Pave Now Or Wait?

With everything going on with the economy, you should cut costs if you can to preserve money for core expenses like payroll, commercial property payments, and necessary maintenance. For many businesses, that's meant a sudden slashing of all spending, which has a ripple effect on other companies. Deciding where that line between core cost and nonessential expenditure is not easy, but you don't have to take penny-pinching to an extreme, especially when a maintenance issue is in the spotlight. If you're not sure if a maintenance job, such as repaving the parking lot, should wait or not, ask yourself these questions.

Does the Lot Already Have Potholes?

If the current parking lot already has potholes — not just a little chip in the corner, but tire-threatening divots — repave the lot now. Some construction and paving services are open and deemed as essential (pavement that doesn't destroy a car is part of basic infrastructure), so start getting bids now and plan to have the lot paved as you normally would.

What Are Spring and Summer Storms Like in Your Area?

If the lot doesn't have problematic potholes but does have smaller ones on the edges or has a lot of cracks (including something called alligator cracking, or fatigue cracking, in which a patch of asphalt develops a field of cracks that look like an alligator-skin pattern), then you need to look at upcoming weather. If the spring and summer storms in your region are typically plentiful or severe, then you should get the lot paved now. Water can seep into the cracks, and in warmer weather, the vibrations of cars driving over the cracked areas can wrench pieces of the asphalt apart to form more potholes.

If the lot is merely old and doesn't have severe cracking, you could potentially put off the paving. However, you should plan for the paving to be done before late fall because in colder weather, including in areas where nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing, the water that seeps into cracks during storms can freeze. The ice expands, pushing bits of asphalt out of the way and creating potholes. So if you can't pave now, plan to pave in a few months anyway.

Has Any Soil Settled?

Sometimes cracks aren't the problem. Lots that were set on ground that is mainly fill (or alluvial soil) or on ground that wasn't prepared properly can form uneven areas due to the soil settling. These can create very bumpy drives that affect tire alignment and add wear to car struts and shocks. If people have to drive through the lot very slowly to prevent their cars from nearly bouncing around, it's time to pave now.

If you've decided you should take care of the paving now, get those bids and arrange for lot closures. Don't put off maintenance if a delay could make existing problems worse. Look for someone who's available to provide parking lot paving in your area.