Protecting Your Investment
Prevent the costly deterioration or structural failure of your parking structure
For decades, concrete has been identified as an excellent construction material. Not only is it cost effective, but also durable and reliable. We use concrete to construct most of our long-term infrastructure projects - including bridges, dams, buildings, ports, stadiums and parking structures. Project managers are often troubled with the maintenance of their parking structures.
Constructed from steel and concrete, these structures offer visitors shelter for their vehicles and ease of access to offices or housing spaces. A common misconception among facility managers and owners, is that concrete will last forever… without the need of any additional protection.
Water, in particular, especially considering the damages it causes, is concrete’s Achilles heel.
However, protecting concrete itself, especially from the devastating effects of environmental stressors and wear-and-tear, comes with a set of challenges. Parking structures must be properly protected and maintained in order to survive for the full term of their design lifespan. In a similar understanding, an ineffective prevention and maintenance procedure for a parking structure necessitates expensive repairs and restorations that may potentially disrupt tenants, not to mention causing unwanted costs and safety concerns.
Water, in particular, especially considering the damages it causes, is concrete’s Achilles heel. Water is the greatest danger to the longevity of your parking structure. It causes a vast number of damages which include: cracking and spalling due to freeze/thaw issues, chloride ion migration, and corrosion of steel reinforcements, among others. While applying thick membranes and coatings to the concrete coatings can be a temporary fix to such a long term-problem, the appropriate long-term fix would be to waterproof the concrete itself.
Importance of waterproofing
Protection against corrosion
In general, project managers opt for thin-slabbed parking structures to cut costs and minimize the weight of the structure. Therefore, they pour small amounts of concrete over reinforced steel. When subjected to water and corrosive salts, steel rusts and weakens the structure. This is especially true for parking structures exposed to excessive salt, marine environments and cold places with a lot of salting because of ice and snow.
However, by adopting the right waterproofing technique, facility managers need not worry about any further water damages. Integral waterproofing systems, for instance, are permeability reducers. In other words, they are able to reduce the permeability of your concrete structure, so corrosive salts and water would be less likely to penetrate. Additionally, they are highly resistant to chemicals, chloride ions, and hydrostatic pressure. Even better, using Modified Silicate gel products ensures that the initial appearance of the parking structure does not change.
Project managers often look for different ways to avoid expensive repairs and restorations. Waterproofing your parking structure against different environmental stressors reduces long-term capital expenditure costs. For instance, most parking structures in the United States are protected against corrosion using traffic coatings.
Usually, these coatings are replaced every 3-5 years where replacement costs up to 150 percent of the original costs. In fact, these costs are incurred repeatedly throughout the structure’s life, not to mention the potential losses of closing down an entire section of the structure for recoating. In this light, choosing an appropriate, reliable, and cost-effective waterproofing technique ensures that owners do not have to incur additional unwanted costs, or even safety concerns.
Strengthens the parking structure
Waterproofing concrete helps prolong the lifespan of the parking structure by limiting the ways that water can damage the floor, walls or ceiling. If this is done in a way that curbs any moisture intrusion, the structure avoids a long list of damages including deterioration, corrosion, rotting, and rust. Conversely, not providing these parking structures appropriate waterproofing techniques weakens the overall building structure.
Avoiding tenant disruption
Tenants need to be assured that their vehicles are under parking structures that can endure both damp and slushy contaminants. Additionally, waterproofing concrete does not only ensure the integrity of the structure, but also helps prevent potential health hazards. In other words, moisture build-up in ceilings and expansion joints causes the growth of fungus. These microorganisms may bring devastating health effects including asthma, allergies, and weakened immune systems among tenants. As a consequence, these structures then cause tenant nuisance that may be damaging to the owners (tenants tend to relocate to structures will little or no health hazards). No tenant wants to secure their vehicle under a property with waterproofing problems.
Parking garages are uniquely challenging structures. Made of concrete, the most used construction material across the world, they are vulnerable to a vast number of environmental stressors, especially water. Project managers should ensure that they use appropriate waterproofing techniques that best suit their interests. Different waterproofing methods offer different benefits to not only the structure, but the tenants, as well. What is known is that waterproofing helps owners reduce additional costs and tenant disruptions. Additionally, it strengthens parking structures while protecting them from corrosion and deterioration.
Mario Baggio is the CEO of the U.S. based manufacturing company Alchemco. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.