When it comes to driveway paving material, nothing beats the aesthetic appeal of asphalt. Composed of semi-solid petroleum bitumen, aggregates, and sand, asphalt solidifies into a durable material that can withstand the elements and can perform much like concrete.
Asphalt driveways have an average lifespan of around 12 to 20 years, depending on external factors such as the climate, its usage, installation, and maintenance. Over time, the repetitive expansion and contraction of asphalt can develop into minor low spots and spider cracks. If left untreated, these can turn into major problems such as potholes, depression, rutting, shoving, and major cracking. These issues can make your driveway look unsightly and uneven to drive on.
Asphalt sealcoating can help preserve the aesthetic appeal of your driveway. Considering the cost of paving an asphalt driveway, it makes sense to invest on regular asphalt sealcoating. There are several types of asphalt sealers available with unique properties as well as advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your budget, the level of protection you need, and the condition of the driveway, you can select from among these options below.
Coal tar-based sealers
For decades, the coal tar-based sealers have been the standard type used for asphalt driveway sealcoating. Just like composition of asphalt, coal tar sealers are made of bituminous coal with sticky black substance.
This provides a durable protective layer and can extend the life of your driveway for an extra five more years. However, coal tar sealers contain potentially harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Proper safety gears, such as chemical masks and goggles, should be worn during installation. Some states prohibit its use due to its detrimental effect on the environment.
Equally durable with coal tar sealers, asphalt-based sealers are made of asphalt cement. This type of sealer emits fewer toxic fumes, which makes it the best option for driveway asphalt sealcoating projects. If properly applied, this sealer can add six years to your asphalt driveway.
Made of either asphalt cement or coal tar, plain asphalt sealer is characterized by its thick black liquid consistency. It is easily applied over the paving using a heavy-duty paint roller. Usually, this sealer is used for asphalt pavement that’s in relatively good condition — no sinkholes, major cracks, or potholes. Because of its lack of aggregate or sand, it cannot fill cracks or holes. These issues need to be addressed first, either through filling or patching, before plain sealer is applied.
Fill and seal products
According to ABC Paving, sealcoating contractor from Florida, this type of seal products is perfect for asphalt pavements with minor cracks. It contains fine aggregates or sand-like ingredients that can fill up cracks that are less than an inch-wide. For deeper or wider cracks, you need to patch it up first before applying this type of sealer. Application is also easy as you can use driveway squeegee or a utility broom. Once applied, it leaves a non-skid, textured surface and revitalizes the aesthetic appeal of the pavement.
Fast dry sealers
Generally, fast dry sealers are used in asphalt pavements with high traffic, such as major roads and parking lots. It contains fast-setting geo-textile fibers that solidifies in less than an hour. If you need your asphalt driveway done fast, then this type is a good alternative. Likewise, you can apply fast dry sealers on major cracks and then coated with a cheaper asphalt sealer. A major drawback of this type is that it can be costlier as compared to other sealers. Furthermore, it can be difficult to purchase in small quantities as they are specially prepared.
Acrylic Polymer Sealer
Comprised of synthetic material, acrylic polymer sealer has the properties of coal tar sealers. It is impervious to water, oil, gasoline, and UV light. But unlike coal tar based sealers, acrylic polymer sealer is safer and eco-friendlier as it does not emit the same VOC levels of coal tar. In terms of durability, these synthetic sealers provide the better protection than asphalt and coal tar sealers. The only problem with acrylic polymer sealer is its high price.
If you are planning to perform a DIY asphalt driveway sealcoating, make sure you use the appropriate sealer. Take note that it is not necessarily the product with the highest price tag that is the best option. Always consider your driveway’s state, the sealer’s application and your needs. If you are unsure, it’s best to ask the help of professional sealcoating contractors to avoid costly mistakes.