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What is Sealcoating? The Role in Asphalt Maintenance

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Last Updated on May 17, 2024

Owning asphalt pavement, be it an asphalt driveway or a spacious parking lot, comes with certain responsibilities. One term that frequently pops up is ‘sealcoating’. Some may wonder, “What is sealcoating? Is it necessary? What does sealcoating cost?” This expanded post seeks to answer these queries, giving you a better understanding of asphalt maintenance.

Sealcoating, in simplest terms, is a concoction of liquids and fine solids (like sand grains) that bestow protective and rejuvenative qualities to asphalt surfaces. The mixture is typically composed of different quantities of dissolved asphalt, mineral fillers, and water. It’s applied with a squeegee, a broom, or sprayed onto the asphalt surface.

The engineering behind sealcoat employs oils and materials that are frequently used in asphalt paving. When applied on the asphalt surface, the oils from the sealcoat permeate downward, replenishing the exhausted asphalt oils and binders that have dried up over time. Concurrently, the minuscule particles of asphalt, sand, and minerals plug the small cracks and crevices between the pieces of aggregate. This fills up the gaps, smoothing and leveling the pavement surface.

Replenishing the oils and filling the cracks, the asphalt pavement often appears nearly as good as new. The sealcoat also forms a protective layer, creating a barrier between the asphalt pavement and harmful elements such as UV rays, water penetration, chemicals, and traffic abrasion.

Why is Sealcoating Necessary for Asphalt Surfaces?

Asphalt pavement constitutes about 95% aggregate – small particles of gravel and sand. The remaining 5% comprises the actual asphalt (also called bitumen), which is a sticky, oily, black substance that binds together the gravel and sand particles. When the pavement is fresh, the asphalt oils remain supple, giving the pavement its flexibility. Over time, these oils undergo oxidation, making the asphalt less flexible and more brittle. This process is equivalent to asphalt acting like caulk which dries up over time.

Moreover, the reduced volume of asphalt binder exposes the tiny gravel particles on the surface, leading them to loosen and separate from the pavement. This phenomenon is known as raveling.

Applying sealcoat reintroduces the asphalt oils, thereby restoring some of the pavement’s original flexibility. It also covers and safeguards the exposed aggregate, thereby preventing raveling. In essence, sealcoating is a crucial part of pavement maintenance, acting as a protective layer over your asphalt driveway or parking lot.

Understanding the Cost of Sealcoating

Sealcoating offers an affordable solution to prolonging the life of your asphalt pavement. Comparatively, new asphalt paving costs an average of $2.25 per square foot, while sealcoating costs average around $0.12 per square foot. Regular maintenance of asphalt pavement with sealcoat can extend its life to about 30 years, saving property owners a considerable sum.

Below is a practical example: consider the George S. Eccles Ice Center’s parking lot. Before the application of sealcoat, the lot showed signs of wear and tear. After the application by Top Job Asphalt, the parking lot appeared nearly new, demonstrating the transformative and protective power of sealcoat.

 

George S. Eccles Ice Center – Parking lot before sealcoat application.

 

George S. Eccles Ice Center – Parking lot after sealcoat application by Top Job Asphalt.

If you need additional information about sealcoating, asphalt paving, or maintenance, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free estimate! Utilize sealcoating as your trusted driveway sealer and guard against potential asphalt cracks and other forms of damage. Remember, whether it’s a parking lot or an asphalt driveway, sealcoating is a thin sealer that goes a long way in extending the life of your asphalt surfaces.

Sealcoating: Understanding the Process

Sealcoating is not merely about spraying or applying a layer of protective coating; it’s a process that requires expertise and careful attention. To fully understand the value and intricacies of sealcoating, let’s take a detailed look at how the process unfolds.

The initial step before sealcoating is a thorough inspection of the asphalt surface. This step identifies areas with asphalt cracks and deterioration. Once the problematic areas have been identified, the process of cleaning begins. With the help of outdoor power equipment, the entire asphalt surface is thoroughly cleaned to remove debris, dirt, and any loose aggregate. At times, a stiff bristle brush may also be used for cleaning stubborn areas.

