A Complete Guide to Seal Coat Asphalt Driveway

People often ignore their driveway, despite the fact that they do a lot for us. It allows you to park off the street and close to your home. For businesses, it’s a basic necessity and even a reflection of your company because a well-paved driveway leaves a great first impression on customers. For all these reasons, it is necessary to treat your driveway and parking lot nicely to ensure that it is convenient and well-maintained.

Your driveway and asphalt pavement endure harsh weather conditions. It has to put up with the oxidization from the sun, rain, snow, as well as, freeze and thaw cycles. All these extreme climatic conditions result in deteriorating the life of an asphalt driveway. Without proper maintenance, the binders in the asphalt dry out and start to flake and chip away, which ultimately lead to complete failure of an asphalt driveway.

While parking lots and driveways may go unnoticed, but taking a moment to consider its condition and age is crucial to improving the condition of your pavement surface. As a homeowner or property manager, you need to understand the importance of maintaining your property, including your driveway. As such, to take care of your driveway, it is imperative to know when and how to seal coat it or when to have it repaved.

 

What is a seal coat?

A sealcoat is an emulsion type product which has a thick semi-fluid consistency and a dark chocolate brown color. There are three major types of seal coatings- Refined Tar-based seal coatings (RTS), Specialty resins, Asphalt Emulsion-based Seal coatings (AE) which work very well in maintaining the surface integrity of asphalt pavements and keep cracks from appearing.

 

Why sealcoat an asphalt driveway?

Constructing a pavement is a big investment which means you need to take extra care of it. Sealcoating should be a part of your regular maintenance program as it acts as a right “barrier coat” between asphalt surfaces and destructive elements such as ultraviolet rays, gasoline, oils, salts, fat etc. Sealcoating is proven to extend the life of a sound pavement by more than 300%.

Every year, usually around September and October driveways and parking areas are to be seal coated. However, people often undermine the need and importance of seal coating driveways and asphalt pavement. Before you consider to sealcoat an asphalt pavement, make sure to know the basics of this process.

Asphalt surfaces are most susceptible to wear and tear, both from weather and from automobile traffic. The process of seal coating involves applying an emulsion type product over the asphalt pavement to seal and fill small cracks. This process is immensely useful to extend the life of an asphalt driveway, as well as, to give your driveway a beautiful, new, rejuvenated look. It helps you save thousands of dollars in replacement costs by preventing additional damages to the pavement by weather and chemicals in contact with the driveway or parking area.

Thus, the benefits of sealcoating the asphalt driveway or parking lot includes:

  • Sealcoating the asphalt helps in filling the small cracks that can turn into large holes and thus it prevents water from seeping down to the base material.
  • Sealcoat improves the appearance of asphalt and makes your driveway or parking lot look near brand new.
  • It protects the asphalt from the sun, as well as, the harmful effects of chemical spills such as oil and gasoline.
  • It acts as a waterproofing agent and helps in preventing the seepage of water and moisture from rain and snow.
  • If done correctly, it helps in preventing the oxidation and erosion of the top layer.
  • It is a cost-effective way of repairing or surfacing the existing pavement by extending the life of the pavement and driveway.

 

When and how often to apply seal coating?

This actually depends on the traffic and pavement conditions, as well as, pavement contractor’s recommendations. After the installation of new pavement, it is recommended to apply seal coating after every one or two years. Ideally, when you start noticing signs of deterioration and the color of the individual stones that make up your asphalt surface, it’s time to seal it up. Moreover, always make sure to protect the area for at least 36 to 48 hours after you seal coat driveways and pavements. Before you think of seal coating, consider the outside temperature first. The right time is when it is 50 degrees or higher for the sealer to adhere properly.

Tips to apply seal coat properly

Before applying, the sealcoat product should be diluted as per the directions of the manufacturer and typically two coats of sealer are to be applied. Sealcoat can be applied in many different ways- by squeegee machine, brush applicator, spray and hand squeegee. Crack filling, repairs and sealcoating will extend the life of your asphalt and make it look like a new one. Following tips will help you in seal coating you asphalt pavement and driveway in a proper manner.

  • Since the process may stain other areas, it is important to first cover anything nearby that might get stained or damaged before applying it.
  • Do not use the seal coat process to fill up potholes. If cracks are bigger 1/4 inch, make sure to first patch them with a hot rubberized crack sealer and then only proceed.
  • To achieve more consistency and avoid a slippery surface, you can mix sand with the product before seal coating.
  • In case of treating a larger area, make use of spraying instead of seal coating with squeegees.
  • Never start this process, if the temperature is not more than 45 degrees, otherwise, the coat will not adhere to the substrate.
  • With the help of a pressure washer, prepare the driveway by cleaning all cracks and removing all debris and vegetation in cracks.
  • Remember, as compared to applying a thick layer, a thinner layer would be better. Always apply the product using a criss-cross pattern, the first layer in one direction and once it has dried, apply the second coat in a perpendicular motion related to the first layer.