How Long Does Asphalt Sealcoat Last?

August 1, 2020

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Asphalt sealcoat is an excellent choice for extending pavement life and restoring its overall appearance. Sealant provides an added layer of protection between blacktop and harsh weather conditions, corrosive chemicals, and heavy traffic, keeping asphalt in excellent condition while also ensuring it looks its best for as long as possible.

For best results, apply sealcoat within the first three years of asphalt installation and then repeat its application every three to five years thereafter. Your sealcoating lifespan will depend on weather conditions, average traffic, and quality of materials and installation. Your asphalt installation contractor might note the best sealcoating schedule for your property, to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

New asphalt and concrete installation as well as asphalt crack repair are often costly investments, which is why homeowners and commercial property owners should ensure they’re doing everything possible to keep pavement in good condition. Sealcoating is no doubt one of the best ways to extend pavement life but not the only option you might consider!

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To ensure your property’s pavement lasts and stays looking its best, you might note some added information about asphalt sealcoat as well as signs of needed asphalt repair and new installation. It’s also helpful to consider some tips on keeping pavement damage-free and looking its best. Discuss your concerns and questions with an asphalt pavement contractor as needed, so you know your property is in good condition for as long as possible.

Everything You Need to Know About Asphalt Sealcoat

To better understand how long asphalt sealcoating might last, it’s helpful to know more about asphalt itself as well as why it needs sealant.

  • Asphalt is manufactured with aggregate, sand, and petroleum-based binders that keep all those materials together, forming a rigid, durable surface.
  • As with any adhesive, extreme environmental conditions including bitter cold, excess humidity, and sunlight exposure break down asphalt binders, causing the material to either soften or become overly brittle.
  • When asphalt softens or gets brittle, it might chip, crack, or spall along its surface, or you might notice potholes forming.
  • Chemicals, heavy vehicle traffic, and petroleum-based products such as motor oil also break down asphalt binders, leading to premature damage.
  • A sealant or sealcoating provides a layer of protection over asphalt, protecting it from harsh weather and chemicals.
  • As sealcoating typically contains small particles or solids such as sand, this process also helps restore asphalt appearance, filling in cracks and spalling and other such tiny crevices.
  • Filling in all those tiny cracks and crevices also means a slightly more level and even asphalt surface.
  • Oils in sealcoats also seep into asphalt surfaces, replenishing depleted binders and adhesives, making asphalt pavement stronger and more durable.
  • Sealcoating also provides a fresh surface that often looks just like new, or that is much more attractive than faded, bleached asphalt.
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The Differences Between Sealcoating and Other Restorative Services

To keep asphalt looking new, consider the differences between a sealant and a tar and chip seal, a new asphalt layer, standard asphalt crack repair, and other such services. Your asphalt repair contractor can note the best choice for your pavement, given its overall condition and needed repairs.

  • A chip sealant or tar and chip is different than a simple sealcoat. Tar and chip processes begin with a spray application of liquid asphalt, to which aggregates or chips are added and then pressed into place. A tar and chip fills in bigger cracks and larger areas of spalling than a standard sealcoating and ensures greater traction as well.
  • Asphalt repaving refers to a new asphalt layer installed over the current pavement. This fresh layer covers a number of areas needing repairs including potholes, cracks, and chips. An added layer of asphalt also means stronger, more durable pavement, able to withstand heavy vehicle traffic.
  • The downside to asphalt repaving is that pavement can only be so thick before it begins to sink or crack under its own weight! Adding fresh asphalt layers increases pavement weight so this process can typically be done only a few times before your property needs new asphalt installation altogether.
  • Asphalt crack repair is typically performed on individual cracks, chips, and potholes, rather than covering pavement surface. Crack repair ensures a safe driving and walking surface while also protecting lower layers of asphalt from water damage and other erosion.

