If you want to maintain your driveway's smooth, black appearance, then occasional sealing is a necessary maintenance task. You can handle this job yourself, or you can rely on a professional for a perfectly smooth, even application. Either way, you'll need to choose an appropriate sealer based on the look, durability, and lifespan that you want.
For residential driveways, most people choose a coal tar, asphalt, or acrylic sealer. Each option has its pros and cons, so understanding how they work can help you make the right choice for your home.
What Is a Coal Tar Sealer?
Unsurprisingly, manufacturers produce coal tar sealers from coal tar, an industrial byproduct. Coal tar is what you probably think of when you imagine sealcoating your driveway, and it's a material that's been in use for years. Coal tar adds significant protection to your driveway against UV rays and contamination from fuel and oil, all of which can degrade asphalt.
Coal tar sealers traditionally lasted longer and provided better protection, but they may also contain harmful chemicals. If you're approaching this project on your own, it's critical to use proper protective gear when working with coal tar.
What Is an Asphalt Emulsion Sealer?
Asphalt emulsion sealer is a newer technology composed of water, an emulsifying agent (typically soap), and asphalt materials. It's spread similarly to coal tar but requires some heavier equipment and more significant prep work. If you're tackling the job yourself, you'll need to buy do-it-yourself premixed sealers.
Asphalt sealers are gaining popularity because they are more environmentally friendly and less hazardous than coal tar products. Although older asphalt sealers did not offer equivalent performance, newer products can provide high levels of durability and protection. In some cases, you may even get longer life from an asphalt sealer compared to an old-style coal tar sealer. Contact asphalt sealing contractors to learn more.
What Is an Acrylic Sealer?
Acrylic sealers are higher-end options with durability that rivals even the best coal tar sealers. Additionally, you can purchase these products in several colors, making them a potentially better choice if you're primarily concerned with aesthetics. Like asphalt emulsion, acrylic products are generally safe and environmentally friendly, with none of the risks associated with coal tar.
When choosing between these three options, you'll need to consider your budget and needs. If you have health concerns or want an environmentally friendly choice, asphalt emulsion or acrylic will usually be the best option. A professional paving contractor can help you better understand how these sealcoating methods differ so that you can choose the best one for your driveway.