Every year without fail someone rings our doorbell wanting to seal our asphalt driveway but I’m the DIY guy around here so if I can do it the right way I won’t pay anyone to do it.
When it comes to home renos and home maintenance I’m picky so I won’t just do something to be cheap I’ll do it because I know I can do it or call in the professionals.
There’s nothing worse than paying to get a job done twice. Re-sealing your asphalt driveway can extend the life of your drive by keeping out water in the winter that then freezes during cold weather. The freeze-thaw cycle can destroy mountains so a small asphalt driveway is nothing to Mother Nature.
I personally use a metal shovel during the winter months because it cleans the driveway of snow with a better result than a plastic shovel, the problem is that the metal shovel takes a layer of sealer with it every time.
No, I don’t need to invest in a snow-blower either as our driveway does not warrant that expense as it’s not that big. Even so the snow-blower never gets the snow off the surface and my neighbour still ends up using a shovel after he snow blows his drive.
The spring or summer asphalt driveway sealing was all new to me when I moved to Canada. The weather, although disappointing in the UK is never anything like it is here in the winter or summer for that matter.
It took a while to convince me of the benefits of re-sealing the asphalt driveway, even if it takes a beating during the winter and looks a little worse for wear in the spring. I held off from sealing the asphalt due to the results of other people’s driveways.
There was always plenty of driveways that had terrible roller lines all over them or were so badly worn and faded that I couldn’t see the point of sealing if it just looks worse than it did in the beginning.
After a couple of seasons went past I could see the reason we needed the sealer and why other people’s drives look like a disaster zone. Some of the neighbours didn’t re-seal the asphalt on a regular basis, in fact some neighbours haven’t re-sealed their driveway since we moved in five years ago.
I’ve come to consider the driveway re-sealing as part of the general up keep and maintenance of the house and has now turned into an annual half day project and part of our projected expenses in the budget.
Pros and cons of asphalt re-sealing
The asphalt sealer will protect your drive from the elements, especially during the winter months when water starts it’s quiet and destructive freeze-thaw cycle.
As soon as liquid water is absorbed into cracks in the asphalt it is for certain that when the temperature drops to below freezing the water will expand as it turns into ice.
It’s the expansion and contraction that opens up small cracks into large cracks and large cracks into holes in the driveway.
The sealer is designed to fill these minor cracks as they generate over time. For larger cracks, filler will be required and will have to be applied according to the directions before re-sealing commences.
Holes should be repaired by digging out the loose asphalt, vacuuming the smaller loose debris and then filling with hole repair which is essentially asphalt in a bucket.
You’ll need compact this mixture into the hole to prevent any settling after it cures. Let the hole repair cure, this takes roughly 6 weeks for some products to cure.
Another reason to re-seal your drive is that it looks clean and brand new every spring/summer and keeps the general appearance of the house up.
The only drawback that I can see so far is that it is money out of your budget every year or two and if you do it yourself it can be a little hard work.
Depending on which product you buy it can be fairly cheap like this years product used on my driveway.
This year I purchased two large buckets of Canadian Tire’s own asphalt driveway sealer in a matte finish called Armor Coat.
I bought the product while it was on sale for $14.99 each along with a roller and a bottle of asphalt cleaner.
Upon reading the instructions and mixing up the product as requested I still found it was separated in the top two or three inches and went on like water for the first roll or two.
The product did get better but I had to continue to stir and mix it every so often so it wouldn’t separate any more.
The result was good and cured within the three hours that it said and has cured to a flawless finish. I just have to keep the vehicles off of the driveway for the next 24 hours.
I had used the Rust-Oleum Epoxy shield sealer in earlier years and that product has a 5 year warranty, but does not cover the use of metal shovels.
That particular asphalt sealing product mixed a lot easier and was much more pleasant to use on the driveway but probably gave the same result in the looks department.
The difference between the two products from Canadian tire is the price. This years product was $19.99 compared to $39.99 (regular price) for the brand name asphalt sealer.
Don’t forget the price of a roller or brush depending on which application method you choose and a bottle of asphalt cleaner. My asphalt cleaner “Airport grade” cost me $9.99 of which I used approximately half a bottle to clean the oil spots off of the driveway. I don’t know about the airport grade claim but it did the trick.
The asphalt cleaner is essential in my eyes, especially after seeing what happens when you have a large oil patch on your drive and just re-seal straight over the top of it without cleaning it first. One of our neighbours tried that to hideous results.
After about a week the entire asphalt sealer over top of the oil patch had peeled off and then the rest of the driveway started to peel off too. They did fix the issue the following year but had lived all year with the eye sore as did the neighbours.
If you’re not interested in re-sealing your own asphalt driveway there are always those carts going round in late spring and throughout the summer that will re-seal your asphalt driveway for approximately $120 or more.
Some of these services tend to just spray asphalt sealant straight over the weeds at the ends of the driveway where I remove the weeds before sealer application to keep it neat and tidy.
For our driveway I bought two buckets of asphalt sealer because of the square footage of the drive along with a roller (just the fluffy refill portion) and a bottle of cleaner at a grand total of $49.67.
Of course, if you don’t already have a roller head and pole you’ll need to invest in them too. They are readily available at any hardware store or big box store such as Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Rona, Home Hardware etc. I have a roller head and pole specifically for driveway sealing because it tends to speckle everything with black hard asphalt sealer that’s tough to get off.
To avoid going over the lines where the driveway meets the garage I use old cardboard boxes and unfold them to sit them in the gap between the drive and the garage which then protects the concrete from getting black sealer on it. I also keep on hand paper towel, a scrub brush and a bucket of water in case of any spills.
There’s nothing worse than seeing a driveway freshly sealed with sealant splashes all over the place. It really does defeat some of the esthetic purpose of the job.
Asphalt sealing process
How to seal an asphalt driveway or at least this is how I did and it looks amazing if I do say so myself.
Always read the product label for instructions but for me it’s a 6 step process.
- Brush the entire driveway from top to bottom to remove loose debris, mud and leaves etc.
- Wet the driveway with a garden hose or power washer.
- Spray on the asphalt cleaner for a general cleaning in which I brush the cleaner into the driveway
- To remove oil stains from driveway spot clean trouble areas where oil spots are, usually under the engine compartment of the vehicles.
- Depending on the product, either rinse and then apply product while damp or wait for surface to dry and then apply.
- Protect by cordoning off the area with tape or anything else you can use.
Take your time and prepare your asphalt sealing process so the project runs smoothly. If you do accidentally hit the concrete of your garage floor or anywhere else use a little of the cleaner and some water to dilute the sealer before it cures and scrub with your brush.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I like the result to be flawless. It’s an easy project for an afternoon during the weekend but remember to check the weather. I had to abandon the asphalt sealing once this week due to impending rain that never appeared, which was frustrating to say the least.
Lastly, with caution tape or string and paper alert people that your driveway is wet so they don’t pull their vehicle in or walk all over it. You can only imagine the potential disaster that will cause. I just put my vehicle in front of the driveway along with string and a caution note.
If you want to save yourself some cash completing your own asphalt sealing is not that difficult if you do your research and plan in advance. If you are not confident in your driveway asphalt sealing ability or simply don’t have the time to do it you can easily pay someone else to do the job for you but be ready to pay for the convenience of not doing the work yourself.
Have you completed the asphalt sealing process on your own driveway? How much did it cost you and what products do you prefer the best?
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