Wondering why you should sealcoat a driveway or parking lot? Not sure how the weather affects the process? Learn the answers to these frequently asked questions and many more below. If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, please feel free to contact us.
What is the best way to protect and maintain asphalt?
Correctly installed asphalt provides years of trouble-free service. However, it must be maintained properly to maximize its life. You should wait 1 – 2 years after installation before sealcoating your driveway or parking lot for the first time. It is also necessary to seal any cracks exceeding 1/4 of an inch in width, and complete any other repairs as needed.
How often should I get my driveway or parking lot sealcoated?
This varies between every 1 – 3 years for residential driveways and 1 – 2 years for parking lots, based on conditions. These conditions include traffic, winter conditions, salt applied during the winter and gas/oil spills on the surface.
Should I sealcoat my driveway myself?
Sealer sold in hardware or home improvement stores is not the same product that contractors use. Big Joe’s Sealcoating understand the proper process, preparation and application of the sealer. In addition, we have the necessary tools required to do the job properly. After purchasing the right tools and materials, sealcoating your driveway yourself usually ends up costing the same or more as having a professional seal it.
Does weather make a difference in the sealcoating process?
Absolutely! If rain is in the forecast for the day your work is scheduled, we may call to reschedule your appointment. We recognize that this is an inconvenience, but dry pavement is essential to properly seal your driveway or parking lot. If it rains during or immediately after sealing the pavement, the drying of the sealer is adversely affected. We take responsibility for any problem areas and correct them at no additional cost to the customer.
Please don't be upset if we call to reschedule when it is sunny outside. If we call to reschedule, it is because there is a significant chance of rain in the forecast. So, yes, it might be sunny now but that doesn’t mean that it will be sunny three hours from now.
When is the best time of the year to have my driveway or parking lot sealcoated?
Because of weather condition, April and May are the best months for having your driveway or parking lot sealcoated. Most customers believe that sealcoating should be done in hot weather (i.e., July or August), but this could not be further from the truth. Optimal sealcoating conditions would be average humidity with a temperature of 50˚F – 70˚F. These conditions allow the sealer to dry thoroughly from the bottom up. You don't want is sealer drying from the top down, which happens in the heat of the summer. The sealer can still be applied without issue in the summer, but the best time of year is spring or fall.
We recommend sealcoating in the spring because we reduce our rates to compensate for the reduced demand. Basically, the earlier in the year you get your driveway sealcoated, the cheaper it will be.
Why do estimates vary so much from one sealcoating company to another?
A smart man once told me, "Good work is not cheap, and cheap work is not good." We have spoken to customers who received quotes for sealcoating with more than a 15¢ difference per square foot between the low and the high bids. The lowest bids are so low that if you know the cost of sealcoating materials today, you know that you couldn’t even buy the materials to do an inferior, one-coat sealcoating job at that price. And that doesn’t even include the costs for labor, fuel, preparation of the pavement, any other needed work or profit.
Sealcoating companies that provide these outrageously low prices are cutting corners to make money at the customer's expense. Most of these fly-by-night companies water down their sealer. Some really shady sealcoating firms even mix their own sealcoating materials out of used motor oil and any other black substance, which they put on pavement and call sealcoating.
How long do I need to stay off the pavement after sealcoating?
The driveway or parking lot should be able to withstand light foot traffic as soon as it’s dry to the touch. The manufacturer says that you should keep vehicles off the driveway or parking lot for at least 24 hours; however, we highly recommend 48 hours because we strongly believe it results in a better seal in the long run.
Why does asphalt crack?
Well, the second law of thermodynamics states that all things in the universe will deteriorate over time. Asphalt is one of those things and cracking is one of the signs of deterioration. Cracks in driveways and parking lots are inevitable and completely normal. Cracks should be repaired when they get large enough to fit a pencil into.
What are “alligator” or “spider web” cracks?
These are terms used in the industry to describe groups of cracks that form in a spider web pattern or look similar to an alligator's back. In most cases, this happens because the driveway or parking lot was not installed properly. A properly installed driveway or parking lot will not get these types of cracks until it's at least 20 years old.
Unfortunately these areas cannot be repaired without cutting out and replacing the area with fresh asphalt. Sealcoating the driveway or parking lot will slow the deterioration, but using crack filler on these areas is a waste of money and will not fix the problem.
Can I resurface my existing driveway pavement?
We usually advise customers to save their money toward a brand new driveway instead of a pavement overlay. The overall condition of the asphalt is the most important factor in determining if your current pavement can be resurfaced. If the structural integrity of the pavement base is compromised, you should probably not consider an overlay.
A pavement overlay is thin layer of asphalt placed right on top of the existing layer of asphalt. We typically do not recommend pavement overlays because we have seen the end result of the overlay over time. What typically happens is all that the problems covered up by the overlay make their way to the surface of the overlay. The overlay might look good for one to two years, but then it will fall apart and resemble the pavement you originally covered up.