The Importance of Sealcoating Your Asphalt Driveway


The Importance of Sealcoating Your Asphalt Driveway

There are many benefits to installing an asphalt driveway, especially here in the northeast. Asphalt is cheap to work with, easy to repair, and stands up better to temperature swings in the Raleigh area than concrete. Plus, it rarely gets hot enough to melt asphalt.

However, that doesn’t mean that an asphalt driveway is impervious – it’s not. There’s one big type of maintenance that must be done on asphalt driveways from time to time: sealcoating. Asphalt sealcoating is needed to protect asphalt from the elements. Otherwise, it can be damaged by the sun, rain, ice, and weathering from the wind.

So let’s talk about asphalt sealcoating: what it is, why it’s important, and what could go wrong if you don’t periodically sealcoat your asphalt driveway.

1.What is Asphalt Sealcoating?

Let’s start with the basics of asphalt. Asphalt is a material made by blending sand, gravel, and bitumen tar to create a sort of thick rock paste that then hardens once it’s spread on the ground and left to dry in the sun. Asphalt is strong enough to hold up to most vehicles, and it’s flexible enough to put up with rapid temperature changes or shifts in the ground beneath.

However, asphalt is rather porous. It’s easy for water and other materials to make their way into the asphalt over time. In addition, long-term exposure to ultraviolet light can begin to break down the materials and weaken them.

So, asphalt sealcoating is necessary. This is a specially formulated liquid that is spread across the entire surface of the asphalt and sinks into the asphalt itself. Once this dries, it creates a new transparent membrane over the top of the asphalt which protects it from the elements.

There are three basic types of sealcoats:

  • Coal tar sealer is the most basic option, made of refined oil along with anti-UV additives. It’s inexpensive, but it’s not particularly environmentally friendly and gives off a lot of VOCs (chemical outgassing) as it dries.
  • Asphalt sealer is better for the environment than coal tar but isn’t as good at resisting spills such as oil or gasoline. It also doesn’t provide the same level of UV protection. Still, it’s good enough for many purposes.
  • Acrylic polymer sealer is the best all-around option, but also the most expensive. It’s a synthetic material that offers the protection of coal tar but with much reduced environmental impact.

Your asphalt sealcoating company can help select the best sealcoat for your needs. Just be aware, no matter what type you use, sealcoating must be reapplied every 2-3 years. Or else it will begin to wear away and leave your asphalt driveway vulnerable to damage.

2. The Importance of Regularly Sealcoating Your Asphalt

Why is sealcoating so important? Couldn’t you just repair the damage done as it occurs? Sure, you could, but it’s going to end up being a lot more expensive than just calling for a sealcoating job every couple of years.

Sealcoating your asphalt driveway will:

1 – Slow down the oxidation process

The atmosphere itself works against asphalt. The combination of UV rays from the sun and oxygen in the atmosphere will slowly break down the bitumen (tar) in the asphalt. This, in turn, causes the asphalt driveway to weaken and become brittle.

An asphalt driveway with too much oxidation will be prone to crack or develop potholes, particularly if a vehicle is parked on it for a long time. These cracks and holes will only expand over time, becoming more expensive to fix as well.

2 – Prevent water from getting into the asphalt

Tar is generally water-resistant, but asphalt by itself is not a fully sealed surface. Water from rain or snow will still make its way into the mix, building up in tiny pockets alongside the tar and gravel. Over time, this can begin to break up the asphalt from within.

Water intrusion is a particular issue during the winter. Water, of course, expands as it freezes. So if water freezes while within the asphalt, that’s going to cause the asphalt itself to expand. This can lead to cracking or enlarging cracks that already exist.

Asphalt is better at resisting this sort of damage than concrete, but it’s still a risk factor.

3 – Reduce damage from chemical spills

Driveways tend to have a lot of unpleasant chemicals dumped on them, such as gasoline or leaking oil, not to mention the various other fluids in a modern vehicle. Gasoline is especially bad for asphalt and will quickly break it down.

Sealcoating creates an impervious surface which prevents these chemicals from harming the asphalt itself.

4 – Easier cleanup

In a broader sense, the way that sealcoating prevents unwanted materials from penetrating the asphalt will also make it much easier to clean. You can just hose down a sealcoated asphalt driveway to get rid of all the dirt and debris on top.

Spills, such as oil spills, are also much easier to clean because they’ll simply pool on the surface. So you can just wipe them up, without harming the driveway underneath.

5 – Prevent damage to vehicles

Cracked and ragged asphalt isn’t merely an eyesore – it’s also very bad for any vehicles that drive on it. Driving on bad asphalt can cause issues for the tires, wheels, and suspension. In addition, it just feels bad to drive on, making for a very bumpy and uncomfortable ride. Plus, a car driving on broken asphalt will only encourage it to degrade more.

Keeping your asphalt driveway in good repair will protect your vehicles from unnecessary damage and protect any visitors’ vehicles as well.

Blalock Paving Are Your Raleigh Asphalt Sealcoating Experts

When homeowners, businesses, and governments around the Raleigh area need excellent asphalt paving services, they turn to Blalock Paving! We have a long history of great work on jobs big and small. If you have an asphalt driveway, you should be calling us every 2-3 years to replace its sealcoat, and ensure it continues looking great for years to come.

Contact us to schedule a service call!