There are several ways to extend the life of your asphalt, and sealcoating is one of the best. Sealcoating is when you cover the surface of your asphalt with a sealer that fills in small cracks and prevents future wear and tear. This type of maintenance can help any asphalt installation—whether a driveway, or parking lot—last for 30 years or more. And not only does it help your asphalt last longer, it makes it look more attractive by giving it a new blacktop sheen.
What is an Asphalt Sealcoat?
An asphalt sealcoat is a solution that covers the top of pavement in order to protect it. Asphalt is made of aggregate (rocks and small stones) and binder (the glue that holds it all together). The sealcoat enables the binder to continue doing what it does by preventing the elements from getting at it. Think about it like “finishing” a piece of wood with enamel/surface sealant.
The sealcoat is essentially a protector for the asphalt itself. It provides a weatherproof barrier that is the first line of defense against the elements. As time goes on and damage is accrued, the seal is what takes that damage rather than the asphalt.
There are different types of asphalt sealcoat available, and some older solutions are in fact banned due to the danger they pose. Make sure to get the right paving contractor so that you don’t wind up with dangerous chemicals on your property.
When is a Good Time to Sealcoat your Asphalt?
It’s smart to sealcoat your asphalt as soon as you see signs that it’s showing damage. It can also be done as a preventative measure before damage takes hold so that the life of the asphalt is prolonged.
Here’s how you know when to sealcoat:
- If your pavement is showing early signs of damage.
- If your asphalt is installed in a place with strong weather that will invariably damage it.
- If you wish to extend your asphalt’s life.
- If you want the asphalt to look new while also preventing signs of decay.
- Your asphalt is six months to one-year-old.
How Does Asphalt get Damaged?
Asphalt gets damaged in all kinds of different ways, mostly by extreme weather. Asphalt is also damaged by the heavy vehicles that drive over it, making weather damage worse.
UV (ultraviolet) light from the sun destroys all things over time. People and animals get this damage in the form of sunburn and skin cancer. Plants are damaged by overexposure to the sun and become dried-up and withered. Objects and inorganic things also get sun damage; bleaching and general decomposition happen over time. Asphalt is no exception.
Water damage is one of the main ways that small problems in asphalt become big problems. Little cracks frequently open up over time due to UV and automobile traffic. These small cracks let water in, and as water expands and contracts with temperature changes, the cracks become bigger. Water that seeps into cracks and freezes is one of the main ways that erosion happens. The water in tiny cracks in rock expands when it freezes, and that can even break boulders off of mountains with time. Asphalt receives the same kind of damage from water.
Another type of water damage is oxidation. This is more commonly called rust. When water interacts with iron over a long period, the iron starts to break down and cause rust. This can even happen with the small rocks and pebbles in asphalt, which contain trace amounts of iron.
It may sound unlikely, but most asphalt will get some chemical damage over time. Driveways and parking lots will get especially damaged because parked cars will sometimes leak diesel, gasoline, and oil. These compounds are even more solvent than water and can cause more damage in shorter time. Sealcoating guards against these spills, preventing staining and damage to the top pavement layer.
Read more about how sealcoating works and what it protects against here.
What Other Reasons Are There to Sealcoat?
It Saves Money
A well-maintained asphalt road, driveway, or parking lot costs less over time. This is because extensive repair isn’t required. Filling small cracks with a sealer prevents things from getting in them and making those cracks worse. Weatherproofing pavement makes it last longer and take less damage over time.
Simply put, if you sealcoat, you will have fewer big problems down the road.
It Prevents Plant Growth
As pavement cracks apart, weeds like dandelions and grass can start to grow through it. This might not do too much harm to the asphalt, but it is an eyesore, especially for asphalt paving in commercial spaces. Sealcoating doesn’t just make the driveway look shiny and new, it also stops sure signs of decay in their tracks.
It is Easier to Clean
The protective layer of a sealcoating makes the surface of asphalt less craggy and porous. This means it’s easier to clean because material doesn’t get into the little holes and cracks that develop on asphalt’s surface. The coating’s surface protection also means that, if you need to do a vigorous clean of the pavement with pressurized water or a cleaning solution, you don’t have to worry about damaging the pavement, as the sealcoat will be the first line of defense.
Should You Sealcoat Your Pavement?
If you answered yes to any of the questions posed before, then the answer is that you probably should get your asphalt sealcoated. To prevent damage, extend the life of your asphalt, and save costs down the line, then sealcoating your asphalt is the right choice.
If you don’t know where to start, or if you don’t have the time to sealcoat your pavement yourself, contact Reliable Paving today. Our team is composed of experienced, professional paving contractors that can help you chose the right sealcoating job for your needs. Reliable Paving’s asphalt paving knowledge is second-to-none, and our services run the spectrum from sealcoating to repair to installation. Start the conversation today.