The Pros and Cons of Sealing Asphalt

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You want your parking lot or road to look nice and last as long as possible without having to have it repaired or repaved. While you’ve heard that asphalt sealcoating can add a protective layer, you’re not sure if it’s a worthwhile investment or if it’s right for your property. To help you determine if sealcoating is a service that’s right for you, we are sharing the pros and cons of having a sealcoat applied to your asphalt. 

What Is Sealcoating?

Asphalt is an affordable, durable material, which is why it’s so popular for use in roads, parking lots, and driveways. However, once it’s applied, exposure to UV rays, water, oil, and road salt can cause the asphalt to dry out, fade, crack, and crumble over time.

A sealcoat is a protective coating made from specially formulated oils and paving material that, when applied, soaks into the asphalt, restoring a deep, shiny, black appearance, replenishing the oils and binder that have broken down or dried up, and filling in small gaps in the aggregate for a smoother appearance. The sealcoat also lays on top of the asphalt, forming a protective barrier to prevent future damage caused by sun, water, oil, and salt. 

Key Features of Asphalt Sealcoating 

Breathes New Life into Faded Asphalt

When asphalt is first laid, it’s a deep black color that looks fresh and new. Over time, the sun and elements will fade the pavement, making it look washed out, gray or white, and dingy. Sealcoating restores that rich, glossy black color to the pavement, returning it to a fresh, new appearance which can improve the look of your property and even increase its value. 

Prevents Pavement from Becoming Brittle

Pavement is made up of a blend of sand and gravel aggregate mixed with a petroleum-based binder that makes it flexible and pliable. As motor oil and gasoline leak on the pavement, not only will it stain, it reacts with the petroleum binder and causes rapid deterioration. On top of that, water and UV rays dry out the asphalt. Soon, the asphalt that was once flexible enough to handle temperature fluctuations and the pressure of traffic becomes brittle and prone to cracking and crumbling under pressure.

Applying a sealcoat blocks the damaging, oxidizing substances and keeps the binder pliant and flexible, allowing it to stay in good condition for a longer period.

Sealcoating Prevents Potholes

Once the pavement becomes compromised due to oxidization and oil exposure, deterioration begins quickly. Small cracks form in the brittle pavement, and, if left untreated and unrepaired, they will quickly turn into unsightly, dangerous potholes. Because sealcoating prevents oxidation and cracks, potholes are much less likely to form, keeping your roads safe and attractive for a longer period of time.

Sealcoating is Cost-Effective

Having fresh asphalt laid down is expensive, costing on average between $1.50 and $2.00 a square foot, not including any line striping or curb installation. That’s just installing asphalt.

On the other hand, sealcoating costs between $0.15 and $0.25 per square foot. By investing in a sealcoating every few years, you’re minimizing the need for expensive repairs and extending the life of your pavement. 

The Drawbacks of Sealcoating

Sealcoating Shouldn’t Be Applied to Fresh Asphalt

When asphalt is freshly laid, it requires time to cure and for any excess chemicals in the binder to come to the surface. Once it’s cured, generally three to six months after space was paved, an asphalt sealer can be used.

Sealing Pavement Needs to Be Maintained

Once you have your asphalt sealed, it will need to be maintained. While it’s not a frequent task, a sealcoat only lasts around two to three years, so you will want to take that into account when you do a maintenance budget for your property. Hard Money Property explains that for real estate development it is important to take sealcoating into account when drawing the land layout.

Your Asphalt Needs to Be in Good Condition Before Sealing

While sealcoating can be applied to dry, faded asphalt or a surface with minimal cracking, it won’t restore or repair cracked or crumbled pavement. Make sure any asphalt repairs are completed, from sealing pavement cracks to patching potholes before having a sealant applied.

In the case of severely damaged or degraded asphalt, consider having an asphalt overlay put down first to revitalize your parking lot or road. Once it has cured, it can be coated to ensure a long lasting, attractive road or lot.