Sealcoating your driveway creates a barrier that protects the surface from the harmful effects of gas, oil, salt, ice and the sun’s UV rays. Sealing your driveway will help keep water from penetrating cracks in the substrate and causing damage from freezing in colder climates.
Sealcoating your driveway is not difficult. However, like painting, most of the work is in the preparation, with prep time running approximately two hours for every 20 feet of surface.
When to Sealcoat
New asphalt should typically be sealed sometime during the first year after it has had time to fully cure. This means no sooner than 90 days after it was laid when the temperature has been at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the driveway is coated before it has fully cured it will remain soft and can easily be damaged.
There are three types of seal coatings and vary in price, quality and effectiveness:
- Simple emulsified coatings are the least expensive and provide the lowest levels of protection. Emulsified coatings oxidize quickly, are easily dissolved by gas and oil and become brittle from UV exposure.
- Refined coal tar coatings will protect longer, stand up to gas, oil and protect from UV rays. Some coal-tar coatings have rubber and polymers additives that make the coating more flexible.
- Acrylic coatings offer the most protection, last the longest and are the most expensive. Acrylic seal coatings are unaffected by UV rays and remain flexible for many years.
- Measure your driveway so you will be able to figure out how much sealcoating you will need to buy. Purchase one more container of coating than you think you will need, as this will save you from having to run back to the store in the event you run a little short. Most retailers will let you return any unopened containers, but inquire about the store’s policy.
- Be sure to check the sealcoat for temperature application guidelines when applying in cooler weather.
Preparing the Driveway
- Turn all the containers of sealcoat upside down the night before you plan to apply the coating so the solids in the mixture can have time to be reabsorbed.
- Cut the grass along the edges of the driveway and any grass growing up through cracks in the driveway. Blow or sweep all of the grass clippings off the driveway surface.
- Place the containers of sealcoating on a flat and stable surface. Thoroughly mix the seal coating with a stirring stick or an electric drill with a mixing attachment before application.
Clean the Surface
Thoroughly wash the driveway surface with an all-purpose degreaser. This can be applied with a broom, pressure washer or garden sprayer. Be sure to rinse the surface thoroughly after washing.
Address Damaged Areas
Seal all cracks of ¼-inch or larger with an approved crack sealer and fill holes with an approved repair mix as directed by the manufacturer. Allow the repairs to cure and blow or brush off the surface.
Most sealants can be poured out of the container onto the surface and then spread out with a brush or mop. Thicker coatings should be thoroughly worked into the surface. Spread the sealant evenly in either a north-south or east-west pattern over the entire surface. When one container of sealant is about halfway empty, open a new bucket and pour the fresh bucket into the old. This will help prevent any color disparity between containers. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and whether the sealcoating requires one or two coats.
Block off the driveway with the used sealcoat containers and boards or rope to keep people from walking or driving on the surface until the sealant has dried as per the manufacturer’s instructions.