Getting my cherry pop-parking lot cleaning

hey guys…i am new at this in all regards…but always willing to learn from the experts any help or advice i can get i will appreciate it…here goes

landed the first gig a few days ago with my new hot water machine to clean an asphalt parking lot…being my first time i had no idea what i was in for the lot appeared to be small until i began cleaning…the initial degreasers and chemicals either was mix to light for the motor oil stains or i did not put the temp hot enough (150 degrees) i guess i was afraid the water being to hot would damage the asphalt…i did not prepare my connections properly and had to go shopping for hose connections…tried using the surface cleaner on the asphalt and decided to use the wand due to the sludge although i soak the ground with some chemicals and hot water the dirt and grime still remain stubborn…needless to say i ran out of day light in a poorly lit area combine with not cordoning off the building properly from customers…i keep having to relocate the trailer because dumb me under estimate the amount of hose required both water and pressure hose…lol when i returned the next day the lot was streaky being clean in some areas and not in others…not sure if i did not apply enough chemical or was not patient enough to lance of the areas…needless to say i was not satisfied with the work and refused payment…until it is done respectably… neglected to mention that i did the work at cost mainly to cover the material and fuel cost… to get my feet wet. i had no inkling of what amount of fuel that would have been required for a job this size…so i only half the diesel and gas tank…of cause i had to get fuel just o be sure…but still ran out of diesel…i did mentioned to the person who hired me that this was a test run for me which indicated the price…nevertheless i felt i could do better and will

my questions…and would appreciate some help…what type of chemicals or degreasers should i use, how to apply it effectively, would i need a chemical pump or can i use the siphon pump from the machine itself, what would be the going rate for a 50 car slot parking lot or how should i estimate my pricing, what is better to use on porous asphalt surface cleaner or wand?..i am sure there is something i am forgetting but whatever other advice that you guys can give please feel free…remember this is new to me…lol but i humble to learn

You mentioned that you wanted to get your feet wet, I would imagine that you accomplished that.

In my area, asphalt cleaning consists of grinding cat litter into the oil spots, sweeping it up, blowing the asphalt off with a walk behind blower and then spraying a coat of tar emulsion on it. Let it dry and re-paint the stripes.

Do asphalt lots typically get pressure washed in your location?

Tim thanks for the valuable info, I would have made a newbie mistake and got out there with my pressure washer and done the same thing with a surface cleaner.

Have you ever done spot cleanups with a PW for some areas then used the rest of your process on the parking lot?


to be honest with you no i do not recall seeing it done…i have seen many re-surfacing. however i thought it could be an untap market by removing excess dirt, oil etc over a period of time…especially around the parking blocks and verges…am i barking up the wrong tree here…

Heroes power washing…appreciate your comment…if your question was for me…i did put degreaser on oil spot and try to wash down the general area with that process…just not sure if my expectation will surpass the ability to get it clean

Remember, the binding agent in asphalt is petroleum, degreaser breaks down what???.. Petroleum. Asphalt is much softer than other surfaces so excessive psi, heat or chem can cause etching or damage.

We do “Wash Downs” on new construction asphalt, that’s washing down the asphalt with our ball valves, no chem.

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Yea I wouldn’t use high heat, hi pressure or any degreasers on an asphalt parking garage. Asphalt is way to soft to deal with hi pressure so thats out. Degreaser will set the asphalt and hi heat will melt the asphalt. Another thing which you didn’t mention but it’s gum popping. I would suggest staying away with that on asphalt because you will etch the asphalt from either the heat or pressure.

The best you can really do with a parking garage that has an asphalt surface is it can be swept and power rinsed with cold water. A surface machine will definitely leave marks all over the place so stay away with that unless you know if there going to recoat the asphalt then you can use the surface machine with oversized tips.

Asphalt is easy to clean but you have to give them realistic expectations and as far as pricing it’s basically no more then half the price you would charge for concrete, more realistically a 1/3rd the price because it’s really just a power rinse in the end.

Good luck.



thank you for the info…much appreciated

No worries Brother!

John T

you are absolutely correct i did notice the many markings the surface cleaner made…in essence I did believe I over sold expectations…consider this a lesson learn…one question if you would indulge me…after spending hours soaking and pressure was the asphalt and there still remained discoloration…should i just cut my loses or make another attempt at it…? thank you again

That’s a tough question. The problem your probably seeing is that when your cleaning and the surface is wet it probably looks great but when it dries you see all the streaking. I hate to walk off a job and only did it maybe 2x in 19 yrs. You could try to reason with the person in charge to see what his expectations were and then tell him what to expect but that could be a tough sell or you may just have to tell him that you won’t charge him and then cut your losses as a lesson learned.

Maybe you could ask him if the parking garage is going to be recoated when your done then you should be ok to finish the job because once it’s resealed the discoloration will be gone. If that isn’t the case then you may have to consider cutting your losses and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

It can be done. You have to set reasonable expectations for you and the client. You can’t fix pitted ashalt. Asphalt is one of the most difficult substrates to clean because it is so soft and it’s makeup. This was a demo I did for a client and they were more than pleased with the results. Until you get acceptable results (to you and the client) pricing isn’t your first priority.

