How Thick is a Commercial Concrete Slab?

How Thick is a Commercial Concrete Slab?

Concrete supports the world around us, but most of the concrete you see in parking lots is only the tip of the iceberg. Commercial concrete is tough, thick, and though you normally can’t see it – extends several inches into the ground.

If you’re considering pouring a new concrete parking lot or switching your asphalt parking lot to concrete, you might be curious how thick concrete needs to be to support your building or customers’ vehicles.

Let’s learn what defines commercial concrete, how thick is a commercial concrete slab, what makes commercial concrete different than residential concrete, and some raw numbers on how thick a commercial concrete slab can get.

What is Commercial Concrete?

What makes concrete different in residential vs. commercial settings? Are there different formulations for different types of concrete uses? The main difference in commercial vs residential concrete is not in the formulation, but the thickness of the slab. The reasons for the differences are not too startling – commercial concrete on average needs to support more weight.

Consider a residential home and the needs of its concrete. The home’s foundation only needs to be large enough to support the 3-bedroom home that’s on top of it. The home’s driveway only needs to be able to support normal vehicle traffic. Now consider commercial concrete. A commercial concrete foundation may need to support approx. hundreds of times the weight of a residential home and its parking lot and structures must handle hundreds of cars including vehicles that’d never dream of parking on top of a residential driveway like 18-wheelers. To handle the stress, commercial concrete needs to be thick.

On average, commercial concrete slabs are at least 6 inches thick for parking lots and structures. Many concrete slabs are poured thicker at the edges so while the bulk of a commercial concrete pour can average 6 inches, the outside, aka aprons, might plunge down to 8 to 10 inches. There are also areas on most commercial parking lots that need thicker concrete like loading docks or dumpster pick up areas. Extra tough areas of commercial concrete can be up to 12 inches thick.

Commercial Concrete Reinforcement

Commercial concrete’s thickness along with reinforcement makes it stronger than residential concrete. Again, most commercial concrete must handle several times the load of a residential setting, which can’t be accomplished with concrete alone. To give it more strength most commercial concrete is significantly more reinforced with steel rebar. How much reinforcement depends on the job but on average commercial concrete is more reinforced than residential concrete.

Other Factors in Commercial Concrete Slab Thickness

  • Local Code – All concrete installations including parking lots, roads, and parking decks will need to meet local code requirements. Local code can include guidelines on what type of concrete reinforcement has, if it must have certain additives, and how thick it should be. Checking code and pulling permits with the local building jurisdiction is a pain in the butt, but it protects you with area-specific rules designed to make your commercial concrete installation safe and effective. Keep in mind that local code normally encompasses minimum requirements, and any reputable concrete contractor will go above and beyond local building code.
  • Local Environment – Local code often goes hand-in-hand with the local environment. For example, Denver roofs must hold much more weight compared to a roof in Dallas due to snow accumulation. Different weather patterns like freezing and thawing cycles and other environmental concerns play a role in how thick your commercial slab will be. The more extreme your area’s weather patterns, the thicker commercial concrete is required to be.

How Thick is a Commercial Concrete Slab for Sidewalks and Roads?

Most commercial concrete parking lots and structures and connected by sidewalks and roads, how thick does the concrete on those need to be?

Most commercial sidewalks are poured around 4 to 6 inches and are not as thick as their load-bearing concrete cousins.

If there are concrete roads connecting your different parking structures, they are normally poured at 6 to 10 inches thick, depending on the type and frequency of traffic they’ll encounter. Most major concrete highways and roadways are poured at more than 12 inches thick, but they’re designed to handle all types of traffic around the clock.

Consulting with a Concrete Professional

Ultimately your concrete paving company will make the call on your concrete’s thickness. Reputable paving contractors like Colorado Pavement Solutions use a staff of engineers and concrete professionals to make a diagram of the site, find out what it’s likely to face over its serviceable life, research building code, and decide on the perfect slab thickness for your parking lot.

Getting the right commercial concrete poured is a many-step process so if you’re ready for a perfect pour at the right thickness call Colorado Pavement Solutions to take all things concrete today.

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