Dealing With Winter Asphalt Damage

Winter is a tough time of the year on asphalt pavement. Not only are the usual problems of water seepage still an issue, but the changing temperatures can cause all sorts of damage. The most wonderful time of the year can be great in plenty of other ways, but your asphalt will pay the price. Here is a list of ways that you can assess, prevent, and repair the specific types of damage your asphalt will be facing in the winter. In particular, the Midwest is known for it’s bad winter roads. When the weather can go from a pleasant 60-70 degrees down to sub-freezing in a week or two, asphalt is in for a world of hurt.

The freeze/thaw cycle

The changing temperatures of winter can have a lasting effect on asphalt. Paving will often have some liquids that seep into them any time of year, these can come from rain, leaking cars, and more, but in winter the changing temperatures make them much more volatile. 

The process is very simple. During a thaw cycle, liquid water can seek into the body of asphalt paving. It gets in small cracks in the binder and and for the most part isn’t too dangerous. However, when the weather cools, the water expands. This expanding water forces the asphalt apart, pushing against it, causing rutting, cracks, and potholes. The cycle continues, and the water becomes liquid again when the weather warms. This process can even happen in the same day. Once the water is liquid, it seeps further into the asphalt, on account of the cracks it made bigger when freezing. When the temperature drops again, the water expands, making deeper cracks bigger and destroying more of the pavement. This cycle can occur daily, weekly, and/or monthly over the winter months, adding up to huge damages inside the asphalt. 

Dealing with the freeze/thaw cycle

Set up a drainage system

One of the best ways to have a simple drainage system is to make sure that your asphalt is set at a slight slope. The slope lets gravity do the work for you. Water can simply follow the slope down and not accumulate on top of the asphalt, where it seeps into it causing damage. Other drainage systems, like drain tile piping, can help ensure that water doesn’t build up on top of your asphalt and damage it. Learn more about proper asphalt drainage from this article

Crack sealing / seal coating

You’ve probably heard of asphalt seal coating. Seal coating is the process of putting a layer of weather-resistant material on top of your asphalt. It can extend the life of the pavement by decades, and prevents costly repairs in the future. Sealing cracks is another great option, as it prevents small problems (the existing cracks) from getting much, much worse. In general, you should be doing crack sealing at least once every year or two, as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sealing cracks has the added bonus of preventing water seepage into the pavement subgrade. If water does get into the lower sections, a total replacement of the asphalt might be the only repair solution.

Frost heave

If asphalt already has seepage issues, or the ground beneath it has a high water content, it may be subject to frost heave. Frost heave occurs when the water in the lower layers of asphalt or in the ground below it freezes and expands. Just like in asphalt that has water freezing and expanding, Frost heave results in major damage and causes big changes in the level of the parking lot. Entire sections can rise inches or feet above others, resulting in a more dangerous lot and significant damage. 

Dealing with frost heave

Clear standing water

Do your best to keep your pavement clear of standing water. Make sure your drainage is adequate, and clear off snow and ice that builds up on the asphalt during the winter. 

Re-set the asphalt

In cases with intense damage, it may be necessary to heat the asphalt so it is workable again, and then lay it. This helps you start “fresh” with a  new layer of asphalt that does not have water in it or below it. 

Snow

Snow poses various threats to your asphalt. One is that previously seen bits of debris will become invisible when snow is on the ground. Another is that snow often necessitates plowing, which can be harmful to your asphalt as well. 

Dealing with snow

Use a quality snow-removal surface

If you need to have a parking lot or road plowed, make sure that the plow isn’t going to damage your pavement. Do so by checking whether the plow is coated in polyurethane or rubber, rather than only steel. Of course, make sure to use a licensed and reputable snow-removal service.

Use salt sparingly

Salt is a classic for snow removal. However, the salt can mix with melted water and create more solvency that will do damage to your lot. Additionally, the saltwater runoff can be harmful to the local environment. A good option is to use salt mixed with sand if necessary, or to avoid salt altogether if possible. 

Ensure your asphalt stands up to the winter

If your asphalt looks like it needs some work before winter weather hits, let Reliable Paving help you. We can inspect your lot for damage, fix existing damage, and take preventative measures. Whether you just want your lot checked to make sure it can handle the winter, or you need last year’s winter damage fixed, we can certainly help. Perhaps your lot needs to be repaved altogether. Either way, Reliable’s team of over 200 people and 35 years of experience means that we know how to handle paving in the winter. Let a paving contractor do the work for you, contact Reliable Paving today.

Trails And Walkways: Paving Projects That Improve Lives

Not all asphalt has to go into roads and parking lots.

The vast majority of asphalt paving in the country goes into roads and parking lots. Well, 94% of the roads in the US are made from asphalt, so the number is must be pretty high. About 85% of all asphalt produced is used as a binder in road asphalt concrete. That’s a lot. The rest of the vast majority (10%) is used in roofing – the sealing and weatherproofing in many roofs comes from asphalt binder. That leaves just 5% for other uses. Almost all of the rest is used in sealing and insulating. 

So most asphalt is accounted for in building roads and waterproofing…but what else is it used for? Believe it or not, asphalt, as simple as it seems, can be used to benefit communities in non-traditional ways. Some of the best ways to benefit a location aren’t always massive infrastructure projects. Sure, installing a sewer system/water treatment, internet and phone lines, and building roads are important for developing any community. However, there are some much more subtle and easy ways to spur development and improve people’s lives. And one of those things require asphalt.

Trails, also known as greenways, are paths built for people o enjoy. Usually these paths are in natural areas, by beaches, in forests, or across prairie. They can also go through parks and nearby neighborhoods. These paths typically don’t allow motor vehicles, but they do allow foot traffic, bicycles, roller blades and skates, and other self-propelled means of transportation. 

Why build a trail system?

Good question. What benefits do trails provide that roads don’t? In fact, most people could probably think of the problems that trails don’t solve more easily.

  • Vehicles can’t ride on them, so they can’t be used to transport too many people or things.
  • They are often windy and indirect, so they don’t get people where they want to go efficiently.
  • They tend to be in remote areas, so they don’t take people where they want to go.
  • Trails are for leisure, not utility. 

