The Ins and Outs of Parking Garage Repair and Restoration From the Experts

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At McGill Restoration, we live and breathe all things parking garages, and our crews are experienced in parking garage maintenance and restoration.

In this guide, we are taking an in-depth look at all things parking garages, including a heavy focus on maintenance and some important information about restoration. Read on to grasp the most critical aspects of parking-structure maintenance. 

Common Issues of Concern for Parking Garage Integrity

Leaving these common issues unrepaired can lead to high costs and extensive repairs down the road. 

Water Is the Enemy

Water intrusion is the No. 1 concern for parking garages. When water is allowed to enter joints and penetrate concrete, it will erode the structure. Slowly but surely, water is capable of breaking down thick concrete walls and rusting rebar and steel supports.

When left unchecked for long periods of time, you will likely stop looking at general maintenance and move toward large-scale structural repairs.

Chemicals in the Environment

Constant contact with vehicles and water runoff leads to chemical exposure. Winter is especially chemical heavy with salt and road treatments active in the environment. These chemicals can wear down traffic coatings and break down concrete and steel. 

Seasonal spring maintenance is a great way to mitigate chemical exposure through cleaning and a general assessment of winter damage.

Wear and Tear

Parking garages with heavy use experience accelerated wear and tear. Snowplows are especially damaging when they puncture expansion joints and tear through traffic coatings. As a general rule, parking structures will require traffic coating renewals at some point as they wear down from use.

If you aren’t sure exactly how to identify issues in your parking structure, use this assessment guide

Restoration Work: How to Increase Structure Longevity and Enhance User Experience

There’s overlap in restoration and maintenance work. Restoration can encompass everything from joint renewals to repairing full concrete columns. Our Parking Garage Maintenance and Inspection Worksheet is a great starting point for the fundamentals of annual maintenance.

When discussing maintenance and restoration, you will find a heavy focus on:

  • Joint sealants.
  • Expansion joints.
  • Traffic coatings.
  • Concrete condition.
  • Steel beams.
  • Industrial coatings.

Most parking garage owners want to maximize the lifespan of their investment. Moreover, they want users to feel safe, confident and comfortable in the structure. Whether the users are residential and renting or leasing a space, or commercial, including anything from healthcare facilities to general city parking, the experience is important. It can impact perception of the business as a whole. 

Professional Restoration Techniques and Materials

A number of different restoration techniques and materials are used to keep parking garages in service.

For example, our crews used shoring to support entire floors while removing and replacing structural concrete columns on the Eagle Parking Garage. Big jobs of this nature require detailed planning for crews, equipment and material needs. 

Joint Restoration and Maintenance

The first and most common aspect of restoration involves the joints. It’s important to understand the difference between joint sealants and expansion joints as both are vital to the functionality of the structure. 

The importance of joint sealants for parking garage structures cannot be overstated, and it factors directly into the longevity, user experience and long-term ROI. When joint sealants fail, water penetrates, causing failures.  

Expansion joints are utilized where areas of larger movement are expected (between sections of a structure or garage-to-stairwell thresholds). These joints are commonly made from neoprene and can absorb much more movement than standard joint sealants.

Learn more about joint sealants, expansion joints and maintenance best practices here.

Steel and Concrete 

The foundation and structural integrity for parking garages comes from concrete and steel. In many cases, steel is used as rebar to provide stability to concrete elements. 

Steel can also be used for exposed structural beams and columns. When steel (reinforcing or structural) is exposed to water, it can corrode, causing major issues in your structure. 

Concrete is a major component of many parking garages, forming structural columns, traffic decks, vertical walls and more. Protecting concrete from erosion is achieved by sealing joints and applying traffic coatings to help shield the concrete from abrasion and chemical attack.  

In terms of maintenance, renewing industrial coatings and traffic coatings serves as a line of defense for steel and concrete. Learn more about coating renewals here.

Things Stakeholders Should Consider When Pursuing Restoration

Restoration is about more than aesthetics. It’s a means of protecting the investment. We wrote a useful guide for stakeholders who are considering restoration vs. replacement to help weigh a number of important factors.

Running a cost and profit analysis will help you determine the best course of action. In some cases, restoration can extend the life of your structure for decades, creating a better profit model.

When structures are in severe decay, replacement has a higher upfront cost but can pay off in the long run. Replacement will still require an ongoing maintenance and restoration plan to maximize the life and value of the structure.

Oftentimes, restoration wins in terms of profitability. It’s also more sustainable and efficient to keep a structure in service longer. 

Projects That Make Us Proud

Our work on parking garage restorations is extensive, and we have the case studies to prove it. Better yet, look around as you travel in Omaha and Lincoln. Although we have restored garages across the Midwest (and Montana), our core project region is loaded with attractive garages that are in service for the public.

Bryan Medical Center Parking Garage – Hospital systems have unique needs, and this project was a big success. McGill Restoration managed patient and staff transportation while working according to a strict plan that accounted for noise mitigation and a number of special needs.

U.S. Bank Helena Parking Garage – This is a prime example of what happens when joint sealants fail and allow pervasive water entry. Our team used custom rigging to safely access difficult joints for renewals.

Harney Street Parking Garage – We worked around the clock to make significant structural repairs while minimizing tenant displacement. Meeting tight timelines and exceeding expectations makes us very proud of the results.

Eagle Parking Garage – A cornerstone in Lincoln, this was a major restoration project that played into a bigger revitalization vision for downtown. Across a full year, we transformed an aged structure into an attractive, modern parking garage.

Brandeis Parking Garage – Working through eight levels and 700 stalls in variable conditions helped breathe new life into this important parking garage.

Owning parking garage structures comes with unique seasonal responsibilities. The upside? When properly managed and maintained, your parking garage can be a highly profitable source of revenue for the long haul.

Stay on top of your game by downloading the free parking garage inspection worksheet, and reach out any time if you need to confirm damage to your parking structure.

Tired of fielding complaints about your deteriorating structure but don’t know where to begin to fix it?

We can help.