What’s the difference between a parking lot and a parking garage?

Whether you’re moving to a new location or constructing a commercial property, parking is an essential consideration. Where will your guests and employees park, and will the parking area support the volume of vehicles you’ll have? Let’s compare parking garages and parking lots to help you decide which option is right for you. 

Capacity of parking garages vs. parking lots

Both parking lots and parking garages have the potential to house a large quantity of vehicles, but parking garages do so on a smaller footprint. If you need to pack a ton of cars in a small area, a parking lot may not be sufficient for your needs. Parking garages can also reduce the walking distance for pedestrians when compared to a vast parking lot. However, that does not make them the right fit for all businesses. 

Cost differences between parking garages and parking lots

If you’re examining your budget constraints, a parking garage will cost significantly more to build than a parking lot. With that in mind, a large parking lot will require more land for construction, which may cause costs to soar. This will depend on the price of land in your area. 

Long-term expenses are also higher with parking garages compared to parking lots. This is because the garages require more maintenance, lighting, electricity, etc. There may be some savings in security costs for a parking garage, but the overall expenses are going to be higher for most parking garages. 

Security and access 

If you’re worried who is coming in and out of your parking area, a parking garage is easier to control access to. Security and monitoring are also easier in a parking garage because there is less square footage to view. If secure access is not a concern, a parking lot has the potential for more access points and a smoother flow of traffic. 

Maintenance requirements for parking areas

Parking garages typically have a longer lifespan than parking lots because they are not directly exposed to the elements. A well-maintained parking lot can last 20 to 30+ years, but a well-maintained parking garage can last even longer than that. 

Both parking garages and parking lots need routine cleaning. Most parking lots need at least one complete resurfacing in their lifetime, but a poorly constructed parking lot may require additional surface upkeep. Traffic levels, weather patterns, UV rays and other environmental factors will affect parking lot maintenance more than it will parking garages. 

For both parking structures, it’s important to monitor cracks, spalling, rust, water damage, and other issues. Routine sealing and resurfacing can keep these issues to a minimum, as can professional parking area cleaning. Most parking garages need to be pressure washed inside and out periodically. 

Which type of parking area should you choose: parking garage or parking lot?

There is no definitive answer of which parking area is best. It mostly comes down to space vs. cost, and only you can determine which one best suits your needs. No matter what you choose, JK Industries is here to help you maintain your parking area and extend the life of your investment.