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Weather takes a toll on your asphalt driveway. The passing of the seasons with high and low temperatures and the constant flow of water from rain, snow and ice is going to damage first the surface of the asphalt and if no protective measure is taken soon the driveway will start to develop damage that will require a lot of work to fix.
The cheapest and easiest way to protect your asphalt driveway is to use a good quality sealant periodically. Most sealants have to be applied every 3 years. The main reasons for using a sealant on your asphalt driveway is to protect it from the elements. It prevents the ultraviolet rays from the sun to attack the asphalt binder and also it keeps the water and ice from going into the cracks and enlarging them.
Types of asphalt sealants
What kind of sealant should you use for your driveway? There are two main types of products: coal tar based asphalt sealants and asphalt based sealants. The better of the two categories are traditionally the coal tar based products. One reason is the fact that your driveway is exposed to gasoline and oil (if you are a DIY kind of car owner) and these are solvents for asphalt while the coal tar is not attacked.
Another important thing to look at when you judge the quality of the asphalt sealant is the length of the warranty. The longer the warranty the better the quality. Avoid products with less then 3 years of warranty. They will cost more in the end by requiring more often applications, consuming more time and offering less protection the driveway.
Asphalt sealants can be purchased usually in 5 gallon pails at the local hardware store. The price is higher for better quality sealants and also the better the quality the smaller the coverage. Yes, the better sealants are thicker and they will cover smaller surfaces per gallon. Read the labels to estimate what quantity you will need.
Usually the better expect to pay $20-30 per 5 gallon pail for the better quality sealants. These will seal somewhere between 200-350 square feet of asphalt driveway based on the surface condition. A smart thing would be to plan and buy your sealant at the end of the season when the sales are on.
Tools needed for asphalt sealant application
To apply your sealant you don’t need anything fancy. The recommended way is to use a long handle squeegee. You can also used a paint roller with a long broom handle. The squeegee might be better at filling the holes and the cracks.
You also need some tools for the cleaning phase (broom, pressure washer, air blower) and for the cracking repair and asphalt patching phases if the driveway is already damaged. Depending on the extent of the required repairs you might need a putty knife only or you can need more advanced and expensive tools like an asphalt scraper and an asphalt cutter.
Weather conditions during and after asphalt sealing
Before you jump and apply the sealant remember it needs to dry properly for about two days. Be sure to check the weather and only start the job if you are sure you will get no rains for at least two days.
Preparation and cleaning of the asphalt surface
This is in fact the most time consuming part of the project. You have to trim the grass around the driveway in such a way that the whole driveway is clean to the edge of the asphalt.
Sweep any loose dirt. You can also use an air blower. In the end use a pressure washer to make the surface as clean as possible. Don’t use any detergent unless you have oil stains on the asphalt. Let the driveway dry completely.
After cleaning you have to fill all the cracks and to patch all the holes and damaged areas. You will have to use some sort of asphalt crack filler for cracks and asphalt patch for bigger repairs. Go to the local hardware store and ask for advice for what kind of products to buy. Do a good repairing job or the sealant is not going to help much in keeping your driveway healthy and nice for the years to come.
Applying asphalt sealant
Finally you are ready to apply the sealant. Open the bucket and stir the content vigorously with a clean stick. This is important because you want to homogenize the content of the pail and the thicker components of the sealant tend to settle at the bottom. Remember that you will have to repeat this procedure from time to time during the sealing job.
Starting in a corner pour some sealant on the driveway and start to spread it as well as possible with a long handled brush, squeegee or roller. You have to spread the sealant well and keep the application thin for best results.
Do not apply sealant in multiple layers since this will cause problems. The top layer will start to peel, make a mess and lower the protection.
Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid sealing new asphalt too early. Leave new asphalt to set for a year or two before applying sealant.
Congratulations you are done. You just saved some money now and in the future by prolonging your driveway’s life.