These are all fair points, but they miss the main point of trails: they are good for people. Trails benefit people’s mental and physical health, and thus provide an over all benefit to the communities that they are in. 

Let’s take an in-depth look at the benefits of trails and greenways. Asphalt and paving is for more than just cars.

Health benefits

Across all ages and other demographics, when people are nearby trails, they get out more. The benefits to leading more active lives results in happier people and a more productive population. Additionally, the lower medical costs of dealing with healthy people as opposed to unhealthy people means trails can pay for themselves over time. 

  • Trails help control weight and diabetes, as well as cholesterol levels and bone loss associated with aging.
  • The low-impact exercise that is easy to find on trails helps decrease risk of cancers, and helps reduce anxiety and depression. 
  • Easy access to nature is enables people to relax. Studies have shown that spending time in nature does wonders for the mental health of everyone across the board.
  • Short trails enable people to easily get some exercise while going to and from work, school, and or shopping.
  • Trails provide pretty and accessible locations where children can play. Children’s health around trails is improved because they can find places to exercise and play more easily and in nicer settings.
  • A study cited in this in-depth look at trail benefits from the Rails to Trails Conservancy showed that 70% of trail users reported being more active thanks to trail systems nearby.

 

Economic benefits

Trails also provide a boon of economic bonuses to wherever they are. Some of them are in savings (such as lower medical costs in the area because the population is healthier), but many come in the form of increased spending. The ways trails benefit the economy are myriad.

  • Trails increase the property values of nearby homes and businesses.
  • Trails influence business locations and other decisions. As cycling has grown in popularity across the US, numerous restaurants and bars have opened up in otherwise tiny towns. Where did they open? Where cyclists from nearby communities pass through their towns. On longer trails, shopping centers (for trail supplies), and hotels open in order to serve those on long trips.
  • Trails boost spending at local businesses. People come to enjoy trail systems. Along the way, the need to eat and drink too. 
  • Trails provide alternative transportation options. This means people can live happily without cars sometimes. Benefits include:
    • Fuel expenses are lower.
    • Reduced levels of carbon emissions in communities with trails.
    • Less traffic/traffic jams.
    • Less space required for parking and roads.
    • Less environmental impact (fewer roads, traffic, fuel consumption, and parking space required) over all.
  • Trails create higher demand for the areas they are in. They do so because trails make an area more attractive for people to visit and live in. This has several effects:
    • Revitalizing depressed areas. Low income individuals without cars can more easily get around, have jobs and more.
    • Increase property values (as mentioned above). By creating more demand in an area, buildings that were once vacant can be brought back and the whole neighborhood will see the benefits.
  • The money saved from lower medical expenses is also an economic benefit to a community.

 

Trailblazing the way to healthier communities

Here at Reliable Paving, we are interested not only in doing the best jobs we possibly can do on your paving project, but also benefiting your community. We are socially responsible paving contractors who keep up with the ways in which we can benefit you, ourselves, and the world around us. If you are interested in improving your community by bringing in some extra money and making people healthier, contact us for your trail paving project today.

Parking Lot Asphalt Alternatives

Most commercial parking lots are asphalt. But there are a host of new – and old alternatives that can be used. Why might you want to try a different paving material? Maybe you want to minimize your environmental impact. Maybe you’d rather use something that just looks different. Maybe you’d just like to find something more cost-effective. Either way, asphalt actually has quite a few competitors for parking lots.

Permeable solutions

These solutions basically allow drainage right through the parking lot itself. Many traditional lots made from asphalt paving require storm gutters. Benefits of permeable pavements include not needing water drainage gutters, not requiring frequent maintenance, and not requiring the gutters be cleared of debris. Permeable surfaces don’t need seal coating like traditional asphalt either.

Gravel

Gravel is a cost-effective and easy solution to your paving problems. It’s cheap, easy to lay, and pretty low maintenance. But what about lost rocks? Won’t they need to be replaced over time? There are very simple and cheap solutions to maintaining your gravel parking lot. Lattice systems like the Truegrid Paver provide a honeycomb like structure what the asphalt can rest in. This keeps it from loosely being kicked around by vehicles. 

Gravel’s advantages include that it is porous- water pooling, seeping into cracks, and eventually potholing and cracking your pavement won’t be a problem anymore. With asphalt, the water just seeps right through it into the earth. The fact that potholes won’t be a concern anymore is great for vehicles, pedestrians, and business owners looking to avoid lawsuits.

Grass

Grass is great for parking lots that don’t see a too many vehicles, but what about ones that do? Well, it is a viable alternative for busy parking lots thanks to pavers like the one mentioned above. The lattice keeps the grass in place so it doesn’t quickly wear off, rut, or become otherwise damaged. Just like concrete, with grass lots you won’t have to worry about costly maintenance. Potholes, liquid seepage, and more will become a thing of the past. 

Read more about the web-like lattice material used in green alternatives to asphalt here.

Porous/permeable pavements

These types of pavements function like grass and gravel. They provide environmentally-friendly management of water. Storms, rain, and more aren’t problems because the water can work it’s way through the pavement, the pavement’s base, and into the ground below. 

Typically the base of this type of pavement is a spaced out stone bed. The stone bed let’s any liquid make its way back to the earth. The trick is to make the stone bed the right depth so that the water never rises to the asphalt level.

Alternatives to asphalt coating

Asphalt requires seal coating, which is a weatherproofing made for asphalt, concrete, and black top. This coating needs to be re-applied every few years (more depending on weather), and prevents liquids from entering the asphalt. Liquid is the enemy of asphalt, it causes damage by getting inside and then expanding as the temperature changes. In places with freeze-thaw weather cycles, this is devastating to tarmac of any kind (it’s one of the reasons that the Midwest has perennially terrible roads).

Solar reflectivity coatings

Solar reflectance is the ability of a substance to reflect the sun’s light and thus stay cool. Black has a rating of 0, while white has a rating of 100. There have been ideas posited that making every paved surface (in the world) white would help reduce or even reverse some of climate change’s effects. 

