Parking Deck Coatings: The Five Year Rule

While the life cycle of a typical parking garage deck coating is five years, facility managers can extend that life under certain conditions.

The industry standard and rule of thumb for the life cycle of a typical parking garage deck coating is five years. If a contractor says it’s less or says they can’t get any more life out of a deck coating beyond five years, facility managers and owners should look for a different contractor, according to the coating experts at Western Specialty Contractors, a St. Louis, MO-based specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, roofing, waterproofing, and sheet metal.

“Five years is the industry standard for membranes. Even on a driving surface, you need to look for the five-year warranty and it all ties into the maintenance. The better you maintain it, the longer it’s going to last,” says Carter Pogue, project manager at Western Specialty Contractors. “Warranties can be extended if deck coatings are properly maintained and kept in good condition.”

Pogue recommends that facility managers get familiar with the traffic environment of their parking structure in order to properly maintain its deck coating. Facility managers should take note of whether the traffic is minimal, if more or less individuals come in daily, if they leave daily, or if it’s a very high-volume traffic area. A coating system can last as long as six to 10 years if it was installed correctly, maintained properly and the traffic flow is minimal, says Pogue.

“I’ve seen them last anywhere actually upwards of 15 years, but in rare conditions. On average a low-impact deck with low traffic can last six to 10 years. Deck coatings that receive high traffic last until about that five-year mark, then you’re really starting to look at another wear course,” he continues.

Pogue recommends at the four-year mark to have a contractor who specializes in deck coatings evaluate the parking structure in order to have plenty of time to make any warranty corrective measures prior to the warranty expiration.

If any repairs are necessary, the contractor will contact the manufacturer to come out and inspect the deck’s condition and provide a repair detail. At that point, the contractor can recommend a re-coat procedure and pricing.

“So if it wasn’t in your budget from previous years and you have it a year in advance, the work would consist of cleaning the deck, checking for any delamination, installing the primer, and installing a single top coat in lieu of a double top coat and the base coat,” says Pogue.

Pogue stresses that property managers and maintenance staff should always protect their investment when it comes to maintaining a parking structure’s deck coating. “It’s relatively cheap insurance,” he says. “The coating can run anywhere from $3 to $5 a square foot depending on the system you select and the region you’re located in. However, if the deck goes unprotected and it gets damaged, the cost to repair that damage grows 20 percent annually. Concrete repairs, depending on the slab thickness and the structure type, whether it be double, double-tee or post-tension, can run anywhere from $35 to $70 a foot. It doesn’t take very many square feet of repairs to justify a preventative maintenance program.”

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