Three tips to preserve your parking garage surfaces — and stay under warranty

by Brianna Crandall — October 29, 2021 — It may not be the most exciting part of building maintenance, but the preservation of parking garages and decks are integral to the successful management of a property. Western Specialty Contractors offers important tips that property managers need to consider when planning inspections for the parking structures at their buildings.

Western Specialty Contractors - OSF Parking Garage Project

OSF Parking Garage Project. Image courtesy Western Specialty Contractors

1/ Power washing is the most important first step to take in maintaining a parking surface. Building managers should pay close attention to the maintenance manual they receive with their five-year deck coating warranties and follow its guidelines. “You want to make sure you’re in compliance with the warranty requirements,” said Western Specialty Contractors Sales Project Manager Carter Pogue. “Pressure washing twice annually is always inserted in those manuals and I can’t stress the importance enough of doing that to keep the contaminants off of your deck and to stay within warranty.”

Pogue notes that most contaminants are going to occur in the winter, but summer also can bring car leaks and tire residue along with issues like coffee spills and other people-caused contaminants. Western Specialty Contractors recommends that its clients power wash their parking decks in early spring and early fall for optimum benefit if it is only going to be done twice a year. Quarterly washing is preferred if possible.

Property management groups with small parking areas or larger in-house maintenance staffs should be able to handle power washing themselves, but subcontracting this important activity is also very cost effective, with prices ranging from four to 15 cents per square foot. “Contractors have the right equipment and the right know-how to get it done efficiently,” said Pogue. “You can only wash about 15,000 square feet a day, so a property manager would have to tie up their staff for 10 days to care for a 150,000 square foot structure.” The right contractor can preserve the owner’s investment in the building and the expensive deck coating by getting four or five machines to the property and washing it in two days.

2/ Make sure drains are free and open. Pogue recommends that on-site staff walk around the parking structure once a week to make sure the drains are free of debris and operating as expected. That job can be added to other parking lot duties such as checking the lights and looking for other maintenance issues on a regular basis. “Clear drains are critical to the life of the parking area,” said Pogue.

Drains sit at the lowest part of the lot, and if they get clogged, water could sit there for days. When the water eventually rushes toward the drains, it will take all the residual contaminants with it, and that can start a downward spiral of corrosives left behind that will attack steel drains and concrete, crack the coatings and cause problems. “When you see visual damage, it’s already too late,” said Pogue. “At that point, the corrosion is set into the steel; it never goes away, and it indicates damage far beyond what you can see visually.”

3/ Perform in-house parking garage inspections. During regular visual inspections, in-house maintenance staff should look for coating adhesion issues. They can walk the decks and see if there are any peeling coatings. Property managers should get those types of issues handled immediately because water will get trapped under coatings and continue to spread the peeling. Western Specialty Contractors recommends weekly visual inspections with just a quick walk around the structure. A more intensive inspection can be done annually with a contractor to con

“You want to do a visual inspection at least once a year with your contractor because they are a trained eye that can see issues sooner and they I can catch them early,” said Pogue, who says the best time for an inspection is after pressure washing so the contractor can get a good feel for the condition of the coating. “It’s a wellness check,” said Pogue. “You don’t wait to go to the dentist until you get a huge toothache. You want to get that annual dental checkup — or in this case, parking surface inspection — just to be safe and have peace of mind.”

Pogue advises building managers to stay ahead of any issues by having their contractor inspect the structure annually to help minimize and control problems during the coating warranty period.  “If a coating system has to come off because of unchecked damage, removal can be as expensive [as] having it put on in the first place,” said Pogue. Staying ahead of problems can help get a warranty extension and make the deck coating last as long as possible.

For help creating a parking deck maintenance plan, contact the Western Specialty Contractors branch location nearest you.

Western Specialty Contractors, a St. Louis, Missouri-based nationwide provider of masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing for over 100 years. Western offers a nationwide network of expertise that building owners, engineers, architects, and property managers can count on to develop cost-effective, corrective measures that can add years of useful life to a variety of structures including industrial, commercial, healthcare, historic, educational and government buildings, parking structures and sports stadiums.