Driveways, Walkways

Published on April 17th, 2013 | by Henri

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Best way to seal asphalt driveway

Q.    I want to put a driveway sealer on my driveway.  It is now 2 years old. I see many of my neighbors doing this by hiring someone to spray their driveway with what looks like black paint. Is this method better or the same as buying the cans of sealer and hand-spreading the material yourself?

A.    You were wise to wait two years before considering applying a sealer. It usually takes that long for the oils in the asphalt to evaporate and for the asphalt to harden. If your driveway is in the shade, you probably need to wait even longer than two years until the asphalt turns grey.

The best sealer is an acrylic sealer that is now available in black (it used to be solely used on tennis courts and it is usually available only through tennis court contractors) but it costs more than the other two good choices.

These choices are:1. an asphalt-based emulsion that is healthier than coal-tar pitch for the applicators and 2. coal-tar pitch emulsion – the old stand-by. Coal-tar pitch emulsion is a very dark dull black; avoid the use of any shiny cut-asphalt sealer. This is the process used by most contractors who do driveway sealing.

You can apply the sealer yourself from a can but be sure to spread it thin and evenly, and do not re-coat too often; every five years is good enough. There are two advantages to spraying; it’s done more quickly and it is aesthetically more appealing because it is applied more evenly. On the other hand, brushing is fine but it often leaves streaks because homeowners do not know how to spread it evenly. They generally pour some of the sealer onto the driveway from the can and attempt to spread it from the puddles; this results in an uneven application. The way to do it is to pour narrow strips of the sealer down the driveway and to spread it with a rubber squeegee held at a 45 degree angle while repeatedly walking down  the driveway. But this still does not usually result in a finish as even as a spray job.

One more issue: sealers should be applied only in hot weather.

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