When it comes to paving driveways, parking lots, roads, and other projects, asphalt is among the preferred paving materials. But just like any other pavements, asphalt can become damaged as it is constantly exposed to the damaging effects of the environment, particularly UV oxidation, moisture, abrasion from traffic, and corrosive chemicals.
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, asphalt driveways have an average life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. During its lifespan, asphalt pavement might suffer cracks, discoloration, and serious damage.
However, you can prevent these problems and extend the lifetime of asphalt with proper ‘sealcoating’. If you own asphalt pavement, chances are you’ve already heard this term, but perhaps you’re unsure about what it is, how it works, how much it costs, and why you need it.
Here we’ll try to answer these basic questions about sealcoating.
What is sealcoating?
Basically, sealcoating is a process that ‘seals’ the asphalt pavement so it remains attractive, safe, and functional for a longer period of time. It involves the application of a specialized coal tar emulsion over the pavement. The emulsion contains small solid particles, mineral fillers, and a mixture of liquids that is applied using a squeegee or broom, or sprayed.
Sealcoating has restorative and protective qualities. Once it is applied to the surface of the pavement, the sealcoat fills up minor cracks or voids in the pavement. The emulsion seeps down and replenishes the asphalt binders and oil that have been dried up and depleted over time. With the gaps filled and the oils replenished, the asphalt pavement looks finer, level and even – almost like new pavement.
Why is sealcoating important?
According to a paving contractor at https://pavingandsealcoating.com/, sealcoating is necessary to seal off the asphalt pavement and ensure its longevity. Asphalt pavement consists of 95% aggregate (fine gravel and sand particles) and only 5% binders or bitumen. This black, oily substance is what binds the aggregates together.
Newly installed asphalt pavement is pliable and flexible. However, exposure to elements results in its oxidation and eventually dries up. This results in a more brittle and less flexible asphalt surface. The binders are also lost over time causing aggregates to be exposed and eventually washed off the pavement.
When the asphalt pavement is sealcoated, the lost oils are replenished, restoring the original flexibility and characteristic of the pavement. It acts as a protective layer that prevents the raveling of loose gravel and sand particles.
What are the benefits of sealcoating?
Sealcoating has many other benefits, such as:
- creating uniform appearance and color;
- making the surface look cleaner and more professional;
- controlling existing damage;
- and minimizing the need for major, costly repair jobs in the future.
If you’re planning to have an asphalt repair project, there are several things you need to know.
Sealcoat requires proper temperature (above 55 degrees for 24 hours) for its optimal effect. As such, proper timing is essential. You need to plan the project properly, carefully pick the right timing.
Generally, the total cost of sealcoating your asphalt pavement depends on the size of the area. However, there are other factors that are considered such as the type of sealcoat material to be used, the condition and layout of the area, and the running labor costs in the area.
The average cost of sealcoating is $0.12 per square foot – this is way less than new asphalt paving which is at around $2.25. Considering its benefits, sealcoat can be the most effective maintenance project for your asphalt pavement. Asphalt driveways that are regularly maintained and sealcoated last about 30 years. This will definitely save you thousands in construction costs.
The surface need to be thoroughly cleaned before the sealcoat is applied. If there are underlying problems such as cracks or potholes, these have to be resolved first prior to the start of the project.
Some would attempt to DIY sealcoat their asphalt pavement only to end up with poor outcome. Sealcoating requires experience; and it is best to ask the assistance of professionals to achieve best results.