Why is it a good thing? It helps reduce the “heat island effect” that a lot of traditional black top gets on hot days in the summer. Not only is this better for the planet, it’s more comfortable for your business’s clients who visit during the summer. This coating can also be placed on walkways, trails, patios, sidewalks, playgrounds, and more to cool the surrounding area. It could even be placed on building roofs that are paved in order to reduce cooling costs.

Bio rejuvenators

Bio-based rejuvenators are an asphalt healing balm. They are derived from waste wood. When applied to asphalt, they sink deep into it, permeating beneath just the top surface. They also preserve parking lot line striping, as they are mostly transparent. Bio-based rejuvenators reduce harmful oxidization of asphalt components (rust). Bio oils also improve an asphalt’s rheology. Rheology is the how material moves/acts when under stress. Basically, this means that they help the asphalt maintain it’s form when thousands of pounds of car weight is on it without breaking or cracking. They also reduce the stiffness of aged asphalt. They are environmentally friendly, so there is not dangerous runoff after application. Additionally, bio oils dry after application in only 15-30 minutes! This means that a road being treated with them has very little down time. 

Asphalt recycling

One of the best alternatives to asphalt paving is…well… asphalt paving. Rather than have completely new pavement installed, old damaged asphalt can be pulverized. This is the process of breaking it back down into it’s component aggregate. Then, the aggregate can be reapplied with new binder and voila, a brand new asphalt surface without new materials. Aggregate makes up 90-95 percent of asphalt by volume, so the ability to recycle the vast majority of your parking lot into your new parking lot is nothing short of fantastic for the environment. Additionally, recycled asphalt is cheaper too – money doesn’t have to be spent on new paving materials.

Get your parking lot paved right

Whether you want a green, cheap alternative, or traditional asphalt, Reliable Paving can help you out. Our 35 years of experience and team of over 200 means no job is too big or too difficult. We keep on top of green paving trends, an recycle a good deal of asphalt ourselves. If you want your paving done right, on budget, on time, and in the best way for yourself and the world, look no further. You need paving that is reliable, and you need a paving contractor that is reliable. Get started today, and let’s see how we can help you.

The Ultimate Guide to Parking Lot Inspection

Your business probably has a parking lot. It’s an important and useful part of every business. It’s the first thing most clients see before they even go in the building, so it’s important that it makes a good impression. Not only does it create a first impression, it needs to be a reliable and safe place for vehicles to stay. It’s thus of utmost importance to keep your parking lot in good working order. Regular maintenance, upkeep, and inspections are a must. In order to help you keep your parking lot in the best shape it can be, we’ve compiled a helpful guide for checking your lot and keeping it up to spec.

Why is parking lot inspection important?

It may seem like the kind of thing that you can do only when you have problems – when a problem in the lot becomes apparent, inspect the rest of it and find whatever other issues need fixing, right? Not exactly. There are actually quite a few reasons to keep your lot regularly inspected.

Avoid costly repairs

If you find a problem early, you can nip it in the bud. Small repairs are cheaper, faster, and easier than massive restoration projects.

Maintain the value of your lot

Not only will the parking lot continue to make a good impression on clients, but your lot and adjacent business will continue to be a positive investment. 

Liabilities

A regularly-inspected lot can stay safer. This means you won’t have to worry as much about potential injuries and lawsuits. A safer lot is better for business.

Keep your business going

A well-maintained lot is able to accommodate more cars. This means more business for you. A lot that isn’t properly maintained will need huge repairs down the road…meaning you will have to close of part of your lot. Inspection followed by small repairs keeps your lot working for you.

Ensure legality

Permits and licenses change periodically. The last thing you want is to get your business and/or parking lot shut down because you have an out of date parking lot. Make sure that you are on top of your certificates/licenses/permits so that you can stay in business. Frequent inspection helps to ensure total legality in your business’s parking lot.

Parking Lot Checklist

An official checklist, like this one can be complicated and confusing to follow. Fortunately, we’ve simplified it and provided a nice checklist that gives you guidelines for what to do.

Entrance

  • Are points of ingress/sidewalks unobstructed? Is there debris on them that needs removal?
  • Can gates/doors open even in the case of power failure? Do they open when there is an alarm?
  • Are all gated points of entry clearly visible? Points of entry include doors, gates, lever arms (semaphore), and more.
  • Do automatic gates work correctly?
  • Do automatic gates function smoothly and without mechanical disruption?
  • Are plants near walkways trimmed and under control?

Signage

  • Is all signage in good repair and clearly visible?
  • Are entry and exit signs clear? 
  • Can the entrance be seen easily from passing vehicles?

Markings

  • Are stop signs at appropriate areas?
  • Are there mirrors at blind spots?
  • Are pavement lines, arrows, and signs clearly visible?
  • Are signs well-lit and easily visible?
  • Are parking spaces spaced appropriately? Are parking space lines clearly visible?
  • Are pedestrian walkways easy to see? 
  • Are signs pointing to pedestrian walkways visible and accurate?
  • Are handicapped parking spots clearly visible?
  • Are handicapped spots the correct size? (Sizes can vary from place to place).
  • Are there areas designated for various types of vehicles?
    • Bicycles
    • Motorcycles
    • Electric Cars
  • Is signage for electric car charging visible and accurate?
  • Is all interior marking/signage accurate? As construction/renovation happens, it may need to be changed.

Security

  • Are appropriate safety signs in place? (fire exits, emergency exits, etc.)
  • Are fences/walls free from holes/damage?
  • Is there a routine security patrol?
  • Is night-time lighting adequate?
  • Are all lights functioning and in good condition?
  • Are there dark areas of the lot?
  • Is there CC TV camera recording?
  • Are there emergency stations, do they work properly?
  • Is the lot clear of abandoned vehicles?
  • Is there a fire hose/hydrant near by? Can the fire mitigation equipment be safely accessed?
  • Is the lot kept clear of debris, trash, and dangerous materials?

Entry and exit

  • Pertaining to stairs, elevators, and walkways:
      • Are they clearly lit?
      • Are they unobstructed?
      • Are they clear of water, ice, snow, oil, and slippery material?
      • Are handrails in working order?
  • Are elevators in good working order and up to date on certification?

