What Is Seal Coat, How Can You Tell If Your Asphalt Needs It And Other Frequently Asked Questions

Construction & Contractors Blog

Asphalt driveways benefit from a protective layer known as seal coating. Seal coating can be installed by asphalt repair professionals, or it can be installed by a confident DIYer. Knowing about a seal coat and how it helps your driveway can help you know when it's time to apply a seal coat on your driveway.

What is seal coat?

A seal coat is a protective layer that is spread on top of asphalt to close its pores and make it more water repellant.

How can you tell if your asphalt needs a seal coat?

Asphalt driveways are typically seal coated once every two or three years, or more often if they show signs of needing it more frequently. If your driveway needs a seal coat, you'll notice these signs:

  • Water no longer beads up and rolls off the surface of the driveway, but is instead absorbed into the asphalt.
  • The asphalt becomes lighter in color.
  • The asphalt starts to show signs of freeze/thaw damage (cracks, potholes and other damage).

What happens if you decide not to seal coat your asphalt driveway?

If your driveway isn't properly seal coated, water will become absorbed into its pores and will penetrate the ground beneath the driveway. When the air temperature outside freezes, the water underneath the driveway will expand and cause small cracks in the asphalt. As this cycle repeats itself, the cracks will become larger and may turn into potholes. Your driveway will need asphalt repair before seal coating can take place. If the repairs are not made in a timely manner and if the asphalt remains unsealed, this can significantly shorten the service life of your driveway.

What happens during the seal coating process?

First, clean and dry the asphalt.  Next, mix the seal coat in a bucket according to the manufacturer's instructions. Each product will have its own instructions, so follow the manufacturer's directions. As you're reading the instructions, pay close attention to temperature recommendations to ensure that your seal coat is applied at a time when the outdoor temperature is warm enough for the seal coat to cure. Next, pour the seal coat over a corner of the driveway and then spread it around the driveway with a giant squeegee. Pour more seal coat over the driveway as needed until the entire driveway is coated. Allow the seal coat to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions before driving your car on the asphalt.

Following these instructions, your driveway may be able to resist the damaging effects of water and freeze/thaw cycles for many years. For more information or for help with seal coating your asphalt, talk to a reputable asphalt repair company. To learn more, speak with a business like Bituminous Roadways, Inc.

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