Do Driveways Need to be Sealed? (Benefits & Tips)

Do Driveways Need to be Sealed

This is a good question. There are many answers out there about whether it is necessary to use sealant on concrete or asphalt along with reasons you should or should not seal your driveway. 

Let’s find out if your driveway, whether it is concrete or asphalt, should be sealed.

Benefits of Sealing Your Driveway

Most driveways are made of concrete or asphalt so each has its benefits.

Asphalt:

  • If the sealant is applied properly, it will help to repel water, which is the single most harmful agent for asphalt drives.
  • A sealant will help to prevent sunlight, air, and water from permeating the driveway.
  • Sealing your asphalt driveway helps to prevent corrosion when it is exposed to sunlight and oxygen.

Concrete:

  • If water permeates concrete it will naturally start to crack and it only becomes worse by the weight of the cars driving over it constantly.  A sealant will help prevent it from happening but if cracks appear, the sealant will help to keep it from shifting.  Once you see cracks, any more water on it will cause the damage to increase.
  • In cold climates, as the concrete expands and contracts it will also crack if not sealed.
  • Adding sealant can help to protect your driveway from corrosion due to the sunlight and oxygen.

For both asphalt and concrete driveways, it can act as some protection from oil leaks and spills because it repels it. 

It makes it easier to clean your driveway surface if this happens.

When Should you Apply Sealant?

As a general rule of thumb, you should reseal your driveway every one to three years but with concrete driveways, you may be able to do it every three to ten years, depending on the weather because the extreme cold or hot temperatures can damage the driveway.   

The temperature should be fifty degrees Fahrenheit or higher to make sure that the sealant adheres to the driveway properly.

Asphalt:  One thing that you should never do is seal a new asphalt driveway because it needs at least six months to let the oils in asphalt to evaporate. 

The less oil that is sealed into the asphalt driveway, the harder it will be. 

You also need to consider the temperature outside before you apply sealant. 

With asphalt driveways, you want the sealant to be on the driveway for at least two days before it rains on it.  

Before putting sealant on your older asphalt driveway, look at the asphalt and if it is showing individual stone color, it is time to reseal it.

Concrete:  To help protect your driveway from different weather conditions, you need to make sure to add sealant immediately after it is poured and had time to dry. 

This will give immediate protection and help to reduce cracks from happening in the concrete. 

Sealant Material

Asphalt:

  • Coal tar emulsion:  This is comprised of a mixture of a thousand chemicals that are different from the asphalt molecular structure.  This will let this work by protecting the asphalt from the harsh effects of water, UV rays, and petroleum-based products.
  • Asphalt emulsion:  This is a new form of sealant for asphalt and is derived from asphalt itself.  Because this is a black sealant, it will help to restore the asphalt’s original.  It is blended with the coal tar emulsion to give it durability and to help keep the asphalt’s natural color.  The disadvantage of this sealant is that it does not hold up good against petroleum-based products or the effects of UV rays.

Concrete: 

  • Acrylic resin sealers:  This is the one that is most commonly used because they are cheaper than other sealants.  They come in different forms like, virgin acrylic, which is the one that provides long-lasting results or turns yellow, and styrene acrylic, which is a lower performance sealant and under direct sunlight, it could turn yellow.  To enhance the durability of this sealant, you can also blend it with silicone, epoxy, or polyurethane.
  • Polyurethane sealers and epoxies:  These two block the passage of moisture from the concrete.  This can lead to the formation of fog between the sealer and concrete.  Concrete needs to breathe, so to speak.  It also can be slippery due to the thicker layer you need to put down.
  • Penetrating resin sealers:  These are made of siloxanes, silicones, and silanes, which will penetrate easily into the concrete.  It will block water, oil, and other contaminants from getting into the concrete and causing harm to the driveway.  These are not slippery because they do not produce gloss. This is a good sealant for a driveway because of the way they protect the surface of the driveway.

How to Apply Driveway Sealants

With either sealant, make sure you are using protective gear; gloves, mask, long sleeve shirt, pants, and eye protection.

You do not want to get it on you because it is toxic.

Asphalt:  Turn the tub upside down to mix it and when open, you will have to stir it often to make sure it remains well mixed. 

Use a squeegee or long handled-application brush to spread out the sealant. 

Work on a small area approximately 10 to 20 square feet.  Pour some of the sealants down and smooth it out in long narrow strips.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do not put it on too thick. It will take at least 24 hours to dry.

Concrete:

  • Water-based sealants:  These should be applied using rollers
  • Solvent-based sealants:  Theseshould be applied using sprayers

The average coverage is around 250-300 square feet per gallon so to make sure that the sealer is evenly spread, you should apply two thin coats.

Conclusion

  • Sealing your driveway is one of the most cost-effective and easy ways to not only protect your driveway but prolong the life of the driveway.
  • Sealers on asphalt or concrete driveways can help to beautify them.
  • Concrete driveways can perform adequately without being sealed at all but if you do use sealant on it, it will keep it looking good and extending the life of the driveway.

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