Hidden Signs It’s Time for Sealcoat or Other Asphalt Services

Severe spalling and a bleached-out, grayish tone are obvious indicators that you need to call an asphalt repair contractor near you! However, you might also note if your property’s pavement seems uneven and not as level as it should be; if so, you might consider sealcoating, to fill in those small pits and pores that make old asphalt uneven and unsafe for vehicle and foot traffic.

Hosing down asphalt with a standard garden hose is an excellent way to remove small amounts of lawn care chemicals, snow salt, and motor oil, but note if you still see stains afterwards. If so, it’s probably time for sealcoating, to provide that added layer of protection against oils, chemicals, and other corrosive materials.

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While aggregates don’t typically loosen from asphalt, note that poor-quality materials or extreme damage to asphalt binders might allow for loose gravel. If you notice lots of pits and pores along asphalt surfaces, it’s time for a chip sealant or fresh asphalt layers, to ensure a safe surface and protect asphalt’s lower layers from damage.

Along with inspecting asphalt itself, keep note of your area’s standard weather conditions. Sudden changes in weather, an overly cold or extremely hot season, or heavy rainfall all take their toll on asphalt. Consider sealcoating as soon as possible, to protect that pavement and ensure a strong, durable surface.

When Does a Property Need New Asphalt Installation?

Proper sealcoating, asphalt crack repair, and other such services extend asphalt life by years if not even decades. However, even the toughest and most durable asphalt will eventually break down and need replacing.

Large cracks across asphalt surfaces and oversized potholes often indicate damage below asphalt’s surface. This damage might also indicate poor drainage or grading, which should be corrected before new asphalt installation. Water pooling underneath asphalt will continuously damage that material, so no amount of sealcoating or other repairs will keep pavement in good condition.

In some cases, surface spalling also becomes so extreme that sealant or a tar and chip would only seep into asphalt layers rather than covering over that damage. Spalling might also indicate poor-quality asphalt or asphalt too badly damaged for surface repairs. Poor-quality installation, without proper pressing and flattening or without proper curing before vehicle traffic drives over that pavement, might also lead to eventual pavement breakdown. In those cases, resurfacing or fresh asphalt installation is the best option for providing a strong, safe surface.

Driveway Sealcoating and Other Ways to Ensure Asphalt Looks Its Best

Driveway sealcoating is probably the most effective way of ensuring asphalt always looks its best, but you might note a few other suggestions for keeping both concrete and blacktop protected and in good repair. Pressure washing is an excellent way of removing corrosive chemicals and motor oil and also helps cool down pavement during hot summer months.

Asphalt and concrete are durable materials but both can be damaged by scraping their surfaces, such as with snow-clearing plows and other heavy equipment. If you must plow a parking lot or driveway, lift the plow bucket or scraper off the ground just slightly. You can then typically broom the last thin layer of snow from the pavement, or use a noncorrosive snow clearing material as needed.

It’s also vital that a property owner never assume that concrete and asphalt are durable enough to withstand any use or abuse! Pavement thickness is determined by expected vehicle traffic first and foremost, driving overly heavy trucks, trailers, and other vehicles on pavement not meant to manage their weight can mean cracks, chips, potholes, and the like. If you do invest in new delivery vehicles, a motor home, or other such heavy equipment after asphalt installation, consider repaving or an added layer for a more durable surface overall.

Related Questions

How difficult is DIY sealcoating?

Applying sealcoating over asphalt is not as simple as you might expect; the pavement needs proper cleaning and prep work first, as well as pothole and asphalt crack repair. A sealcoat also needs even and smooth application, so it cures properly and provides needed protection against damage. To ensure proper sealcoating that lasts for years, rely on an asphalt repair contractor rather than trying to DIY this project.

How much does an asphalt sealcoat cost?

On average, an asphalt sealcost costs between $.14 and $.25 per square foot. Most homeowners will expect to pay around $350-$500 for driveway sealcoating. This cost, however, is an excellent investment in pavement life and is typically much cheaper than asphalt crack repair and repaving, and especially cheaper than new asphalt installation.

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