A Guide to Raised Deck Car Parks

In this knowledge article we’ll explain what a raised deck car park is and how you design and build a raised deck car park. We’ll explore the different car park layouts and flow patterns and discuss the many advantages of opting for a raised deck car park if you need to provide a car park facility quickly and cost efficiently.

As specialist car park contractors, Metpark UK is able to advise on the most viable car park design and car park construction solution for any project, regardless of the location, size or type of site. 

In addition to multi storey car parks, a growing and popular style of car park design is a single level raised deck car park which is proven to be a time and cost-efficient option for those looking to maximise the number of car parking bays offered whilst keeping a keen eye on budget.

What is a Raised Deck Car Park?

A raised deck car park is a single storey car park that sits on an elevated platform accessible via a vehicular ramp. More often than not, further parking is offered on the ground floor underneath the raised deck.

Sometimes, a raised deck is built above an existing surface car park. This allows car park owners to nearly double the number of parking spaces offered without increasing the footprint of the original parking provision.

a raised deck car park under construction by Metpark UK

How Do You Design a Raised Deck Car Park?

The design of a raised deck car park is approached in the same way as the design of any car park

A study of the site is undertaken to establish the existing traffic flows, the current use of the ground floor area and the feasibility of the single storey car park being constructed in the preferred location in relation to other buildings and the site boundaries.

This study can either be via an on-site survey or a desktop study using site images and Google Earth data. Detailed information on the site topography, drainage and the location of existing services will be required to finalise any design proposal.

Unlike the design of a multi-storey car park, there are fewer options to consider when designing a single storey raised deck car park.

With a multi-storey car park, consideration needs to be given to the layout of the car parking bays, the flow of vehicles around the car park and also the car park layout design, which will most likely adopt one of three popular styles; split level, flat deck or parking ramps. For more information on these layouts, read our knowledge article on multi-storey car park design.

With a raised deck car park, the car park designer will also need to consider car park flow and the angle of car parking bays, however, the location and style of the parking ramp taking drivers from the ground floor to the first-floor level is limited to just two options – internal or external.   The decision on which route to adopt is dependent on the size and shape of the car park and the environment in which it is to be located, i.e. whether a location allows the addition of an external vehicle ramp and whether it can accommodate cars travelling up and down on the same ramp or if two one-way ramps need to be provided.

the car park ramp on Metpark UK's raised deck car park which they designed and built

Car Park Warranty and Lifespan

All exposed steel elements of a car park should be galvanised to provide corrosion resistance. Using Kingspan composite steel decking, enhanced lifespan to first maintenance can be obtained by incorporating Magnelis™ coatings.

Magnelis™ is a unique metallic coating applied during the manufacture of composite steel car park decking. The unique composition of zinc with 3.5% aluminium and 3% magnesium provides a dense protective layer that is capable of ‘self-healing’ to provide protection to cut edges, scratches and imperfections. Even in the most aggressive C4 and C5 environments, Magnelis™ provides up to three times more protection than standard galvanising.

All car park design and car park construction undertaken by MetparkUK is covered by £5m professional indemnity insurance and Kingspan product warranties.

Car Park Ramp Design & Vehicle Flow Patterns

Along with the flow of vehicles around a car park, the gradient and size of the ramp connecting the ground and first floor levels together are important considerations.

Similar to multi-storey car park design, car park designers must adopt one of two possible flow patterns when determining a car park layout; one-way flow system or two-way flow system. Whichever style they adopt must work well with either 90-degree or angled parking.

Here’s an explanation of what those terms mean and the impact they have on the usability of the car park:

A one-way flow vehicle pattern means that vehicles must only travel around a car park in one direction.  This car park design works best when combined with angled car parking bays as it allows easy entry and exit to the bays and ensures a free movement of vehicles around the car park building.  Problems arise only when motorists get confused with, or ignore, the one-way flow pattern. To limit these occurrences, car park owners should install clear signage and floor markings.

Two-way flow vehicle patterns allow vehicles to move in opposite directions around a car park. This is a preferred option for busy car parks as it allows a higher flow rate so drivers can exit a car park quicker and allow other motorists to occupy their space. However, this approach must be combined with 90-degree car parking bays as angled parking bays can create manoeuvrability problems causing hold ups. Additional space is also needed in between the rows of parking bays to allow two vehicles to pass each other in opposite directions safely.  As a result, this type of car park layout design may deliver fewer bays than the one-way flow vehicle pattern.

