AK’s Guide To Sealcoating Asphalt On Your Property
Smart property owners know that sealcoating is simply the best way to maintain asphalt so it lasts for decades before replacement. Knowing how to ‘do it yourself’ is the best way to lower the cost of upkeep on your property.
Best of all, it’s easy to learn how to apply sealant (assuming you have the proper sealcoating equipment). This definitive guide shows you the way to a professional result for parking lots and driveways.
Table of Contents
The How’s And Why’s of Seal Coat
First of all, you need to know when you need asphalt maintenance.
|It’s simple; pour water on the surface and if it beads, you’re protected. If not, it’s time to apply sealant.|
It’s as simple as waxing your car to protect the paint. Blacktop oxidizes (reacts with oxygen in the air), and decays if it’s left unprotected, fading to a dull shade of grey and leaving it vulnerable to cracks, potholes, and chuckholes. Take the initiative to utilize a blacktop seal coating to protect your asphalt before it begins drying out and decaying. Sealcoating provides a protective barrier against the elements, wear, freezing, and vehicle leaks that can cause serious damage and deterioration. Properly maintained asphalt can last up to 30 years before replacement. This proactive measure will literally save you thousands of dollars over time in asphalt repair and replacement costs. No maintenance, on the other hand, can result in expensive replacement in less than 10 years.
Important Fact: Unnecessary asphalt sealing is just as bad as not sealing often enough and will result in peeling. Once every two years is about the right frequency for proper sealcoating.
First Things First
There are a couple of important steps that must be completed before applying a seal coat. Either hire a pro to fix problems, or click on the links to learn how to do it yourself.
Does Lawn Border Your Blacktop?
Trim it back before you start, or you may end up with black grass imbedded in your asphalt.
Never Apply Sealant To A Dirty Surface
For sealcoat to stick to blacktop and protect it, you must have your asphalt sealing put on a completely clean surface. Just like you wouldn’t put wax on a dirty and greasy car, you can’t put a seal coat on dirty and greasy pavement.
Supplies Needed For Cleaning
Important Fact: Pressure washers will drive stains deep into the blacktop, and are not recommended before cleaning.
Before sealcoating, clean by using the gas blower to clear all dirt, debris, and sand from the surface.
If you have any parking lot lines, be sure to clear all flaking paint and use a scrub brush to help, otherwise the asphalt sealing will not adhere.
Use the environmental degreaser cleaner on any and all stains, before you apply sealant. Simply apply, scrub, let sit for 5 minutes (add water if needed to keep wet), and then rinse with water. Repeat as needed, and be sure to see it when it’s dry so you’re positive the stain is gone.
Homeowners who have leaf blowers can use them to clear their driveway, or a broom will clear the dirt and debris.
Did you know? Fuel spills are corrosive to asphalt and will eat holes through it. Although sealcoating helps to protect, it’s best if as soon as you see a stain to use kitty litter or sand to soak up the fuel, and then clean with the degreaser.
How To Purchase Sealcoating
There are two things to consider: quality and quantity.
The quality of asphalt sealing is important to how long it lasts and how well it protects. The highest quality seal coat contains coal tar, and it is the most effective at protecting against the elements and repelling water, gasoline, oil, and transmission fluid.
Another good quality indication is if the sealer is marked “airport-grade”, which must be up to the high standards needed for airport runways. You may not be able to find such a thing at your local store, but you certainly can find such high-grade asphalt/blacktop sealer right here on our website.
As for quantity, you must measure the area where you plan to apply sealant. Simply multiply the length times the width for the square footage. If you have multiple areas, measure each one individually and add together. Enter this number into our sealcoating calculator, as well as how you plan to apply it, and you’ll know exactly how much you’ll need. Remember, it’s better to have too much, than have to stop before you are finished to order more.
Keep In Mind: If you have neglected asphalt sealing for many years, you will need to apply sealant in 2 thin coats, allowing time to dry in between, so you’ll need to double up on your seal coat order.
Supplies Needed For Sealcoating
Here’s the list of what you will need. We’ll get more detailed on each one in a moment.
Asphalt Seal Coat – Calculate as we indicated above, remembering to account for enough sealant for 1 or 2 coats, depending on how many you are doing. Remember to get an asphalt sealer that is specifically designed for both protection and rejuvenation.
Seal Coating Machine– Choose a sprayer that is best suited for your property. These extremely useful systems can sealcoat a 4-car driveway in less than 15 minutes and are very easy to use. Home owners with small driveways can use a squeegee or broom for asphalt sealing.
Pylons, Saw Horses, Caution Tape – As a way to block off the area to keep traffic out while you work, and while it cures.
