A Guide to Plaza Deck Systems, Waterproofing and Beyond

Apr 28, 2022

The ability of plaza deck systems to provide waterproofing protection and extend concrete life is its most essential feature. Its two main components—concrete and steel—provide stability, strength, and integrity. Moisture infiltration can cause either of these to fail, which would result in instability of the commercial roof deck systems. Plaza deck systems consist of commercial waterproofing membranes that provide protection and are also flexible, allowing movement of the building. 

Plaza deck systems can be on rooftops, a floating deck room, ground level, or even below ground level. Most are concrete; however, some can have additional metal or commercial composite decking materials depending on the design. Plaza deck systems can completely transform a building or even an unused city block. The city of El Paso, Texas, is creating a green and recreational plaza deck system built over the I-10 downtown corridor. According to ElPasoMatters.org, it will “include green spaces with trees and parks and could link active transportation infrastructure like the El Paso Streetcar to the Paso del Norte Trail.”

Below is a guide to plaza deck details to help you create a plaza deck system and exterior maintenance with as much prestige and attractiveness as possible.

What Is a Plaza Deck?

A plaza deck system is a concrete construction that serves as a roof and a floor for a public space. Plaza deck systems are at or above ground level. Commercial roof deck systems provide a public green space area that is open to pedestrians and, in some cases, automobiles. Parking garages, pedestrian bridges, stadium bleachers, high-rise balconies, and floating deck rooms are all examples of commercial roof deck systems. Plaza deck waterproofing systems cover and protect any occupied areas such as commercial offices, storage, mechanical spaces, or parking. 

Because the deck is exposed to all types of weather, all plaza deck systems must address all plaza deck waterproofing details. Waterproofing prevents water and moisture entry into the commercial roof deck systems and the property beneath them. Commercial roof deck systems retain water for an extended period after precipitation and require extra attention and preventative maintenance. The plaza deck waterproofing system can be difficult and expensive to repair; therefore, proper installation from the beginning is vital. In a waterproofing failure, the commercial area below will be compromised.

Many businesses have unused roof space and propose converting the rooftops into a commercial roof deck system. Roofing areas converted into plaza deck systems lead to an increased ROI. People have been craving human connection since the pandemic began; this is a surefire way for your building to bring people together. Creating a community gathering space would not only attract customers, but it increases the building value.

According to GlobeNewswire.com, “Conversion of an under-utilized outdoor plaza into a multi-purpose space with a club lounge, lawn space, coffee shop, bocce court, and Zen garden” is one core way that building managers can take advantage of outdoor space. However, turning unused space into a plaza deck waterproofing system is no small task. It’s tedious and filled with risk. 

Plaza Decks Vs. Commercial Roofing Systems

Plaza deck systems and commercial roofing systems may sound similar; however, they should be confused with one another. By design, roofing systems protect what is underneath—parking garages, office space, and mechanical storage. While commercial roof deck systems serve this purpose, they are specifically engineered to withstand foot and vehicle traffic. Roofs do not have this structural capability. 

Another critical difference between plaza deck waterproofing systems and roofs is the appearance. A typical roofing system does not have an appealing aesthetic. A plaza deck system is much more visible and frequented by visitors. Therefore aesthetics are essential to the overall design.  

The Challenges of Plaza Deck Maintenance

Maintenance of the plaza deck system can be complex due to the tenant occupancy of the building. Often tenants feel very inconvenienced when parts of their buildings undergo renovation or routine maintenance. The commercial roof deck system is typically a space for people to gather, and shutting it down can cause frustration. Setting expectations at the start of a project will create a timeline that works for everyone. Every job has unique demands, which can change throughout the process. Therefore, open communication is vital.

When using commercial composite decking materials, there are specific times needed for the materials to set and effectively do their job thoroughly. A proper notice communicating to tenants and occupants that these repairs and maintenance are for their safety and protection will enable closure of the space when needed. 

Each project varies in size and scale, but one thing is consistent: working in inhabited locations presents unique difficulties and requires communication with clients and staff to maintain satisfaction.

Why Plaza Decks Are Subject to Faster Degradation

Plaza deck systems face extensive exposure to foot traffic, automobile traffic, and outdoor elements, which leads to some of the most severe degradations of any plaza deck waterproofing system. Because of their constant exposure to moisture, climatic fluctuations, and ordinary wear and tear, outdoor amenity areas deteriorate rapidly in most buildings. Routine preventive maintenance is critical in a plaza deck waterproofing system. Early identification of issues and attention to plaza deck waterproofing details could prevent a major repair or replacement, which is highly costly and time-consuming. 

There Are Many Factors Affecting Plaza Decks

Plaza deck systems are exposed to the harshest conditions of any part of the building. There is constant exposure to precipitation, moisture, temperature fluctuations, and foot and auto traffic. Constant exposure to the elements and precipitation can cause a build-up of algae and mildew. Algae cause a slippery surface which can be a potential hazard for guests. Ensure routine cleanings to avoid this safety concern. 

