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The Best Asphalt Sealer

No Asphalt Sealer Applied

Applying an asphalt sealer actually can have two dramatic effects.  First it will make your driveway or parking area look great.  Applying an asphalt sealant makes the surface shiny and new appearing which it is because a sealer is really a new top coating for the aggregate.  The second function, which from a cost benefit stand point is even more important, is the protection it will give.  The rays of the sun and winter weather can play havoc with the surface of an asphalt drive.  The petroleum in  the surface breaks down and exposes the aggregate (gravel) that offers the strength for the product.  Once the aggregate starts getting removed it will only be a matter of time before there is a hole from wear.  The sealer can also help with crack repair and thus stop water from entering the surface and then freezing which cracks the asphalt and causes it to degrade.

Best Asphalt Sealer

Like most people you probably think that choosing an asphalt based product would give the best driveway sealer but this is not necessarily the case.  Study after study has actually found that coal tar based products actually hold up much better than asphalt.  The asphalt products have been improved recently but they still are not the best sealer product.  Coal tar is a byproduct formed when coal is baked in order to make coke.  Coke, not the soft drink, is used as a heat source in the manufacture of steel.  One draw back to Coal tar is that it contains a lot of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are gassed off after spreading.  This may or may not be a problem for you based on your feelings about the environment.  VOCs have been implicated in several health problems but if used out of doors they usually will not affect the applier. You can purchase both the asphalt and the coal tar based products in either a plain or a filled-sealer formula.  If you have cracks that need to be filled then the second option is the best.  It contains solids like sand which fill in the cracks along with the sealant.  The standard formula will only fill in the crack with sealer which more than likely will crack out once it dries.
Asphalt Emulsion Sealer
The best asphalt based sealer is going to be an emulsion product.  This means, the asphalt is broken into small particles and then mixed with water and suspension chemicals so that it stays in solution.  All you have to do is stick a paint roller with a 1/2″ cover into the mixture and roll it out.  Unlike coal tar, there are no VOC’s as the asphalt is just suspended in water instead of being based in a solvent type liquid.  This means as the water evaporates the asphalt particles bond with the top surface of your driveway for the sealing. The negative aspect of this compared to coal tar is that the coating is not as thick and heavy.  Thus you will probably have to re-coat more often.  But, for environmental friendliness and ease of application, the asphalt emulsion product is great for home owners.

Cost Of Driveway Sealers

Asphalt sealers tend to be more expensive than coal tar because of the safer environmental hazards caused by the VOCs.  Also, asphalt driveway sealers need to have polymers added because of their poorer natural performance.  Asphalt in its natural state tends to degrade quickly and is not as long lasting as coal tar but this is the tradeoff for having the safety. As you can see, asphalt sealing is not as easy as you may have thought.

Filling Driveway Cracks

If you have large cracks it is better to fill them before applying the sealer coat.  If they are ¼ inch or less than the sealer should do the trick but the width is greater than this then fill them before hand.  You have many options including but for large cracks a heat applied product is the best.  At your local home improvement store you can find a product that comes in either a rope or stick form that fills the crack and then when heated bonds with the sides forming a water tight seal.  The heat is usually applied with a propane torch but you can also use a heat gun if you don’t have a torch.  The torch does a better job in my opinion. Applying the best asphalt sealer will give you several years of a good, hard, and great looking surface.  When it starts to show wear though, it is important to reapply.

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