Surfaces/Asphalt conditions

  • Is the asphalt paving smooth and easily to traverse?
  • Are pavement damages controlled/fixed? (potholes, cracks, etc.)
  • Are ramp slopes at the correct ratio?
  • Is there slip-resistant surfacing on ramps and other appropriate areas?

Water drainage

  • Is there storm water control?
  • Are drains/grates clear of debris?
  • Is the lot clear of standing water?
  • Is snow plowing/salting/sanding regular and adequate?
  • Is snow plowed to designated areas?
  • Are gutters unobstructed?

Pay stations

  • Are pay stations in good working order? Do they accept multiple forms of payment?
  • Are pay stations well-lit with proper signage?

Workers/staff

  • Are workers trained properly?
  • Is there a first-aid kit available?
  • Are staff rooms/restrooms clean and unobstructed?
  • How are records kept? Records include:
    • Maintenance
    • Vehicles/accidents
    • Equipment
    • Work logs
  • Are staff properly certified in safety/job function?
  • Is fire-safety equipment maintained and available?
  • Do staff adhere to schedules?
    • Cleaning
    • Maintenance
    • Inspections
    • Safety

Need help maintaining your lot?

We’ve given you a pretty big list of stuff to keep track of, and that’s just for your parking lot, not even your business! Fortunately, Reliable Paving is a full-service paving contractor. We can perform the whole range of necessary tasks to keep your lot up to date. We do striping, repairs, paving, and much more. Send us a message today and we can ensure your lot is its absolute best.

workers laying asphalt

Why Asphalt is the Best Choice for Parking Lot Paving

So you want to build a new parking lot. What should you use? Concrete is always an option, as is various other types of surfacing. Driving around town, it’s pretty noticeable that most parking lots are paved with asphalt. Why is that? Asphalt paving provides a number of benefits that concrete and other materials don’t. 

What about concrete?

The main contender for asphalt parking lots is concrete. Concrete does have some benefits.

  • Concrete is versatile. There are many design options that you can use with concrete that aren’t an option with asphalt.
  • Long lifespan with low maintenance. Concrete lasts a long time, and requires comparatively little upkeep.
  • Concrete holds up better in intense heat. An asphalt parking lot can soften and become oily in extremely hot weather, concrete will maintain its integrity. The lighter color of concrete also stops it from absorbing as much of the sun’s rays as blacktop asphalt does.

What other options are there?

Brick, gravel, and other permeable barriers can be used for driveways and parking lots as well. Some of them offer a better ecological impact, some simply look better. There are myriad different choices you can use, and they all come with their pros and cons. Here’s a good article about the different alternatives (including concrete) that can be used for driveways. Why driveways and not parking lots? Because parking lots see a lot more traffic. They require more maintenance, and that maintenance has to be done in a timely and cost-effective manner. There’s a reason you don’t see too many brick commercial parking lots.

Why we still think asphalt is the best

Although asphalt paving may not be perfect, it still outshines its competitors for a number of reasons.

Safety

Even the smoothest asphalt gives tires a great grip on the road. It’s why you don’t see highways made out of concrete. Asphalt’s aggregate construction provides ample traction for all kinds of wheels. One problem that permeable parking lots can have is that natural soil comes through to the surface. This may be intended, but in cold climates, that same topsoil freezes and makes for a slippery, dangerous hazard.

Sustainability

Asphalt one of the most recycled materials in the world. About 80% of asphalt that is removed from streets, highways, and parking lots during maintenance winds up being recycled. The ability that asphalt has to be reused/renewed isn’t just good for the environment. It’s good for your wallet too. It means that maintenance projects can reuse damaged asphalt, making expensive shipping of materials to the site less necessary. It also means that when you are having your asphalt touched-up or serviced, the asphalt being used to replace it is coming from a local nearby source, not a new material being mined halfway around the world. 

Asphalt is versatile

There’s a reason it’s the most commonly-used material for parking lots. Now matter the size of the lot that is required, asphalt can get the job done. It can make lots with different thickness and area. The thickness of the asphalt can help determine its longevity. Why do you think you see asphalt used for driveways, streets, highways, and parking lots? Because it’s a useful material for the different requirements that each surface has. 

Other uses for asphalt involve water storage, erosion prevention, and flood control.

  • It can be used as a coating to water-proof wood, building foundations, and other materials. 
  • Parts of cars and trucks are even lined with asphalt to make them run more quietly. 
  • Black asphalt paint is used to paint over graffiti.
  • It can be used to seal wounds and stave off bacteria.
  • Asphalt is even used in paintings.

How is this relevant to your parking lot? Well, if you have lots of asphalt sitting around your construction site after paving, then you can probably find plenty of other uses for it.

Longevity

Asphalt has a pretty good lifespan. Not only is it tough and capable of lasting for years on its own, it can be maintained and improved to last even longer. A little preventative maintenance can make asphalt last for decades more. 

Sealcoating is one of the most common types of asphalt improvement. This basically means that the asphalt is topped with a covering that prevents liquids from getting inside.

Crack filling and hole repair is easy and can be done with recycled asphalt from the same site or other sources. The recycling aspect also helps keep the costs down on this type of maintenance.

Getting rid of debris also helps the asphalt live longer. Small stones can crack the asphalt when sandwiched between a heavy vehicle’s tire and the pavement. Simply keeping your lot clean can help make it last.

Easy and quick to pave

Time is money, and asphalt is able to be laid and cool/dry quickly. This means that your business minimizes customer loss due to maintenance and parking lot installation. A material that takes longer to dry will mean clients can’t park at your business for more time. 

Asphalt reduces noise

If you have ever been in a concrete parking lot with a veneer, you know the racket that car tires can make. Even a slow turn can produce a high-pitched squealing. Asphalt can reduce noise by up to 50%, making for less stressful driving and happier neighbors. 