The deck is susceptible to debris, and dust builds up as it is exposed. Over time, these items can cause deterioration to the components of the deck. Weeds can also be a pesky problem to address. Weeds must be dealt with as roots can cause damage to the structure.

The constant exposure to weather and precipitation changes will also cause deterioration and degradation. Cracks and spalling can occur due to temperature changes and exposure to harsh weather. 

Ensure that the space is clean and free of damage to provide guests with an inviting, safe, and comfortable area.  

Below Grade Plaza Decks Are Also Subject to Even Harsher Conditions

Many buildings have one or more levels below grade (ground) level. Storage, office space, mechanical/electrical rooms, parking, tunnels, crawlspaces, and other uses for these spaces are all possible in these below-grade regions. Basement flooding can be a common occurrence in buildings without maintenance. 

Because they are below ground and surrounded by dirt, these plaza deck systems are often the most vulnerable building areas for water damage and pooling. Moisture seeps into the concrete from the soil if not correctly waterproofed. Also, the failure of the waterproofing membrane can cause extensive damage to the plaza deck systems.

What Are the Benefits of Well-Maintained Plaza Deck Systems?

The plaza deck waterproofing system should be maintained and updated to remain cohesive with the rest of the building’s aesthetics. A more attractive building will result in higher tenant satisfaction and a higher property value. Creating outdoor offices, floating deck rooms, and building amenities are rising as urban living becomes more popular. Outdoor spaces create a unique community-type atmosphere for tenants and occupants to enjoy.

5 Benefits of an Outdoor Space in a Commercial Building

  1. Happier and Healthier Work Environments – Sitting behind a desk all day in artificial lighting can increase stress and anxiety levels which leads to disgruntled employees. Being outside naturally increases serotonin levels, which create a sense of calmness. Create an outdoor work environment for a change of office scenery.
  2. Return on Investment – Creating more usable space on your property is an investment that will increase the value of your building. It provides an extended living, work, or recreational area, which will quickly be a return on your investment. 
  3. Provides a Professional Appearance – The saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, that is precisely what people do. Create an attractive outdoor space to leave a lasting impression. You want a space that draws people in and makes them want to stay and enjoy it. 
  4. Functionality – It provides a place for people to be outside while also remaining connected, productive, and plugged in. Bring the office outdoors by creating a work environment where people get to experience nature. This will naturally make a calming aspect in the office. 
  5. Green is In – Trees provide shade. Shade reduces energy demands. This is a win-win! Strategically place potted trees around the plaza deck system to ensure the best coverage. Well-designed landscaping also increases curb appeal and income potential! Remember that attention needs to be paid to plaza deck waterproofing details when creating a green space. 

Your commercial roof deck systems can last for decades and pose minimal risks with routine maintenance. Plaza deck systems are booming in popularity, especially since the onset of the pandemic. Attention to plaza deck details is a way to increase employee or tenant morale and create a healthier environment. If this atmosphere is what your business is striving for, a plaza deck system might be just what is needed.

Why Proper Waterproofing Application WIll Determine the Longevity of Your Plaza Deck

Construction of a building costs millions of dollars, don’t skip out on the possibly most important component of all – a plaza deck waterproofing system. Waterproofing forms an impenetrable barrier over foundations, roofs, walls, and other structural parts to prevent water penetration, resulting in water-resistant and occasionally watertight building surfaces. Ensure that all components meet waterproofing expectations, including cement, concrete, and chemical grouting.

One of the most important aspects of facility management is recognizing and responding to water damage in commercial facilities. A commercial building’s roofing system is one of the most critical components. Water infiltration can result from any damage to the roof and must be prevented to increase the longevity of your plaza deck system. A minor water leak might seep into the commercial roof deck system’s lower levels, causing visible and invisible damage. Regular roof inspections and regular maintenance will limit the risk of commercial property water damage caused by a leaking roof, saving money on repairs and restoration

Commercial waterproofing keeps moisture out and protects the structural components of the concrete. Prevent costly repairs, serious safety hazards, and other building maintenance difficulties by carefully planning exterior maintenance and waterproofing services such as careful product selection, hiring an expert, and following through with testing and inspections.

Leading Tips to Extend Plaza Deck System Use

Extend the lifespan of your plaza deck system by regularly performing preventative maintenance. Frequent routine maintenance that is is essential. Early detection of problems is financially beneficial and will prevent a complete replacement. It also creates a visually appealing atmosphere while limiting risks and hazards. Pay particular attention to plaza deck waterproofing details.

Properly and Regularly Inspect the Plaza Deck

Regularly examining all parts of the plaza deck waterproofing system will help avoid leaks and other significant future issues. Inspectors should routinely check items such as drainage systems and gutters for blockages, deterioration, corrosion, and leaks. Clogged drains and gutters might cause an overflow and compromise the plaza deck’s waterproofing details

Inspect all commercial roof flashing in your plaza deck system. Flashing is a plaza deck waterproofing detail that seals connections between the top and other areas such as edges. It directs water away from the plaza deck system and toward the gutters. Rippled or loose flashing are common issues. Ignoring these problems can turn a minor fix into a major project. Also, regularly check the concrete itself for spalling or other damages.  

