If you've ever spent much time reading about routine maintenance tasks, you've probably discovered one universal truth: there's always plenty of conflicting information. Sealcoating is no different, and you may be confused about the best time to perform this essential maintenance task on your driveway. Unsurprisingly, the answer is more complicated than you might think.
Sealcoating serves many purposes, from beautifying your driveway to protecting the underlying asphalt from rain and sun damage. Sealcoating can also last several years, but it will eventually wear away, exposing the surface below to potential harm. Therefore, choosing when to seal coat is a balancing act between what's cost-effective and what's best for your driveway.
Option 1: Sealcoat Every Three Years
Typical advice is to seal coat a driveway about once every three years. Most seals last about this long under normal conditions, so following this schedule is an excellent way to keep your driveway looking good. Taking this approach also minimizes the likelihood that you'll seal too often, resulting in various unsightly effects such as peeling.
If you have the job done professionally, this also provides an opportunity for an expert to inspect your driveway and look for any issues. Your contractor can examine your driveway for cracks, holes, or signs of frost heave, all of which you should consider repairing before applying a new sealcoat. Keep in mind that seal coat will only fill tiny cracks, and you'll need a more thorough repair for larger problems.
Option 2: Sealcoat As Needed
Instead of following a routine schedule, you can opt to add a new sealcoat to your driveway only when it needs it. Common signs of failing top layers are graying pavement and tiny hairline cracks. More severe cracks may be a sign that you've waited too long, and water is already seeping under your driveway and causing drainage problems.
While sealcoating is more than just a cosmetic procedure, appearances are usually the first sign of trouble. If your driveway looks faded and a little worn-out, it's a good bet that your old sealcoat is no longer providing adequate protection against UV radiation, rain, and spills. As long as it's been at least a few years since your last job, it's probably a good time to schedule a new application.
Which Option Is Right For You?
Ultimately, the best option for most homeowners is likely to be a combination of these two approaches. Plan to apply a new sealcoat at least once every three years and learn to watch out for the signs of deterioration. If you notice your old blacktop wearing away before your three years are up, go ahead and schedule an early appointment with asphalt sealcoat services.