Sealcoating at its most basic form is a simple process of adding a latex sealer to the top of a driveway. However, most of the time there is a lot more to it than that! Are there crack that need to be sealed, what type of sealer is being used, how many coats and a lot more. So if you are contemplating having your driveway sealed and looking to hire a professional sealcoat company, here are 5 things to look for when hiring a sealcoating contractor:
1. How long will it take?
The time it takes to seal a driveway properly varies based on it's condition, size and type of materials used. As a general rule be wary of a contractor who tells you they will be in and out in no time, especially if your driveway has cracks and/or staining.
A typical multi car driveway job is finished in about half a day and might be split out over two days to accommodate drying of any pre work. Prep is what takes the longest and a good sealcoat contractor usually needs a few hours to properly clean out/prepare + seal cracks, as well as cleaning off the surface of all oils and fluid stains. There is also a considerable amount of drying time needed between steps so rushing is almost a sure sign for a job that will not last. In some cases, if the driveway is in poor shape, it might be necessary to even do two coats and therefore will need a couple of days between applications.
2. What does the sealcoating contractor do to prepare the surface of the driveway or parking lot before sealcoating?
As I mentioned above, proper preparation is the key to a good sealcoat application. In most cases I would recommend that a good driveway or parking lot sealcoat prep includes:
Pressure washing driveway and/or using a detergent cleaner application.
Clean out all cracks, making them free of any dirt, sand, weeds or other types of debris. I like pressure washing cracks which not only gets rid of the dirt and weeds but also loosens up any loose asphalt at the edge of the cracks (be warned you will get dirty with this method).
Sweeping and or blowing the surface clean. This will help get all the debris off the driveway and also help speed up the drying process.
Crack filler application should follow after the surface has had time to dry and all loose debris. Narrow hairline cracks should be manually widened using a screwdriver to ensure crack filler
Allow for sufficient drying time. Depending on the type of crack filler used, there should be some time allowed for the filler to set up and bond to the sides of the crack. Settling of the crack filler might also occur in some spots requiring additional applications of the filler to bring it up to level.
3. How many coats of sealcoat does the contractor intend to apply?
If the driveway or parking lot is not in bad shape, one coat should suffice but if your driveway is rough looking with deep cracks and missing asphalt, I would almost always recommend two coats applied a few weeks apart for best results. Two coats are better than one and will provide better results.
4. What type of material does the sealcoating contractor use?
There are really three different kind of driveway sealers on the market: refined tar-based (coal tar based), asphalt-based, and petroleum-based. Tar-based sealers are not used that much anymore due to concerns about their environmental impact (many municipalities have banned the use of tar-based sealants) and therefore most use either a petroleum based asphalt based product. Our preference is the asphalt based sealant from Sealmaster with a proper mix of sand, water and asphalt sealer. As for crack filling materials, we generally recommend a hot sealant for cracks greater than an inch. For smaller cracks a cold poor asphalt emulsion will usually do the trick.
5. Does the contractor warranty their sealcoating work?
Contractors should stand by their work and always strive to make the customers satisfaction their number one goal but a warranty is a little tricky when it comes to sealcoating. If your driveway is in dent shape with only minor wear and cracks satisfaction should be guaranteed. However, if your driveway or parking lot is missing large pieces of asphalt and full of deep cracks and spider cracks, then results will be harder to guarantee. In general, in bad situations like this we try and be as up front with customers as possible about what to expect visually and performance wise. Usually when driveways are this bad, it is just about getting a couple more years out of them before having to repave.
Just to give you a general idea of what to expect if you hire our New Jersey driveway sealcoating business, here is a rough plan of how we will handle your project:
Day 1 - Prepping the surface which includes (no rain in the forecast):
Power Washing stains and heavily soiled areas
Removing excessive dirt build up over the edges of the driveway
Cleaning out cracks of any dirt and weeds
Removing any loose materials from the edges of cracks
Applying hot rubber crack filler
Day 2 - Applying Seal Coat (no rain in the forecast)
Clear the driveway of any remaining dirt or debris using a leaf blower
Apply 1 coat of Sealmaster sealcoat with the right mix of sand and water (be careful as a lot of contractors cut costs and add more water than sand making the mix less durable
Rope off the driveway and put up signs advising the home owner and visitors to not drive on or walk on for at least 48 hours.
So if you are need of driveway sealcoating in New Jersey please feel free to reach out to us for a no obligation quote at 877-552-6886 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.