Importance of Regularly Sealing an Asphalt Driveway

Every year homeowners invest their precious time and money to improve their home, but did you know that your driveway has a substantial impact on its total value? For homes that are on the market, driveways are one of the primary exterior features analyzed during an inspection - this is because a well-maintained driveway can significantly enhance a property’s aesthetic appeal and longevity, whereas the opposite can greatly detract from it. 

By investing in proactive maintenance such as sealcoating, you can extend the lifespan of your driving surfaces by protecting them from harsh Colorado elements like snow, hail, rain, intense sunlight, and frequent periods of freezing and thawing. At the Asphalt Doctors, we have experience working with all types of commercial and residential driveways - what follows is our comprehensive guide detailing the importance of regularly sealing an asphalt driveway. 

What is Sealcoating? 

Sealcoating is one of the most effective ways to maintain an asphalt driveway, making it look brand new aesthetically and impervious to damage from weather and wear. It involves applying a viscous liquid very similar to asphalt on top of the original asphalt surface, which can be applied in a targeted manner over cracks and chips or across the entire surface. Sealcoating is essentially a protective barrier that shields the original asphalt surface against anything that might wear it down or cause it damage. 

Composed of either coal tar pitch or asphalt cement mixed with inert fillers, water, emulsifying agents, and additives, the result is a smooth, black finish that resembles what asphalt looks like when it is new and freshly laid. At Asphalt Doctors, we utilize a specially designed coal tar emulsion sealer that meets all federal government specifications.  

Why Does Asphalt Deteriorate? 

There are many reasons why asphalt can fail including poor initial installation, low-quality materials, water ingress (mixed with periods of freezing and thawing), extensive use, overloaded weight, intense UV rays, and more. The most common factor that damages asphalt, however, is surface water that seeps into the asphalt and causes it to expand and contract when it freezes and thaws. Mixed with poor drainage and compounding damage from potholes, asphalt can deteriorate quickly once the damage has begun. 

The Importance of Sealing an Asphalt Driveway 

As mentioned above, once asphalt has received some damage such as the development of a crack or a small pothole, further damage can spread quickly in exponential fashion. What starts as a simple, almost invisible crack leads to a larger crack, which then leads to a pothole that eventually grows into an entirely broken section of the driveway. 

When your driveway is not properly maintained, therefore, you can expect to see more damage and more costly repairs quickly add up over the course of its life until it needs a premature replacement. The only way to prevent these expensive repairs and replacements is to invest in regular sealcoating of the asphalt driveway. 

The benefits of regularly sealing an asphalt driveway include: 

  • Consistent porous-proofing barrier to prevent the ingress of water, oil, and other liquids into the surface and underlying foundation. 
  • Protects the underlying asphalt from damage caused by fuel and oil spills that contain chemical substances that will bind to the asphalt and weaken its surface. 
  • Shielding against damaging UV rays that are often intense in Colorado’s high altitude climate. Prevents the natural oxidation process caused by the sun that leaves the driveway brittle, more susceptible to cracks, and a gray, worn-out color. 
  • Provides strength to prevent the asphalt from cracking under pressure.
  • Facilitates faster melting of ice and snow for a safer driveway and easier clearing after a storm. 
  • Smooth, dark and aesthetically pleasing surface that will last for years.
  • Saves time and money by preventing the need to repair and replace significant portions of the driveway. Sealcoating stands as a quick and cost-effective way to maintain the driveway. 

How Often Should You Seal Your Driveway? 

You should consider sealing your driveway as needed as well as on a routine basis. If you notice that your driveway is becoming gray and dried out or is forming small cracks and chips, this is definitely a sign that your driveway needs to be sealed before it starts developing even more significant damage. 

On the other hand, you should also consider sealing your driveway routinely. Depending on how much the driveway is used and whether it tends to hold a lot of weight or get access to a lot of moisture and sunlight, the frequency your driveway needs to be sealed will vary. As a rule of thumb, we recommend resealing your driveway at least once every two years, and more frequently if you have the means to do so. Despite the added cost, the benefits of routinely sealing your asphalt driveway are worth it, because, in the long run, significant repairs and replacements will end up costing you far more than a routine sealing. 

How to Seal Your Driveway 

While it is possible to sealcoat your driveway yourself, it is always recommended to hire the help of professional sealcoating services unless you have all the equipment you need and a lot of experience using it. Renting or purchasing seal coating equipment in itself often makes a DIY job more expensive than simply hiring a professional, and if you don’t have experience sealcoating, it’s likely that the end result will be uneven and ineffective at protecting the asphalt driveway. 

Conditions must be right to have sealcoating done. The temperature must be at least 45 degrees for no less than 24 hours during and after the application and it cannot be applied if rain is expected in the next 24 hours. No vehicles are allowed on the surface during the application process and must remain off of the surface for 24 hours after the application. Be sure to turn off all the sprinklers as well so the surface doesn’t get wet. 

The pavement will be swept and blown clean before being cured and treated with a primer. Two applications of the sealcoat will be applied, and all edging/ small spaces will be hand-applied with a squeegee. The first coat is applied with 30 mesh sand to create a thicker coat, and the second coat is sprayed on by a mechanical applicator to obtain an optimum sealcoat. 

Schedule Regular Sealing with the Asphalt Doctors 

Sealcoating is one of the most important elements of a pavement management plan, and it is highly recommended that asphalt driveways are regularly sealed in order to maintain their structural integrity and prevent significant and costly repairs or replacements over time. With summer around the corner, there’s no better time to start protecting your driveway from the harsh Colorado elements - contact the Asphalt Doctors today to learn more or to get started with your sealcoat project!