Your home is an extension of you, so you want the house and landscaping to fit the neighborhood. It should welcome visitors and attract potential buyers when it's time to sell your house. Driveway sealcoating is an important, sometimes forgotten, home maintenance project that adds to your home's curb appeal. It also extends the life of your driveway to save you money.
… I contacted Jack Child, founder of BlackDawgSealcoat in Amherst, New Hampshire. I asked him to give me the facts and right away he agreed that fall is not the best time to seal your driveway! Here's what I learned talking to Jack …
Why Bother Sealcoating Your Driveway?
Driveway sealcoating is as boring as buying new tires. But like the red queen told Alice in Wonderland, “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” So when it comes to home ownership:
- Home maintenance like driveway sealcoating, is running fast to keep your home as good as the day you bought it.
- Home improvements is running twice as fast, for things we can see and enjoy, like adding a new deck or patio.
- … and my goal is helping you do the right home maintenance, so there's more money to invest in making improvements to your home!
Sealing one’s driveway is critical to prolonging your driveway’s life. It's a lot cheaper to seal your driveway every few years and extend the life of your driveway by ten or more years. How long a driveway will last depends on the quality of the original installation. How many inches of crushed gravel was used for the base underneath the asphalt? How well was the gravel compacted, and was the soil underneath solid? Does the foundation extend a foot past the asphalt surface so when cars drive over the edge, they're not breaking off chunks of blacktop?
There's more to driveway sealcoating than rolling a layer of sealer. It's the prep work you do before this step, when you clean the driveway and fix problems like:
- Fading from black to gray, as UV rays weaken the asphalt, making it brittle and dry. The asphalt is black and it holds the stone chips (gray) and sand together.
- Cracks that need to be filled, or water will penetrate (freezing in winter) and erode the driveway away.
- Oil spots and other vehicle fluids, that are both an eyesore and can cause damage if they're not treated.
- Grass that grows over the edges of a driveway, breaking through the asphalt, causing cracks along the edge.
- Damage from heavy vehicles, most often when the base isn't solid enough to support their weight.
- Tree roots coming up through the asphalt.
While I'd like to tell you how long your driveway should last, the only honest answer is “it depends”. The quality of the driveway installation from the base foundation to the sealer used will play a big role in how long your driveway lasts, along with your commitment to driveway sealcoating to repair problems quickly and maintain a protective sealer on top of your driveway.
Driveway Sealcoating: DIY Mistakes to Avoid
OK, I'm not an expert when it comes to driveway sealcoating but I know enough to search until I find credible information online, and in most cases my articles stitch together what I've learned from reading three to five articles, and watching a few YouTube videos. So credit for the steps you want to follow when doing your own driveway sealcoating, were taken from SealKing.com, and you'll want to study the photos they've shared for each step of the process.
- Power edging to create a clean edge along the driveway.
- Power sweeping (like pressure washing) to clean out the surface and cracks.
- Cleaning oil spots so the sealer can penetrate the asphalt.
- Filling cracks to create a smooth surface, that won't allow water to puddle or penetrate. The pros use a rubberized crack sealer heated to a liquid, at 400 degrees, and that's not something for DIYers to tackle.
- Joint filling (new for me) where the driveway meets the garage and sidewalk, using same approach as crack filling.
- Brush the edges before laying down the sealer.
- Pouring and brushing the sealer.
- Barricading the driveway.
The most common mistake made by DIYers is underestimating the difficulty, time and tools needed to make repairs before laying down the sealer. Other mistakes include the following, and I hope this gives you reason to compare your cost versus the professionals.
- Not planning ahead, and starting the project late in the year. Summer is ideal for sealcoating, when temperatures are 50°F or higher. The sealer needs long days and lots of sunshine for the proper chemical reaction.
- Sealing a new driveway too soon. You need to wait a minimum of 90 days to fully cure and harden, and it's best to wait 6 to 9 months before sealing.
- Not making the right repairs for each problem. For example, potholes and larger problem areas need a blacktop patch, which you overfill and then compress by driving your car over it.
- Using a low quality sealer with synthetic ingredients causing problems like the oil drying too quickly, leaving cracks on the surface. The best way for homeowners to determine quality is to compare the length of the warranty, which can range from one to six/more years.
- Not following the manufacturer's recommendations on how to apply their sealer. Most sealers are applied with a driveway sealer brush that has a rubber squeegee on one edge to spread the sealer around, and a bristle brush on the other side to even it out.
- Applying too thick a coat of sealer rather than multiple, thin layers or not waiting long enough (minimum of 6 to 12 hours) for the first coat to dry, before applying a second coat.
Insider Secrets to Driveway Sealcoating
Here’s a little insider secret, too. Jack shared with me that you can get better pricing (and sealcoat results) in the summer despite this being the best time of year to seal your driveway. Why? Because people are busy traveling and enjoying the summer weather so the sealcoat business is, ironically, slower than the fall. Once fall arrives, it’s a matter of supply and demand and discounts are harder to come by.