Start on your asphalt parking lot

If you’re convinced that asphalt is the way to go for your parking lot, Reliable Paving is happy to help. With over 35 years of experience, and 200-plus person team of paving contractors, Reliable can handle big jobs and little jobs while being safe, timely, and cost-effective. Maybe you are certain that you need a new asphalt driveway, maybe you aren’t sure what kind of pavement you want. Send us a message today, and we will be happy to guide you through the whole process, from planning to paving. 

Planning a School Parking Lot

Parking lots in general use similar design philosophies. There has to be enough space for all the clientele who will be parked at a location, there should also be safe and convenient means to get to the building after parking. The parking lot should be on a flat surface…the list goes on. But what about parking at a school? How should parking be different for a school than other places, like businesses or government offices? What special considerations are unique to places of education? What makes a school different from most other places, and how do the roads, transportation, and parking around it reflect those differences?

Start with general parking lot design

Size

Parking lot size is one of the most important factors in building a new lot. This is relatively easy to predict with a school. The amount of students is a known quantity, as are the teachers and administrative/support staff. Although schools might have athletic or other events that bring in guests, those typically happen during hours when class isn’t in session, so the lot will be empty of its normal tenants. 

Already schools show some major differences. High schools and universities have a class base that can drive. Larger lots are required because students will drive and leave their cars during class. Elementary and middle schools can have much smaller parking lots because the students are typically dropped off by buses or their parents. Even high schools probably don’t need lots that operate at the full capacity of their students — many students at high schools can’t drive yet, and many still take school buses. 

Pavement thickness

Once you get an idea of the amount and concentration of cars on the lot, you will know what kind of weight the pavement will be holding each day. Choosing pavement of the right thickness/resilience is key in building a long-lived parking lot. An elementary school can get away with a less resilient lot as well, as only a few cars (belonging to teachers and school staff) will be parked there for long periods.

Use of space in the lot

Angles of the parking spaces

As high schools and often colleges have newer drivers, it’s best to choose angles that are simple and easy for cars to get into. Angles at 45-60 degrees are great for parking lots with high turnover rates — but schools aren’t that. Most people parking at schools will stay for at least several hours of class. They might leave for lunch, and then again after school. 

Signage

A school absolutely needs to have the best and clearest signage and pavement markings. Safety is of utmost importance at a school, so there should be highly visible signs everywhere. Guest, student, and staff parking also needs to be clearly demarcated.

Accessibility

Many schools have differently abled students. They will therefore need to accommodate those students on the way from their cars/buses to their classes. Wheelchair ramps at parking spaces, handicapped marking spaces, and possibly precautions for deaf or blind students are a requirement for a public place of learning.

For more details on general parking lot design, take a look at this article

Safety

One of the main concerns of a school is safety. In any place with hundreds of young people, safety is of utmost importance. High schools have sports and various outside activities, so the lot should be placed away from where these take place. Crosswalks in and outside the parking lot also need to be clearly marked, for any type of school. Often for pick-up and drop-off zones, only one-way traffic is permitted for safer, more efficient, and more easily-controlled vehicle circulation.

Elementary schools tend to have lots of young children running around before and after school — hence the 25 mph school zone speed limit nearby. Because of the tendency of young children to be unpredictable, parking lots are often placed around the back or sides of the school — away from the main entrance. If there is traffic access to the main entrance, it is usually a pick-up/drop-off loop for parents that is carefully controlled by school staff. Long story short, elementary and middle schools should have their lots placed away from the main entrance of the building. 

Designers should plan and construct parking lots according to the school’s transportation requirements. They should know how the school and its entrances will be used, including access points and bus requirements. 

Decreasing risks to the students can come in a variety of forms. For high schools, with new and accident-prone drivers, hardening existing structures is a good idea to prevent property damage from car crashes. Additional security, such as CCTV, ID requirements to park during school hours, and parking perimeter buffer zones can be implemented. 

Planning for maintenance

Fortunately, this is slightly less difficult with a school. Although accidents can happen that cause sudden and severe damage, most maintenance on a lot happens because of the slow and steady degradation from use. Thanks to the nature of the school year, there are long periods during the summer when the school is not operating, or operating at a fraction of its usual capacity. During summer vacation is the perfect time to perform lot repair and maintenance operations. This kind of activity might hurt businesses that rely on clients year-round, but it won’t affect students on summer break.

What to do if you need a parking lot built?

Does this all seem a little overwhelming when it comes to something as seemingly simple as asphalt paving? If your school, university, or business needs its parking needs met, Reliable Paving is here to help. Our highly professional and experienced team is happy to take a look at your needs for a parking lot, and offer a free quote. If you are looking for paving contractors with an eye for detail, safety, and who can provide/give advice regarding maintenance, then you have come to the right place. Get in contact with us today and we can start on parking lot that meets and exceeds your expectations.

Road Safety During the Fall

Gone are the long hot days of summer, now the blustery cool autumn is upon us. Kids are back in school, it’s no longer painful to be outside in the sun, and winter is next on the horizon. Fall is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, which means going for drives. However, fall poses a new set of threats and dangers for drivers. If you want to get out and enjoy the autumn weather while keeping safety in mind on the road, read on for some tips.

Kids are back in school

This sounds like a non-issue, but it’s a big deal for drivers. Not only will school zones be a lot busier with foot traffic, so will plenty of other areas. Businesses that have school kids as their clientele, areas popular with kids, like parks and rec spots, and more will be fuller with faster, less predictable foot traffic. Young people, especially young children, are unpredictable. They are known for running out in front of traffic with no warning. Also, they are short, so it’s tough, if not impossible, to see them come out from between cars. 

To stay safe on the road when there are kids about, there are a few easy steps we can follow. 

  • Don’t pass a school bus with its stop signs out. This shouldn’t be an issue, but buses often have cameras now to catch people doing exactly that.
  • Obey the speed limit in school zones.
  • Drive a bit slower and be more vigilant in any area frequented by groups of children.

 

Leaves on the road

Leaves, especially wet ones, are a major hazard on the road. Leaves can obscure the lane markers and sides of the road, making driving a bit more difficult. The biggest threat that leaves pose though is that they are extremely slippery. Wet leaves are the most dangerous, as they provide little to no traction on the road for any car or motorbike. 

