Interesting when we sold our last house in NJ, it had the same
driveway that had been put in when it was built 17 years earlier,
essentially in the same condition it was in when new (it was not as
dark and black) but after 16 years of snow and ice it suffered no
physical damage and had never been touched with a drop of "sealer".
Well, I can't compare MN vs NJ climates. But I can compare driveway life
between neighbors-- especially when all the driveways were likely original
and done by the developer by the same asphalt crew. So if one lasts longer
than another, there must be a variable. I suggested it was the sealcoating,
but perhaps it's something else.
And FWIW I only had the thing coated once in the 6 years I was there --
seemed to be plenty.
The potential to crack increases with time. Asphalt is a blend of
hydrocarbons of various high molecular weights (essentially all the stuff
left from crude oil once the more valuable light fractions are removed).
Over a long time the lighter portions evaporate and leave a brittle,
higher-molecular-weight mass behind, and eventually the brittleness will
crack under just about load or weathering.
By the way, "asphalt" means the tar from crude oil. The precise term for
the material used to pave is "asphaltic concrete", consisting of asphalt as
a binder with gravel aggregate.
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