The Pros and Cons of Sealing an Asphalt Driveway

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As a home or business owner, you want to keep your asphalt driveway in good condition to up your curb appeal and keep the surface safe for drivers and pedestrians. A crack filler might take care of small cracks and a degreaser might be able to remove an oil spot, but what if you could prevent some of these problems from ever happening?

old driveway asphalt

Having a residential or commercial asphalt surface is an investment, and you want to protect your hard-earned dollars as well as your pavement. You don’t want cracks or potholes to mar it, or other environmental conditions to undermine its integrity. This guide will help you understand the pros and cons of asphalt sealing and when it’s best to have it applied.

What Goes Into Paving an Asphalt Driveway?

driveway sealing for asphalt

When you need to pave an entire driveway, you want to use high-quality asphalt or concrete to ensure it’s strong and will last as long as possible. Here’s a look at the steps involved. 

Step 1: Demolition
You need to demolish existing asphalt and remove the rubble, which requires heavy machinery — such as a Bobcat and forklift — as well as expertise and training. If there isn’t existing asphalt, you’ll need to remove the top layer of the ground to make leveling easier.

Step 2: Grading and sloping
After the old blacktop is gone, it’s time to grade and slope the land. This is done to ensure proper roll-off for rain, as standing water can cause potholes, cracks, and heaving. 

Step 3: Preparing the base
Preparing the sub base is an essential part of paving, which involves compacting to ensure it doesn’t cause damage to the asphalt. Cold weather can cause ice to form under the blacktop and result in cracks, for example. 

Step 4: Proof rolling
Using a proof roll, you need to ensure that the sub base is strong enough to hold the asphalt. Any soft spots are repaired before moving to the next step. 

Step 5: Apply a binder layer
It’s time for a binder layer made of large aggregate mixed with oil. This provides strength for your new blacktop driveway or parking lot. 

Step 6: Asphalt gets added
Add the asphalt made up of small aggregate, sand, and oil. The end product has a smooth, shiny finish when done properly. 

Step 7: Joints and transitions
Use butt joints and transitions are applied to connect the new asphalt to the existing driveway, road, or other surfaces. 

Step 8: Roller truck
A roller truck goes over the asphalt surface and smooths out any bumps in the aggregate mixture, leaving you with a perfectly paved surface. 

A lot of work and expense goes into asphalt paving, making it a difficult DIY project. It’s always a good idea to protect your investment from the start by trusting it to a professional, then keeping it protected by adding an asphalt driveway sealer. Sealcoating minimizes the effects of weather, UV rays, time, and more to prevent the following issues from occurring.

How Blacktop Gets Damaged

You want your driveway to look good and your home to have curb appeal, and you also don’t want to lose a tire or roll an ankle due to potholes in its surface. A brand new paving project looks like a million bucks and seems so strong, so what damages this tough material?

Weather

From rainy days to snowy days and all the weather in between, the asphalt driveway takes a beating. Water and ice can each create cracks and potholes, as water seeps into the porous material and forms ice when temperatures drop. That ice expands and then contracts, leaving behind cracks and fissures that worsen over time.

UV Rays

You already know that UV rays are bad for your skin, but they are also bad for your blacktop. They have a lot of the same effects, drying out your asphalt and weakening the bonds in the materials — which will eventually cause small cracks and fissures. 

Time

If you don’t have a brand new asphalt driveway, you’re probably already seeing signs of wear and tear damage. Asphalt driveways can last up to 25 years, but their longevity depends on several factors — including protective barriers, regular maintenance, and the soil underneath. 

Poor drainage

Water is one of the biggest dangers to your asphalt driveway, and poor drainage can leave standing water sitting on top of it. The water seeps into the material and can cause potholes and cracks, the same way you see erosion in a well-watered garden or river bed over time. 

Use

From oil stains to the weight of the vehicles, the usage of a blacktop driveway can cause damage and shorten its lifespan. This is why certain parts of parking lots always seem more worn down than others: The spots and drives closest to the building and entrance get the most use. Chemicals and wear and tear can leave their marks and break apart asphalt surfaces. 

The Pros and Cons of an Asphalt Driveway Sealer

An asphalt driveway sealer is a layer of coal tar that covers the surface and provides protection from chemicals, freezing and thawing ice, and harsh UV rays. This:

sealing asphalt driveways
  • Extends the lifespan of a blacktop or concrete driveway or parking lot.
  • Is the least expensive way of repairing and resurfacing asphalt. 
  • Protects against water, chemicals, and oil stains.
  • Applies easily to a driveway or parking lot.

The downsides of sealants include that:

  • They need to be reapplied every few years.
  • The process requires specific weather and temperature conditions. 

Asphalt sealcoating is the right step for any asphalt driveway or surface you would like to protect. Here are a few signs that it’s time for sealcoating:

  • Cracking
  • Discoloration from UV rays
  • Pools of water after the rain
  • Warping to the surface, such as buckles
  • Potholes
asphalt driveway sealing

You want to ensure your asphalt driveway lasts as long as it can to avoid the expense or hassle of replacing it. Even patching cracks and adding a filler to potholes can be time-consuming. 

Are you thinking about sealing your asphalt driveway or parking surface? Unsure if yours needs to be sealed or resealed? The team at Limitless Paving & Concrete is here to help! Contact us today to speak with an expert about any asphalt sealing questions you might have.

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