Your driveway, often the first impression of your home, is more than just a parking spot. It’s a feature deserving of care and attention. Coating your driveway not only enhances its appearance but also extends its life span by offering protection from harsh weather conditions and daily wear and tear. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of coating your driveway and address some frequently asked questions (FAQs). Let’s dive in!
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What is driveway coating/driveway sealing?
Driveway coating, often also referred to as driveway sealing, is a process that involves applying a protective layer to a driveway to preserve its integrity and extend its lifespan. This protective layer serves as a barrier against damage from UV rays, water, oil leaks, and other chemicals that can deteriorate the driveway material over time.
Coatings or sealants come in various types and are chosen based on the driveway material and the specific needs of the location. For instance, asphalt driveways often use coal tar or asphalt-based sealant, while concrete driveways might use siloxane or silane-based sealer. Some coatings can enhance the color and texture of the driveway, adding to the aesthetics of your outdoor space.
By sealing a driveway, homeowners can maintain the appearance and functionality of the driveway, reduce long-term repair costs, and improve the overall curb appeal of their property. It’s recommended to reseal a driveway every few years, depending on the type of sealant used and the level of exposure to damaging factors.
What Chemicals Are Used In Driveway Sealing?
The chemicals used in driveway sealing, also known as seal coating, vary based on the type of sealer used. There are primarily three types of sealers: refined tar-based, asphalt-based, and petroleum-based. Each offers varying levels of protection against environmental factors and wear, with refined tar-based sealers providing the best protection against water penetration and chemical resistance. Asphalt-based sealers offer poor protection against environmental, chemical, and harsher climates, while petroleum-based sealers offer a medium level of protection. The wear characteristics also vary, with refined tar-based sealers lasting typically 3–5 years, asphalt-based sealers lasting 1–3 years, and petroleum-based sealers falling somewhere in between1.
Coal-tar-based sealcoat, a type of refined tar-based sealer, is a potent source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination. PAHs are chemicals created by heating or burning material that contains carbon. Coal tar and coal-tar pitch, both used in sealcoat products, have extremely high concentrations of PAHs and are classified as known human carcinogens. Coal-tar-based sealcoat products typically contain 20 to 35 percent coal tar or coal-tar pitch, resulting in PAH levels about 100 times more than in used motor oil and about 1,000 times more than in sealcoat products with an asphalt base. PAHs have been found to cause cancer, mutations, birth defects, and/or death in fish, wildlife, and invertebrates. Some PAHs are photoactivated, meaning their toxic effects are greatly intensified when exposed to sunlight. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified seven PAHs as probable human carcinogens and 16 PAHs as Priority Pollutants2.
The environmental impact of these sealers has been a topic of debate. There are concerns about pavement sealer polluting the environment after it is abraded from the surface of the pavement. The worn-off particles can be transported by rain, wind, car tires, and even our feet to surrounding areas, including homes. Consequently, concentrations of PAHs in runoff, sediment, soils, and dust near coal-tar-sealcoated pavement are substantially higher than concentrations near concrete pavement, unsealed asphalt pavement, and asphalt pavement with asphalt-based sealcoat. Some states in North America have banned the use of coal tar–based sealants primarily based on these environmental and health concerns12.
Different Types Of Driveway Coating Chemicals
Driveway sealing involves the application of a protective coating to a driveway, often made of concrete or asphalt, to protect it from damage caused by water, oil, UV rays, and other factors. The chemicals involved in this process can vary depending on the type of driveway and the specific product used, but they typically include the following:
- Asphalt Emulsions: These are commonly used for sealing asphalt driveways. The emulsion is a mixture of asphalt (bitumen), water, and an emulsifying agent. Some products may also contain additives to improve performance or durability.
- Coal Tar Emulsions: Coal tar emulsions are another common ingredient in asphalt sealers. They are known for their durability and resistance to water and oil-based substances. However, they are being used less often due to environmental and health concerns associated with coal tar.
- Acrylic Polymers: Acrylic-based sealers are often used for concrete driveways. These sealers form a protective layer on the surface of the concrete and are available in different finishes, including clear, tinted, and high-gloss.
- Siloxanes and Silanes: These are a type of penetrating sealer used on concrete driveways. They penetrate into the concrete and form a chemical barrier that repels water.
- Epoxy and Urethane: These are often used for high-performance concrete sealers, providing a durable and long-lasting finish. They offer excellent protection against water, chemicals, UV rays, and physical wear.
- Solvents: Many sealer products contain solvents, which help to carry the active ingredients into the driveway material and then evaporate, leaving behind the protective coating. Common solvents include water, xylene, and other petroleum distillates.
- Additives: Many sealers also contain additives to improve performance. These can include anti-slip agents, UV blockers, mildewcides, and other chemicals.
It’s important to note that different products will have different compositions, so it’s always a good idea to check the specific ingredients in the sealer you’re planning to use. Also, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and safety precautions when applying driveway sealers.
What Is The Process For Driveway Sealing?
Step 1: Evaluate Your Driveway
Start by thoroughly inspecting your driveway. Look out for cracks, chips, stains, and areas of wear. Note that coating is not a remedy for a significantly damaged driveway, which may need repair or replacement.
Step 2: Choose the Right Coating
Driveway coatings come in various types, including concrete sealers, epoxy coatings, and acrylic-based sealants. Each has its own pros and cons, and the best choice depends on your driveway material, climate, and personal preferences.
Step 3: Clean the Driveway
Before coating, your driveway must be immaculately clean. Use a pressure washer to remove dirt, grime, and loose debris. For oil or grease stains, consider using a cleaning solution designed for driveway surfaces.
Step 4: Repair Cracks and Holes
Patch any cracks or holes with a suitable driveway repair product. Ensure it’s fully dried or cured according to the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding to the next step.
Step 5: Apply the Coating
Following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply the driveway coating using a roller or sprayer. Start at one end of the driveway and work your way to the other, ensuring an even application. Most coatings will require at least 24 hours to dry, and some may require a second coat.
Step 6: Allow for Ample Drying Time
After application, keep vehicles and foot traffic off the driveway for the time recommended by the coating manufacturer. This step is crucial to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of the coating.
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Investing time and resources into properly coating your driveway can dramatically increase its lifespan, enhance its appearance, and save you from costly repairs in the long run. A well-maintained driveway not only contributes to your home’s curb appeal but also provides a clean, safe space for your vehicles and outdoor activities.
Ready to give your driveway the care it deserves? Don’t wait until minor cracks become major problems. We’re ready to get started sealing your driveway today so you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your driveway is well-protected for years to come.
Remember, your driveway is the gateway to your home. Make it count!