  • Watch out when you are driving in any heavily forested area in the fall. It’s more likely that there will be leaves on the ground. 
  • Be careful during the rain, as that soaks existing fallen leaves, making them more dangerous to drive on.
  • Don’t take sharp turns over wet leaves. 
  • Do not brake on wet leaves.

 

Worse weather conditions in general

Not only are there leaves on the roads to deal with, but fall driving is more slippery than summer in general. More rain increases your risk of hydroplaning and lowers your vision. Fall temperatures change a lot — the noon weather could be 30 or 40 degrees higher than nighttime weather. This means that condensation is more likely to form. Wetness on the ground/road decreases traction and driving ability. Fog is common in many places in the fall as well, seriously hurting visual conditions.

In some parts of the country, there might even be some frost or ice on the roads already. If you live in an area that sees snow/ice in winter, it’s time to start getting ready in the fall.                                                                                                                                               

  • Maintain a safe following distance on highways.
  • Don’t use your high beams in heavy rain/fog. The water particles will block the beams from illuminating very much in front of you. The reflections from the light will also make it harder for other drivers to see.
  • Be prepared for roads to be more wet/slippery than usual.

 

Sunlight and lack thereof

As the seasons change, so too does the amount of sunlight we get in the northern hemisphere. As the date approaches December 21st, the winter equinox, the days get shorter and shorter. Basically, you will have fewer hours of sunlight on the road. This means that if driving in the dark is problematic, or if you would rather avoid it, you will need to plan your trip to make the most out of the daylight hours. Remember, when it comes to accidents, vehicle occupant deaths are three times higher at night.

Another problem with the changing sunlight is there is more sun glare during the fall. During and around the autumnal equinox (September 22nd in 2020), the sun rises and sets due east and west. This means that driving around this time can be a real pain. Many city streets are oriented east/west, so during dawn and dusk fall driving, be sure to bring some sunglasses or something for the sun.

Tires

Your tires will change in pressure with the temperature. Tires lose 1-2 pounds of pressure for every 10 degree drop in the temperature. If you live in a place with a big daily temperature change, make sure to get your tires ready for the varying weather of the fall. 

Fall is a good time to make sure your tires are in good condition as well. As the weather will be getting worse, conditions more slippery, and winter is on the way, you need your tires to have your back. Make sure your tires aren’t bald, damaged, or otherwise unsafe for your vehicle.

  • Check your tire pressure regularly. Your car manual will tell you what the ideal pressure is.
  • Take a look at your tires for damage/signs of wear and tear. Get them serviced if necessary.

 

Animals are out

Autumn weather sees a lot of animals out and about. It’s hunting season for a reason in the fall. The animals born during spring and summer are still thriving, and hibernating animals are still active. 

  • Pay attention to deer crossing signs.
  • Be careful when driving at dawn/dusk. Those times of day are when most animals are out and active. Be especially careful at this time because it’s harder to see with sun glare during these times of the day.

 

Stay safe this fall

We may not be able to make you or anyone else a better driver, but we can ensure your roads are top-notch. Reliable Paving is a paving contractor company with the know-how, experience, and resources to make sure your asphalt paving is up to snuff. With 35 years of experience, we are experts who can restripe, fix potholes and cracks, and completely replace pavement if necessary. Send us a message today, and we get your road Autumn ready.

Parking Lot Winter Damage

Winter weather varies across the continental US, but a few constants remain. Firstly, whether you are in Washington state or Florida, it’s colder. Some states experience deep freezes lasting months, some just have colder temperatures in general. Either way, it’s guaranteed that your temperatures will be lower in the winter months than the spring, summer, and fall. Another constant across many states in the winter is more precipitation. There are winter rains, snows, sleet, freezing rain, and snow melt. Whether your state is blanketed in snow for much of the winter, or you get a few light dustings throughout the cold months, there is more water to deal with. Finally, the nature of the business you receive changes over the winter. Schools see a down-tick as they have winter holidays. Outdoor businesses often also see downswings in winter business, especially if they are near beaches or based on summer activities, like mountain biking, swimming, or surfing. Some businesses see massive upswings. A ski resort will probably have more traffic on its parking lot in winter than a kayak rental shop will. Additionally, during the colder months, people drive more. Walking and cycling to businesses becomes less feasible, so some businesses that get visitors year-round can expect even more vehicles on the parking lot in winter. 

There are plenty of factors that affect your asphalt pavement in the winter. We can help you analyze those factors, and mitigate them.

Colder weather

Whether your state is nestled in the subtropics, hanging out in the dry desert, or up against the Canadian border, it’s going to be colder in winter. The main problem that happens with asphalt during the winter isn’t actually sustained cold, it’s changing temperatures. As temperatures fluctuate, chunks of material expand and contract. This is especially true for parking lots. Parking lots are essentially giant chunks of asphalt paving in the earth. As winter temperatures change, the pavement changes in size. So does the earth that the parking lots are placed in. The size changes in the soil and the asphalt don’t always match up, both substances have extremely different compositions. Asphalt tends to have less water, and harder, denser material than soil. Earth, depending on the location, can have a lot more water, resulting in more expansion during cold winter months. Either way, the friction and squeezing of the pavement by the earth can cause cracking as tension is added and released. This is especially prominent in typically wet places that have cold, intense winters. 

Another big problem with the cold weather is that water that has leaked into the asphalt expands as well. This can exacerbate existing cracks, as the water erodes the asphalt just as it does in rocks. Water in small cracks expands and causes those cracks to expand with it. This is called frost heave. 

When the temperature fluctuations are faster and more severe, expect more damage from these types of cracking.

Winter precipitation

Snow is a big problem for asphalt in the winter. The sitting water that accumulates on top of pavement can melt and refreeze time after time. This causes the water to seep into the asphalt, and then freeze, worsening existing cracks, and forming more, as mentioned above. Additionally, when snow does melt altogether, as can happen often during the winter, the asphalt will be left with large puddles of standing water, which need to be cleared. Long story short: you don’t want water sitting on top of your parking lot, it will only lead to damage.

