If you have an asphalt parking lot, and have had to maintain it for any amount of time, then you probably know what we’re talking about when it comes to repairs. Sooner or later (one hopes for later) you’re going to have to address issues with your asphalt surface in the form of patching. The need to patch can arise from any number of issues—the most common being water and puddling issues, alligator cracking, and potholes.
The way to repair these issues varies as well—from just removing the oldasphalt and filling the area in, to a full depth removal which involves excavating the area down to the sub-base and installing fresh courses of stone and asphalt. Each contractor has a different method of how to repair a damaged area—some good, some bad. Typically, though, a general repair for a damaged area in your asphalt surface would go something like this:
- The contractor will mark out the extents of the damaged area with paint
- The area will be sawcut and all damaged asphalt will be removed from that area.
- New asphalt will be placed in the area and compacted.
Pretty simple, right? Well, to a certain extent it is; but then there are the intricacies of asphalt repairs which most people don’t get to see, and not all contractors adhere to. Yes, the bottom line of asphalt repairs is to get the broken asphalt out and put the new asphalt in, but to make it look good, to get it to last, there is much more that your paving contractor should be doing.
What is a good repair? A good repair is fundamentally 3 things:
- Structurally sound
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Either improves or maintains existing drainage patterns.
A good repair starts with the contractor’s quote. A good quote will tell you what exactly the contractor plans to do, for example:
“Saw cut perimeter of repairs as necessary. Excavate repair areas to a depth of 4” and haul offsite. Re-compact stone base and tack edges of repair. Install 4” of S9.5B asphalt in (2) lifts. Roll to a smooth even finish.”
By clearly specifying their intent a contractor obligates himself to the results and makes it easier for you to compare their quote with another contractor’s. Another important factor to look for and compare is the quantity of repairs to be performed. Some contractors will not divulge the square footage or yardage of asphalt they are repairing. It is important to make sure you get quantities out of the contractors so you can make sure you get what you pay for. It usually makes sense to try to get the bidders quoting on a apples to apples basis, but sometimes that may not be necessary because you have more confidence in one contractor as opposed to the other contractor.
Good repair work is work that meets the above 3 requirements. The final product should be something which is aesthetically pleasing, structurally sound and addresses the drainage needs of the area.
There is one last thing you must consider however and it is probably more important than any other issue. Does the contractor stand behind their work and are they committed to building long term relationships? Even the best contractors make mistakes from time to time. That is going to happen. Your parking lot is not going away. The older it gets the more maintenance it will need. You’re not going to want to chase several quotes every time you need minor repairs done. A contractor that is committed to quality should also be committed to building long term customer relationships by being always fair with their pricing and always fixing any problems in a timely manner. In the long term this is what will save the customer time and money and achieve the best results.
Case in point:
When it comes to repairing and maintaining our asphalt surfaces, especially in this down economy, people tend to go with whatever is the cheapest solution. This, however, doesn’t always cause the intended outcome of saving money—rather one’s money is wasted due to poor quality work by the lowest bidder.
After meeting in the field with a customer regarding structural and drainage repairs to a parking lot, we sent an estimate detailing our scope of work. The next day our salesman received an irate phone call from the customer who accused him of price gouging because our price was almost twice that of the other contractor. We were both dumbstruck and curious as a result of these comments. Our pricing is always competitive if not consistently lower than our competitors. Had the customer made any attempt to compare the two scopes of work?
Suffice it to say that our curiosity got the better of us. A few weeks later our salesman was in the area of the parking lot and decided to stop by. The axiom, “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. The repair areas were holding water, not cut around the perimeters, and no milling was done at the curb and gutter to ensure an even transition. It looked as if someone had just quickly dug out the broken asphalt, backed a dump truck up full of new asphalt and dumped it in with no care.
Check out the “Bad Repairs” section of photos below and you be the judge. It will not be long before these repairs will have to be done again .