A brief summary of the benefits of sealcoating asphalt pavements.
Written by ASMA-USA Members
What are Sealcoats?
Sealcoats generally consist of a mixture of emulsified asphalt, water, mineral fillers, and various other admixtures.
Sealcoats are applied directly to the surface of an asphalt pavement. They can be applied by rubber squeegee, broom, or mechanical spray.
Sealcoats serve to seal the top of the asphalt, preventing water from penetrating the surface of the pavement and protecting the top layer of asphalt from oxidation and wear caused by exposure to the sun and air. Sealcoats also beautify the pavement by providing a smooth, black, even surface ideal for painting lines and sweeping.
Sealcoats are designed for off highway use where there are low traffic speeds and tight turning radiuses such as parking lots, mobile home parks, schools, shoulders, etc.
Sealcoats are different from slurry seals which use a much coarser aggregate filler and are designed for use on high speed areas with straight rolling traffic.
What Causes Asphalt Pavement to Fail?
Assuming that the initial asphalt pavement was designed and constructed properly, the primary cause of failure is the penetration of water into the asphalt base.
This process begins with the oxidation of the pavement surface which causes the asphalt to dry and become brittle, this leads to the erosion of the top layer of fine particles and the appearance of larger stones and small cracks on the surface.
If left untreated these cracks grow over time and eventually allow water to penetrate to the base of the pavement.
When water enters the base of the pavement the base material moves and settles leading to further cracking and an "alligator appearance".
How does Sealcoating help?
Sealcoating seals the asphalt pavement, preventing the oxidation and erosion of the top layer of asphalt.
On older pavements sealcoating replaces fine particles lost from the asphalt surface due to oxidation.
Sealcoating seals the small cracks that can turn into large cracks and prevents water from seeping down to the base material.
Sealcoating helps protects the asphalt from the sun as well as the harmful effects of chemical spills such as oil and gasoline.
Sealcoating provides an attractive black surface that is ideal for painting lines and other markers.
Sealcoating leaves a smooth, clean surface ideal for sweeping, lowering cleaning costs.
Sealcoating costs pennies a square foot compared to the dollars needed to repair or replace damaged asphalt.
When Should sealcoating be done?
Generally you should wait a few months before sealing new pavement to allow it time to cure. The A.S.M.A. recommends waiting 6-12 months before sealcoating new pavement.
After a surface has been sealed it should be re-sealed every 3-4 years or as necessity dictates.
Are All Sealers the Same?
No. You should use a sealcoat material manufactured by a member of the Asphalt Sealcoat Manufacturer's Association. Members adhere to the strict A.S.M.A. standard specification in manufacturing their material which ensures a quality product which meets or exceeds the standard spec.