Another danger of having snow/ice on the lot is that it becomes slippery, and markings are hard to see. Parking lot accidents injure over 60 thousand people every year. This risk gets worse in the winter because of the lack of traction due to ice and snow. Not being able to see the markings on the lot doesn’t help anyone either.

Tools used to reduce snow accumulation also can damage the lot. So if you are coating your lot with chemicals, be extra careful and pay attention to what you are using. Snow plows can actually damage the lot quite a bit as well. They can rip of the seal coating when scraping the pavement, leaving new openings for future snow melt to get into.

Well, my state doesn’t get much – or any – snow, so I don’t have to worry, right? Not exactly. You can still expect winter rains, storms, and cold water to do a number on your lot. Even in places like Texas, where the snow only lasts about a week or less on average, it still melts and needs somewhere to go. 

The main damage that comes from winter precipitation is cracks and potholes. Water building up on the lot can seep in, cracking it, and eventually breaking out large chunks of pavement. The snow melt chemicals and damage from snow plows can make this damage worse, and cause the markings on the lot to fade.

Here is an in-depth winter parking lot and sidewalk maintenance manual. It can give you the specifics on how best to care for your paving.

Mitigating winter damage

If you wish to decrease winter damage, Reliable Paving can help. We are a large team of experienced paving contractors. During the winter, we can help you with everything you need to keep your parking lot in tip-top shape. 

Our advice on maintenance:

  • Parking lot inspections to maintain your lot’s standards.
  • Building/maintaining a proper drainage system for winter snows and rains.
  • Keeping the lot clean so that chemicals and water don’t build up.
  • Get a snow-removal team on-call if you get a lot of snow. These teams can remove ice too.
  • Repainting/restriping.
  • Crack sealing.
  • Seal coating.
  • Pothole patching.

Fortunately, we can do most of the above list on our own. For anything we can’t do, we’ll point you in the right direction. If you want a parking lot that is properly sealed for the winter, has good drainage, and is tough enough for your needs, Reliable is the best choice. Contact us today whether you want to restripe, fix damage, repave, build drainage, make a new lot, or if you have any other asphalt paving needs. 

Causes of Concrete Deterioration

Concrete has enjoyed a reputation as a “set it and forget it” building material since it became popular in the mid-twentieth century. However, concrete definitely is victim to plenty of external influences. Many of those influences can cause serious degradation. 

Builders today are realizing that existing concrete structures won’t last forever. Many buildings from the 20th century, and even some built in the last few decades, show significant damage. Let’s look at what these signs are, and the causes for concrete deterioration.

General signs of deterioration

Fortunately, concrete, as well as most paving work, wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s easy to see damage to concrete and find it. On the other hand, it’s rare for the damage to be totally hidden. So here’s what you should look for:

  • Cracking: This is the most common type of damage sustained by concrete. Fortunately, cracks are easily visible, and thus easy to treat once spotted. Be aware though, that hairline cracks can become massive over time, as they allow water inside. When that water expands and contracts, you get small cracks becoming bigger and radiating out more fractures.
  • Discoloration: A change in the color of the concrete is not a good sign. If the concrete is changing to a brown/reddish color, it means that there are other chemicals in it. Often the change in color is from corrosion from metals or exposure to other outside chemicals.
  • Erosion/Disintegration: These two (used interchangeably), are denoted by cracks and crumbling. They are often caused by the freeze thaw cycle, or heavy precipitation.

 

Specific signs of degradation

Sometimes very specific elements cause concrete to deteriorate. For example cracks can be caused by a huge variety of things, but the specific cracks that look like scales are caused by an alkali-silica reaction. Here is a list of specific types of damage often sustained by concrete. 

  • Spalling: Spalling is basically when the concrete flakes away. It can be unimportant or extremely serious. Spalling occurs when the concrete is installed poorly in the first place OR when it is under too much structural stress. 
  • Alkali-Silica reaction: This chemical reaction in the concrete causes a scale-like cracking pattern. The concrete swells outward and in doing so the surface cracks like the surface of a desert drying after the rain. Also called concrete cancer, it can read to serious degradation, and might even require demolition after being untreated for some time.
  • Delamination: Caused when the top surface of the concrete (the laminate) separates from the lower levels. It is found by tapping on the concrete, if a hollow sound is made, the concrete is delaminated.
  • Scaling: Scaling occurs when the mortar covering concrete begins to wear away. The mortar is an outside protective layer, so when it goes, the aggregate underneath the surface becomes exposed. 
  • Chemical diffusion: Also called chemical corrosion or penetration, this happens when a chemical is exposed to the concrete and works its way through the layers. This is a common occurrence with solvents and acids. Chemical diffusion causes cracks, divots, and pits. 

 

Causes of the degradation

Now that you know what to look for, let’s take a look at what causes the problems listed above. Looking through the specific causes of concrete degradation will help create some insights on how to avoid them.

Exposure to chemicals

Chemicals exposed to concrete can wreak all sorts of havoc. From erosion to chemical penetration, there are many threats posed by various chemicals to concrete. 

Some of the chemicals might come from routine maintenance:

  • Antifreeze agents put on pavement in the winter. These include liquid chemical compounds and salt.
  • Cleaning agents for concrete.

Many of the chemicals that damage concrete come from tangential outside sources.

  • Vehicles leaking oils/other fluids on pavement.
  • Concrete in industrial buildings becoming exposed to solvents or other agents used in manufacturing, agriculture, etc.
  • Paint or graffiti. 
  • Accidents and spills.
  • Natural solvents. Carbonic acid, acid rain, and other solvents from nature can seep into the ground and damage concrete. This is especially a threat to underground concrete (foundations). Concrete structures at the bases of hills and mountains may have similar exposure.
  • Degradation of the reinforcing steel. When the steel that supports concrete starts rusting or dissolving. 

Weather

Weather – most notably water is probably the number one destroyer of concrete. The freeze-thaw cycle erodes mountains over time. Concrete is not immune. When water freezes, it expands by 9%, according to a Cement.org study (look at page 4).  It’s not hard to imagine water getting into small cracks and freezing to break them open further. The problem is degenerative, once water is in your concrete, it can be impossible to get out.

