The underground parking garage is the largest common element in most condominiums, but it is often overlooked when it comes to meeting basic safety criteria.
With residents spending very little time in the parking garage, along with the headache of having to arrange for temporary parking permits, coordinate the moving of vehicles and find a qualified contractor available to do the job on time, it’s easy to see why such projects are postponed year after year. Yet upgrades can be completed with minimal disruption and will improve the safety and security of residents and visitors.
Here are three simple ways condo corporations can upgrade the safety of the underground garage, and the benefits of doing so.
Two main ways to increase visibility are through lighting and painting (coatings).
Bright lights such as fluorescent lights and LEDs can help people easily spot approaching vehicles and vice versa. In addition, with a new coating over dim, faded or peeling surfaces with bold new colours that reflect light back, residents can effectively multiply the value of their investment as the new luminance of underground garage creates a safe and inviting area.
Present clear markings
The colour scheme seen in parking garages that are up-to-code is the result of coordinating multiple bylaws; for example, municipal property standards, fire code, building code, and health and safety codes.
And while there may be slight differences among municipalities, the common requirements specify that:
- Ceilings and walls are to be devoid of cracks, holes and loose paint.
- Ceilings and vertical surfaces, such as walls and pillars, must be painted white, with a 60 cm black dado on all perimeter walls, bays and pillars.
- Overhead pipes, which are often uncoated and left to rust, are required to be colour-coded and protected from corrosion. Ensuring that pipes are maintained and marked correctly is important to visually differentiate plumbing, gas and sprinkler pipes.
- Emergency exits must be clearly indicated with highly visible signage and painted green. Providing clear directions towards the exits, as well as signage and directional arrows indicating the flow of traffic, will help reduce wandering in the garage, as well as help ensure traffic flows in the right direction.
Provide an anti-slip surface
Bare concrete can become a slip hazard on floors, ramps and stairs, especially on rainy days and from snow transported inside during the winter months. Installing an epoxy or other specialty anti-slip coating is an effective way to provide residents and visitors with the grip they need, whether they are driving or walking.
Advantages of a well-maintained garage
Decreased maintenance costs: Investing in the maintenance of an underground garage can help reduce unexpected repair bills and keep costs manageable. Certain specialty coatings may help reduce problems associated with moisture, which is often the cause of chipping, cracking, cratering and rust found in underground garages. They may also protect against stains from motor oil, anti-freeze, as well as other chemical fluids from leaky vehicles—making floors easier to clean and maintain.
Health and Safety: Adequate lighting, colour-coded walls, pipes and other surfaces, as well as proper signage and anti-slip coating are all great ways to ensure the safety of visitors and residents while also reducing the potential liability of the corporation.
Planning parking garage maintenance
Timing: While an underground garage project can be completed at any time during which the temperature is consistently above 5 C, early in the year is best, before the annual spring clean up. Because the surface preparation involves sanding rusting pipes, scraping loose paint chips and power washing the ceiling and vertical surfaces, scheduling the annual garage cleaning after the painting will ensure that any remaining debris is cleared away. It is also easier to obtain street parking permits in the spring before road closures due to festivals, marathons or road construction begins.
Contractors: Like any coating system, preparation is key to a quality finish. Even premium products may fail when the surface is not prepared thoroughly. Underground garages are not painted often, so it is important to ensure that contractors are experienced and have references to back up their work to achieve the most value. Quality contractors may cost a little more but are better equipped to deliver a quality finish, while staying on schedule to minimize resident disruption.
Holden Johnson is manager of business development and marketing at ArmourCo Solutions.