Sealcoating an asphalt driveway by murplelake73

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                                                      Driveway sealants
                                                      Which products are best for your asphalt driveway

                                                              ealcoating an asphalt driveway
                                                              every three years not only will
                                                              make it look better, it actually
                                                      will make it last longer. Sealing
                                                      shields paving from the sun’s ultravio-
                                                      let rays, which can deteriorate the
                                                      binder and expose the aggregate.
                                                      Sealcoating also prevents water and
                                                      ice from getting into the paving and
                                                      causing it to crumble.
                                                           The sealcoating materials and
                                                      crack-filling products available to do-
                                                      it-yourselfers are not as good as those
                                                      available to the trade. However, few
                                                      tradespeople use the best products
                                                      available, so you can often still do the
                                                      job better yourself if you use the right
                                                      materials — and you’ll save up to 65
                                                      percent of the cost of professional
                                                      maintenance.                               Sealer choices include (from left) plain, filled, sanded and airport-grade.
                                                           For most of you, choices will be      Warranties range from one to three years (plain), three to four years (sanded),
                                                                                                 four to five years (filled) and up to 10 years (airport-grade).
                                                      limited to what’s available at your
                                                      local home center or hardware store.
                                                      Many larger cities have a distributor of   emulsions also contain some coal tar.       Judging quality
                                                      asphalt coating products used by con-           Although significant improve-          Both coal tar and asphalt-based
                                                      tractors. You may be able to purchase      ments have been made in asphalt-based       products are available in plain or
                                                      these professional-grade sealers and       sealers in recent years — the use of        filled-sealer formulas. Filled sealers

                                                      fillers, but remember that contractors     polymers and other additives that           contain sand or other solids that fill
                                                      buy in bulk. Most pro-grade sealers        increase durability and resistance to oil   small cracks and holes.
                                                      come in 55-gallon drums, not the           and gas, for example — coal tar prod-            According to Rick Noon, technical
                                                      5-gallon buckets you’ll find at the        ucts still are most popular. According      director at SealMaster, the more solids
                                                      home center. If you want to get the        to the sealer manufacturers, coal tar       (asphalt, coal tar, polymers, etc.) in the
                                                      top-of-the-line sealer, check with your    sealers are more durable and much           formula, the better the sealer quality
                                                      neighbors about buying enough to seal      more resistant to oil or gasoline pene-     and the more expensive it will be. You’ll
                                                      several driveways at the same time.        tration than asphalt-based sealers          get what you pay for, and you get more
                                                                                                 because gasoline and oil are both sol-      solids in better- or best-grade sealers.
                                                      Coal tar vs. asphalt                       vents for asphalt but not for coal tar.          Comparing the various additives
                                                      Most consumer-grade driveway sealers            Asphalt-based sealcoating prod-        and solids used by different manufac-
                                                      are water-based emulsions containing       ucts are better for air quality because     turers is difficult because the formulas
                                                      water, clay fillers, latex, polymers,      they do not emit high levels of             are considered proprietary information.
                                                      additives and either coal tar (a byprod-   volatile organic compounds (VOCs)           The general rule is that the top-quality
                                                      uct of baking coal to make coke) or        like the petroleum-based products do.       sealers will have the greatest amount
                                                      asphalt (a byproduct of petroleum          They also smell better and are less of      of solids left on the asphalt after the
                                                      refining). Some so-called “asphalt”        a skin irritant.                            liquids evaporate and cure.

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         The best way to determine quality
    is by the length of the warranty. The
    best-grade sealers typically have a five-
    to six-year warranty. The better-grade
    sealers are generally warrantied for
    three to four years. Plain sealers will
    carry a warranty of one to three years.
    Each manufacturer has its specific pro-
    rated warranty, which is usually clearly
    displayed on the label.
         A fourth category of sealer has
    been developed within the last five
    years or so. It’s best described as airport-,
    racetrack- or pavement-grade. This grade
    of sealer has more durable acrylic poly-
    mers and lasts longer than other formu-
    las. Some come with a 10-year warranty.         A complete asphalt driveway sealing job includes (from left), crack fillers,
                                                    sealer, hole patch mix and spot sealer for oil stains. It’s best to repair cracks
                                                    and holes in the fall and then apply sealer in the spring.
    Cost and coverage
    Asphalt sealers are more expensive                  Coverage varies between grades.         made by Dalton Industries, is the only
    than coal tar sealers, primarily due to         A 5-gallon bucket of low-end sealer         DIY hot-applied product. You press the
    safer environmental factors (lower              covers around 400 sf. The better- and       coiled material into place and heat it
    VOCs) and the technology (polymers,             top-grade sealers typically cover 250 to    with a propane torch (preferably with a
    etc.) that must be added to asphalt-            350 sf, depending on the condition of       flame-spreading tip) or a heat gun until
    based sealer to improve its otherwise           the driveway.                               it melts into the crack. Pli-Stix comes
    poor performance.                                                                           in a 1/2-in.-diameter, 30-ft. roll. It can
         Low-end sealers range from $5 to $8        Crack filler/sealers                        be stretched to fit 1/4-in.-wide cracks
    for a 5-gallon pail that covers about 400       It’s important to fill cracks and seal      or doubled up to fill 1-in. cracks. It
    sf. These are usually just a thin coal tar-     expansion joints between asphalt and        also has a lifetime warranty.
    or asphalt-based paint-like coating. Don’t      other surfaces, such as concrete aprons          Most consumer-grade crack seal-
    expect them to last more than one sea-          or curbs, to keep water out and prevent     ers are cold-applied asphalt emulsions
    son. Unsanded or “plain” sealers (the           erosion of the paving base. Filled seal-    with varying concentrations of latex
    better grade) with heavier solid content        coating materials will handle cracks up     and polymers. They are available in
    range from $8 to $11; the best-grade            to 1/8 in. wide.                            pourable jugs for cracks up to 1/8 in.
    filled sealers cost about $12 to $15.                 Hot-applied sealers are best for      wide, caulking gun cartridges for
    Heavy-duty or racetrack-grade sealers           filling cracks from 1/8 to 1/2 in. wide.    1/2-in.-wide cracks, or as trowelable
    sell for around $20 for a 5-gallon bucket.      Pli-Stix driveway crack and joint filler,   material for wider ones.

