A Homeowner’s Guide to Sealcoating Your Driveway

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Homeowners with asphalt driveways will, at some point, face the question about whether they should seal coat. Is it necessary, and is it worth the investment?

In this post, we’ll answer both questions.

First, we’ll discuss a few benefits of sealing. Next up, we’ll talk about seal coating prices. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a better idea of whether a seal coating is worth it to you.

Sealing Asphalt and Winter Weather

If you’ve spent even one winter in this part of the country, you know the weather can get harsh. Winter weather isn’t exactly friendly to asphalt driveways. Snow and melting ice can penetrate asphalt, causing severe damage.

Living in a climate with harsh winters usually means you deal with the problems associated with the freeze/thaw cycle. Freeze/thaw cycles are when temperatures rise above freezing (32F), drop below freezing, and then rise above freezing.

The fluctuation in temperature allows water to seep into cracks where it freezes and causes cracks to expand. When temperatures rise enough for the water to melt, the water then moves deeper into the break of concrete, causing even more expansion.

Another problem you may see happens when water freezes under the surface of your asphalt driveway and is called frost heave.

When you seal coat an asphalt drive before winter weather hits, you help protect it from developing cracks, and you also help slow the oxidation effects caused by the freeze/thaw process.

Sealcoating Protects Against Oxidation

The minute you apply new asphalt, the oxidation process begins. Without going into a chemistry lesson, it’s critical to know the effect of oxidation on your asphalt driveway. Over time, oxidation causes a brittle and stiff texture.

When asphalt stiffens, it loses its elasticity. Crack, and eventually, potholes develop.

You’ll know your driveway is a victim of oxidation by observing it’s color. When new, asphalt is dark black. Once oxidation progresses, you’ll notice the color changes to a lighter black. If you ignore it long enough, the asphalt turns gray.

Seal coating protects your driveway from the effects of oxidation. Since allowing oxidation to progress results in the asphalt breaking down, it’s worth the cost to avoid starting from scratch with a new driveway.

Those Ugly Oil Stains

Did you know asphalt is a petroleum product? Your car uses petroleum distillates, namely oil and gasoline. When petroleum distillates drip on an asphalt surface, they dissolve chemicals in the asphalt.

Even the best-maintained vehicles can deposit oil and other chemicals on your driveway. Oil and gasoline cause erosion and weakening of asphalt surfaces.

Sealcoating fills in any existing holes in your asphalt driveway. This prevents oil, gas, and other chemicals from seeping into the asphalt. Sealcoating materials contain coal tars, which aren’t affected by petroleum distillates.

Sealcoating adds another layer of security for your driveway and helps extend its useful life.

Extending the Life of Your Asphalt Driveway

In a perfect world, an asphalt drive should last between 12 and 20 years.

Like anything else, useful life depends on several factors. Factors that determine how many years of service you get from an asphalt drive include:

  • Quality of Installation
  • Climate
  • Usage
  • Maintenance

The first two you can’t control. Usage is somewhat beyond your control as well since you can’t expect to park in the street so that you can avoid wear and tear on your driveway. Now, maintenance is the one thing you have complete control over.

The better care you give your driveway, the longer it can take care of you and your parking needs. Seal coat the driveway, and you ensure a water-resistant surface. Repair any cracks or holes as soon as possible, and you do your part to extend the driveway’s life.

The Cost of a New Asphalt Driveway

Maybe you feel like a new driveway isn’t such a negative thing. After all, you’ll get a brand new surface to park on. And your neighbors will stop nagging you about all those potholes.

Let’s look at the average cost for a new asphalt driveway before we agree with your line of thinking.

The asphalt contractor you select will come out and give you an estimate. They’ll determine the size of the driveway and look for any drainage and subgrade issues. Those issues, if noted, get addressed before they lay the new asphalt.

Once you have an estimate and agree to get the project started, the asphalt contractor must rip out (and haul away) the old driveway.

Contractors usually charge by the square foot, and the average cost is per square foot is between $3.50 and $4.50.Barring any drainage problems or issue with grading, the average cost of a new asphalt driveway ranges from $4,000-$6,000.

Before you jump into a complete driveway overhaul, make a comparison between laying new asphalt and seal coating what you already have.

How Much Does Sealcoating Cost?

When you start shopping for seal coating services, you’ll likely find seal coating contractors also price jobs by the square foot. Including materials and labor, the cost is around $0.17 to $0.24 per square foot.

Your price also depends on how many coats you get on your driveway. You can choose either one or two.

Most contractors have a minimum charge, so expect to pay at least $100-$200.

It’s not difficult to do the math on this one—seal coating vs. laying a new driveway is more cost-effective. Along with the other benefits, it’s clearly worth it to go ahead and make the smaller investment, no?

Have Questions About Our Sealcoating Prices?

From the perspective of extending the life of your driveway, it’s easy to see the value in taking preventative measures to prevent things like cracks, potholes, adverse effects of oxidation, and total asphalt failure.

When comparing the cost between a new driveway and a seal coating, the message is further driven home. Seal coating prices are clearly the more cost-effective of the two, and we think sealcoating is worth it!

If you’re ready to maintain for your asphalt driveway or if you have questions on our prices, we’re happy to help. Contact us today, and we’ll work with you to get your project started.

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