The freeze thaw cycle also effects the ground. The ground sets differently in the warm months than when it is frozen. This setting can crack and break concrete foundations. Weather damage most often is in the form of cracking and potholes.

Structural stress

When the concrete begins to degrade, or the reinforcing steel begins to degrade, it can not take as much stress. This means that structural concrete may no longer be up to the job it was built for once the deterioration begins. 

Adding new levels to a building, placing heavy machinery, or building with heavy materials may induce too much stress on concrete, and cause serious damage. Stress can show up in many forms, spalling, scaling, and cracking.

Improper installation

Just about all of the problems and signs of bad concrete can be caused by one other thing as well: improper installation. If the concrete is mixed poorly, sets poorly, or installed poorly, a myriad of issues can arise. The rebar can dissolve, cracking can occur, delamination…the list goes on. 

Get your concrete installed right

If you want your asphalt paving, concrete, or cement inspected for issues, don’t hesitate to contact Reliable Paving. We are an experienced paving contractor who can check your concrete for damage, do repairs, and entire new installations. You want your concrete installation to be done right, the first time, so get a service that’s reliable.

What is Hempcrete and How is it Used?

Over the last century, the science of concrete and asphalt paving has seen numerous improvements. Many of these improvements help the environment, for example, asphalt is the most recycled material in the US. Other changes in concrete and paving are simply due to efficiency. Breathable concrete lets water filter through it and out, which prevents cracking and damage down the road. 

One of the more interesting developments in concrete in the last few decades has been a rise in hempcrete. Hemp is the cousin of the famously psychoactive marijuana plant. As drug legalization occurs throughout the US, the government’s stranglehold on the plant is lifting. This has led to a surge in hemp usage as well.

What is hemp?

Hemp is a fibrous leafy plant. Unlike marijuana, it has extremely low levels of THC. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana, and the primary drug synthesized from the plant. Like marijuana, hemp also grows as a weed, meaning that it doesn’t need pesticides or a costly watering regiment. The plant also grows thickly enough to block out other plants – and weeds – from growing nearby. 

Hemp has been used throughout the world for millennia for a variety of purposes. 

  • Hemp rope is strong, cheap, and easy to make.
  • Hemp makes canvas/clothing.
  • It can be made into paper.
  • Hemp can be grown as a natural buffer zone around crops to prevent invasive plants and insect attacks.
  • Hemp is used in the production of CBD, an oil that helps with pain and sleep. 

Hemp’s true value lies in its weed-like properties and it’s fibers. It grows quickly and with minimal management, thus, hemp crops can pop up faster than many other famed crops. It’s hurd, or stalk, is naturally strong and fibrous. The stalk is used in various ways that uses it’s fibers for strong, flexible material.

How is concrete made from hemp?

Hempcrete is a biocomposite. This means that it is made from both biological and non-biological materials. 

Essentially it is a mixture of three things: 1) hemp stalk 2) lime,sand, or pozzolana (a silica-aluminum mineral found in volcanic ash)  and 3) water. Combining the three into a type of slurry makes a versatile concrete-like substance. Hempcrete can also go by several other names. The lime,sand, or pozzolana makes the aggregate which is found in all concrete. The hemp itself is a binder, using it’s porous fibers and hardening water to keep the materials all together.

What are its benefits and drawbacks?

Benefits

Carbon-negative

Hemp is a fast growing plant that sucks up carbon dioxide. Using locally-grown hemp in hempcrete will keep the carbon footprint of your construction low. Of course, shipping it from other locations will hurt that footprint.

Light and easy to transport

Hempcrete is less dense than concrete, so it is much easier and cheaper to transport large quantities of the stuff. Additionally, the mix is not difficult to make, so a paving contractor could save money by bringing the hemp hurds (stalks) to a construction site and mixing it with the aggregate on-site.

Makes for good insulation

It is an air-tight and vapor permeable. This means that it can be used to keep buildings well-insulated and dry. It also is healthy, in that it’s natural properties mean no extra chemicals need to be added for its effect. Nothing is required as a coating for its insulating effects. Compared to asbestos or other insulation, it is a sturdy replacement.

It is great for filling in panels, and adding insulation to solid walls. Hempcrete is useful in renovating older homes and buildings to upgrade their thermal retention. 

Durable

Low-density means that hempcrete is resistant to cracking under movement. This is especially good for earthquake-prone locations.

Efficient

It takes very little hemp hurd mixed with binder to create a great deal of hempcrete. A whole field of hemp could possibly make enough total material to insulate an entire house. Traditional asphalt uses petroleum-based binder. Hemp stalk is also inexpensive.

Drawbacks

Hempcrete may be versatile and relatively low-cost. However, it does have some qualities that prevent it from being a replacement for traditional cement. 

It’s not very dense

The lack of density in hempcrete makes it a good insulation. However, it means that it can not be used as a structural material. Its density is only about 5% of regular concrete. Because hemp can not be used structurally, here is a list of things you can NOT do with it.

  • Hempcrete can not be used as a foundation. The foundation of your structure will need to be traditional concrete, as hempcrete will be unlikely to withstand the load.
  • It can only be used non-structurally. It must be set around timber, steel, or concrete. You can not build a house from hempcrete alone. 

Biodegradable

Hempcrete can biodegrade. This is great for avoiding pollution and waste, but not so good for parts of a building that need to interact with the environment. Hempcrete is bad as a foundation because it is not dense enough, and may begin to biodegrade after a time. If you have hempcrete on the exterior of your building, a weatherproof finish can be applied. Not so with foundations. You probably don’t want your building falling down because it’s foundation degraded.

Changing legality

As politicians play with laws, it effects our lives. Hemp may be a legal crop in 48 states now, but the right lobbyist from a big industry could change that. Over all, hemp seems to be on a general trend toward legality, but it is far from certain.

Considering hempcrete?

If you are thinking about getting some paving work done for your business, head to Reliable Paving. We will be happy to guide you. Our 35 years of experience and constant study of new developments in paving means we know all kinds of ways to minimize environmental footprint while paving on time, and on budget. If you want your paving done as well as possible, contact us today for a consultation.