How to Seal Your Asphalt or Concrete Driveway
Over the course of a year, your driveway takes a tremendous amount of abuse. If you live in warm weather climates, then you can see the cracks in your asphalt or concrete driveway that come from the constant heat of the sun. For those who live in areas that have seasonal climates, the constant change in temperature is brutal on your driveway.
Every year, you can extend the beauty and the life of your asphalt or concrete driveway by sealing it with a protective material. The process can cover a couple of days, but the end result is well worth the effort. Sealing your driveway will prevent it from cracking and peeling. You can preserve your investment in your driveway and keep your repair and replacement costs way down.
Step 1 - Find The Right Product
Sealing your driveway, whether it is asphalt or concrete, is not the time to think about saving a few bucks on an inexpensive product. The product you buy will have to withstand the elements and protect your driveway until you are ready to put down a new coat. Invest in a product that is high quality and will last for a long time.
You also need to make certain that you are investing in the right product. There are products that are specifically designed for asphalt and concrete driveways. The idea of buying a specific product can sound a bit boutique, but it is absolutely the right way to buy the proper product.
Step 2 - Choose The Right Time
The best time to apply your driveway sealant is in the late spring or late summer. You want to avoid weather that is too hot because that makes application difficult. You also want two or three days in a row of dry and relatively cool weather. While you cannot control the weather, you can keep an eye on weather reports and do your best to make sure that you choose three consecutive days where the weather will be agreeable.
You should also plan on doing this project in consecutive days and do not plan on splitting it up. Part of the process is cleaning your driveway and a clean driveway can get pretty filthy in just a few days.
Step 3 - Prepare For Cleaning And Repair
For this step you will need a hammer, a chisel, a pair work gloves and a pair of protective goggles. Start by surveying your drive way and using the chisel to remove any loose concrete or asphalt. If you have concrete or asphalt pieces that are in cracks or on the edge of the driveway, then use the chisel to remove those as well. You want the cracks in your drive way to be clean and free of loose debris. If a chisel is too abrupt or large, then you can use a steel wire brush to get out smaller pieces. Make sure to dispose of all debris in the proper receptacle.
Step 4 - Cleaning The Driveway
The best way to sweep your driveway prior to sealing it is to go from the middle of the driveway out to each side. This way, you are not simply pushing debris and dirt down the driveway and allowing that debris to find new homes. By sweeping across your driveway, you will find it easier to remove the debris. Use a stiff broom with a wide brush to get the job done properly.
A regular garden hose with a spray nozzle is all you need to finish cleaning your driveway. Start at the top of your driveway and work downhill so that the water has a chance to run off the driveway naturally. As you work your way down the driveway with the hose, be sure to blast water inside each crack to remove any remaining debris.
Step 5 - Repair The Driveway
The best repair material for an asphalt driveway is a filler product with a rubberized emulsion. For larger cracks, you will need to get cold patch to make the job complete. Concrete driveways can be patched with vinyl patch that is designed for concrete and with concrete patch for larger cracks.
When you apply the repair material, be very gradual and deliberate. Use a putty knife to apply the larger materials and get a trowel or some other smoothing tool to smooth out the patch. Remember that your protective coating is clear, so try to make the patch work look as clean as possible. Be sure to patch all of the cracks to prevent water from getting under the driveway and undermining the protective coating. Allow the patch to dry for a full day before moving on.
Step 6 - Seal The Driveway
It is critically important to make sure that you bought enough sealant to do the job right. Do not try to make the sealant you bought stretch out to fit your entire driveway or else the sealant will be too thin to do its job. The manufacturer's label will tell you exactly how much sealant you need to cover your driveway properly.
Block off your driveway with orange cones or yellow tape. You do not want anyone walking or driving on the protective coating until it is completely dry.
Apply a subtle water mist to the driveway surface and then pour a line of sealant approximately one to two inches wide across the top of the driveway. Use a squeegee to spread out the sealant to a an area that runs about three to four feet wide. Pour out another line of sealant at the end of this three-feet wide band and use the squeegee to spread out the sealant again. Remember to stand towards the bottom of the driveway and pull the squeegee towards you. Keep repeating this process until your driveway is sealed.
Step 7 - Wait
Do not walk or use your driveway for at least 24 hours after you have applied the sealant. Ideally, you want to wait 48 hours before using your driveway again. If you seal your driveway properly, you will preserve its look and functionality for another 12 months.