Cardboard And Tape – For blocking off and protecting sidewalks, doors, lampposts, curbs, lawns, gardens and anything else you don’t want blackened.
Do you need one, and how do you choose? For any property manager or owner, an asphalt sprayer is an investment that quickly pays for itself in time and money saved. When you figure that you should apply sealant every 2 years, doing it yourself is a big savings over contracting the job out. So why not just use a squeegee or broom? On anything but the small driveway, this is not a good use of time, and it is very hard work. If you have asphalt equipment, you will be saved from spending too much time and effort when you maintain your asphalt driveway. What's even better? This equipment should last you many years to come.
Even the simplest sealcoating machine that draws directly from the drum of seal coat will make the work simple, quick, and professional looking. For the property that has big demands, you can go all the way up to a heavy-duty machine that handles up to 330 gallons of sealant in a seal coat storage tank.
To Learn More: This article will give you the facts you need for the best machine for your needs.
First Step To Asphalt Sealing
An important part of knowing how to apply blacktop sealer is determining when to seal it. Sealer can be applied once new asphalt has cured for at least 90 days. Though, ideally it’s best to wait for six to nine months before the first coat. Don’t apply blacktop sealer when it’s raining or snowing.
Your blacktop is clean, all potholes and cracks are filled, and you’re ready to start sealcoating. Check the weather forecast: you’ll need temperatures of 60º F or above, and no rain for the day. The first step now is to prep the area where you will apply sealant.
Any areas that you do not want black seal coat on must be protected. Use cardboard and tape to protect sidewalks, curbs, lampposts, fire hydrants, garage doors, etc. This is the time to block off the area with traffic cones, sawhorses, and caution tape to keep all traffic out.
Did you know? Sealcoating must be stirred, just like paint, or the solids start to settle down to the bottom. Use an old broom stick to thoroughly mix.
Time To Apply Sealant
Remember to stir or mix your sealer before application. If you're using a 5 gallon pail of sealer, use a paint stick or drum mixer to agitate the sealer. If you're using a 55 gallon drum or 275 gallon tote, use the AK drum mixer. For sealer that's sitting in a sprayer tank, agitate for a minute or two with recirculation or manual agitation. The consistency of the liquid should resemble thick soup.
Plan out where you will start and finish, so you don’t paint yourself into a corner. Generally, you start asphalt sealing by doing the top and side edges first, keeping the spray even and applying a thin coat. It’s useful to have a second person work with you, holding cardboard to protect the grass, curb, sidewalks, or flower beds on the edges. Then start at the top and work side to side all the way to the bottom edge.
Now you simply need to allow time for the sealcoating to cure and dry. Two thin coats cure and seal far better than one thick gloopy coat, so be sure to allow time to cure between asphalt sealing coats.
Homeowners, just pour a small amount of seal coat at a time, and start at the top of your driveway and work down. Squeegee or broom the sealer so it’s a nice even and thin layer.
How Fast And Easy? Seeing is believing, so watch this video to see exactly how easy and how fast you can get the job done.
Getting Poor Pressure at the Spray Tip?
If you start getting poor pressure at the spray tip while you're sealcoating, there are a few reasons that could be the cause. Get three common reasons and how to fix this problem with some troubleshooting »
Now’s the time to have fresh parking lot lines painted to replace what has been blacked out by sealcoating. We have a great selection of parking lot striping machine products and a fantastic free linestriping course that is just as easy to learn as how to apply sealant. You’ve already got the asphalt prepped and ready to go, so the time-consuming prep work is already done.
Don’t forget to store your machine and equipment, cleaned and ready to use for next time you do asphalt sealing. The barriers and caution tape can be taken down and stored once the asphalt has cured.
Interested In Knowing More? Visit our complete line-up of asphalt courses designed for everyone from homeowners to property managers to business start-ups.
Keeping Your Sprayer and Accessories Clean
In order to keep your sprayer in good working condition, it’s important to clean and maintain the hose, sprayer gun, sprayer tips, and filter on your sealcoat system.
Flushing the Hose and Sprayer Gun
When you are done with work for the day, you should flush your hose and spray gun. To do this, you should have a 55 gallon drum of water (highly recommended, though you can also use a large 30 gallon bucket or other large container of water as your water source) and a transfer kit. We strongly recommend you buy a transfer kit if you don’t already have one; it’s not only useful to transfer sealer from drums or other sealer sources, but it also allows you to flush your unit very well.
When you’re ready to flush your system, turn off the bottom valve at the very bottom of your tank. This shuts the tank so you won’t be pulling sealer through your sprayer hose and spray gun. Connect your transfer kit to the female camlock, and fill the transfer kit hose with water. Insert the end of the transfer kit into your water source and point your spray gun into your water source as well. Then, turn your unit on spray mode on top of your pump; your system will be pulling in water via the transfer kit, through your pump, down your spray hose, through your spray gun, and back into the water source.
