Driveways are more susceptible to the elements than you might think. After being exposed to sunlight for a long period of time, your asphalt driveway will lose its firmness. The rays from the sun will cause the asphalt cement to break down, and then that mixture of asphalt, stone particles and sand (commonly known as aggregate) will start to come apart. Not only that, if you live in colder climates, this process is sped up.
So how can you protect your driveway and ensure that it remains in good condition for as long as possible? You seal it.
How do Sealers Work?
When you apply the asphalt sealer to your driveway you are fulfilling two factors: it will make your driveway look nicer and it will significantly increase its lifespan. The asphalt sealers essentially provide a makeshift shield for your driveway by making the elements impenetrable to it.
What Sealer Should You Use?
There are three types of sealers you could use. The best one depends on the weather conditions and your own personal preferences.
- Traditional: this is usually mixed with an emulsifier and water. The lifespan is short and it doesn’t completely protect against UV rays but it is the cheapest option of the three.
- Coal Tar: this is effective against oil and gasoline. It consists of emulsifier and small particles of clay (which makes it easier to apply). Some coal tar sealers have polymers which provide protection against the sun.
- Acrylic Polymer: this is an all synthetic sealer, and is the most expensive. It provides the most protection and has a lifespan that is twice as long as the other sealers.
How Often Should You Apply Sealant?
This all depends on the current condition of your driveway.
For Newly Laid Asphalt
Apply the sealant one year after you first applied the asphalt. The reason why is because asphalt consists of certain oils, and until all the oils evaporate, the asphalt will remain malleable. Usually, the asphalt does not become completely firm until about a year after it’s been laid down.
For Already Sealed Asphalt
Only apply the new coat of sealant once the previous coat has been worn out. It can generally be done every three years. However, this could vary for each person due to weather conditions and sunlight exposure. A good way to detect it is if your asphalt starts to develop a greyish colour.