Driveway Sealcoating is a very popular and efficient way of preserving asphalt pavement, allowing it to last longer and therefore be more cost-effective in the end.  Protecting and prolonging the life of your asphalt saves you money in the long run, and ensures a durable surface for whatever your needs may be.  But, how long does seal coating actually last and how often should it be re-applied?  Let us take a look at what seal coating is and how it is used to create a longer-lasting and more durable surface for years to come.

Driveway sealcoating being applied by contractor

What Is Seal Coating?

Seal coating is a mixture of liquids specifically combined with the purpose of protecting and “sealing” asphalt pavement.  Seal coating is typically a combination of dissolved asphalt, mineral fillers, and water.  Sometimes this mixture can also use a rubberized polymer epoxy latex that will add a bit more flexibility and a dark, rich black coloring once it dries.  Additionally, some seal coatings use sand and silica to create more traction and increase durability depending on what types of vehicles will be used on the asphalt.

There are four types of driveway seal coating

  • Coal tar emulsion is a mixture of refined coal tar, pitch, water, and emulsifying agents. This was the original asphalt sealant. Coal tar has been used since the 1600s. This is the least costly sealant available and is very effective, however, it is not environmentally friendly. A few states and cities have prohibited coal tar due to pollutants, however, coal-tar sealant is not a petroleum-based product.
  • Asphalt emulsion is the most common type of asphalt-based driveway sealcoating, especially for commercial properties. It has several advantages over its petroleum-based counterpart, including its ability to resist water, UV light, and most pollutants. This type of sealcoat is durable, lasting up to five years before it needs to be reapplied. Asphalt emulsion is environmentally safer than coal tar and it is odorless and fast curing. The only downsides are that this product requires professional handling to be used correctly and may be challenging to use during colder months.
  • Acrylic sealcoat provides a smooth surface. For instance, this is the coating used for tennis courts.  It is available in different colors and is aesthetically pleasing.  Acrylic surfaces are environmentally friendly and offer high durability lasting up to seven years, depending on their usage. It is an excellent choice for basketball courts, jogging paths, parks, and other recreational outdoor areas. It is well suited for areas that are exposed to a lot of traffic and can withstand the elements such as rain and snow. An acrylic coating can be used for parking lots and driveways; however, it may be cost-prohibitive.
  • Oil-based driveway seal coating is known for its long-lasting performance and efficiency in repairing small cracks, however, there are many disadvantages. Oil-based coatings penetrate the existing asphalt surface to make it look darker and more uniform. Among the downsides are environmental risks and the odor. Oil-based sealants take several days to dry and cure before the surface can be used. It is also slippery when it gets wet, and it does not protect against UV rays or oil stains. This product has been banned in several states due to environmental risks.

The main ingredients of driveway sealcoatings are asphalt and coal tar. Asphalt is a byproduct of oil distillation. This substance is water-soluble, and it surrounds the coal with an electrical charge. It is mixed with clay, sand, and polymer additives to form a durable coating. If applied properly, sealcoats can last for several years. However, if your driveway is new, you do not need to apply it right away.

What Is Seal Coating Used For?

The primary benefit of using driveway sealcoating on your asphalt pavement is that it will prolong the life of the asphalt, which in turn gives you a better return on your investment.  Seal coating can be used for driveways, parking lots, and any other instance where you want to protect and extend the life of your asphalt surface.  Seal coating protects asphalt pavement from water penetration, sun damage, vehicle fluids, and any chemical or liquid that might pierce through the surface of the pavement. 

How Long Does Driveway Sealcoating Last?

Typically, seal coating should last about three years before needing to be re-applied.  Much of the life expectancy of your seal coating depends on the condition the asphalt pavement is in when it is sealed.  If the asphalt is still in decent condition when it is sealed, the coating will last up to three years.  However, if the asphalt is already old or in poor shape when it is sealed, then you will need to re-apply more often.  This is also dependent upon the environment, including weather such as high heat, intense cold, heavy rain, etc.

If you have any questions about whether or not driveway sealcoating is a good choice for your needs, don’t hesitate to contact us today!