Is seal coating worth it?

worker compacting a layer of asphalt on a driveway

Do I really need seal coating?

As a homeowner, you want your home to have a beautiful and inviting curb appeal, and what can look better than having a new asphalt driveway installed? Having a new asphalt driveway installed is an expensive and rather large job. It isn’t something that you’re going to want to have to repeat again for a long time, if ever. So yes, it is worth the extra expense of seal coating.

What is the purpose of seal coating?

The purpose of seal coating driveways is for the protection and longevity of the driveway surface. A seal coating will fill in surface damage while giving the driveway a protective layer that keeps damaging UV rays, assorted vehicle fluids, and water. Here are some other facts that prove a seal coating is beneficial for a driveway: 

  1. Seal coating is a low cost compared to having a new driveway installed. When an asphalt driveway is properly maintained and seal coating applied, the repair costs over the long-term are minimized, even dissolved. 
  2. With the element exposures today, an asphalt driveway will fade, losing its appealing appearance. A fresh seal coating will enhance the appearance, making your asphalt driveway look new again. 
  3. Seal coating can be applied in one of two methods: spray or squeegee.
  4. Seal coating actually speeds up the process of melting ice and snow while it protects it from the water penetrating. 

How do you know when to seal asphalt? 

The general rule that seal coating contractors recommend is no longer than every three years and sooner if you notice the surface is looking faded or has begun to crack, has holes, or the individual stones are visible. 

When your asphalt driveway seal coating is done by an experienced contractor, they will give you a schedule they recommend for your next round of sealcoating and crack filling. This isn’t something you want to delay or overlook for too long when the rainy season or cold weather are on the way. However, you don’t want to let it go in the summer either, as the seal coating is an important protective layer against the sun’s UV rays too.        

Does seal coating really work?

If an asphalt driveway has severe damage, yes, seal coating would be a waste of money and time. The idea is to get the seal coating applied as soon as possible and then maintain it every three years to keep it from becoming severely damaged. At some point of damage, the best solution is to have the old driveway scraped up and removed, a new driveway installed, and then have seal coating applied. 

A key to seal coating working as intended is for the base of the asphalt driveway to have been designed and constructed properly, with a compact and sound installation of the appropriate amount and type of base material at the proper thickness. 

Can seal coating be done in the rain?

No, it must be a dry, preferably warm day when seal coating is applied. Choose a day when there isn’t any rain forecasted for the next 12 hours at a minimum. A light sprinkling usually won’t cause any damage. However, depending on the amount of rain, the damage to freshly installed seal coating could wash its effectiveness away. If there is a concern of rain on the way the day before, the day of, or the day after, reschedule your seal coating job. 

Is seal coating dangerous?

Yes – according to the United States Geological Survey, (USGS), seal coating an asphalt driveway is a serious health hazard. There are PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) that are known to be cancer-causing involved with asphalt seal coating. 

  • Seal Coating: Seal coating is done by spraying a coal-tar pitch emulsion on top of an existing asphalt surface and is primarily a cosmetic procedure; it doesn’t improve the asphalt’s integrity and needs to be reapplied within 3 years. 
  • Coal-Tar Pitch Seal Coating: There is an alternative offered by some asphalt contractors of coal-tar pitch seal coating. Most homeowners are not aware of the cancer-causing risks involved. This method can be done by homeowners with 5-gallon buckets available at their local home improvement stores.  
  • Asphalt-based Seal Coating: The central, eastern, and southern areas of the United States commonly use a coal-tar pitch seal coating. The western area of the country uses an asphalt-based seal coating because the manufacturing plants and the materials are easier accessible on the East coast. 
a layer of seal coating being applied to a driveway

In Conclusion 

The biggest question of all, well next to homeowner’s insurance questions, is how long does seal coating last? A professionally applied seal coating can last up to 3 years. If the original asphalt is older, the seal coating may need to be on an annual schedule. While this maintenance may be an issue that you don’t want, think of how beautiful the curb appeal to your home will be!  A new asphalt driveway is absolutely stunning and with the properly applied seal coating, an older asphalt driveway is just a beautiful and stunning.