How to Seal a Driveway Like a Pro
Continuous exposure to natural elements (rain, snow and UV rays from the sun), constant traffic, and oil and chemical spills pose a grave threat to your asphalt driveway. Although these factors cannot be avoided, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be minimized.
Keeping your driveway in good condition is not too difficult to accomplish, and the outcome is highly rewarding. A well-kept and sealed asphalt driveway appears aesthetically pleasing, and will surely earn praises from neighbors and friends. Sealing your asphalt driveway also helps protect the surface while prolonging its life span.
Below is an in-depth guide on how to seal a driveway, including our recommended supplies and equipment needed to do the job.
Part I: Driveway Preparation
No, you don’t just pour or spray sealer all over the driveway and call it a done deal. To ensure that the sealer adheres properly, the driveway needs to be thoroughly cleaned and prepared. Here are vital steps that you need to follow when preparing a driveway for sealing.
1. Check the weather
It is important to know if the weather will be favorable before setting the schedule for sealing. Whether you decide to do the sealing yourself, or hire the services of a sealcoating company, it is important to verify that there is no forecasted rain within 48 hours before and after. Rain can delay the entire cleaning and preparation process, and even wash off the sealer before it can dry up completely.
2. Check and remove vegetation
If your driveway has cracks and potholes, weeds and moss might have already grown in them. You can remove them manually by pulling them out, or use a trowel. However, if there is an excessive amount of vegetation growing out of the cracks, a gas-operated crack cleaner such as the Land Shark® Pro Crack Cleaner would be more a practical option. This powerful, walk-behind machine is designed to clean cracks and remove vegetation effectively, while cutting down cleaning time so you don’t have to spend hours on your hands and knees pulling weeds.
Remove grass or plants along the edges of the driveway. Grass stalks, plant branches and leaves hanging over the edges of the asphalt driveway are obstructions that can cause indentations and patches on the pavement when sealcoating. It is best to remove them beforehand.
3. Clean off loose debris
Use a stiff-bristled broom to sweep away chips of loosened aggregate, pebbles, fallen leaves and twigs as these can prevent the sealer from adhering properly. Follow through with a high-powered blower to further remove fine sand and other remaining debris that are too tiny to be swept away with a broom.
4. Take care of oil stains and spills
Oil and other chemical spills have a long-term effect on your asphalt pavement if not cleaned off right away. Remove oil stains and spills effectively using a professional-grade degreaser. This will help prevent further damage to the surface and help the sealer stick to asphalt better.
Important: Wear protective clothing, gloves, and googles when working with cleaning solutions as they can cause allergic reactions, burning, or a stinging sensation when they come in direct contact with your skin. If you accidentally get some on your skin or eyes, rinse with water and request for appropriate medical assistance.
5. Power wash the driveway
Residue from loose debris, vegetation and cleaning solutions can prevent the sealer from effectively sticking to the asphalt surface, which is why power washing the driveway before priming is recommended. Once the driveway has been washed down, let it dry for a few hours or overnight before proceeding to the next step.
6. Fill cracks and potholes
To ensure an even and smooth finish when sealcoating, you have to fill the cracks and potholes first. You will need different types of fillers depending on the size and depth of the cracks and holes present on the driveway.
A. Filling Cracks
- For cracks that form a wide network like a spider web or cracks looks like the back of an alligator, use Gator Patch for full coverage. To use, scoop the material over the cracks and apply evenly using a trowel or putty knife. Allow to dry for several hours before proceeding.
- For small and shallow cracks less than 1.27 cm (½ inch) deep, use a cold pour crack filler. This product does not need to be heated before applying. To use, shake the container or stir well using a long stick or paddle mixer, and then pour into a pour pot. Position the pour pot over the cracks until completely filled. Allow the crack fill to dry thoroughly.
- For cracks that are 1.27 cm (½ inch) or larger, use a hot pour crack filler. To use, place the rubberized crack filler cube into the a melter-applicator machine, such as the RY10 PRO Crack Seal Melter & Applicator, until completely melted. Then, apply the crack filler in a pushing motion, the same way as when pushing a lawn mower. Wait for the crack filler to dry for 1-2 hours before proceeding.
B. Filling Potholes
- For shallow potholes that are about 2.54 cm (1”) deep or less, the Cold Patch Asphalt Repair is ideal. Available in 20-kg. bags, this driveway patch can be used during both cold and warm weather repairs. Scoop or pour enough cold patch mix over the damaged area and tamp down using a handheld pothole tamper until compacted. A pothole tamper has a square head made of metal and a long handle (either made of wood or metal), and can be purchased or rented from local hardware stores or tool rental shops.
- For potholes that are 10 cm (4 inches) or deeper, we recommend the Permanent Pothole Repair Patch. This industrial-grade patch is pre-mixed and can be used immediately. Just pour enough amount to cover the hole you need to fill and tamp down until compacted. This product is ideal for both warm and cold weather repairs. Areas filled with this driveway patch can be used immediately after application.
If the driveway has extensive pothole damage, it is more practical and logical to rent a vibrating plate compactor, a machine that tamps down and compacts the patch mix more effectively, as compared to the handheld tamper.