For reference, here are a few possible warning signs that your building has water damage: 

Use Anti-Corrosive Additives to the Concrete Substrates to Prevent Corrosion of Rebar

Moisture will eventually lead to corrosion. Therefore, the best way to extend the life of commercial composite decking and concrete begins by avoiding the breakdown of the metals that contribute to its strength. Corrosion of steel within concrete can result in huge expenses or even replacement if neglected. Corrosion inhibitors can be used at the beginning stages of construction and during routine maintenance. 

Corrosion inhibitors reduce spalling and repairs to your concrete and commercial composite decking materials. They can also target several forms of degradation causes, all while preventing future corrosion from occurring. Concrete strengthening is also reinforcement for deteriorating concrete. It increases the strength of the plaza deck system by using steel-reinforced steel bars. Concrete strengthening additives are vital to the longevity of concrete.

Ensure All Concrete Repairs Meet Engineer Specifications

The commercial decking product and materials used in building and the contractors’ competence are the main factors that determine a commercial roof deck system’s success and longevity. Best practices for building and repairing plaza deck systems include utilizing long-lasting materials, including commercial composite decking

Using the skills of a competent engineer to conduct a thorough assessment of the problem is strongly suggested. In contrast, a DIY project might sound like a better deal financially, saving yourself the trouble, any commercial project must stick to the professionals. Attempting the task on your own can cost you significantly financially and in time. The commercial roof deck system may also not pass the law’s necessary code and inspection requirements. It is best to leave any concrete repairs to the specialists to ensure that the structure lasts as long as possible.

Using services such as commercial building waterproofing services and hiring a professional to complete the job correctly the first time means less risk of issues over time. Consulting and enlisting the services of experts is one of the best ways to maintain the integrity of a plaza deck system.

Apply Waterproofing Sealants and Caulking Regularly and When Signs of Stress Appear

When signs of stress appear on your plaza deck waterproofing system, it is time for a  water leak investigation. What has caused the stress? What is failing? Commercial caulking sealants are vital ingredients to solve these issues. Because there are so many possibilities, choosing the proper commercial decking product sealant for your concrete repairs might be difficult for building managers. With so many sealant options, it’s essential to investigate each commercial decking product to make the best decision. The appropriate sealant should be waterproof and long-lasting under all weather situations. Maintenance teams should seal gaps and cracks as soon as possible to avoid future maintenance concerns. 

Regardless of the waterproof commercial concrete sealer you choose, the most important is that the buildings be sealed and protected against water infiltration and other risks. It’s critical to pay close attention to the plaza deck waterproofing details.

Think Beyond the Structural Deck

The typical plaza deck waterproofing details that come to mind when thinking of plaza deck systems include wood, steel, and concrete. However, it is necessary to think beyond the structural deck. 

Commercial decking product usages need multiple other components, layers, and plaza deck details. The location and purpose of the deck or floating deck room will help determine what coatings and composite materials to use.

Floating deck rooms and roof gardens need plants, soil, waterproofing, and root barriers. Plaza deck systems often require a pedestrian traffic surface and pavement support system. All plaza deck waterproofing systems require plaza deck waterproofing details

Regardless of the plaza deck details, the point remains. The structural plaza deck system is the concrete slab, while the other commercial decking products are the layers above, depending on the use of the plaza deck system.

Eliminate All Standing Water Where Possible

Water accumulation on your plaza deck system can create undesirable consequences. When there is inadequate drainage in, water ponding can occur. Water ponding is built-up water that is stagnant and has no drainage outlet. Plaza deck details must include an adequately angled, positive slope for drainage to occur. 

Rather than a constant battle of repairs, it is preferable to target these plaza deck details from the start. Make sure you pick a roofing contractor who understands how to plan a roof replacement with good drainage that considers all aspects of the plaza deck waterproofing systems and details. Keeping gutters and drains clear of debris will help prevent standing water from occurring.

Take Care With Plaza Deck Systems by Choosing The JOBS Group for Your Needs

Plaza deck systems’ most important characteristic is their ability to provide waterproofing and increase concrete life. Typically made up of concrete and steel, it offers strength and stability to your structure. Maintaining the plaza deck waterproofing system is crucial as moisture infiltration can be detrimental. 

Plaza decks play a crucial role in protecting your building. However, they also offer a unique capability of creating additional space for guests and tenants. Plaza decks can be rooftops or ground level. Plaza deck systems can radically change a structure or a whole city block by creating a green space or even extending your office space to the outdoors.

Contact The Valcourt Group today for a custom plan to transform your plaza deck system into a functional and attractive working space or ensure your existing plaza deck has many more years of life with a proactive maintenance schedule.