One option to consider if you’ve waited too long to place your order for sealing this years. Seal the cracks now, as crack sealing can be done all the way down to freezing temps. Then next year when it gets warm again, sealcoat the driveway in the spring or summer.
I appreciate what you said about making sure that you get sealcoating done when temperatures are higher than 50 degrees. I need to get a contractor to reseal my driveway. I’ll have to consider getting a paver with good online reviews.
I loved learning that you can extend your driveway’s life by more than 10 years by selecting it every few years. My husband and I are planning on living in our current house for a long time. Because of that, we want all of its features to be long-lasting, so we will have to hire professionals to seal coat our driveway.
I agree, having a smooth has many benefits and I love the tips you shared here, do you have any article about excavation? I would love to read it, Thank you for posting this!
Emma, I’ve never written about excavation because I’ve never been involved with any since starting to blog. Would you like to write an article for the website?
Great blog!! Thanks for sharing such an informative article.
Henry, Do you use sealcoating the same way in Australia?
I’ve been thinking about sealcoating my driveway for a while now and I’ve made the decision to go ahead and do it. Now as you said, it’s a great way to prolong the life of your driveway since it’s adding a protective layer to it. Granted, I’ll have to wait until spring when it’s warmer to get it done but I am totally fine with waiting.
Glad you learned about temperature requirements. I too just missed the window on another home repair & have to wait to spring.
Hi! Thank you for this helpful article!
I think seal coating your driveway is important to prolongs the life. This is the reason we want to get our driveway coated too but first need to do some repairs, since it has some cracks. Thank you for sharing as it’s something I wanted to get done some time ago, so now I finally got a kick to get started.
It was really nice how you said that seal coating is very important because it will help in making sure that the property remains looking as new as when we bought it. That’s actually a very important thing for my parents as they plan on selling the house in the future. It only makes sense that we do everything we can so that the value of the property increases. I will suggest seal coating the driveway to my parents. Thank you for sharing!
It’s nice to learn that by sealcoating the driveway, it can last longer both in durability and aesthetically. That’s perfect since I just had some driveway work scheduled for next week. I’ll be sure to have it sealed by professional paving contractors too. The driveway for me is one of the most important parts of the house to keep appealing since it’s in front of everyone. Thanks!
I like that you mention how sealcoating will prolong the life of your driveway. My dad is looking to get some bitumen spraying done on his driveway. I’ll be sure to talk to him about if he does it regularly then it can prolong the life of his driveway.
Yes Kyle, and first I was going to warn you it was getting too cold … and then saw that you’re in Australia so you’re headed into summer, LOL
There’s really nothing worse than a grey, worn-out driveway, and trying to restore it to its former beauty is so much more expensive than just taking the initiative to have it sealed so you never have to worry about it. Thanks for the tips!
I had no idea that seal coating could prevent your investment from color fading. It is important to remember that taking the time to do your homework and consult with a pro can help you come up with the best plan of action. Do you have any suggestions as to how often to do this treatment?
I didn’t think about the fact that sealcoating could extend your asphalt driveway’s life by ten or more years. That could potentially be a huge help. My wife and I have been considering having our driveway sealcoated, but we weren’t sure if it would be the right choice. If it can help us to not have to replace our driveway in a few years, then it will definitely be worth it.
Naperville Driveway Sealcoating
Great post. I used to check this blog continuously this and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful information specifically the ultimate phase 🙂 I deal with similar info much.
Thanks and best of luck.
You mentioned that sealing the driveway helps with cracks that need to be filled or water will penetrate (freezing in winter) and erode the driveway away. Do most contractors prefer to seal the whole driveway or just the cracks that have damaged it? My brother is trying to sell his home and noticed that his driveway has a lot of cracks and damage that needs to be fixed. It appears that having those sealed by a professional could be very beneficial.
Derek, Driveway contractors typically travel with crews & equipment to build/renovate driveways and to seal existing driveways after they’ve made the necessary repairs. If there truly are a “lot of cracks” then your brother probably needs to have a driveway company repair them, and seal the entire driveway so it’s all one color. If your brother is good at DIY projects, he could first try to do repairs himself using PC Products “epoxy adhesive paste”. The trick is you’ve got to collect stones in various sizes and colors to match the current driveway look, and embed these into the epoxy to match the driveway areas around the repairs. If your brother likes the results, great and if not, he can still call a driveway contractor.
Does a driveway have to be sealed every year? How often?
Sealing one’s driveway before winter is critical to prolonging your driveway’s life, but you should be sealing it well before winter, not just prior. Its really a very informative article. I have gain a lot of useful information through this article. Thanks for sharing such a nice article.
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