When it comes to maintaining your property, there are literally hundreds of things to keep track of. Any given year, you might have issues with your siding, roofing, windows, entryways, walkways or landscaping – and that’s before we go inside! So when people hear about driveway maintenance requirements, it often goes in one ear and out the other. How necessary can it be to maintain asphalt? Doesn’t it stay the same, year after year? Once the driveway has been professionally installed, isn’t it safe to simply let it be?
Well, yes and no. The fact is that asphalt driveways are incredibly resilient and can easily last two decades or more – which is astonishing when you think about how affordable it actually is to have a driveway installed.
But it’s not really accurate to say that asphalt driveways require no maintenance. In fact, any contractor who tells you that asphalt driveways are maintenance free doesn’t know their stuff, or is deliberately giving you a line.
The good news is that periodic repairs (such as filling cracks and potholes) and regular sealcoating are really the only real maintenance requirements. If your driveway was installed by a highly skilled professional, repair situations could be minimal. That leaves sealcoating, which should be done every two years according to most experts.
So what are the benefits of asphalt sealcoating?
Essentially, asphalt sealcoating does exactly what its name suggests: It “seals” the surface of the asphalt so that rain, snowmelt, oil, and other materials/elements that come into contact with the asphalt. Since asphalt is a naturally porous materials, anything that comes into contact with the surface can potentially seep in and weaken the structure from the inside out.
Here in New Jersey, for example, winters are icy and cold. When water seeps into the surface of an asphalt installation (whether a driveway, road, walkway, parking lot, or any other surface) it will freeze when the temperature drops. When water freezes inside the molecular structure of asphalt – and thaws again, and re-freezes – the asphalt gradually weakens and begins to crack and warp. This is obviously not an ideal situation.
Sealcoating prevents this and other structure problems by creating a chemical coating on the surface of the asphalt, preventing water and other materials from seeping in. But the process of sealcoating isn’t permanent. It’s a long-lasting but temporary protective layer – which is why most reputable asphalt specialists recommend sealcoating your driveway at least once every two years. Any less than that and you’re susceptible to structural problems and potential repair costs.
Finding a professional you can trust
In the best case scenario, the company that installed your driveway will be very reputable and dependable, and will be happy to take care of your sealcoating requirements every two years. They might even be able to perform a few minor repairs while they’re at it, to freshen up the appearance and structural integrity of your driveway. Finding an asphalt professional you can trust means you have one less thing to worry about – so choose carefully!