[Posted on December 31st, 2015 by: Barry Stiles]
Today, most parking lots are made from either asphalt or concrete, which initially provide a smooth surface for parking , but are expensive to install and typically require periodic applications of sealant to keep them in good condition. Additionally, once constructed, an existing parking lot can be difficult and difficulty to modify as the parking needs for the facility change over time.
By using permeable pavers in place of conventional materials, the parking lot design process is much simpler, because complex drainage systems can be eliminated, the materials for filling the pavers are easy to acquire and the installation process is simple and quick compared to other materials. Thanks to the unique design of permeable pavers, parking lots built with them are also easy to modify or expand in the future, and if extra parking is ever needed, permeable pavers can be easily installed temporarily and removed at a later date.
Here are some of the most desirable benefits that permeable pavers have to offer in your parking lot design:
#1 Simple Installation
For parking lot applications, permeable pavers are very easy to install compared to asphalt or concrete surfaces. They require much less equipment, there is no curing time and the installation process is extremely fast.
First the site must be prepared, similarly to asphalt or concrete, by removing vegetation and grading the soil, followed by adding a layer of rock, in most cases, to create a stable base. Then the permeable paver installation begins by laying down the individual grids, which come in pallet-sized sections that can easily be maneuvered by a single person. Each grid covers a large area, making the process go quickly, and it has specially-designed tabs that lock it into neighboring grids, creating a single durable surface that still allows for expansion, contraction and other movement as temperatures change. Some of the grids may need to be trimmed to go around objects like light-posts or to conform to curves, landscaping, curbs or other features, and this can easily be done with either a manual saw or a power saw.
Once all the grids are in place, gravel, limestone or other materials are spread evenly over the tops of the grids, and compacted into place. Heavy equipment can be used throughout the installation process to make the job easier.
#2 No Complex Drainage Requirements
A concrete or asphalt parking lot is one contiguous, sealed surface. Without properly grading the subsurface, crowning the parking lot and installing drains and gutters, the parking lot will be prone to flooding, upheaval, cracking and damage from rushing water or moisture trapped beneath the surface.
Permeable pavers greatly reduce the drainage requirements in a typical parking lot design. Because water can move freely through the gravel or limestone surface, there is no flooding as long as the soil drains well, and there is no need for complex drain systems. A simple gravel drain or French drain will work well. In areas that freeze often, expansion and contraction from soil moisture will not cause the surface to crack or buckle, which happens often and causes significant damage in asphalt or concrete parking lots.
#3 Easy Parking Space Design
With asphalt or concrete parking lots, things like parking space width, length, orientation and number of lanes must be carefully planned during the construction process, and they are not easily changed afterwards without significant expenses. Once the lines are painted, the parking lot typically remains in a similar configuration throughout its useful life.
With a permeable paving system, you can easily create a parking lot design, and mark out parking areas, directional markers, lane markers and other elements using easy push-in plastic caps, which come in an assortment of colors. Should you determine that the design is inefficient or problematic, the caps can easily be removed and repositioned. With a bit of work, the entire parking lot can be redesigned, such as changing from a 60 degree parking layout with single-direction lanes, to a 90 degree layout with two-way lanes to maximize the number of available spaces. Lane widths can be changed, parking space dimensions, and nearly anything else, without incurring significant additional expenses.
#4 Creates A Durable Surface
Asphalt and concrete parking lots often have a set weight limit. Due to the expense of installing concrete or asphalt, the parking area is often rated for passenger vehicles, while main lanes are rated for heavy equipment. This reduces the cost of the installation, but it can result in damage if heavy equipment is driven over areas designed for passenger vehicles.
Once installed and filled with an appropriate material, permeable pavers can handle everything from small cars to heavy equipment like wheel loaders and fully-loaded 18-wheelers. The gravel fill provides an extremely durable surface that can easily withstand heavy loads, the elements and even snow removal equipment. When properly installed and compacted, very little maintenance is required to keep the surface in good condition.
#5 Temporary Parking Can Be Easily Added
If a facility’s need for parking suddenly increases, permeable pavers can easily be used to create additional temporary parking. The pavers can be laid down on the existing soil and filled with limestone, gravel or sod to create a temporary parking area. Once the parking area is no longer required, it can be removed with minimal effort and little disturbance to the underlying soil.
Permeable pavers can also be used to transform grassy areas into permanent parking, by filling them with soil and grass seed or sod, and allowing the grass to naturally grown in the pavers. The grass can then be trimmed by standard lawnmowers without damaging the pavers. Such parking areas are useful for parks, performing arts centers, fairgrounds or any other area that has an occasional need for an overflow parking.
In addition to being a good alternative to asphalt or concrete in parking lots, permeable pavers also work well for driveway surfaces, oil field roads, landscaping, erosion control, emergency access roads, fire lanes, and even helicopter pads. They are lightweight, self-anchoring, durable and very easy to install, use and maintain.