Choosing The Best Asphalt Driveway Sealer

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Having an asphalt driveway can give you a sense of security, knowing that your drive has a tough and durable surface. However, the sense of security can be a false one, if it causes you to leave it alone without any maintenance, since the daily wear and tear can soon result in potholes and uneven patches. So sealing it every three years can be a very wise precaution. The problem is to know which kind of asphalt driveway sealer to choose.

There are two main types of sealant for asphalt drives asphalt based sealant, and coal tar based sealant. Both of these are emulsions with water and latex, plus either coal tar or asphalt. Coal tar, which is a by-product of the production of coke from coal, has for many years been a more popular choice. It is considered that coal tar sealants last longer and are more resistant to oil and gasoline spills. These are of course the most likely type of spillage to occur on a driveway and often actually dissolve the cement in the paving. Coal tar sealants also contain emulsifiers and small clay particles, which make application easier, and provide better protection against the sun. The down side is that they are not so environmentally friendly, and may give off toxic odors.

Asphalt based sealants in their basic form are not so long lasting as coal tar, but they do have some advantages. Apart from being less likely to give off noxious fumes, they do not contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and are less liable to cause skin irritation. Some asphalt based sealants actually contain a small amount of coal tar in the mix, which helps to make them more durable.

Both of these products can be obtained either in plain form, or in filled-sealer form. The filled sealer ones contain additives of sand or other small solids, which help to fill small holes and cracks. Because solids in the mixture are thought to improve the sealant quality, the filled-sealer type will be more expensive.

The other type of sealant is acrylic polymer asphalt sealant, which is the longest lasting of all, and the most expensive. This is synthetic, and is sometimes referred to as pavement grade or racetrack grade sealant. This product contains the most durable acrylic polymers, but also contains sand, which is extremely useful for sealing the pores in the paving, and for improving traction for cars and feet.

The advice is to get the best quality asphalt driveway sealer you can afford, rather than trying save money, as trying to use the cheapest will probably cost more in the long term. However, if you intend to carry out the sealing of your driveway yourself, you will probably find that the best quality products are only available to professionals and not on sale at your local store. If you can find a distributor to the trade, you might be able to obtain professional quality sealant there, but it may only be available in bulk quantities, which would be far more than you would need for a single driveway. It might be possible to group together with neighbors, to buy in bulk and do several driveways at once.

The decision as to which is the most suitable asphalt driveway sealer for you will depend on what is most important to you cost, durability, or environmental factors. Even if you can only afford the cheapest, this should not stop you from resealing every few years. It will pay dividends not only by making your drive last longer, but by enhancing the appearance and value of your property.

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2 Comments for “Choosing The Best Asphalt Driveway Sealer”

  1. I was told by the best blacktop man in the area (and subsequently others) that a driveway sealer is a waste of money, and that if you used it, it should be put down only after years of use. Not only is it not useful, but because it develops cracks, you end up having to do it over and over.
    Well, anyway, your article didn’t address any of these concerns. My driveway is about a decade old, and I think a resurface would be better, but I still have my doubts.

  2. Hi Robert,
    Thank you for your comment. The fact that asphalt cracks is exactly why a sealer is necessary. Once you develop cracks you will get water into the tarmac and when it freezes it will cause the crack to get larger and larger until it creates a pot hole. A good sealer will also help to keep the aggregate (gravel) in place. As time goes by the asphalt will tend to degrade and this can cause the aggregate to become loose and fall out. For these two reasons, most asphalt maintenance companies recommend resealing. Of course doing this every year would be overkill and unnecessary.

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