Contractors and customers need to understand why sealcoating is important and how it works to protect asphalt.
Water and ultraviolet rays are asphalt’s two worst enemies. They degrade the surface, causing small cracks and voids that make way for water to damage the underlying base materials. If not protected, material failure is imminent and will rear its ugly head in the form of potholes.
The only way to prolong asphalt life and keep this from happening is with proper and regular sealcoating. Sealcoat material fills the voids in asphalt and creates a protective barrier from water and sunlight. It can even extend asphalt’s life by as much as four times, but it must be done right and at the right times.
How: The Mix
Starting with the proper mix is critical to producing quality results.
The mix needs to include at least three pounds of sand per gallon of water to provide the right grip needed for safe use by both vehicle and foot traffic. You may notice a contractor specifying this in their quote with variations based on your specific needs and circumstances.
Proper sealcoating conditions are similar to those needed to paint a house. The temperature needs to be at least 50˚F and rising, and there should be plenty of bright sunlight. It is not recommended to sealcoat when it’s colder than 50 or during overcast at this temperature.
Contractors also need to consider how long the area will need to dry and how long the space can be closed to traffic. If there is only a small window to sealcoat and stripe, contractors will need to make sure they’re not applying material on a cool, cloudy day. Heat and sunlight are the best allies for speeding up drying times. This is why a contractor may have to reschedule if unexpected weather or use of the lot in question arises, despite the frustration it can cause clients.
While prep work, the mix, and knowing the right time to sealcoat is pretty straightforward, knowing how often to sealcoat is a little more fluid. The weather, precipitation, freeze/thaw cycles, and traffic can all have an impact and will vary from year to year. Sealcoating typically needs to be done every two to five years, but it’s always a good idea to be proactive.