Sealcoating is the process of applying a protective material to the surface of an asphalt pavement – much like applying paint to the wood siding of a house. The sealer material is a watery mixture of emulsified asphalt, water, mineral fillers, and possibly various additives such as latex and modified polymers designed to speed the drying process and strengthen the dried sealer. Sealer is applied directly to the surface of an asphalt pavement by use of a rubber squeegee, broom or mechanical spray.
As its name implies, sealcoating seals the top of the asphalt, preventing water from penetrating the surface of the pavement and protecting the top layer of asphalt from oxidation and sear caused by exposure to sun & air. While sealcoating does not improve the structure of the pavement, it does improve the look of the pavement, providing a smooth, black, even surface that is ideal for painting lines & sweeping.
Asphalt Sealing, or seal coating, is simply laying a thin protective layer over asphalt-based pavement to give it a protective layer of protection against the elements: oil, water, and U.V. The positive effects of asphalt sealing have long been debated. Some claim that asphalt sealing increases the lifespan of the pavement, but again, there’s no evidence that backs up those claims. Asphalt sealing can damage the pavement by creating cracks. The excessive water and oil that can be soaked into the asphalt also weaken its structural integrity. And the chemical fumes emitted during asphalt sealing can also be harmful to humans.
With all of that in mind, it’s not surprising that many business owners, when they set out to perform asphalt sealing, opt to go the non-per square foot route. The costs are much lower, often no more than a few cents per square foot. And the benefits of lower cost and improved performance are well-known. After all, if you want to save money, you want to reduce your operation costs.
But that brings us to our next question: Are asphalt sealing pads a good solution for parking lots, blacktop driveways, or other paved surfaces? As with any typical maintenance procedure, regular maintenance is the best way to reduce the cost of asphalt sealing. Sealing at least annually will help keep dust, pollen, and other pollutants from making their way onto your paved surfaces. It will also help protect your driveway from water damage, as well as mold and algae growth, both of which cause a lot of problems to homeowners.
Now let’s look at how often you should reseal your asphalt surfaces, especially if you’re going to go the non-per square foot route. The key, again, is regular maintenance. And as it turns out, the best time to perform asphalt sealing and resealing are during the cold winter months. There’s even been some recent evidence suggesting that the best time for asphalt sealing and resealing is during the fall when temperatures are quite low.
Why is that? Fall is when most asphalt-based park finishes and protective coatings need to be applied. Asphalt-based park finishes are very weather-resistant, but that doesn’t mean that they’re impervious to the elements. The rainy spring weather can still cause problems, as can heavy snow, ice, and even dew. So, by applying the protective coatings only during the wet winter months, you’ll be doing your park and business no favors, and in the end, your asphalt sealing and resealing efforts will be wasted.
Here’s why: Asphalt seal coats are extremely dense. Think about asphalt sealing and resealing – it’s the same product, just in a different form. And that means that you have to apply a lot less of it to achieve the same degree of protection. That’s why a lot of asphalt maintenance and repair companies (which specialize in asphalt sealing and resealing) will advise you to apply a minimum of three or four gallons of asphalt-based protectant per square foot of paved area. In other words, if you have a parking lot of ten thousand square feet, you’d want to apply three gallons per every twenty-five feet of the paved area.
If you were to apply that kind of service to your asphalt driveway, you could expect to pay anywhere from three to five dollars per square foot. Now consider that the average cost of asphalt sealing and resealing is only about two or three dollars per square foot. Multiply those two by the number of feet of asphalt you’re going to need to cover (per your parking lot, for example), and you quickly come to understand how much asphalt sealing and resealing would cost you. Applying the service yourself would cost you at least a thousand dollars or more. Not very appealing, I’d say.
But, don’t give up just yet – there are other ways to protect your asphalt driveway seal coating and resealing investment, and they won’t cost you nearly as much, so don’t rule them out just yet. One of those ways is called flashings, which are like raised bumps along the edge of your driveway that will serve as an additional traction aid when you drive over it. The average cost of installing these would be about two hundred dollars, with the total installed cost running into the thousands. Another less expensive alternative is a thin film of asphalt seal coating that has a plastic protective layer between it and the ground, as opposed to flashing. It’s about as thick as standard asphalt, which would then have to be applied to your asphalt driveway seal coating and resurfacing project in much the same way.