Sealcoating is important for any asphalt driving surface, including your home's driveway. While your driveway may not fail outright if you don't sealcoat it, you're likely to experience more problems, need more repairs, and ultimately have a less attractive surface. On the other hand, many homeowners aren't clear about when to sealcoat or what will happen if they don't.
If you're unsure about this critical maintenance task, an easy-to-remember rule of thumb is to apply a new sealcoat every three years. Unfortunately, there may also be some indications that you're waiting too long. If you spot any of these four signs on your driveway, you may need to consider sealcoating sooner rather than later.
1. Faded Appearance
Your driveway's sealcoat will naturally wear away with time, which is why it requires reapplication every few years. Since the sealcoat is black, a faded appearance is often the first warning sign that your current sealcoat is mostly gone. However, sealcoating also protects your driveway from UV rays, and an extremely faded appearance or visible aggregate can be a warning sign that your sealcoat is long gone.
2. Chipping and Flaking
Asphalt is a relatively durable and flexible material, which is why it's often advantageous in colder climates. Unfortunately, exposure to sunlight can reduce these properties, turning the surface more brittle and allowing it to easily chip or flake. Once this process begins, you may notice small bits of aggregate or flakes of loose asphalt in your driveway.
If these problems seem to be progressing, it may be a sign that you're leaving your driveway unprotected for too long. While sealcoating cannot reverse this damage, it can help to slow the process.
3. Quick Staining
It's relatively well-known that oil can stain an asphalt driveway. These stains are more than just unsightly, however. Oil can weaken asphalt and result in damage or premature failure. While a sealcoat won't stop oil from soaking it, it does slow it down and give you time to clean up any spills before they damage your driveway.
If you notice oil quickly seeping into your driveway and creating challenging or impossible stains, your sealcoat finish may be gone. Adding a new sealcoat layer will help protect your driveway from damage caused by future oil stains.
4. Stubborn Ice and Snow
One surprising advantage of asphalt is that it quickly absorbs and releases heat energy, causing snow and ice to melt more quickly. Of course, a dark black surface will absorb more heat, so a solid sealcoat layer will usually make it easier to clear away snow and ice. If you notice that wintry precipitation isn't melting away as it should, it may be because your driveway's sealcoat layer has worn away.
Ultimately, the easiest way to prevent these problems is to stick to a regular schedule of sealcoating. If you notice any of these issues developing on your driveway, it's a sure sign that you've been waiting too long between sealcoats and may be reducing the lifespan of your driveway.
For additional information, contact an asphalt sealcoating service in your area.