Once cleaning is complete, the surface is ready for repairs. Areas with asphalt cracks are filled with a hot or cold asphalt like caulk, followed by application of a primer to ensure better adhesion of the sealcoat. These steps are vital in maintaining the integrity of the asphalt driveway or parking lot, as they help prevent water penetration and further degradation of the asphalt surface.

Only after the asphalt surface is fully prepared does the application of the sealcoat begin. The sealcoat mixture, often made from refined coal tar or asphalt cement, along with water, sand, and additives, is applied either with a sprayer or a squeegee. This creates a thin sealer layer on the asphalt surface that acts as a protective layer, safeguarding the pavement from harmful UV rays, chemicals, and abrasion.

The freshly applied sealcoat then requires adequate curing time, usually 24 to 48 hours, depending on the weather conditions. After this period, the asphalt surface is ready for use, looking rejuvenated and protected.

Is Sealcoating a DIY project?

Given the complexity of the process and the expertise required, sealcoating is typically not a do-it-yourself project. While some property owners may attempt it, the results often don’t match those of a professional job. Professional sealcoating not only assures better application and longer-lasting results but also saves homeowners from the hassle of procuring materials and equipment.

Moreover, professional asphalt sealer providers like Top Job Asphalt have the right equipment, materials, and trained personnel to handle the job. With a professional touch, sealcoating can add years to the life of your asphalt pavement, be it an asphalt driveway or a large parking lot.

Asphalt Sealcoating FAQs

What is sealcoating, and why is it important?

Sealcoating is a protective layer applied to asphalt surfaces, composed of liquids and fine particles. It replenishes depleted asphalt oils and fillers, making the surface more even and restoring its original appearance. Sealcoating also forms a protective barrier against harmful elements like UV rays, chemicals, water, and traffic abrasion, thereby extending the life of the asphalt.

What does the sealcoating process involve?

The sealcoating process involves a thorough inspection of the asphalt surface, followed by cleaning and repairing any areas with cracks. After these preliminary steps, the sealcoat is applied. The process requires a proper application method and a curing time of 24-48 hours before the asphalt surface is ready for use.

How much does sealcoating cost?

On average, sealcoating costs around $0.12 per square foot. This is significantly less expensive than new asphalt paving. Regular maintenance with sealcoat can extend the life of your asphalt pavement to about 30 years, potentially saving property owners thousands of dollars.

Can sealcoating be a DIY project?

While some homeowners might be tempted to take sealcoating as a DIY project, it’s typically not recommended. The process requires specific expertise and tools for proper application and long-lasting results. Hiring a professional like Top Job Asphalt ensures a high-quality job and saves you the trouble of procuring the necessary materials and equipment.

How frequently should asphalt be sealcoated?

Typically, asphalt should be sealcoated every 2-3 years, depending on the weather conditions and the level of wear and tear. Regular sealcoating can significantly prolong the lifespan of your asphalt surfaces, making it a worthy investment.

If you’re looking for a reliable, cost-effective solution to your asphalt paving needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free estimate! Sealcoating may not be glamorous, but its importance in maintaining the longevity and appearance of your asphalt surfaces is undeniable. Remember, when it comes to asphalt surfaces, a stitch in time, indeed, saves nine!

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11 Comments

  1. The best part of your blog is when you said that sealcoating is a cost-effective way to maintain your asphalt pavement because it can allow you to keep your asphalt pavement for about 30 years. My husband and I recently installed an asphalt driveway. It’s one of our biggest investments for the year, so we’d like to find a way to properly protect it from damaging elements. I’ll make sure to hire a sealcoating contractor soon.

    Reply
  2. You got my attention when you said that sealcoating can help you to restore the pavement’s original flexibility since it can prevent your pavement from raveling. My husband and I are looking for ways to keep our asphalt driveway in good condition for years. We’d like to save money on repairs, so we’ll make sure to hire a sealcoating contractor soon.

