There’s a newspaper article online stating it’s pointless to seal your asphalt driveway that if taken seriously by homeowners and or property owners could lead to huge unexpected and unwelcome financial expense. We will detail why we disagree with the article so that your asphalt paved surface doesn't wind up looking like the author's in the above image.
Why An Asphalt Sealer Is A Very Good Idea!
The main point of not sealing your asphalt driveway or parking lot is made on a false premise. Contrary to the claim in the article by the author the asphalt on your driveway is NOT the same as the asphalt on highways and runways or even your side streets! In fact, there are many different grades of asphalt. Too many to get into the specifics of each but suffice it say that your driveway is not made from Turnpike grade asphalt!. The asphalt that is on side streets, highways and runways is usually of the highest quality and is specified by engineers and architects. They have the highest quality Bitumen and the highest amount of it not to mention the size or quality of the stones, sand and even if fibers are added into the mix. While your driveway asphalt commonly referred to in the trade as blacktop is always made with a lower grade of bitumen and most certainly less quantity of it, meaning more stones, different size stones and sand. It’s certainly not applied at the same thickness either. Your blacktop is thinner, has more stone and sand content and the base is of a different grade and thickness also. Most driveways and parking lots are made of the lowest grade asphalt unless your architect specified highway or runway grade paving. We’re not sure what streets and highways the author drives on where he states they never need sealing and last indefinitely but the streets we drive on are always full of cracks and potholes precisely because they’re not maintained. Today many municipalities are applying asphalt rejuvenators to their newly resurfaced roads to extend the useful life cycle of their asphalt.
Another incorrect statement is that the real cause of asphalt failure is incorrect base or incorrectly installed base. While an incorrectly installed base will cause your asphalt pavement to fail it is not the one and only reason. The author states that where his 20-year-old driveway has cracks and potholes is where the base was installed incorrectly. So the reader is led to believe that the picture of his driveway with completely exposed aggregate is fine and the only reason it’s getting potholes and cracks is because the contractor somehow managed to install the base properly in every spot except where it’s failing. The fact is that his base is being damaged precisely for the reason that he is not sealing/rejuvenating his asphalt. But we’ll leave it to you to judge the validity of the claim about his driveway, you certainly don't want your driveway looking like his.
In the following two images you will see the difference between asphalt surfaces treated with a quality nonwax and non asphalt based rejuvenator. The first image is from the a municipality test done in Cleveland OH over a 10 year time span of 1977-1987. The left side had a rejuvenator applied to it while the right side did not. The difference is obvious. The right side now needs extensive repairs and most likely a costly repaving job. In this second image notice the how tight the Asphalt is on the left side of the highway and how open/porous it is on the right side. The left side was treated with a rejuvenator while the right side was not. The right side after only 5 years is already experiencing loss of bitumen and cracking that is now allowing water and road salts to penetrate into the asphalt. It's not a matter of if but only when the asphalt will start to fully crack and pothole eventually damaging the base. The above is field tested proof that you need to maintain your blacktop driveways and parking lots. The article correctly states that UV rays and moisture (rain or snow) oxidizes the bitumen holding the stones and sand together. Once oxidation begins the bitumen actually starts to disappear exposing the aggregate. From there you will start to lose stones causing cracks and potholes, the surface will become very very slippery also. At this point you will be like the boy sticking fingers in the dike trying to stop the leaks. Sooner or later you will run out of fingers as you will be in a never ending cycle of crack filling and pothole patching. Until you give up and have your driveway or parking lot completely replaced at great expense. The freeze thaw cycle and high moisture exposure will see to that.
Another point we agree with the author on is that applying a thin coat of the same asphalt based material over your asphalt driveway or parking lot is senseless but not for the reasons he states. It’s senseless cause the most common sealers are residential grade commonly found at Home Improvement stores. They are either tar based or latex based. In either case they’re easily destroyed in the same way your blacktop is. UV rays, freeze thaw cycles and water make short work of these types of products. Contractor hyped sealers are no better, they are either emulsion or coal tar type sealers. They’re very toxic messy products made of the same materials as your asphalt pavement is. They also tend to soften in high temperatures because they are tar based causing tire tracking all over the place. They fail because of the same reasons your asphalt fails when not maintained. We strongly recommend that you DON'T seal your driveway every year especially with one of the above type products. Sealing your driveway every year is a waste of money. It either means the sealer you're using is wearing out in less than a year or you are building up too many layers of the coating which will crack and peel eventually. The director of Engineering at the National Asphalt Pavement Association recommends sealing on average of about every 5 years. We recommend using an industrial grade product and seal only when needed which can be 5 years or 10 years. How long between sealing depends on many factors such as what condition was your asphalt when you finally decided to seal it, what sealer did you use and how much and what type of traffic is on it. These are just a few factors that will determine the frequency of which you need to reapply your sealer. But in no case is not sealing recommended.
The difference in our asphalt sealer is that it is an engineered acrylic polymer that is nontoxic and much thicker than your standard latex or emulsion tar type sealers. We even offer solar reflective colors for surfaces in extremely high temperatures. It is impervious to moisture and UV rays.
Another common mistake most home and property owners make is falling for great sounding warranties.
Read this article About Asphalt Sealer Warranties before falling for one of them.
ArmorGarage provides you with a warranty with the goal of never having to use it rather than an outlandish warranty that is not worth the paper it’s written on as they say. The final point we’d like to make is that we make all our products to have the lowest cost of ownership. That means you take the number of years in service and divide it into the cost. When you do that ArmorGarage always comes up as the least expensive. Going by initial costs is always a costly mistake. Yes you save money upfront but pay dearly in repeated applications due to failures. Plus all the stress, downtime and extra labor. Always better to use the best the first time.