Concrete Wheel Stops vs. Rubber Wheel Stops

These objects go by several names. You may call them a wheel stop, or you may call them something else, like a parking block or a truck stop. Whichever name you choose to call them by, wheel stops can be a great way to improve safety in your parking lot. But when it comes time to make a purchase decision, should you choose a rubber wheel stop or a concrete one? In this blog post, we'll talk a little about what the purpose of a wheel stop is, compare rubber and concrete wheel stops, and then give you our recommendation.

Cynthia Scarlata; Bac Street Lounge; Redondo Beach (19-677) BL (1)

What is a Wheel Stop?

You've likely seen a wheel stop before. It is the barrier at the front of a parking space that prevents your car from rolling forward into the next parking space. Wheel stops are there to avoid accidents that would otherwise occur if a person pulls up a little too far in the parking spot and bumps into the car in front of them. This is especially common when people back into parking spots because they have a more limited view of the obstacles that are in their way. In both cases, the wheel stop is there to gently stop the car. Wheel stops also are used to keep the front end of vehicles from encroaching too far into a sidewalk or pedestrian traffic area.

At the speeds people traditionally travel while parking, the wheel stop is sufficient to actually stop the car. This is enough to prevent most accidents that would occur from driver error while parking. Putting these measures in place helps to keep your customer's vehicles, and perhaps the customer themselves, safe.

In addition to preventing accidents between the cars in your parking lot, wheel stops also function to prevent cars from running into your property. No longer will cars knock over your outdoor trash cans or signage, or potentially come crashing into your building.

This still leaves us with the question of whether you should choose a concrete or a rubber wheel stop. To help answer that question, let's take a look at how each is made and the strengths that they bring to the table. After that, we'll take a look at which one is the best for your needs.

Concrete Wheel Stops

Wheel stops made of concrete are precast, meaning that concrete is poured into a mold and allowed to harden. Concrete is one of the oldest building materials still in modern use, but is also still one of the strongest. Because of the age of technology, concrete was the first substance that wheel stops were made out of. It is still the most common. Alternatives such as plastic exist but are not durable enough to be considered a viable alternative, especially for commercial usage. It wasn't until rubber stops came along that concrete had any real competition.

Concrete wheel stops are heavy, the smallest options are over 100 lbs, and the larger options can get up to over 500 lbs. Because of this, concrete wheel stops require multiple people to put them into place. Concrete wheel stops can be installed with a rebar pin or with epoxy. Rebar is the more durable option, but the extreme weight of a concrete wheel stop makes it effective even without anything holding it down, so epoxy is also an effective choice. 

Rubber Wheel Stops

Rubber wheel stops are made from recycled rubber. They are much lighter than a concrete wheel stop. Even the largest rubber wheel stops are well under 50 lbs. The lightweight means that they can easily be installed by just one person. Although manufacturers say that rubber wheel stops can be installed with a rebar pin or with epoxy, we find that their light weight makes epoxy a less appealing installation method. Without the heavy weight of concrete to hold it down, a rebar pin helps to ensure that the stop stays in place.

Being made of rubber means that, unlike concrete wheel stops, these stops cannot be repainted. The tradeoff to that particular cosmetic problem is that rubber wheel stops are less likely to chip or break than concrete is.

We've now talked a bit about the pros and cons of each type of wheel stop. So, which do we recommend? In the next section, we'll answer that question and tell you why we make the recommendation that we do.

Which is better?

For almost all installations, we recommend concrete wheel stops. Despite the fact that it takes two people to install them, they are still the more affordable option. Their heavy weight means that they are more likely to stay put should they come loose, which in turn means they are less likely to be stolen by pranksters. Both concrete and rubber wheel stops are made with recycled materials thus environmentally conscious.

Although rubber stops are less likely to chip or crack, repair options are limited and the inability to repaint them means that once they start showing signs of age, there isn't anything that can be done about it. Concrete, on the other hand, can be repaired, repainted and made to look like new. This means that overall, concrete will last longer and look better for longer.

The only circumstances under which we would recommend rubber are for extremely low traffic areas or private residences. Outside of these circumstances, which means the vast majority of commercial applications, concrete's durability and longevity cannot be beaten. This is especially true when considering that concrete is the cheaper option.

About Empire Parking Lot Services

At Empire Parking Lot Services, we are experts in all areas of parking lot installation and maintenance. Whether you need an entirely new parking lot, a repair on existing one, or just need some wheel stops installed, you can count on us to do the job at an affordable cost and with a high degree of quality. If you are ready to have concrete or rubber wheel stops installed, or have any questions about this topic or any other topic related to parking lot maintenance, please do not hesitate to contact us at 714-633-0300 to have our experienced team assist you with whatever your parking lot needs may be. Please check out our "Anatomy of a Parking Lot" blog for a more in-depth view of what makes up a parking lot.

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