Here I used a 25% EBC to H2O mix, sprayed on with pump up, manual aggitation, 20 min dwell, wand off @ 160F and low pressure. I went back the next day just to verify results and it looked reasonably good.


John T

you have been solid with your advice thank you so much…this forum is very useful

aquatek 2013

some wonderful advice that i will be sure to use next time…thank you very much

I like Aritts approach but I don’t know if it’s feasible to use EBC on an entire commercial parking garage asphalt floor because large scale Asphalt cleaning doesn’t pay nearly as much as Concrete cleaning. More importantly here is since the asphalt was already cleaned in some areas with hi pressure and the surfaces dries you can see the discoloration, there really is no way I’m aware of besides resealing that can fix the problem.

The two other conerns for discountguy is this. If he continues forward and the job is unacceptable he’s going to lose more money and worse then that is if they demand he fixed the discoloration which would mean a reseal and maybe even restriped as well.

Tough call to make and the risk factor is definitely elevated here.

Yeah, I agree with you on his current situation. I’m just hard headed enough to try to fix it but I haven’t really seen how bad it is in this case either. It’s really hard to say from this perspective.

On another note, why doe asphalt pay less? I obviously havent done very much in my short time but I pretty much price it the same or even more due to the complexity of it all (its no where near as quick and easy as concrete, so why shouldn’t it pay more?). I also try to educate clients and potential clients on the economical impact of not cleaning their asphalt regularly. Bottom line is, if you leave that oil, transmission fluid and antifreeze on the surface to continuosly be baked into the surface (car engines), it will cause pitting and premature failure of the substrate. This is what you see happening in the “after” pictures above. Honestly, once it begins to fail like this, a resurface is what it needs. But I think maintenance cleaings from the beginning can substantially extend the life of the surface. Maybe I’m wrong but I haven’t found an legitimate facts proving that.

What do ya’ll think?

Hey Aritt-- yea pictures would be more helpful here to see what’s really going on. Asphalt on large surfaces such as a parking lot/garage is much cheaper to install for the builder. Even for the homeowner where in order of least to most expensive for driveways it’s asphalt,concrete then brick. To powerwash a Brick driveway can be comparable to resealing an asphalt driveway. Possibly you can get more to Powerwash people’s asphalt driveways then let’s say a brick or concrete driveway but by me most people get a quick clean on asphalt then it gets resealed to look new again so it’s a harder sale here for me at least to charge someone $200 for an asphalt driveway clean Job when they can get it resealed for the same price by a blacktop company and it looks new afterwords and is protected as well.

On parking garages we have some that are asphalt on some of the lower floors and concrete every where else. Most are all concrete. One of the garages we did last year was 180,000 sq’ of concrete per floor. You can get anywhere from 5-8cents a sq’ to clean them so on the lower end you can get $9000 just for that floor. Asphalt you would be lucky to get $4000 for that floor and probably much less because the facility operators that run these garages know whats involved in Asphalt cleaning.

To get a better understanding how this works go to a supermarket in your area. Take a look at the size of their asphalt parking lot. Lets just say that their parking lot is 100,000sq’. They’ll have a guy come in to sweep if for $400 on a monthly account at most. So in reality he’s going to clean there parking lot 12xyr x 100,000sq’ = 1,200,000 sq’ for $4800 for the year.

There is no real big money in large size asphalt cleaning and in the Powerwashing world since we are Powerwashers and not sweepers it’s because of the way most asphalt is maintained you’ll be hard pressed to get more then 2-3 cents a sq’ at most because it comes down to it’s just really a hi pressure rinse down when it’s power washed. Not much more then that.

I’m with you in that I always try to find a way to fix a problem but in this case this is going to be tougher then most and if there is serious discoloration taking place it’s time to talk to the customer and try and resolve what should be done here that’s acceptable for both parties.

This is why I say Commercial and residential are at times so different. Residential expectations are almost always higher because your dealing with the owners where as commercial which generally have lower expectations because your dealing with managers but you can have much bigger problems with commercial due to just the shear size of what your cleaning and the money owed.

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[MENTION=350]John[/MENTION]T I see what you are saying. I have been trying to specifically sell “oil lifts” on asphalt and not entire lot washing. I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s not like I have enough experience to sway anyone one way or the other and I’m just dumb enough to keep trying LOL. I will say that I had no idea it was so cheap to seal ashalt. I actually need to have my asphalt drive resealed. Also, I don’t see commercial asphalt being sealed like I do residential. Usually they put a whole resurface down on commercial around here. Either way, then you have the expense of lot striping and I know that isn’t cheap. Hmmmm… my mind id always going! LOL

I actually use to sealcoat blacktop as an add on to my Powerwashing business. It was pretty easy to do but it was messy. The 5 gallon cans then would cost about 15 bucks and I would use on average maybe 4 of these to do your typical driveway.

What got me out of that part of my business was twofold. 1-being I was competing against companies who had tankfulls of sealer on there truck so they could charge much less and the biggest reason of all was one day I did a persons driveway and on a clear sunny day this house suddenly had a black cloud above it. The cloud opened up and it rained so hard that the sealer I just laid down ended up pouring out in the street and stained it bigtime. What a mess and I got lucky. I only had to eat the cost because getting payment was out of the question.

I’m going to look into that! For my drive I mean

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