Driveways are the pathway to your house. Whether you are a resident or a visitor, a driveway provides the most direct access to a home. While there are many different materials to build a driveway from, asphalt is the most common. When properly installed and maintained, asphalt driveways have a minimum life expectancy of 30 years.
Asphalt driveways should be sealed every 1 to 3 years, depending on environment and use. A general rule of thumb is: if you can see the color of the stones used to pave an asphalt driveway, it is time to seal it.
First, never seal a new driveway or one that has recently been patched. Asphalt takes a minimum of 6 months to cure. During this time, the oils contained in the asphalt evaporate and the driveway hardens. Sealing will prevent this from happening and lead to issues. Second, in order for the sealant to adhere to the surface properly, it must be 50 degrees or warmer outside. Third, it is best to seal a driveway at least 48 hour prior to any expected rain or water applications. Make sure you aim your sprinklers away from the driveway until the sealant dries completely.
Occasionally, a driveway will need more than just a sealant to preserve it. Small fissures across a driveway can be easily patched with a crack filler. However, when the asphalt becomes extremely broken it creates “alligator cracks”. Patching these types of cracks will not prevent further damage. Additionally, large areas that are patched can become sticky during the summer heat. This can stick to tires and actually result in chunks of your driveway being pulled up. Whether you fill it yourself or hire a professional, laying new asphalt will still require a 6 month wait before sealing.
Why We Seal:
Sealing a driveway helps to repel water. During the winter, if water leaks into a driveway, it can expand as it freezes and cause cracking. Preventing this will also help stop weeds from growing; this will cause additional cracking. Furthermore, the sun and oxygen are corrosive for asphalt. Sealants help to reduce this as well. Additionally, a quality sealant should repel oils and leaks and help prevent staining.
Regular maintenance of your asphalt driveway can prevent major issues down the road. It prevents damage from water, sun, and oxygen while increasing curb appeal. Homeowners can apply a sealant themselves or hire a professional.