Picking the best driveway sealer depends on the condition and age of your driveway and what type of driveway you have. The main two types of driveways in North America are asphalt or concrete.
Experts advise letting a new driveway cure for a year before sealing and recommend only resealing about once every three years for older driveways. Too long between applying sealer will cause cracks and discoloration, too much will cause a build-up that may start peeling off in patches.
Picking the Best Sealer for Asphalt:
Since asphalt driveways are meant to withstand extremely cold temperatures, they may need more repair if they are exposed to a particularly harsh winter. If your driveway has large cracks or pot holes, these will need to be filled in before sealing.
First, it’s important to fill cracks and seal expansion joints between asphalt and other surfaces, such as concrete aprons or curbs. This keeps water out and prevents erosion of the paving base. Filler materials for this kind of repair will handle cracks up to 1/8” wide.
After these gaps have been filled, the next step is to fill in any crack on the surface of the driveway. Hot-applied sealers are best for filling cracks up to ½” wide. This is accomplished by placing cold filler in the cracks and then heating it with a propane torch until it melts into the crack.
There are also easier to use cold-applied asphalt emulsions that are available in jugs, caulking gun cartridges, and paste-like substances. Make sure to choose filler that has the same rating as the sealer you are using. This way, they will both last the same amount of time.
Coal-Tar vs. Asphalt-Based
There are two types of driveway sealers that consumers can find at their local home improvement centers. These are coal tar or asphalt-based sealers. They both contain mostly the same ingredients, but coal tar products are still more popular. Coal tar sealers are more durable and much more resistant to grease, oil or gasoline penetration than asphalt-based sealers because gasoline and oil are both solvents for asphalt, but not for coal tar.
Still, when deciding between coal tar and asphalt, remember that the best sealers will have the most solids. Solids are the amount of coal tar or asphalt that is left on the driveway once the sealer is applied and the liquid has evaporated. The more solids you have in your sealer, the stronger your driveway will be. As well, check out the warranty. It should be for at least three years. If it isn’t, don’t buy the product.
Picking the Best Sealer for Concrete Driveways
There are more choices when it comes to sealing a concrete driveway. Unlike asphalt, a concrete driveway can be sealed every year, because you will be using products like gum resins, linseed oil, silicon derivatives and film formers such as acrylics, urethanes and epoxies. While theses sealers protect and strengthen driveways, they don’t build up like asphalt based sealers, which is why they can be used more often.
If you have a concrete driveway and live in a colder climate, then you know that when water is trapped under concrete it expands and causes cracks. Film-former sealers containing solvent-based acrylics are the best choice for sealing surfaces in the case of cold or freezing weather. These types of sealers protect surfaces, but allow for easy escape of moisture. This helps reduce cracking in the winter.
Heavier epoxies form a tougher and thicker film that protects against oil, gas, and chemical leaks that can stain your concrete driveway. Penetrating sealers like silane, siloxane, and silicate penetrate into the capillaries of the concrete surface and safeguard the concrete from stains, abrasions, and other harmful factors.
Driveway photo by dittaeva