is unsafe, or it isn’t handicap accessible, you might get slapped with a fine. 
  3. A crumbling sidewalk hurts your curb appeal, which can impact you financially. 
  4. A damaged sidewalk can lead to even more damage. Once the cracking begins, it quickly spreads. 

Black Diamond Can Help Maintain Your Sidewalk

Over time, your sidewalk will naturally need a little TLC. So, whether it’s preventive maintenance, crack sealing, or a completely new walkway, reach out to Black Diamond Paving & Concrete today to see how we can help whip your sidewalk back into shape! 

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