    Reply
  3. I’m glad that you mention how sealcoating is a cost effective asphalt maintenance service and doing it regularly can help pavement last longer. In order to have it done regularly, you’d probably want to find a local contractor that offers asphalt maintenance services. Working with a local contractor could ensure you’re able to hire them whenever you want sealcoating so that it can be done as often as necessary to keep your pavement in good condition.

    Reply
  4. You got me when you said that sealcoating can restore the pavement’s original flexibility and can protect it from getting exposed to damaging elements. With that in mind, we’ll be sure to hire a sealcoating contractor. Our parking lot is being used heavily, and we want to make sure that it won’t easily get damaged. Our goal is to save money on repairs and replacements.

    Reply
  5. Thanks for pointing out that maintaining your asphalt pavement with sealcoat can help you to make sure that it will last for about 30 years. I will share this with my dad so he can save money on replacements and repairs. He said that the asphalt driveway in his property keeps on having minor cracks due to his heavy vehicles. What he wants is to find a cost-effective solution.

    Reply
  6. This is excellent info, most commercial lot owners don’t realize that sealcoating does more than just protect asphalt but also restores its appearance as well. Thanks!

    Reply
  7. One thing I didn’t realize that this article points out is the fact that the continued maintenance of your asphalt will give you up to 30 years with the same pavement. Saving the property owners thousands of dollars! Suggesting you should use a local contractor who can give you the regular maintenance needed for blacktop driveways and parking lots. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Ryan. One thing people sometimes don’t realize is that, just like sunscreen, putting it on early makes a huge difference. If you wait until you’re burned, sunscreen still helps but not as much as if you apply it early.

      Reply
  8. Thank you for sharing this brief explanation for sealcoating. This is a great idea for your driveway and parking lot.

    Reply
  9. People need to hear this more often! It’s crazy how many home and business owners would rather wait for their asphalt to deteriorate and only ask for professional help when pavement cracks become a liability and tripping hazard.

    Reply

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Mike Phillips
Mike Phillips
January 17, 2023.
Great company to work with. We contacted Top Job to repair a county road that we dug across for an irrigation line. They were very professional yet friendly. Our job was completed quickly. We recommend this company.
Sam Rowley
Sam Rowley
December 8, 2022.
I’m not sure how the service actually is, but some old guy in a Top Job Toyota was riding my butt today and flipped me off, or it was maybe an aggressive wave at the red light near the Logan library. Hope his day gets better. 12/8 at 230
Kim Rappleye
Kim Rappleye
December 7, 2022.
Very professional and personalized service. Highly recommended!
Mark Malmstrom
Mark Malmstrom
November 22, 2022.
They were easy to get a hold of and showed up when they were scheduled. Good communication and good work.
David Bunnell
David Bunnell
November 4, 2022.
I appreciated the pleasant attitude when talking w/the estimator as well as the scheduler. The work crew did a great job! I highly recommend Top Job Asphalt!
Steven Jacobsen
Steven Jacobsen
October 30, 2022.
Top job Asphalt did an amazing job on my project very professional, I would definitely use them again when I have the need.
Chris Salvesen
Chris Salvesen
October 28, 2022.
Did a great job on the 3" overlay for my very old and deteriorated half circle driveway. Looks brand new. All the transitions to concrete are near perfectly matched when I wasn't sure they could do it. It's almost weird now not feeling the bump driving out of the garage or over our bridge.
Matt Welch
Matt Welch
October 27, 2022.
Top Job paved our asphalt driveways and we couldn't be happier. The service, quality and price were the best I could find and I looked everywhere! Great job guys! I'll be calling back when I start my next project.
Todd Wardrop
Todd Wardrop
October 26, 2022.
I'm so impressed!!😀 Top Job has done such excellent work on my neighbor's driveway ... I'm so jealous. It's absolutely beautiful, and I can't believe how smooth it turned out. It's just perfect. What a great company!

What Our Customers Are Saying

Very impressed with the quality of their work and the organization of the company. The project estimator was spot on as to when the bid would be received and the work was professional  from start to finish. I appreciated the opportunity for a walkthrough inspection after the crack filling was completed as I had some very large cracks in the asphalt. I give this company a ten out of ten (which I really do) and highly recommend them.

Paul Pratt