    Filling cracks is the key to prevent-
    ing the asphalt and its base from
    washing away. Pourable crack filler             Dalton’s Pli-Stix is the only hot-applied crack filler available to homeowners.
    works best in holes up to 1/8 in.               Press the rope-style filler into the crack and then heat it with a propane
    wide. Like sealers, it comes in                 torch until it melts. Pli-Stix comes in 1/2-in. dia. ropes. It can be stretched to
    regular and heavy-duty grades.                  fit 1/4-in. cracks or doubled up to fill 1-in. cracks.

    66    H A N D Y M A N H O W- T O
      Sealing frequency
     Sealer manufacturers and asphalt contractors                                   peel, which also leads to it being
     agree that most asphalt driveways only need                         tracked indoors. Sealer can permanently stain
     to be sealed about every three years. The exception        vinyl flooring even if you remove it promptly. While
     would be in extremely harsh regions, such as the           some brands boast special ingredients to prevent
     South or desert areas, or when the asphalt turns           tracking, proper application and curing are key to
     gray. Graying indicates that the surface is oxidizing      avoiding problems.
     and loosing the binder that holds the aggregate in               Finally, it’s best to repair cracks and holes in the
     the asphalt.                                               fall and let them cure over the winter. Then, come
          According to sealer manufacturers and engi-           spring, hose off the driveway thoroughly and apply a
     neers at the Asphalt Institute, most driveways do not      single coat of sealer. One thin coat of sealer, regard-
     need filled sealer until they have begun to develop        less of the grade, will give you the best results.
     fine cracks. This generally happens after several          Multiple coats do not protect any better and actually
     years. Let new asphalt cure for about a year before        will cause problems by cracking and peeling.
     sealing, and then use just a plain sealer.
          If you do like to seal every year to keep your        Sealer manufacturers recommend
                                                                applying sealer with a wide squeegee
     driveway looking new, use budget-priced, unsanded          for the most uniform coverage. A
     or nonfilled sealers. The drawback to sealing every        regular pointed trowel works best for
     year is that the sealer can build up and will eventually   laying in either deep or shallow hole patch.

     If a manufacturer rates its crack          The best repair for really alliga-         You’ll mix the latter with water
fillers using a good-better-best scale,    tored paving is removal and patching.       and spread it from a feathered edge to
get the best quality product if you        But Gator-Patch by Maintenance Inc.         up to 1 in. thick in 1/4-in. layers.
want it to hold up as long as the seal-    and Gator Pave by SealMaster can
coating itself.                            stabilize and level badly cracked           SOURCES
                                           asphalt without removing it. You            American Stone Mix (Sakrete)
                                                                                       Towson, MD, (800) 445-8250
Patching and leveling                      apply them like a filled sealer using a
Cut out potholes and badly damaged         pole-mounted squeegee.
                                                                                       Armor Manufacturing, Tacoma, WA
areas to the base material and patch            Wheel depressions from parked          (800) 846-9125,
them with packaged asphalt mix or, at      vehicles are nuisances because they         Dalton Enterprises (Pli-Stix)
a somewhat higher cost, special pot-       collect water. To fill them, use a          Cheshire, CT, (800) 851-5606
hole patching material. The specialty      series of 1/4-in.-thick coats of patch-     Gardner Asphalt, Tampa, FL
material typically is more flexible and    ing material that’s intended for repair-    (800) 237-1155
easier to use. The patches even work       ing alligatored pavement, or choose a
in wet conditions and can be driven on     preblended patching material recom-         Gibson Homans/Black Jack
                                                                                       Twinsburg, OH, (800) 433-7293
immediately after installation.            mended for thin-section repairs.
                                                                                       Henry Co., Kimberton, PA
                                                                                       (800) 598-7663,
                                                                                       Maintenance Inc., Wooster, OH
                                                                                       (800) 892-6701,
                                                                                       Neyra Industries Inc., Cincinnati, OH
                                                                                       (800) 543-7077,
                                                                                       Quikrete, Atlanta, GA
                                                                                       (404) 634-9100,
                                                                                       SealMaster Inc., Sandusky, OH
                                                                                       (800) 395-7325,
                                                                                       UGL, Scranton, PA, (800) 845-5227
Fill deep holes and asphalt gaps with deep hole patch (left). Fill holes in
approximately 1-in. layers, tamping each layer before applying more patch.
                                                                                       Vance Bros., Kansas City, MO
Depressions from parked vehicles are best repaired with trowelable, shallow            (800) 821-8549
hole patch (right). Feather the edge for a secure bond.                      

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