Archive for: asphalt

WHY CHOOSE US

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.

Seasonal Effects on Asphalt

The seasons are changing, and so is your asphalt. What do those changes look like? That’s a great question. And this article has all the answers.                   

The Hot and Cold Seasons

Your Asphalt Might Expand and Crack

Extreme temperatures tend to wreak havoc on pavement. Consider the following two scenarios:

  • Scenario #1 – You live in a warm-weather climate, like San Diego or Los Angeles. Those summer months can be tough on your asphalt. That’s because extreme heat causes your pavement to expand and, eventually, crack. 
  • Scenario #2 – You live in a cold-weather climate, like Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, or Big Bear. Those harsh winters can be equally tough on your asphalt. That’s because water can seep into the asphalt and freeze. And when that water freezes, it expands and, similarly, causes your asphalt to crack.

But there’s no need to worry; these changes usually happen slowly over time. Asphalt is a flexible pavement surface, so as long as you’re keeping up with regular maintenance, you’ll get the most out of your pavement investment. 

You Might See Waves and Soft Spots

Not only can the heat create cracks in your asphalt, it can also lead to depressions and soft spots. That’s because your asphalt is getting hammered with something called “solar radiation,” a force that causes your asphalt to change shape and weaken. These soft spots are most likely to come about during the summer season when the heat is strong and the days are long.

Your Striping Can Start to Fade

Whether you have a parking lot or roadway on your property, your asphalt probably has a bit of striping. Maybe it communicates that an aisle is “one way,” or maybe it defines the boundaries of each parking spot. You rely on that striping to communicate important information to drivers. During the summer months, the UV rays from the sun are stronger (and the sun beats on your pavement for more hours during the day) and can cause that striping to fade. If you see this happening, you can usually just touch up paint. But if the fading is extreme, it creates a potentially dangerous situation, and you’ll want to have the striping redone.         

The Rainy and Dry Seasons

You Might See Some Potholes

Rains can really take a toll on your asphalt. Let’s say a couple of cracks formed in your asphalt over the summer. Those cracks allow water to seep into the ground, and that seepage can wash away your asphalt’s foundation, weaken the surface, and create the perfect conditions for potholes to form. 

Your Asphalt Might Get Slippery

While slippery pavement is typically associated with snow and ice during the winter, warm, dry conditions can create slippery pavement, too. Without heavy rain to give your pavement a periodic wash, dirt and oil can build up—especially on a surface that’s not properly maintained. So when you get a drizzle of rain, that little bit of moisture combines with the oil and debris to create a grimey film that can actually be pretty slick. And this can be even more dangerous because motorists aren’t expecting slippery conditions.

Black Diamond Can Help with Seasonal Wear and Tear

Asphalt, just like anything else, will naturally degrade over time. But here’s the good news: There’s something that you can do to significantly slow down that process. You can hire Black Diamond. We’ll come out to seal the cracks, do the preventive maintenance and all of the sealcoating. Call Black Diamond today to protect your asphalt against the seasonal extremes. 

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.

Which Costs More: Asphalt or Concrete?

We know everyone’s tired of slogging through 15 minutes of clickbait just to get to a simple answer online. So, we’ll come right out and give you what you’re looking for: concrete usually costs more than asphalt. But that’s the simplified answer…the only way to understand the entire financial equation is to get a better sense of the big picture—which we helpfully spell out in this very article. Read on!

Concrete Usually Costs More

(Yes, we just said that…let us elaborate.) For the completion of the initial project, concrete can cost about 50% more than asphalt. That’s a rule of thumb, but it’s helpful to know that the upfront cost can be substantial.

Concrete Lasts Longer

We made sure to mention that concrete is more expensive for the completion of the initial project. But that’s not your only financial consideration. For example, concrete has a longer life cycle. So, in exchange for paying more, you’ll usually get more use out of it.  Typically, concrete can last 40-50 years (or more) depending on the exposure to the elements and the type of concrete used.  

Asphalt Requires Sealing Every Few Years

Our specialists can talk you through the benefits of sealing concrete. But with asphalt, you’ll definitely need to seal it every few years. That’s just a normal part of preventive maintenance and, obviously, another cost. This process prolongs the life of your asphalt by protecting it from water, gasoline, oils, and UV damage.

Your Climate Informs the Cost

Hot climates can be tougher on asphalt, which can lose structural integrity in extreme heat. While a great asphalt job will definitely hold up, all of that softening and hardening adds a little more wear and tear. On the other side of the coin, cold weather is harder on concrete. The constant freezing and thawing expands and contracts the pavement and leads to all sorts of cracking. So, it’s important to factor in the costs that come with climate-induced challenges.      

Asphalt Repairs are Easier

Degradation is normal and happens over time. And when that time comes, asphalt is easier and cheaper to repair. We also find that a patch job on asphalt matches the original surface better and looks more subtle than a patch on concrete. And while we are experts at repairing concrete as well, it’ll usually cost more, and the repairs will be more noticeable. You also might consider that it’s harder to keep concrete looking clean. Things like oil stains, tire marks, and spills can be far more obvious on concrete surfaces versus asphalt.      

Need More Guidance?

Industry-wide, you’ll usually find that concrete costs more than asphalt, but that’s far from your only financial variable. So, be sure to account for the life span of your surface, the cost of sealing, repairs, cleaning, and climate-induced wear and tear. Take all of that into account, and you’ll be sure to make the most informed decision possible. Or you can just reach out to Black Diamond Paving for an assessment and some sage advice.

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