What is Asphalt Sealcoating and How Does it Work?

If you make a list of every single thing you have to do in order to properly maintain your home and property, you’d easily be able to fill an entire notebook. Being a homeowner may have been something you’ve always dreamed about, but nothing except the experience itself can actually prepare you the sheer number of tasks involved. We can name some of the obvious ones: Siding, gutters, walkways, shrubs, insulation, HVAC, roofing, windows, and so on down the line. Asphalt is another one. Most people have an asphalt driveway, and it’s tempting to assume that the driveway will take care of itself. There are so many other things to remember, after all. Does the driveway really need input or maintenance?

The answer is yes – that is, if you want to maximize the lifespan of your driveway, and preserve its appearance through time. Asphalt is definitely one of the most durable and versatile materials out there (not to mention the fact that it’s one of the most highly recyclable and sustainable materials), but the weather and the elements will eventually break it down.

So what are the maintenance requirements for optimizing asphalt and protection it over time? There are basically two things: 1) Repairs and 2) Sealcoating.

The reason repairs need to be undertaken is that problems in asphalt surfaces (e.g. cracks or potholes) virtually always become worse over time. By addressing small problems before they turn into big ones, the structural integrity of the asphalt is preserved for a longer period of time.

Now let’s talk about the second maintenance requirement: Sealcoating. What is it, and what are its benefits?

Sealcoating your asphalt is exactly what it sounds like: You’re sealing off the surface of the pavement to prevent water and chemicals from entering. Why is this necessary? Because asphalt has a natural level of porousness. This is part of what makes it so strong and durable – but it also means that water and chemicals can gradually seep through the surface and enter the deeper levels of the installation. This is undesirable from a structural standpoint; it essentially causes the asphalt to grow weaker from within. This is especially problematic when drastic temperature swings are in play, since the water can enter into the molecular structure of the asphalt and then freeze, causing the asphalt to weaken even faster.

So in a nutshell, asphalt sealcoating is a chemical procedure that lays down a special sealant over the surface of the asphalt. The reason is very simple: to create an effective “seal” or “barrier” that prevents moisture and dirt from entering the porous asphalt and causing structural problems. This procedure is relatively quick and easy, and doesn’t cost much to have done professionally. When you ask a reputable pro how often you should sealcoat your driveway, they’ll usually recommend sealcoating every two years. If a contractor recommends sealcoating every single year, or even twice a year, they’re probably not the most reputable contractor in your area. It’s also worth mentioning that newly installed driveways should not be sealcoated immediately.

Sealcoating may seem like a nuisance, but it’s really just a simple procedure that needs to be done every two years or so – and the long-term benefits definitely add up!