If you have an asphalt driveway, you should be aware of the need to maintain it properly. Although asphalt is an ideal surface to drive on because of its toughness, smoothness, and flexibility, it has one big drawback: it is extremely porous and easily absorbs chemicals from the environment, including water from rain or snow, the salt you use to melt snow, oil and gas that drip from your car, and more. All these substances work to break down the structure of the asphalt. As the asphalt loses its toughness, it will turn from black to gray and develop fine cracks. Water leaches through these cracks into the limestone layer under the asphalt, dissolving it and causing bigger cracks, sagging, and even potholes that can damage your car. To avoid this, you need seal coating, which will fill the cracks, help your asphalt driveway resist further environmental damage, and return the driveway to a like-new appearance.
If you have just had asphalt put down, don’t worry about seal coating it right away. It can take up to a year for asphalt to fully dry and cure, and putting coating on it when it’s in this state will be a waste. Once your driveway is cured, though, putting two coats of sealer on it, and an additional coat every two or three years thereafter, will keep your driveway safe to drive on and looking new.
Depending on your location, this is a job to do during spring or summer. Seal coating should only be applied when the average air temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Colder air makes it harder for the coating to set properly, and it will wear out faster. The pavement must also be dry, and remain dry for 4 to 8 hours after the application, so make sure that rain is not in the forecast. After the application, you should plan to stay off your driveway for at least 48 hours, and more if you can manage it.
If your driveway has already developed large cracks (more than an eighth of an inch wide) or potholes, seal coating alone will not solve your problems. These cracks must be repaired with filler before any coating is applied. Most professional driveway sealing companies also have the tools and know-how to repair cracked driveways.
While seal coating does come with some costs and inconvenience, they are nothing compared to the possible costs of letting your asphalt driveway fall into disrepair. Keeping your driveway properly maintained is the smart and safe thing to do.