Here we share our sealing asphalt driveway pros and cons including what is, its necessity, reasons for and against, best sealers, cost, when, and how often to seal asphalt driveways. Asphalt is considered a durable material that is also budget-friendly. This is why it’s a popular material to use in public roadworks and private driveways.
While asphalt’s durability is touted as one reason why it’s a great material for driveways, it’s not invulnerable. When used in an outside driveway, asphalt is exposed to the weather which can cause some wear and tear.
If you live in an area where it snows, the road salt that is commonly used to melt and clear ice and snow build-up can also damage asphalt. Exposure to oil and grease can also cause damage eventually.
One way to protect your asphalt driveway from damage is to apply a layer of asphalt sealcoat.
Guide to Sealing Asphalt Driveways
Sealcoat, which you can easily find in a hardware store or home improvement store, is a protective coating that is spread on top of asphalt.
When a sealcoat is applied onto an asphalt surface, it soaks in and forms a protective barrier that can protect it from the weather as well as other corrosive substances.
Sealcoat also replenishes the oils and binding materials of the asphalt and fills in small gaps in the aggregate. This results in a smoother-looking surface that is nicely shiny and a deeper black than “unprotected” asphalt. Read more about our guide on asphalt vs. gravel driveways here.
Is Sealing An Asphalt Driveway Necessary?
Yes. If you want your asphalt driveway to last. As we mentioned, wear and tear from exposure to the weather, among other things, can eventually damage asphalt.
If you want your asphalt driveway to last and maintain its appearance, you will need to seal it.
Sealing Asphalt Driveway: Pros
Here we share the pros of sealing an asphalt driveway.
Smoothens And Restores Your Driveway’s Surface
A fresh layer of sealcoat makes your asphalt driveway look like new, it smoothens the surface and gives it a rich glossy black color – much like it had when it was newly laid.
Asphalt driveways are exposed to the elements as well as substances such as grease and motor oil. These can harm the bindings between the asphalt, resulting in a dry, crumbly material that is prone to cracking. Motor oil, grease, and gasoline can also stain unsealed asphalt.
To protect your asphalt driveway from becoming brittle, dry, and prone to cracking and crumbling, you need to apply sealcoat. This protects the asphalt and allows your driveway to last longer.
Prevents The Formation Of Potholes
Once asphalt is weakened by exposure to the elements and substances like grease and motor oil, the deterioration happens quickly. It will begin with small cracks and become brittle, crumbling patches, that will quickly become bigger depressions such as potholes.
Sealcoating Saves You Money
By just sealcoating your asphalt driveway every few years, you will have a driveway that lasts a long time at a fraction of the cost it will take you to install a new driveway. Read more about our guide on the different types of driveway pavers here.
Sealing Asphalt Driveway Cons
Here we share the cons of sealing an asphalt driveway.
Sealcoating Will Be Wasted On Fresh Asphalt
Sealcoating cannot be applied to fresh asphalt if you want it to be effective. Fresh asphalt needs to cure as this allows any excess chemicals in the binder to rise to the surface.
Sealcoating Only Works On New Or Well-Maintained Asphalt
If, for example, you’ve just moved into a home with an asphalt driveway that is looking a little worn or cracked you can’t just apply a coat of sealant and make everything better.
If the damage is too great or the asphalt too degraded, you’re going to either have to lay a new driveway and seal it, or put down some asphalt overlay, cure it, then seal it.
You Will Need To Re-Apply Sealant To Maintain Your Asphalt Driveway
Asphalt driveway owners need to be prepared to regularly seal their driveways every few years. This will become an essential part of the maintenance process and you need to be ready to put the time and effort into it.
Best Asphalt Driveway Sealers
Most commercially available sealcoats are either coal tar sealers, asphalt sealers, oil-based sealers, acrylic sealers, or fill and seal.
Coal tar: most cost-effective at $0.08-$0.10 per square foot. Holds up well to the elements and blocks UV lights. However, contain high levels of VOCs and is banned in some areas due to environmental concerns.
Asphalt sealer: costs about $0.15 to 0.20 per square foot. Leaves a nice, smooth, black coating on your driveway. Sensitive to the sun and more prone to fading, so you might have to reseal more often if you live in a sunny area.
Oil-based: costs about $0.15 to 0.20 per square foot. Fills some small cracks, but can be difficult to apply.
Acrylic sealer: costs about $0.25 to 0.35 per square foot. Can fill cracks and even some small holes. Last longer than coal tar and asphalt.
Fill and seal: costs about $0.35 to $0.50. Is thicker than the other sealants here, with added aggregate that allows it to fill and repair cracks and holes on the asphalt’s pavement. For old or slightly damaged driveways, this could help restore the surface.
Cost To Seal Asphalt Driveway
Sealing an asphalt driveway can be a DIY project, or you can hire someone to sealcoat your driveway. If you hire someone, the average labor cost is about $0.60 to $1.75 per square foot, so keep that in mind when budgeting for the project.
The Average Cost To Seal An Asphalt Driveway
Per foot, the cost to seal an asphalt driveway is about $0.88 to $2.10 per square foot. This mostly depends on the type of sealant that you use.
To seal a flat 20×20 foot driveway, the national average is about $355-600. Read more about our guide on the different types of modern driveways here.
When To Seal A New Asphalt Driveway?
After laying down your new asphalt driveway, wait about three or six months for the driveway to cure. Once the sealant is applied, let it dry for at least 24 hours.
Make sure to take the weather into account before sealing your asphalt driveway. Wait till the ground temperature is about 45 degrees Fahrenheit before applying sealant. Also, check the forecast for at least three rain-free days before applying sealant.
How Often To Seal An Asphalt Driveway?
If properly maintained, an asphalt surface can last about 15 to 20 years. You should seal-coat your asphalt driveway every two to five years, to ensure that the surface remains durable and attractive for as long as possible. See more related content at our article about asphalt millings driveway on this page.