Preparing Your Parking Lot For Winter

Winter weather can be devastating on parking lots. At Reliable Paving, ensuring that businesses have quality parking lots and driveways is our bread and butter. Our list of 6 guidelines will help you ensure your parking lot avoids major winter damage and goes into the spring looking and feeling new.

1. Have plan for when the snow comes

Planning is the first step in success. One of the best ways to ensure your parking lot is usable when winter weather hits is to be ready for it. 

  • Have a snow removal plan. Contact a local snow removal company to ensure that you are covered when the snow touches down. There are plenty of private companies that can handle snow-covered parking lots in the wee hours of the morning. This is good for removing before it freezes over, or before work hours begin.
  • Have a back-up snow removal plan. In the case that the weather is extreme, or your first choice for snow removal fails, you should have a secondary plan. 

2. Clean the parking lot before winter

Fall weather often sees lots of rain and storms. This can leave the parking lot looking quite the mess. Of course, you should be doing regular parking lot maintenance, involving inspection and debris cleaning. However, it’s even more important to do so before winter. Getting rid of debris will make the lot safer, as things like fallen tree branches and broken glass sometimes can’t be seen under snow. It will also make other maintenance, such as fixing cracks and repainting, easier.

  • Clean solid debris off of the surface of the parking lot. Make sure there aren’t any fallen signs, tree branches, broken  glass or plastic bits on the lot. 
  • Clean up liquid debris. Liquids like pooling water or oil can be signs of much worse issues, such as unevenness caused by previous damage. Our article about what causes asphalt damage lists water and liquid seepage as one of the worst offenders.

3. Repairs

Just like cleaning, basic repairs are something that you should do every few months as part of normal maintenance on a parking lot. Just like cleaning, basic repairs are especially important before winter weather sets in. As we mentioned, water seeping into a parking lot is the main cause of damage, so fixing any openings will protect you from winter water damage. It’s a fact of life that some water, whether in liquid or solid ice form, will be sitting on top of your asphalt paving at some point over the winter. 

  • Seal cracks. 
  • Fill potholes. If the weather is not warm enough, you can use a cold mix asphalt to patch potholes.
  • Check for bigger problems such as sinkholes, and uneven parts of the pavement. These can point to much bigger problems with foundation and subgrade.

The sooner you address these issues, the longer your surface, and pavement as a whole, will last.

4. Check the gutters and drainage

Yet another part of general maintenance that is more important during the winter is ensuring your drainage is up to snuff. If you don’t clear out your gutters and drains before winter, you will have a hard time with snow melt and rain, both of which are common during the colder months. This leads to water pooling on the pavement, which in turn leads to seepage, which in turn, leads to deeper water damage.

  • Is water pooling on your parking lot? This could be a sign to do a deeper inspection. 
  • Look in the drains themselves. Are they blocked? Is water draining out of them correctly?
  • Check the gutters for debris. Is there anything blocking the water flow?
  • Is the parking lot’s incline slight enough to not be noticeable to vehicles and pedestrians, but enough to let water roll off?

5. Re-painting time

This is especially important if you plan on doing the next tip as well. You may think that over the winter, the lot will be barely looked at, as ice and snow will often cover it, and people will not check that closely as they hurry from their cars to your business in the cold. When you are having the parking lot repaired anyway is a great time to get it re-striped and spruced up so it looks good. It’s not just looks, quality markings in a lot do wonders to improve safety.

  • Ensure that the car park stripes are clearly visible.
  • Ensure pedestrian walkways are just as visible as any other markings.
  • Handicapped parking spots should also be clear and noticeable.
  • Any other marked areas on the lot, such as time-limited parking spots, valet locations, and anything else can be repainted during this time.
  • Now is also a good time to check lighting and signage in your lot. Good lighting keeps the lot safe and is one of the first steps in making your business look more inviting.

6. Seal coating

If you are already re-painting, cleaning, and fixing cracks and potholes, think about when the last time you seal coated was. Seal coating is the process of covering your lot in an extra layer that seals out water and other solvents. You should have your parking lot seal coated at least once every few years, as it dramatically extends the lifespan of just about any asphalt. If you aren’t sure about whether you need it or not, here are some signs:

  • Loss of dark asphalt color.
  • Large cracks.
  • Last seal coating was 2-3 years ago.
  • Ravelling (disintegration of the top layer of asphalt into tiny rocks and pebbles).
  • Winter is on the way. Yes, prior to winter is the best time to get your lot seal coated.

Reliable Paving can help you prepare for winter

Fortunately, Reliable Paving can provide each and every one of the services listed above. We are a paving contractor with nearly 4 decades of experience, and a team of over 200, no project is out of our scope or skill set. Contact us today to get your parking lot ready for the winter weather.