Choosing the right coating can extend the life of the most structures
Concrete parking surfaces often require protective coatings to extend their service life. Depending on the total life cycle of the parking structure a maintenance program should be developed. In contrast to other building elements of urban commercial and residential infrastructure, parking structures present maintenance challenges due to their unique exposure. Additionally, more than most buildings, parking garages rely on concrete as both a structural element and finished surface. This also contributes to the unique challenge in finding the right contractor to perform the work and understand the maintenance.
Whether they are inside of residential or commercial buildings, or part of an independent structure, traffic-bearing surfaces of concrete parking decks can be exposed to conditions more akin to pavements and highway bridge decks than to most concrete floor slabs. Park City, Salt Lake and the surrounding areas have heavy salt content from road and street snow removal during the winter months and are routinely wet and dry.
Parking structures need coatings for the same reasons other types of buildings. Protecting the walls from moisture penetration is a primary factor. Built-up membranes of bituminous material are typically used during construction to waterproof below-grade exterior walls. Spray-applied liquid rubber with elastomeric properties has become available over the past 10 years. While the rubber systems can cost as much as four times that of the bituminous systems, their ability to bridge cracks is far superior. And who wants to deal with a leak in several years.
Although walls and columns are often left exposed, owners may choose to apply coatings to improve appearance, increase durability, and enhance light reflectance. Any decorative coating should be alkali-resistant and designated specifically for use on concrete. It is the parking structure’s traffic-bearing surfaces that pose the greatest challenge and investment for owners and facility managers. Unlike other elements of buildings, a parking structure deck in severe climates may be exposed to environmental and operational conditions that impair its life prematurely.
Sealers and coatings can be effective tools to extend the service life of traffic-bearing surfaces in reinforced and prestressed concrete parking structures. While the best way to ensure a parking structure’s long-term performance is to design it for durability and then to build it accordingly, these protection systems are routinely applied with success for structures in service. As for any engineered structure, maintenance planning for a parking structure should follow a process .