Car park ramps must be designed to be no less than 3.5 metres wide for a one-way ramp (vehicles travelling up or down) and no less than 7 metres wide for a double ramp (accommodating vehicles travelling both up and down).

The gradient of the car park ramp can range from between 1:6 and 1:10 but must allow a clear headroom of 2.1 metres as a minimum. The gradient of the ramp will influence the length of the ramp, which in turn influences the car park design layout.  However, whilst shallower ramps are longer and therefore require more space they are generally preferred by motorists.

Car Park Construction

The most popular method for constructing a raised deck car park is using steel frame and composite concrete flooring, which is a combination of profiled metal floor decking and a cast in situ reinforced concrete slab.

A photo graph of a raised deck car park showing the top floor as sheets of steel decking

Steel, as a material, has excellent tensile strength and is relatively lightweight so has reduced foundation requirements when compared to other building methods. This makes it quick and cost efficient to erect.

Steel is extremely durable and has good fire resistance. It’s a versatile material for designers and allows all the key aspects of ‘good car park design’ to be met.

Composite concrete flooring combines sheets of profiled steel decking with mesh reinforced concrete.

The combination of steel and concrete works well because the materials complement each other’s weaknesses. They both react to thermal changes in the same way; expanding and contracting as environmental temperatures increase or decrease. Together they provide excellent structural rigidity, fire performance and load bearing capabilities and offer a car park structure longevity.

To complete and waterproof the car deck an elastomeric waterproof topping will be applied to the concrete slab.

How to Build a Raised Deck Car Park

The construction of any permanent car park begins with the installation of reinforced concrete foundations and below ground drainage. The steel frame, car ramp and access staircases are then installed to provide the superstructure framework and support for the composite car park deck.

steel decking contractors install sheets of composite steel decking

Sheets of composite steel decking are then laid horizontally between the beams of the structure to create a metal floor. Different metal deck profiles have different unpropped span widths, with the maximum being 5.6 metres provided by Kingspan Multideck MD206c, a steel deck manufactured specifically for use in car park construction. The longer the unpropped span width then the fewer vertical columns needed underneath to support it. Less columns mean fewer foundations need to be dug, which reduces programme time and cost. Fewer columns also increases the number of parking bays that can be delivered within a space making the car park more effective and, if commercial, profitable.

Sheets of steel mesh reinforcement will be laid on top of the composite steel decking. The mesh provides further strength, crack resistance and a fire rating for the floor and is particularly useful as absorbing the pressure from heavy static loads, such as parked vehicles. 

A concrete floor slab is cast on top of the metal decking and given a power float finish for the preparation of waterproof toppings and bay markings. The concrete will set around the shear studs bonding the steel frame and the composite floor slab.

A vehicle ramp is constructed using the same process.

After the main car park structure is built, the contractor will install safety crash barriers, column protection units, pedestrian barriers, steel access stairs, lighting and car park technology such as electric vehicle charging points and ANPR depending on the specification set by the end client.

Read our knowledge article ‘How to Build a Car Park‘ for more information on car park construction.

Metpark UK Car Park Consultants

Metpark UK offers a car park consultancy service which is available to existing car park owners and operators as well as local councils, businesses and land owners considering building, or expanding, a car park structure on their premises.

Our team of expert car park consultants will conduct all the required feasibility studies on the site and immediate location and provide you with a full and detailed report on the kind/s of car parks that would be possible on the site. This would also include a guide on costings, helping you make an informed decision.

Metpark UK can also produce full car park planning applications and all the designs, reports and evidence that is required by local council planning departments.

Metpark UK Car Park Designers

Metpark UK benefits from an in-house team of expert car park designers capable of producing bespoke car park designs for raised deck car parks and multi-storey car parks. As proud members of the British Parking Association (BPA), Metpark’s designs meet the criteria for ‘good car park design’.

Metpark UK Car Park Contractors

Metpark UK is an experienced car park contractor operating UK wide and constructing single and multi-storey car park projects of all sizes.  

The company specialises in steel frame and composite concrete car park construction. Metpark UK, using its sister company Raised Floor Solutions Ltd, is the UK’s largest approved supplier and installer of Kingspan Multideck composite steel car park decking, the most frequently specified steel decking for car park construction.

Metpark UK offers a turn key car park construction service which can also include car park design, waterproof toppings, bespoke cladding and design finishes, steel access staircases, lighting, electric vehicle charging stations, solar electric vehicle charging car ports, ANPR, touchless ticketing and more.

To discuss Metpark UK’s extensive range of car park design and build services, contact the team on 01695 566880 or send an email.