This essentially flushes your unit with water. See the diagram and quick instructions below:
Cleaning the Filter Kit
Once you’re done with the flush of water, remove the screen mesh of the filter kit and stick it into a 5 gallon pail of water for an hour or two. The filter kit itself opens up nice and wide so you can get a hose in there and flush it out for 20-30 minutes. When you’re ready to use your unit, reassemble.
Cleaning the Spray Tips
Take your tip off the spray gun and put it into a small Tupperware of Goof Off, bug & tar remover, or even water. Use a small wire brush to clean the tip; a stiff wire bristle can clean the tip hole.
What to Do with Sealer Water
Never put the sealer water out into a sewer or dump it out! The best thing to do is just keep the 55 gallon drum of water throughout the season to flush your system. When your water gets very dirty, use that water as dilution water (our sealer can be diluted up to 20-30% with water) or to restore the liquid that evaporates during the season.
When you’re ready to reuse your unit, make sure the transfer kit is removed and the male camlock is back on where the transfer kit was attached. Open the bottom valve of your tank, recirculate your sealer, and use spray mode as normal.
How to Clear the Suction Port
Previously we blogged about troubleshooting sealcoating systems that are losing pressure at the spray tip, with one of the potential causes being a clogged suction port. Clearly that was an issue for many, as we got questions about the best way for fixing and clearing the suction port. Here's what you need to know about this critical part of sealcoating maintenance.
The easiest way to unclog it is to go in through the main top lid of the tank with a piece of rebar, a drill mixer, or a piece of 1x2 - something that can get in to the end of the tank where the suction hose connects to the bottom of the tank. Go in through the top lid inside the tank to the end of the tank where the suction hose connects and swish the sealer around. Over time the coal tar clay sediment settles to the bottom and the solids will clog the suction port if you don't have a manual agitation system.
Even easier than clearing the suction port is to invest in a manual agitation system to prevent the clog from happening in the first place. The danger is a blockage can potentially have you running your pump dry and burning up your seals. If your pump isn't getting primed, because liquid isn't reaching it due to the suction port being blocked, that is when you can cause damage to your sealcoating machine. A manual agitation kit will help you avoid this problem.
Another method of clearing the suction port is to remove the hose from the suction port of the tank, (located at the very bottom of the tank). Make sure the valve on your tank is off; otherwise when you pull the hose off, sealer will spill out everywhere.
Here is the step-by-step way to clear the suction port by removing the hose:
- Close your main valve on the bottom of your tank.
- Pull the hose off.
- Check the hose for blockage.
- Get a 5-gallon pail and place it below the main valve for the suction port.
- Open the valve.
- Let the thick sludge drip out of there, checking to make sure it has not solidified into a hard solid form. This would never remix, even with a drill mixer, as it is now a solid mass.
Important Tip: This type of solidification occurs when your tank has not been agitated in a month. This is why continuously agitating your system is so critical.
Prevent Blockages During Vacations and When You'll Be Away
Prevention is the best sealcoating maintenance. If your sealer is going to sit for a couple of weeks at a time because you are going on a vacation, you are going to have a difficult time agitating the sealer in the tank when you get back. Unless you have someone to come in and agitate it every 2 or 3 days while you are away, your real solution is to transfer it.
Start by removing the spray tip off of your spray gun. Then spray the sealer through the spray gun into 55 gallon drums. Seal the drums airtight. This way you protect and prevent your suction port from getting clogged in the first place.
Now you know the two best ways to clearing the suction port in your sealcoating machine. Agitation not only will help clear the blockage by keeping the sealer mixed properly, but by investing in a manual agitation unit and regularly agitating, you prevent the blockages from happening in the first place. Removing the suction hose, with the valve closed, also allows you to remove the sludge that has settled. Most of all prevention is your best bet. If you will not be using the tank while you are on vacation, either have someone come in every couple of days to agitate it, or transfer the sealant to drums and store.
Sealcoating protects and defends your asphalt surfaces, and brings its lifespan up into decades rather than years. When you do your own asphalt sealing, you save money and lower the cost of maintaining your property.
Do the simple water test to see if it’s time to apply sealant. Get all cracks and potholes properly patched and filled. Thoroughly clean the surface of all debris, fuel spills, stains, and loose paint. Have enough airport grade coal tar sealer to do the job for the one or two coats you plan on applying. Decide on the right asphalt sealing equipment for your property. Block off traffic, to protect the area and then apply sealant.
Remember to include line striping as part of your plan for after the sealer has cured. Now you’re all set to add sealcoating to your list of things you can do yourself professionally and at a huge cost savings.