Do driveway sealers really do anything?

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I'm sure this has been debated before......
I have an aging asphalt (black top) driveway and I am thinking of coating it with driveway sealer (whether by myself or hire someone to do it). Does this really do anything for the driveway other than make it look cosmetically more appealing and perhaps fill in any small/minor cracks? It would seem that this would only be more cosmetic than anything else. The need would arise maybe 2-3 years down the road to do it again, or have the driveway repaved. The brands/types I've seen appear to all be basically the same, lasting anywhere from 2 to 5 years. Some have a sand mix supposedly helping the dried surface be a bit more coarse an making the surface not as slipper on rain/snow for tracktion. And why are they all called 'airport grade'?
Thoughts? Thanks, Wally
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I suspect it depends on the climate where you live and the type of undersurface. If the temps drop below freezing, then recoating the drive will keep water from getting in the cracks and freezing, thus extending the life of the driveway somewhat.
If you live in a warm climate, or the asphalt is laid over a porous surface, then it probably won't do much. Most of the cracks I've seen appear to be due to settling or movement of the undersurface. Sealing won't do anything about those...
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FIRM BELIEVER in driveway sealer here!
Based on this sample.
The home next to where I grew up has a asphalt driveway. I am 49( and recently spoke to Tom Meehan who lived there when I was growing up, and is still there today. He reports that driveway is nearly as old as I am about 47 years since it was installed I would of been 2, so never remember the house without it.
anyhow he sealed it every couple years when I was a child, filling cracks and topcoating. today he is a old man and still has someone seal it every few years.
That driveway and me are near the same age, and its weatered better than I have:(
So when I got a asphalt driveway back about 1985 or so I started sealing it, about 20 years later its still really good.
true all driveways crack, but if you seal the rain cant get into the cracks and such to break it up when it freezes. In sunny never freeze areas the sealer provides some UV protection.
of course it wouldnt last if they didnt put in a good crushed rock base. a contractor came thru here about 4 years ago paved over dirt. those neighbors have grass and bushes coming thru the asphalt. I warned one neighbor not to get the cheap pavement he thought I was nuts. Today his 4 year old driveway is rutted and falling apart, he mows one area where the asphalt must of been way too thin.
If you have a driveway like his dont waste the money on sealer save up for a new driveway...
I use the type with sand and prefer the latex based available today, for easier clean up. i dont like slippery surfaces.
No doubt someone will post my driveway is 100 years old in brand new condition and was never sealed....
more power to you but I really believe in sealing....
incidently I always spif up the yard right before sealing, with that super black driveway the house nearly smiles:)
but then I enjoy a job well done!
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Well you could always just let it go and if you are in a climate that has freeze and thaw periods you can see if water seeps under and disturbs your asphalt during these F&T periods. If it does you will know better next time around that it is not just cosmetic.

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My 400' driveway was put in (21 years ago in New England) with 12" processed gravel and a fabric to keep the clay from not coming back up and mixing with the gravel and I never sealed the driveway.It looks horrible with cracks and the center being higher than where the wheels go. There is an underground stream that has helped mess up the driveway as well. When I put it in I knew to let it settle for a year before paving but didnt. I would not do it differently. but instead will have a new layer put on top some day.If I had a small driveway and wanted it to last as long as possible in a northern state and my time was cheap I would seal it.
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with a failing base topcoating is just a waste of money...
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Or top 1/2 your driveway and see how the up-topped side holds up compared to the topped side! Do it every couple years and report back in 10 years so we all know if we should keep topping or stop!

