Understanding the A-Z of Sealcoating

You probably already know how important it is to maintain the asphalt on your property. 

Maintaining your asphalt increases curb appeal and safety and even helps you save money on property maintenance in the long run. 

At General Pavement Management, we have preached it many times and will preach it again: The backbone of proper pavement maintenance is sealcoating! 

But what is sealcoating, and what makes it worth your time and money? 

This article will cover sealcoating basics, benefits, and how-tos. 

Let’s get started!

table of contents

What Is Sealcoating?

First, let’s explain what sealcoating is and how it affects pavement: 

Pavement is made of a coarse material such as gravel or crushed stone mixed with a binder that holds everything together. (Fun fact: This binder is known as “asphalt,” although we usually use the word asphalt to describe the whole pavement.) The asphalt binder keeps the pavement strong, so maintaining that binder is essential to maintaining your pavement.  

Over time, water, UV rays, and chemicals from cars cause the binder to start degrading, and the asphalt weakens. As it starts to get brittle and begins to crack, potholes, and other issues form. To keep your asphalt from falling apart, you must maintain the binder holding it all together.  

A sealcoat is a protective layer you can spread on top of your pavement that protects the asphalt binder against elements like water, chemicals, and UV rays. The sealcoat helps keep your pavement from cracking and splitting. It also provides a slip-resistant surface and a beautiful dark top layer to your asphalt paving

What is sealcoat

What is sealcoating made of? 

There are different types of sealcoats, such as slurry seal, oil-based, water-based, and acrylic based. We will learn more about the different types later in this article. But most sealcoating is made from generally the same ingredients as asphalt. 

Most sealcoating contains a mixture of a liquid asphalt binder such as bitumen or coal tar, sand, and other fine particles. Some sealcoats also have UV protection and anti-oxidation agents mixed in as well. 

Spreading this mixture on top of your pavement protects it in several ways: 

  • It blocks damaging UV rays. 
  • It blocks damaging chemicals from vehicles. 
  • It blocks water from making fissures worse. 
  • It helps the pavement retain its flexibility. 

How often should you sealcoat your parking lot? 

In mild climates like California, you should wait 1-2 years before applying a sealcoat to fresh pavement. Fresh pavement is still soft and uncured, so you need to let it dry before sealing it. 

After that, we recommend you sealcoat your driveway, parking lot, or private road every 3-5 years. 

When to apply sealcoat

How do you apply sealcoating? 

Before you apply sealcoating, the pavement must be clean and dry. 

You can apply the sealcoating with a small handheld sprayer, a larger commercial sprayer, or by hand with a brush and squeegee. 

However, although it’s possible to apply sealcoating by hand, if you want to avoid all the backbreaking work of spreading and smoothing it, it is best to hire a professional. 

Types Of Sealcoating

As we mentioned, there are several different types of blacktop sealcoating. Here is a list of some of them.  

  • Slurry seal 

Slurry seal is like a simplified version of pavement. It’s made of asphalt emulsion, additives, water, and coarser additives than regular sealcoat. Slurry seal costs more than a regular sealcoat and adds a thicker, rougher layer of protection similar to a thin layer of pavement.  

  • Acrylic seal 

Acrylic sealer is acrylic-based, and it’s the most expensive type of pavement sealer. It has a number of benefits, including UV and weather resistance, and it is considered environmentally friendly, unlike some types of blacktop sealcoats. It also comes in different colors, which can be handy for spaces such as tennis courts or airports. 

  • Water-based seal 

Water-based sealers are made of either coal-tar emulsions or asphalt emulsions. ( An emulsion is when one liquid is suspended in another without mixing the two together. So, in this case, an asphalt emulsion is asphalt suspended in water.) Water-based blacktop sealcoats form a protective layer overtop the pavement and are more environmentally friendly than some types of sealer. 

However, water-based sealers don’t penetrate the pavement as deeply as oil-based sealers and may need more frequent reapplications. 

oil based sealcoat
  • Oil-based seal 

Oil-based sealers are petroleum-based and combine asphalt rejuvenators or asphaltic chemicals in an oily suspension instead of water. They penetrate the pavement surface and work deeper than water-based sealers but tend to have an odor and are not as eco-friendly. 

5 Benefits Of Sealcoating

How does sealcoating your driveway or parking lot benefit you? Is it really worth your time and money? 

Let’s find out! Here is a list of ways sealcoating could benefit you.  

  • Lengthens the life of your asphalt 

Here are a few of the ways a sealcoat protects your pavement: 

  • Prevents water from getting into fissures and increasing their size. 
  • Blocks UV rays which cause oxidation and deterioration. 
  • Protects the asphalt from chemicals like oil and gas from cars. 
  • Helps the pavement retain its flexibility, preventing brittleness and cracking. 

By protecting your pavement like this, the sealcoat helps lengthen your pavement’s life, so you don’t have to replace it as often. In fact, if you seal your pavement every 3 years you can extend its life by up to 10 years! 

sealcoating lengthens pavement life
  • Provides a slip-free surface 

When pavement starts deteriorating, one of the first things to wear down is the small aggregates on the surface, like sand and fine gravel. When pavement’s rough surface starts wearing down, it becomes less grippy and more slippery. 

A sealcoat helps lock those fine grains in place, so you don’t lose them, and also adds a new layer of roughage on top. That new layer provides some additional traction and makes the pavement less slippery. 

  • Improves aesthetics 

Nothing makes a business look so professional and polished as a dark, unbroken expanse of parking lot! 

On the other hand, faded, cracking pavement makes your business look poor and seedy. A sealcoat can give your old, fading pavement a much needed facelift. When topped off with freshly painted lines, your sealcoated parking lot will look new. 

Think about it for a second: 

Your parking lot is the very first thing a customer experiences at your business. You can give them a fading, shabby experience, or you could give them a smooth, pleasant experience. Either way, it will contribute to their first impression and overall experience with your business. 

  • Makes for easy cleanup 

This is a small but real benefit. Old, cracked pavement is difficult to sweep and clean, smooth, but sealcoated pavement is a breeze to sweep! 

This seemingly small benefit feels big in the moment, especially if you use your pavement as a space to work on messy jobs that leave a lot of debris. Cleanup will be a lot easier for you if your pavement has a nice surface.  

  • Saves you money 

Your parking lot may be the single most costly investment on your property. For example, installing a 4,000-square-foot asphalt parking lot with 10 spaces may cost around $10,000. 

The average asphalt parking lot lasts 10-15 years before it needs repaving. Figuring on the low side, it may cost $0.90 per square foot to repave your parking lot, so repaving your 4,000-square-foot lot could cost around $3,600. Resealing your lot every 3 years can extend its life up to 10 years, and figuring on the low side, it may cost approximately $0.08 per square foot to sealcoat your lot. So say you sealcoat your lot every 3 years for 25 years, it comes to $2,560.00. 

So figuring on the extreme low side of the spectrum, these figures mean you save over $1,000 by regularly sealcoating your lot. But remember that all the price estimates we used in this example were the lowest possible estimates, and also that the parking lot we are talking about is only 10 spaces. If the lot had hundreds of spaces, the numbers would multiply astronomically!    

The point is, it can pay off big time to maintain your asphalt instead of replacing it, especially if you own a large parking lot. 

benefits of sealcoating asphalt

Conclusion

Now you know more about sealcoating and why it is vital for your pavement. 

If you are a business owner or property manager looking for someone to sealcoat your parking lot, lane, or road, give us a call here at General Pavement Management! 

We offer sealcoating services as well as everything else you need to maintain your concrete or asphalt paving

Give us a call today! 

We look forward to hearing from you.