Asphalt driveways are beautiful and will last long when properly maintained. However, asphalt surfaces are prone to damage caused by exposure to snow, rain, UV rays, oxidation (the greying and loss of its deep black color), and constant pressure from vehicles driving over it. This begs the question of whether or not it is a good idea to sealcoat your asphalt driveway, and when would be the best time to do so.
Here are some common indicators that you need to seal your driveway:
- Visible cracks and potholes. Whether it is just a few small cracks here and there, or a developing network of cracks, this is the number one sign that your driveway needs sealing. Small cracks can grow into potholes, which can lead to bigger problems and accidents if not repaired sooner.
- Water pooling. Water is a major culprit that speeds up the deterioration of your asphalt driveway. It seeps beneath the surface and weakens the foundation of the pavement, creating depressions. When you begin to see small puddles of water that don’t seem to drain properly, this means that the surface of your driveway has become uneven due to those depressions.
- Faded surface color. A newly laid asphalt driveway looks sleek and has a deep black color. Through time, this coloration fades or turns to gray. This is also an indication that your driveway needs a fresh coat of sealer.
Just like our skin, asphalt tends to age due to constant exposure to natural elements, and has a tendency to crack and flake when it gets to too dried out. It becomes brittle and weak, and will eventually break if not seal coated on time. Grass, roots, and water runoff (from sprinklers and hoses) are also culprits in speeding up the decay of your driveways. Sealcoating your asphalt driveway will not only help extend its lifespan, it will also prevent further damage.
Prepping your driveway
Before actually applying sealcoat, you will need to clean the asphalt surface thoroughly. Here are some steps to guide you on how to prep your asphalt driveway before sealcoating.
- Sand, chipped stone, fallen leaves and twigs can prevent the sealer from adhering properly. Sweep the entire area with a sturdy bristled brush or broom to clear out debris.
- Use a blower to clear any remaining vegetation and bits of sand and stone.
- Power wash the surface of your driveway, if needed. (Note: Wait until your driveway is completely dry before proceeding to the next step. Moisture will prevent crack fillers and sealant from adhering properly.)
- Fill all visible cracks and repair potholes ahead of schedule so that the patches have time to cure. Any form of moisture (such as water used during power-washing) should be completely dry before applying the sealer. Check out our Driveway Repair Guide for more in-depth directions in repairing cracks and potholes.
When is the best time to sealcoat?
Freshly laid asphalt should not be sealed right away. Ideally, an asphalt surface needs to be cured (allowed to dry and set) for at least 6 months before sealing. The ideal interval per sealing would be 2-3 years.
Sealcoating should be scheduled during fair weather months – without any forecasted rain for at least 48 hours. Temperature should be at least 15°C or higher, but not more than 32°C. If the asphalt is too hot, the sealant will most likely melt and not cling properly to the surface of your driveway. This can result in an uneven finish.
How soon can I use my driveway after sealing?
Most sealers on the market need approximately 24-48 hours to cure before you can use your driveway again. However, Action Seal’s sealers only need 3-4 hours to dry if applied during ideal weather conditions. This means, you get to use your driveway sooner!
Benefits of Sealcoating
On a long-term basis, sealcoating is beneficial not only to your property but to your pocket as well.
- It acts like moisturizer for your driveway. It preserves and protects the surface, and keeps your asphalt healthy.
- It costs less than having to pay for major repairs or an overhaul.
- It helps melt snow and ice faster on your driveway because the dark color attracts the sun.
- It slows down oxidation, while preventing oil and chemical spills from seeping into the pavement.
- It protects your blacktop from rain, frost, snow and salt damage.
- It makes your driveway appear fresh, sleek and brand-new.
- It extends the lifespan of your asphalt driveway.
- It is a valuable investment.
To answer the question of whether or not to seal your asphalt driveway: the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, if there are any at all.
So, if a friend or colleague asks you the same question… tell them, yes, sealcoating your driveway is the best decision you can make to improve the appearance and prolong the life span of your driveway.