Asphalt coating?

ajw_in_vaDecember 5, 2013

I live on a short private road that I share with 4 other neighbors - it's really not much more than a 1500-foot long driveway. We had this road paved about 7 years ago by a very reputable road paving company, and they did a great job and the road is in very good shape. The road only gets about 10-15 car round trips per day, so it's not heavily used. The road has no visible cracks or any other signs of aging.

One of the neighbors is suggesting that we MUST seal the road now to give it a longer life, saying that using an oil-based sealer is critical to extend the life of such a road or driveway. Better to spend a bit now to seal and extend the life, rather than spend a lot in a few years to repave.

I had our paving company come out to look at the road, and they said it was in great shape, but I'm not sure if they're motivated to have us need a re-pave at some point. We've also gotten quotes from a few other paving companies, who have suggested both water-based and oil-based sealers. The Internet offers many different recommendations, ranging from "don't ever use oil-based sealer" to "oil-based sealer is the best" to "don't ever seal asphalt until it needs it".

Can anyone shed light on why there is such a wide range of recommendations on how to maintain an asphalt road/driveway? Are there different types of asphalt, and does it depend on the type of asphalt used? Thanks for any insights.

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Asphalt does NOT need to be sealed. Those that do it are uninformed. Or just want it to look "fresh and pretty". It does nothing to extend the life of the drive. Have you ever seen a municipality seal a road? No. They replace it when it's worn out. And that's that. If your neighbor wants to coat it, it won't hurt it, but it shouldn't be on anyone's dime but theirs.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 9:46PM
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So it looks like you will continue getting conflicting reccomendations. Therefore I will share my past experiences and present opinion then leave you to decide.
While working for a company with many locations ,we contracted upkeep on parking lots in two different ways. In one we decided based on reccomendations of paving companies when and what repairs and replacments to have done. In the secound,we signed 15 year contracts with companies who would maintain lots in good repair for agreed on monthly payments. In the end,lots in the first set was in overall worse condition and the secound set had cost just short of 20% less. The secound contractors did some partial and some complete sealcoats. They also routinly did small crack fill. It is common in Tx to see cones closing one lane in which 3 or 4 guys are mopping stuff on the road surface ,pouring liquid in cracks or patching a pot hole with hot asphalt.
In my opinion,"a stitch in time saves nine".
In my opinion,Tx has better roads than surounding states(ask truck drivers).
In my opinion,municipalities are known to waste tax payer's money.
In my opinion, sticking less than the intire neighborhood with maintainance costs is low life living.
I don't have an opinion on needed repair/maintanance for your road since I havn't seen it but I suggest occasionaly walking instead of driving to check the condition.
Were it my neighborhood,I would plan a few hours where 1 or all residents filled carcks while the others did other common benifit work.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 11:55PM
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Money. Everything is based on making money. So, companies 'develop' products to be different so they stand out. Different does not mean better.

The more paving/maintenance companies there are---the more different techniques for use there are. And the reason asphalt is so durable is because it forms a uniform layer---and is more flexible that concrete. Any coating is like paint---and will degrade faster---meaning it is necessary to reapply sooner---and thus adding an unnecessary cost for basically only cosmetic purposes.

But, it is intended to be done so a company can make money---and any time a product has to be redone, that creates more demand---even if the demand is for nothing but looks.

Basically, if an asphalt surface has no cracks/humps/depressions, there is no reason to do anything to it. Adding surface treatments simply are cosmetic.

Locally, the federal highway department is replacing/repairing I-70. In Kansas City, I-70(east/west) and I-35(north/south) intersect. That means there is a lot more vehicle---especially big trucks---- use than normal for a single highway.

Here in KCK, the lanes were removed, concrete installed and then covered with asphalt. Reason? Asphalt handles the weather and vehicle use better than concrete and is much more economical to repair/replace.

The main downside to asphalt is gas/oil drips/leaks will rapidly degrade the material

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 11:56AM
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Thank you for the suggestions and opinions. As I mentioned, our road has no visible cracks or other signs of aging - it looks nearly exactly as it did when it was first paved, except just a slightly lighter color.

It seems that water-based sealers are mostly cosmetic, as suggested. However, I've heard others say that oil-based sealers do more to soak into the asphalt, which can help to increase the life. The neighbor says his dad's driveway lasted over 50 years, due to regular oil-based sealing. Is that possible?

The issue is whether to spend $400/neighbor now to seal it and have it last longer, or have to spend $4,000/neighbor sooner when it needs to be repaved. Thanks again for any further insights, recommendations or opinions.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 4:19PM
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My 40 year old first house had a 40 year old asphalt driveway. It was never sealed. Other than the tree roots lifting portions of it, and some encroachment of grass around the edges when it was beginning to crumble, it was perfectly fine. I looked on Google Earth the other day because I was curious about the neighborhood, and if the subsequent owners were enjoying the mature landscaping that I had done so long ago. It's still the same driveway. 30 years later. Still functional and original. And now 70 years old.

Sealing is marketing. Not science.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 12:40PM
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ajw, I'd leave it alone. Keep in mind that when any problem spots develop, you'll more likely fix them with a small patch (even if fully dug out and redone the hard way) than by repaving the whole road.

Paving wear varies significantly based on differences concerning the weight and speed of use and of course the number of trips. I live in a neighborhood of private (and old) roads and the upkeep is shared among a few hundred homeowners. The main passageways require much more frequent and heavier attention than short stretches and cul-de-sacs.

Live wire, if your driveway is a typical neighborhood stretch of 100 feet or less, what your comparing has little in common with a 1500 foot road shared by multiple houses. And, of course, the highways and arterial community roads others mention have little in common with a 1500 food shared "road".

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 8:47PM
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$400.00 isn't much money these days. It can't hurt and will look nicer.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 4:47AM
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I have had great success coating a driveway with a thick black product that has sand and other solids in it. You spread it with a heavy-duty rubber squeegee. You bear down on the squeegee to "force" the material into small crevices. Bought a big box store.
This product is not just a cosmetic coating. It fills gaps and small crevices where the original asphalt has started to wash away. However, it is labor intensive, but worth it. I used it on a 10-12 year old driveway that had begun deteriorating. After another 10-12 years, still looks good, except for a few small cracks that can be fixed in 1-2 hours.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 10:38PM
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It is well known that Sunlight does degrade asphalt-- albeit slowly. And asphalt is slightly soluble in water. So it seems to me that a coating will delay those degrading processes. I would not use an oli-based coating. The emulsion coatings are the better choice in my opinion. And those should be applied in warmer weather.
Oh, yes, subterranean termites will eat asphalt-- mostly as a last resort. It is not their favorite food.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 5:26PM
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