Homeowners often choose an asphalt driveway over concrete because it is more affordable to install, offers an equal durability, and provides your property with the support that it requires. The only way to take advantage of these benefits is to have it correctly sealed as part of the installation process.
When you seal an asphalt driveway correctly, then you will protect the surface from cracks that begin to form with use. This process makes it possible for the product to increase its durability to match what concrete provides.
If you’re thinking about a conversion from a gravel space to something better, then these are the pros and cons to review about sealing an asphalt driveway that you will want to know.
List of the Pros of Sealing an Asphalt Driveway
1. Sealing an asphalt driveway protects it from multiple forms of damage.
When you have an asphalt driveway sealed, then it becomes protected from the various weather elements that try to damage it over a year. You will stop cracks and erosion from causing damage that will require future repairs with this service. It will give you a water-resistant layer that helps you avoid damage from rain, hail, or snow. You also get some protection against issues with extreme heat that can sometimes occur during direct, prolonged contact with sunlight.
2. Sealing an asphalt driveway prevents the formation of potholes.
When you seal asphalt, it is like you’re creating a resistant barrier against the weaknesses that are found in the product after it has been laid to form your driveway. It’s similar to the process of sealing a countertop in your kitchen. The materials seep into the air pockets that are left behind from the work, creating a surface that is stronger. That process makes it possible to prevent catastrophic damage before it even starts, which protects your vehicles and stops accidents from occurring at the same time.
3. Sealing an asphalt driveway improves the curb appeal of a home.
When you install an asphalt driveway without sealant, then it will look gray, sometimes close to white, and the visual aesthetics next to a house can be a challenge because of it. You will know that it isn’t concrete because it’s a darker shade. When you place sealant on the material, then you receive a darker finish. The surface of your driveway will be sleek and smooth, which can improve the curb appeal of your home. It may even increase the value of your properly slightly since you are reducing the risk of future maintenance costs.
4. Sealing an asphalt driveway reduces wear and tear on your vehicles.
When you have a smooth surface, then you are able to save money because there is less wear and tear placed on your vehicles. This advantage grows based on the length of your driveway. Sealing it will increase the lifespan by up to 10%, but the sealant creates 25% more smoothness to the surface where you drive or park. When you add in the cost benefits and the fact that it only needs periodic maintenance, then you have access to a product that will support your current and future lifestyle needs.
5. Sealing an asphalt driveway provides eco-friendly benefits.
Did you know that asphalt is the most recycled product in the United States? The industry that will help you to install your new driveway will either reuse or recycle over 100 million tons of product each year. From an industry-wide perspective, that means they save nearly $2 billion in costs every year. When they save money, then so do you, which is why choosing to install an asphalt driveway is such a cost-competitive option right now.
6. Sealing an asphalt driveway is a job you can do yourself.
Although the best practice is to have a local contractor make the initial seal for your asphalt driveway, you can do the update work on your own if you wish. Most hardware and do-it-yourself stores will sell the coating you need for this maintenance chore at rates which are highly competitive. Make sure that you take some caulk or tar to fill any cracks that you detect in the surface before completing this work. Some DIY experts might tackle this job on their own.
As a general rule, make sure that you are comfortable with the tasks required of you for this job before starting it. Never try to do something by guessing at it. There are instructional videos, how-to guides, and numerous additional resources that are available online that can help.
7. Sealing an asphalt driveway works with every type of asphalt.
When you choose to use asphalt for your driveway, then you have access to several different options. Each type offers its own applications and attributes to consider, even though they are all essentially the same product.
• Hot-mix asphalt creates a product with less viscosity and moisture, allowing it to form a surface that is durable, tough, and suitable for high-traffic areas.
• Warm-mix asphalt uses additives that reduce the heat requirements to produce the final product. It reduces the number of fossil fuels used to create it while also lowering fume levels, so it is a eco-friendly product.
• Cold-mix asphalt uses soapy water to emulsify the asphalt before having it mixed with the aggregate. It isn’t as tough as the other options, so it is usually used in low-traffic spots or as patching materials for the other mixes.
• Glassphalt uses aggregate that includes crushed, recycled glass as part of the surface. This option allows you to reuse more items when installing your driveway, but it comes at the cost of higher wear and tear on your tires. There is a natural increase in skid protection qualities with this option too.
You also have the option to choose from rubberized asphalt, which can help your driveway reduce its usage noise when on it. This option typically works best for longer driving areas.
8. Sealing an asphalt driveway allows for an efficient run-off of moisture.
When you install an asphalt driveway which contains sealant, then you are creating a surface which allows for an efficient run-off when moisture hits it. You’ll also discover that there is a level of self-healing which occurs with this product because the sunlight can help to bring the damaged coating or surface back together as it “melts.” You’ll find added help against distortion and flexing because of this quality, which reduces the threat of cracks forming in your driveway.
9. Sealing an asphalt driveway can make other chores easier to finish.
If you receive a lot of snow on your property each winter, then sealing your asphalt driveway during the summer months will help you make your clearing work easier. The smooth surface of the treated driveway makes it easier for the shovel to skate across the surface, helping you to move the snow with greater ease. Your snow blower or plow will encounter fewer issues, which will lower the risks of damage occurring. There are fewer issues with the seals catching as there are with a concrete driveway.
