Archive for: parking lots

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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.

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.

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