If you own asphalt pavement, you have probably read about the benefits of seal coating. Many people do not understand the importance of this application. You may have a few questions about the cost and necessity of adding this protective coating to your asphalt. Here are some things that you should know about seal coating for asphalt.
The Basics of Asphalt
The primary ingredients in asphalt are stone, sand, and gravel. When these aggregates are heated, they are mixed with asphalt cement. When the asphalt mixture cools down, it will harden and create a durable pavement. However, many elements can damage the surface. When that happens, your asphalt can start to develop indentations, spalling, or potholes. This damage is due to the asphalt cement breaking down and becoming brittle.
Asphalt is a durable material. Many people will use it for residential driveways or commercial lots. It creates a porous and flexible surface that can absorb vibration and noise for a more quiet environment near your business or home. The bumpy surface of the asphalt gives you more traction during the winter. Finally, the dark color of the surface will provide less glare on the road during the daytime.
Asphalt might seem extremely durable, but you still have to maintain it over the years. Asphalt pavement will need to have an application of seal coat on a regular basis to protect it from cracking and fading. When you invest in an asphalt driveway, you need to shield it from the elements and keep it in good repair. By protecting asphalt from the early signs of damage, you can guard your financial investment and avoid those unnecessary repairs.
What Is Sealcoating?
Sealcoating is an application of a coating that protects the asphalt. It covers the pores and pits of the surface. It also adds a layer of defense against harmful chemicals, including automotive oils, gasoline, and ice-melting salt. Sealcoat will reflect the rays of the sun and also allow moisture to repel against the surface. As it does that, the seal coat is helping to protect the asphalt from any premature damage.
Sealcoat is a mixture of small particle solids and liquids. This mix adds restorative and protective qualities to your asphalt surfaces. Sealcoating usually consists of mineral filters, dissolved asphalt, and water. In most cases, the seal coat is applied with a squeegee or broom. It can also be sprayed onto the surface.
This sealant uses the same materials and oils found in asphalt paving. As the seal coat is applied to the surface, those oils will seep down into the pavement. The seal coat will replenish the depleted oils of the asphalt that might have dried up over time. In addition to that, it will also fill in those gaps and small cracks for a level surface.
With an application of a seal coat, the asphalt pavement will look like a new surface. A layer of seal coat can help to add a protective barrier from harmful elements, such as water, sun, traffic abrasion, and chemicals.
Is Sealcoat Necessary?
When the asphalt is new, those oils are pliable and fresh. They make the surface more flexible. However, oil can oxide and make the asphalt more brittle and less flexible. Over time, the asphalt binder will reduce in volume and cause those gravel particles to be exposed on the surface. You can even expect the particles to loosen up and flake from the pavement. Sealcoat will reintroduce those oils and restore the flexibility of the pavement. It will also cover and protect the exposed particles to prevent any loose material from chipping off the surface.
Asphalt is durable, but it is not indestructible. Automotive oil and gasoline are corrosive to the surface, and it can cause damage like potholes. Long-term direct sunlight can also break down the asphalt binders. Over some time, the surface will chip and crack. Large and heavy vehicles can also add to the stress of the asphalt by causing the binders to soften and disintegrate. Finally, excess moisture can also break down asphalt as it loosens the particles from the surface.
How Often Should You Add a Sealcoat to Asphalt?
In most cases, driveway seal coating is applied when the new pavement is installed on your property. After that time, you should apply a seal coat once every three years. However, this will depend on the wear and tear of the pavement from traffic and weather conditions. With a layer of seal coat, the asphalt will be protected from excess moisture, direct sunlight, and corrosive chemicals. If your asphalt surfaces come in contact with these elements on a regular basis, then you might need to seal coat more often than not.
With a layer of seal coat, the soft materials of the asphalt will have more durability. A new application of seal coat will be less likely to spall, chip, or crack as a result of those damaging elements. This protective layer will also fill in those hairline cracks, tiny pits, and pores to keep out dust, debris, and moisture. By not sealing off those elements, those small imperfections can get bigger and cause the asphalt to break down. Cracks are never a good sign in your driveway. If you notice an increase in cracks, you might need to add seal coating to your asphalt’s maintenance schedule.
An application of seal coat is one way to keep your asphalt surfaces free from damage. Sealcoat can help to protect your asphalt from the harmful elements of the winter, including excess moisture from the snow and snow-clearing salt. If you want to protect your asphalt before the winter, you need to apply the seal coat before the weather starts to change. A layer of seal coat will also create a barrier to protect your asphalt from snow removal equipment with sharp blades that can damage the surface of the pavement.
Will Sealcoat Stop the Need for Repairs?