Important: Allow crack and pothole fillers to dry thoroughly before sealcoating to make sure that no aggregate material gets loosened during application, which can result in a bumpy, uneven finish.
7. Apply oil spot primer
Use a clean brush, broom or sprayer to apply primer, such as the Gem Seal Tar Prime Latex-Based Primer, on the driveway surface before sealing. It helps the sealer adhere better, and prevents oil and chemical spills from “bleeding” through the fresh layer of sealcoating. Ambient temperature should be at least 10⁰C and rising when applying the primer, and then allow to dry for at least 2 hours or so before applying the sealer.
8. Determine how much sealer is needed
Whether you are a homeowner or a sealcoating contractor, you need to know how much sealer is required to cover the entire driveway. The best way to determine this is to actually measure the driveway. With the aid of a measuring tape, get the length and width of the driveway, then multiply these values together to get the square footage. Coverage rate is about 100 sq. ft. per gallon of sealer.
Part II: How to Sealcoat a Driveway
Now that the necessary prep work is done, it is time to start sealcoating. Below are the steps on how and when to apply sealer using both manual and sprayer methods.
1. Check the weather
Before applying the sealer, make sure to check weather conditions – yes, we can’t stress this enough. Ideal temperature should be at least 10⁰C and rising, but not over 26⁰F. If the temperature is too hot, it will melt the sealer and prevent it from effectively coating the driveway.
2. Prepare the sealer
First, remove the lid of the container. Next, fit a power drill with a mixing paddle, and lower carefully into the container until the tip of the paddle touches the bottom. Turn the drill on and carefully move the mixer in a circular and up and down motion to agitate the sealer concentrate until it blends well with the water. Keep mixing until you get a smooth, pudding-like consistency.
3. Wear appropriate clothing
Sealcoating is a messy job, so it is best to wear clothing the covers your body as much as possible. A pair of old coveralls would be ideal, as it covers your arms and legs. Wear rubber boots or an old pair of shoes that you intend to throw away after using. Protective googles and a mask to cover your mouth and nose is also highly recommended, as prolonged exposure to and inhalation of the sealer can trigger allergies or irritation.
4. Put up markers and barriers
Spills and oversprays can happen during sealcoating no matter how careful you are. To prevent too much mess and clean up, tape borders and cover walls, doors, or windows that are too close to the work area with protective sheets or plastic. If oversprays and spills do end up where it don’t belong, clean them up with a driveway overspray cleaner before it dries up.
5. Seal the edges
Before applying sealer on the driveway, you should start by “cutting in.” This means applying sealer along the edges of your driveway.
If you are applying sealer manually, pour some of it into an old bowl or bucket. Use a paintbrush and apply along the edges of the driveway to create a barrier between your driveway and whatever is alongside it. This helps prevent accidentally smearing sealer on walls or concrete blocks that connect your driveway to your house or garage.
If you are going to use a spray system, we recommend using an edger tool add-on. This spray shield helps you trim edges of the driveway more efficiently compared to the old plywood or cardboard method. Instead of needing two people when sealing edges, this add-on allows you to work by yourself.
6. Apply the sealer
There are two ways on how to sealcoat a driveway.
A. The manual approach
Since most homeowners work alone when sealcoating their driveways, this option is applicable. To start, pour a bit of asphalt sealer on one end of the driveway. If your driveway is inclined or elevated on one end, it is logical to start there. Gravity will help spread the sealer easily if you start from the higher end. Using a commercial-grade squeegee, spread the sealer over the exposed portion of the driveway as evenly as possible.
Pull the squeegee towards you while moving back towards the unsealed section of the driveway. Make sure to exert just enough pressure when spreading the sealer. Too much pressure and the sealant will spill over the top of the squeegee, while too little pressure can leave a very thick coat which can take a long time to dry and set. Spread the sealer in a single direction to ensure an even finish. Work your way in sections, adding an acceptable amount of sealer at a time, until the entire driveway is completely coated.
B. Sprayer system
If you are a contractor and gets hired to seal a driveway, you will most likely use a sprayer system. We recommend using the AS230 Residential / Commercial Sealcoat Sprayer for an even, streak-free finish. This machine is designed with full-time sealcoating contractors like you in mind. With a capacity for 4 x 205 Litre (55 Gallon) drums of sealer, this spray system lets you work continuously without interruptions for refills. With a full tank, you can sealcoat up to 2,415 square metres or 26,000 sq. ft. of asphalt - that is equivalent to about 47 driveways!
Featuring a puncture-proof 11-gauge steel tank, this machine can withstand pressure build-up and weather fluctuations. With its double splash manhole opening, it allows for easy cleaning and maintenance while acting as spill prevention during transport. The manhole can also be used to transfer sealer or to add water for dilution.
7. Allow sealer to dry
Our sealer can take as little as 4 hours to dry and set, compared to our competitors. You can walk or apply marking paint on your driveway in as little as 1 hour after application, so long as ideal weather is present. We recommend that you allow the sealer to cure for at least 24 hours before driving over it to avoid tracking.
Sealcoating a driveway can take some time to finish, but once it is sealed, your asphalt’s life span is prolonged and appears more pleasing to look at.
Have questions? Call for free expert advice at (855) 554-4386 or use the form below!