7 Pros and Cons of Sealing an Asphalt Driveway

Asphalt has become a popular option for homeowners to use as their driveway because of its affordability and durability. Still, over time, it could get damaged due to water drainage problems and a bunch of other natural elements. It is one of the most devastating things that can happen to any homeowner, but it can be avoided if the driveway gets properly sealed.

What Does It Mean To Seal Asphalt Driveways?

The correct term is Sealcoating. 

Sealcoating, also known as pavement sealing, is a process of applying a protective coating made with a mix of oils and pavement materials to replenish all the core components and properties of asphalt-based pavements. It restores shine and fills in gaps in the aggregate mixture to make it look smoother. 

It serves as a protective layer to keep natural elements like water, UV rays, and oils from destroying your asphalt driveway. It has a lot of benefits, but the question is, is it always ideal? That’s what we will be looking at in today’s article. 

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Sealing An Asphalt Driveway?

Pros:

  • Sealcoating an asphalt driveway makes it look more attractive

When an asphalt driveway is first installed, it has a rich, shiny black color, but as time goes on and it gets exposed to the loading, the sun, and other natural elements, it begins to lose its original color. It turns into a gray, almost white color and loses its general appeal. This can be avoided when you apply a sealcoat. It restores the asphalt driveway’s original luster and shine and makes it appear smoother. 

  • Sealing an asphalt driveway will prevent potholes from forming

Sealcoats work by literally soaking the asphalt and filling in any air pockets, gaps, and spaces that may have been left behind after laying the asphalt driveway. This makes it much stronger than it was and would ever be if the sealing wasn’t applied, meaning no natural element will be able to penetrate the driveway for a very long time. 

As durable as asphalt driveways can be, once all the effects of the elements kick in, it will get weak and begin to show signs of damage on top, like cracks. If these cracks are left unattended for a long time, they could lead to more damage like potholes. With a sealcoat, you can easily avoid this problem.

  • You can seal an asphalt driveway by yourself

Like most home construction tasks, sealing asphalt driveways is something you can do without the help of a professional. It doesn’t take much to do it, and you can find the coating anywhere. You can order it online on amazon or simply visit any local hardware store and buy it there.

If you’ve never done anything similar before, we suggest you watch lots of YouTube videos or tutorials or keep reading until the end of this article, where we will show you how to do it yourself. If you find that you can’t handle it, call a professional to handle it for you.

  • Sealcoating an asphalt driveway can potentially increase the resale value of your house

In life, everyone loves a good bargain, but more importantly, we love quality. What a fireplace insert is to a fireplace, an asphalt driveway is to the, well, outer part of your home. Asides from making it look prettier and giving it more appeal, an asphalt driveway can increase the resale value of your home. This is because asphalt lasts long, and when installed correctly, with a sealcoat and everything, it lasts twice as long. 

  • Sealing an asphalt driveway is cost-effective

Sealcoating is not exactly cheap, but it is a wise investment that will profit you for years to come. Sealcoating an asphalt driveway will reduce the number of expensive repairs you will have to do and extend your driveway’s life. 

  • Sealcoating can be done on any kind of asphalt driveway.

Not all asphalt driveways are created the same way. They differ based on how they were mixed. There is hot-mix asphalt, cold-mix asphalt, warm-mix asphalt, and glassphalt. For each type of asphalt, there are different methods of applying a sealcoat, but they all use one type of it. 

  • Sealcoating offers efficient moisture run-off

The protective layer that’s created on top of a sealed asphalt driveway is strong enough to allow the run-off of any moisture. Without the seal, moisture will gradually soak through the asphalt driveway.

Cons:

  • Sealcoating is not cheap

Sealcoating is beneficial, but it comes with a pretty hefty price. It costs $0.15 to $0.23 per square foot to seal an asphalt driveway. The total average cost is $305, with the actual price ranging from $110 – $500 or more for really high-end jobs. The sealcoat itself costs any amount from $50 – $100. 

  • Sealcoating requires maintenance

The process isn’t one you do once and forget about unless you have no plans to stay for long in your house. A sealed asphalt driveway can stay as long as five years without any cracks and need to be resealed, but most times, a good rule of thumb is to reseal it every 1-2 years. It’s expensive, but it’s definitely worth it. 

  • Sealcoats cannot be applied immediately after asphalt is installed

Before applying the sealcoat on asphalt, you need to make sure it is completely dried and cured. The curing process usually takes 6 months. Sealcoating should never be applied on freshly installed asphalt driveways. The aggregate is not strong enough to have been fully formed.

  • Sealcoating does not prevent all cracks

Your asphalt driveway must be in good condition before you seal it. You have to check for any unevenness or irregularity in it; otherwise, you will only be sealing bad asphalt and setting yourself up for more expenses. 

If the foundation is bad, the sealcoat becomes useless. Even if it protects it from the surface, underground problems like pavement stripping will occur and destroy it either way. 

  • You can only sealcoat under specific weather conditions

While some sealcoats can be used in any season, most sealcoats don’t stick well in cold temperatures. The worst time to apply a sealcoat on your asphalt driveway is during winter, the snow and freezing temperatures will not allow it to form on the driveway properly. 

  • Sealed asphalt driveways get hotter during summer

This is a result of the dark color of sealed asphalt. Dark colors tend to absorb heat faster than lighter colors. If you have pets like a dog, we advise you not to take them out for walks at midday. The best times would be early in the morning or evening when the sun has gone down. Also, take care of your tires; they could get slightly burned and melted if the heat is too much.

  • If the sealcoat is not applied correctly, it could lead to bigger problems

Some contractors rush through the process at times and take your money a half-done job. This is why it’s a good thing that you can apply it yourself. The process of repairing a roughly applied sealant costs more, so it’s better to apply it yourself and be sure you did it right. 

Now that you know the pros and cons of sealing an asphalt driveway and the risk involved in getting someone to seal it for you, here is a short guide on applying a sealcoat without anybody’s help.

How To Seal An Asphalt Driveway By Yourself

For this, you’ll need:

  • An asphalt sealant or sealcoat
  • Stiff-bristled brush
  • Application brush
  • Gloves
  • Garden hose with a spray nozzle
  • Broom
  • Patching compounds
  • Detergent

Step 1 – Clean the area

Sweep any dirt found on the asphalt driveway with a broom and use the stiff-bristled brush and detergent to scrub any stains that you may find on it.

Step 2 – Patch up the cracks

Check the asphalt for cracks or holes and use the patching compound to fill them up.

Step 3 – Rinse off the detergent

Use the garden hose to make things faster and rinse out all the detergent and any dirt that might be left on the driveway.

Step 4 – Prepare the sealcoat

Check the body of the sealcoat for more instruction and mix until the sealcoat is thoroughly combined.

Step 5 – Apply the sealcoat and let it dry

The next step is to apply the sealcoat. Do this in a paced and controlled manner, one thin strip at a time, until the whole driveway is covered. After that, let it dry for at least 24 hours without anyone walking on it or any car moving on it.