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There you go - he should take an empirical approach, if he's to convince those of us who actually want to maintain our properties, not just wait until things break or go bad and replace things.
Banty

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the water bases sealers really just color the drive. there is still an old guy here that tars drives with hot tar.. not that is a seal.. lucas
http://www.minibite.com/america/malone.htm
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IMO, it is a waste aside from appearance. Cracks should be filled, but other than that, I do nothing. My drive is 28 years old and I sealed it about 20 years ago, never did it again. It is in better shape than others that have been sealed on a regular basis. The difference was in the original paving. Mine was a better job than the houses another builder put up. I got lucky as I had nothing to do with it.
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The Weiser Powerbolt locks I have are like that. I got these at Lowe's, but they don't seem to sell them anymore. You can get a remote control that works with lamps and garage door openers too.
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
  Click to see the full signature.
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Of course that's all true.
As to periodic sealing, though, recall highway departments have the constraint of needing to accomodate traffic nearly constantly whatever they do (aside from a totally new road). So what they do or do not do may be quite different from what a homeowner does or does not do with his driveway.
Banty
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Banty writes:

Traffic interruption is not a factor. They just know that benefits are minimal to non-existent, and costs are significant.
Commercial parking lots are coated to keep them pretty, not make them last longer. All those oil stains don't impress the customers well.
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says...

You're not in the northeast, are you.
Banty
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Walter Cohen writes:

Yes, and the intelligent conclusion is that even if the coatings worked, they are horrifically expensive per pound of material applied, compared to new bulk asphalt. You're much better off saving your money and applying it to new asphalt when that day comes. So-called "sealers" are an expensive way to paint a few thousandths of an inch of asphalt on top of inches of asphalt.
Now if you really, really like the look of a fresh paint job, then maybe it is worth the money and/or back-breaking effort on that basis, but the alleged durability claims would be a false economy, even if they weren't dubious.
Take a look at what bulk asphalt typically costs your paving contractor:
http://www.dot.state.fl.us/Construction/fuel&bit/fuel&bit.htm
Now compare that to what retailed sealers cost, which are mostly water and clay and sand, and relatively little actual asphaltum.
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says...

OK, you have a materials comparison. Now, try hard - can you think of any other factors? Like pavers and other heavy equipment being brought to the scene? Compared to what a lot of homeowners are willing to do at the cost of an old pair of sneakers and enduring some heavy, smelly work?
You seem to be on a campaign about this thing...
Banty
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Banty writes:

A homeowner with a bucket and broom is going to cost many times more than a paving crew, per pound of material applied. More evidence against the economy of "sealers".
When I last had my driveway re-paved with hot mix, it cost me $60/ton. That's 3 cents per pound, delivered, applied, and finished. Spending your weekend breaking your back to buy, schlep, mix, pour, and spread a few buckets of "sealer" is thus worth less than $10 on a unit weight basis. That doesn't pay for the first retail bucket, much less your aching back. The homeowner and his muscles are no match for dump trucks and screeds. Don't waste your money on sealers.

I've been through it all, including dutifully putting on "sealer" in my younger homeowning days, because good advice was impossible to find. Now that we have the Internet, facts are readily available, and anyone can learn from this engineer's experience and analysis.
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Kinch also leaves his house unpainted. It's more economical for him to wait until the siding rots and then replace it.
He's a well known usenet kook. He has what is known as "Usenet Contrarian Tourettes Syndrome". No matter what the subject, he is COMPELLED to take a viewpoint that is opposite to everyone else and shout it loudly while flailing his arms and telling the rest of the world how stupid they are to disagree with him. Everything is a scam, a consiracy or a ripoff to Kinch. Everything.
BTW - On this particular subject of driveway sealers, Kinch thinks that everyone lives in Florida as he does.
Terry & Skipper, Clearlake Texas
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Heh, good analogy.

Good to know. I was a bit of a loss to explain the obvious to him, so I kinda gave up. (Gee, I installed new door hardware - being not someone who does this ever' day, I screwed up the first one, had to pull it out and re-install it, took more time and a little agita. My use of time was more than if I called my GC for a silly coupla door knobs, so it's not cost-effective huh? Yes, one should count one's own labor in driveway sealing if you do it that way, but to one's own value on time, not to what a paving machine brought on site can do! He's whacked.)
Banty
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Banty writes:

One would assume that anonymous-pseudonymous-cowardly posters were the whacky ones, not the guy with actual figures and analysis and the character to back it up.
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