If your asphalt driveway is still fairly new and in good shape, you should consider having a sealcoat applied to protect it from deterioration. A sealcoat prolongs the life of the asphalt and enhances its appearance by restoring the dark color. It's a good idea to have a new coating applied every few years over the life of the driveway. Here are a few things you may want to know.
Why Sealcoating Is Necessary
Your asphalt driveway slowly deteriorates over time. The surface oxidizes, which causes the color to change from black to gray. Oil, gas, and rain seep into the asphalt and hasten the development of cracks and potholes. Cracks are more than an eyesore. They allow rain to drain into the soil beneath the asphalt layer, and this causes the soil to shift. The shifting soil causes the cracks to get bigger, and it can even cause the underlying base of your driveway to become unstable.
Having a sealcoat applied to your driveway every few years eliminates these problems. The coating binds with the surface of the asphalt so fluids can't leak through. It is stain resistant too, so your driveway is easier to keep clean. Plus, the sealcoat offers protection against UV damage, and it helps keep the color dark and looking like new. A sealcoat enhances the appearance of your driveway and it prevents cracking by keeping out rain and other fluids. In this way, it prolongs the life if the asphalt.
How Sealcoating Is Applied
Your contractor can apply sealcoating by spraying it on your driveway or by spreading it on with a squeegee. It goes on fast, so the work doesn't take long. More work goes into prepping your driveway first. It has to be free from dirt, weeds, and debris so the sealcoat is able to bond tightly. You may need to powerwash your driveway a day or two before the job starts. Your contractor will probably clean it again with an air gun to blow away debris, but he or she will avoid cleaning with water if possible since the surface needs to be dry when the coating is applied.
The sealcoat has to be put on during dry weather and within a certain daytime and nighttime temperature range. For that reason, work is usually done in late spring through early fall when the temperatures are mild. Once the new coating is applied, it has to dry thoroughly before you can use your driveway. The length of time it takes depends on the humidity and temperature at the time the coating is applied and while it is drying.
A sealcoat is intended to prolong the life of a driveway that is in good shape. It won't repair cracks and potholes already in the asphalt. These have to be filled and repaired first. Once those repairs are done, the sealcoat will cover them and make the surface a uniform color so the repair work is invisible. If repairs are not done, the cracks will still be visible through the sealcoat. If cracks are severe and your driveway is full of potholes, then you may need to have your driveway resurfaced rather than sealcoated. These are two different processes. Your contractor can help you decide which treatment your driveway needs to restore its appearance and preserve its stability.