Is SealCoating Really Worth It? You Bet Your Asphalt It Is!
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
by: Ryan Strzalka, GuardTop LLC

Section: News

From the time new asphalt is installed a maintenance plan should be put into place.  There are multiple options that can be incorporated in this plan, be it asphalt patching, mill and overlays, pot-hole patching, infrared patching, seal coating, slurry coating, crack sealing or using rejuvenating products.  Every one of these options has its time and place in the life cycle of asphalt and every situation and plan will be different based on many different variables.  In this article we will focus on sealcoating and its place in the maintenance plan.  

First, we want to address the difference between sealcoat and slurry coat.  The main difference between slurry and a sealcoat is that slurry coast uses larger aggregate in its mixture which makes it thicker than a sealcoat.  Slurry coat is generally used on high-traffic roadways and streets meaning, in most cases, it would be overkill for a parking lot.  Slurry coats require longer time to cure, are about twice as expensive and leave a much coarser surface than a sealcoat.  

Sealcoating should be considered for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, it protects and prolongs the life expectancy of your parking lots.  The sealant prevents the surface from becoming porous and separating along seams and end cracks.  Sealcoating also fills the voids in-between the small aggregate in asphalt to help prevent water intrusion.  When you have heavy water intrusion the base material below the asphalt gets soft and loose which then causes it to shift.  Once the base begins to shift you start to see the asphalt crack and eventually fail.  Sealcoating also enhances the aesthetic appeal of a parking lot.  Over time, the surface of asphalt pavement oxidizes and becomes gray or faded in appearance, especially in sunny Southern California with our high UV rays.  Sealcoating provides a vibrant black finish that nicely contrasts with striping, clearly distinguishing pavement markings.  It helps to beautify your property and make it appealing to current tenants and potential new buyers.

Prior to pavement sealing, any structural failures or liability repairs must be completed.  All potholes must be removed and replaced, cracks must be cleaned and filled, and oil spots cleaned or primed.  It is advisable to wait a minimum of 6 to 12 months after your asphalt has undergone large surface-area repairs before sealcoating.  This timeframe should be adhered to especially if your asphalt is brand new.  Waiting allows the surface to cure properly and the oils from the original pavement or newly overlaid surface to dissipate.  For maximum benefits thereafter, seal coating should be applied on a regular basis, about every 36 to 48 months.

It is important to determine if the pavement is a good candidate for sealing.  Sealcoating is not designed to be a solution for sealing cracks over 1/8-inch thick.  Rather, it is a protective measure intended to extend the life of your roads.  In some cases, a parking lot may already contain too much sealer, commonly known as over-sealed.  If there are too many coats of sealer or if sealer has been applied too often, your roadways may be slick and dangerous.  You may see sealer begin to potato chip in areas where there is less traffic, and the material has been over applied.  

Sealcoat will wear off the tops of the rocks in the asphalt first but will stay in-between the voids.  Even when sealcoat wears off the tops of the rocks this does not necessarily mean your roadways may be ready for another coat of sealer. 

Sealcoating does more than just make our asphalt look nice and new.  It has functions that help extend the life of your asphalt and help you plan better for the future expenditures, pushing those major projects further “down the road.”  So, is sealcoating worth it?  You bet your “asphalt” it is. 

Thank you to GuardTop LLC, a 2021 BOMA San Diego Annual Supporting Partner, for providing this educational content!