List of the Cons of Sealing an Asphalt Driveway
1. Sealing an asphalt driveway does come with an expense.
Although you will pay more to have your asphalt driveway sealed than if you chose to avoid this task, the investment you pay today can save you an equal or greater amount in repair costs down the road. In the United States, the average cost to seal this product is between 10 cents to 16 cents per square foot. Some regions, like New York and California, might charge a little more, while the upper Midwest might charge a little less.
That means you’ll pay about $160 for this service if you hire a professional to do the work. Some contractors may charge per every 1,000 square feet instead of for each square foot, so review your contract to ensure all of the costs are considered. The cost of labor may be on top of this charge as well.
2. Sealing an asphalt driveway is a repetitive maintenance chore.
You must seal your asphalt driveway once every three years to maximize the benefit of this surface. The repetitive coatings that get placed on the surface aren’t as expensive as the first layer, but it will still count as an expense of which your budget must be aware. If you put off this task for more than 12 months, then you may discover that the cost to repair the driveway may be much higher than if you did the work when it was initially scheduled. It is not a service that you can ignore.
3. Sealing an asphalt driveway requires specific weather conditions.
You must be aware of the weather when you begin the project of sealing an asphalt driveway. Although it is a three-seasons product throughout most of the United States, you should not be using it after you have had the first frost of the season. The colder temperatures will negatively impact the performance of the sealer. It is not unusual for a sealer to fail when there is the threat of sub-freezing temperatures during the curing process.
You can avoid this disadvantage by using an all-seasons, four-season, or cold-weather formula for your asphalt sealant, but this product typically cost more than the standard product.
4. Sealing an asphalt driveway requires a waiting period for the best results.
You must wait on a newly-installed asphalt driveway to cure correctly before you proceed with this maintenance task. Most driveways need at least six months of curing time before they will be ready to have a sealer applied. Then you must take into account the temperature of your driveway before proceeding as well. If it dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit while working, then you will experience a higher rate of failure.
Most sealants require at least 24 hours before each coating is applied to the driveway as well, so the minimum temperature requirement remains in place during the entire period of work. That can be a challenge if your preferred product requires you to wait for 72 hours between each layer of sealant you apply.
5. Sealing an asphalt driveway will not indefinitely preserve its structure.
If you take care of your asphalt driveway with a sealant and then apply it every three years to maximize results, then you can expect to receive about 20 years of life from your driveway. That’s a noticeable improvement over the 12 years or less that you would receive from a driveway that hasn’t received a proper layer of coating. There are construction-quality issues that may extend or decrease this rate as well, such as the thickness of the product. You can extend the life of a driveway with this maintenance service, but you cannot prolong its service indefinitely.
6. Sealing an asphalt driveway may need to happen every 1-2 years in some situations.
Most homeowners can seal their driveway once every three years and receive satisfactory results. Some may even be able to stretch that time out to 5 years. If your surface receives a significant amount of traffic on a daily basis, then you may see cracks begin to form in the first year after you apply the first layer. If you see signs of fading or issues with the surface that seem premature, then you will want to have your driveway assessed by a professional contractor as there may be an issue with the initial work that was done.
7. Sealing an asphalt driveway requires you to clean it frequently.
When you add a layer of sealant to an asphalt driveway, then you are creating a layer between the surface and the debris that could negatively impact this installation. You must exercise care when working with it because pressure washing with certain solvents or detergents could add premature wear-and-tear on the sealant. If you chose glassphalt, then you must follow specific cleaning techniques to prevent damage. You must be proactive about removing waste, pollutants, contaminants, or debris to avoid having your new driveway experience damage.
8. Sealing an asphalt driveway will not prevent all cracks.
If your asphalt driveway was not laid correctly, then it will be prone to cracking and pitting issues over the lifetime of the product. You may notice concerns with an uneven surface after the work is complete. Even issues like inadequate mixing or laying a new driveway over a damaged older one can all work to reduce the expected lifespan of the product. Although you can add more flexibility to a driveway by giving it a layer of sealant, you will not prevent damage if the product was improperly installed in the first place.
9. Sealing an asphalt driveway will make it become hotter in the summer.
Cooler color tones tend to reflect heat, which is why white is a popular color to wear during the summer months in the desert. Darker hues will absorb light, which means it will absorb the heat as well when sunshine makes contact with it. The sleek, black color that occurs when a sealing job is complete may add a dramatic visual impact to some properties, but it can also cause the asphalt to become uncomfortably warm in the summer. If you plan to park your vehicles on this surface, then take care with your tires to ensure that no unintentional damage occurs to your vehicle. You’ll want to avoid walking barefoot on the driveway during the hottest part of the day as well.
10. Sealing an asphalt driveway doesn’t prevent all forms of damage.
Because asphalt will absorb the heat from the sun, it will become softer when there are continuously warm temperatures outside. When you park a heavy item on this surface when it is soft, then you can leave an indentation if is parked there for too long. You may also see the wheels leaving a mark when you drive over the asphalt surface when it is dealing with this condition.
The pros and cons of sealing an asphalt driveway really depend on the location of your property and the exposure it receives to precipitation, sunlight, and other potential elements of destruction. It is possible to have an unsealed driveway last for 20+ years under the right circumstances. You might also have the surface require a complete repair within 10 years. That’s why it is up to you to find the balance between the benefits of this service and its potential disadvantages.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.