While the seal coat can help to protect your asphalt surface, it cannot stop the pavement from ever needing repairs. However, the protective layer will reduce the number of unnecessary repairs by slowing down the aging process of your asphalt.
Before you add a seal coat to your surface, you need to remember a few things. Sealcoat adds a protective layer, but it cannot increase the structural strength of the asphalt, especially if you park heavy vehicles on the surface. If you have problems with the asphalt’s slope or grade, then a layer of seal coat will not correct that. Buckled or heaved asphalt will need to be repaired before adding a layer of seal coat. Finally, the seal coat is not a substitute for repair compounds or patching materials.
For those types of repairs, you will need to replace the entire top layer of the asphalt. As you can tell, the seal coat is an additive and protective coating for your asphalt. However, it cannot act as a repair fix for significant damage to asphalt pavement.
Patching those cracks and potholes is an affordable way to avoid having to replace or resurface your driveway. However, patch jobs are only a temporary solution. Even if you use the best patching material on the market, it cannot stop water and oil from seeping into the surface of the asphalt and causing extensive damage. If you are noticing these signs, it might be time for a complete replacement of your asphalt.
What Type of Sealcoat to Use?
Most seal coats are made with refined tar or petroleum-based materials. These sealers have both disadvantages and benefits to using them on your surface. Petroleum-based seal coats are more likely to break down as they are exposed to other petroleum products, including gasoline and motor oil.
Before you choose a seal coat, you need to consider your daily driveway habits. Parking the car in the driveway, using a motorized snow blower, and storing equipment on your driveway can cause damage to an asphalt surface. These habits can lead to oil leaking on the surface or causing surface damage to the pavement. With these cases, you might want to choose a tar-based sealer for your driveway or lot.
Applying Sealcoat to Your Surface
With all this information, you know about the basics of seal coating. However, there are a few more things that you should understand before adding it to your surface.
The cost of seal coating will depend on the size of your driveway or lot. There are other factors that you need to take into consideration. Different seal coat material will be more expensive than others. If the condition of your asphalt is weak, then that will also affect the cost of the project.
In the long run, seal coating is one of the most cost-effective ways to preserve your pavement. On average, an asphalt paving project will cost $2.25 per square foot. When you compare that to the cost of seal coating, a square foot only costs an average of $0.12 with a single application. With the correct maintenance and use of seal coat, your asphalt pavement can last around thirty years and save you thousands of dollars in repairs.
You need to choose the right time to seal coat your asphalt. The best time to seal coat your surface is when the temperature is above 55 degrees for a full 24 hours. You don’t want to run into cold temperatures that can affect the curing time of the sealant. In addition to that, you want to choose the right season too. If you are worried about the snow and ice from winter, you will definitely want to seal your asphalt before the start of the fall season.
Before adding a seal coat to your pavement, the surface needs to be thoroughly cleaned. If you hire a professional team, you will not have to worry about this detail. They have the equipment to power wash your driveway and make sure it is ready for an application of seal coat.
With any seal coat project, you will need a minimum of two coats on your asphalt. That will help to completely seal in the surface and keep out those harmful elements. Once the application is finished, it must be allowed to cure for 24 hours before you can park or drive on the surface.
By adding sealcoat to your pavement, you can extend the life of your asphalt driveway and lots. You should think about seal coating about every two to three years. When you apply it at the right time, you can prevent weather damage and oxidation to the surface. Sealcoating is also a great way to beautify the look of your asphalt pavement.
Can You Sealcoat a Surface on Your Own?
You can rent the right equipment and tools to tackle this job on your own. In some circumstances, it can save you a few dollars, but you really need the expertise of a professional company to properly sealcoat your driveway or lot. It may seem simple, but applying sealcoat is not the same as painting a concrete surface.
The surface must be pressure washed before any sealant can be added to the surface. You also have to tape off the driveway from any runoff in the adjacent areas. Sealcoat also needs to be applied evenly to the surface. If you have a driveway on a slope or steep grade, you could run into some problems.
Sealcoating needs to be done in the right weather too. High humidity and thick fog can cause issues during the application of the product. In other words, you should avoid all these hassles and contact a professional seal coating company to protect your asphalt surfaces.
Sealcoating is a great way to protect your investment. By avoiding unnecessary repairs, you can save money on your driveway. This sealant will protect asphalt from direct sunlight, excess moisture, and other elements. It makes sense to add a sealcoat to your asphalt surfaces. While you can handle this project on your own, you should think about hiring a professional company for the job. They will have the right equipment and tools to properly apply the sealcoat and keep your asphalt looking brand new.
If you want to learn more about seal coating in your area, take a few minutes to fill out the contact form.