Best Products to Use to Seal a Driveway

Driveways deteriorate over time and need to be resealed as time goes by. Sealing a driveway right after it is installed helps protect against the elements and wear and tear.

Additionally, periodic application of driveway sealers help you protect your asphalt or concrete driveway for many years of use and keep it looking attractive for longer.

There is a wide range of driveway sealers on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. You should consider what the end result will look like, how much you are willing to spend, how much protection your driveway needs and the current condition of your driveway before choosing a sealant. The type of driveway you have (asphalt, concrete, pavers) is also a major factor to consider. There are eight common types of driveway sealant you can either install yourself or have installed by a professional.

1. Coal Tar Sealer

Coal sealant is a mixture of coal tar, clay, sand and polymers. It is pliable, easy to apply and resistant to the elements. It is one of the most durable sealants available and lasts for years if applied properly. It usually takes several hours for coal tar sealer to dry. You should let it dry for at least 24 hours before allowing vehicles or anything heavy on it.

A nice feature of coal tar sealers is its imperviousness to common automobile fluids such as gasoline and antifreeze. You never have to worry about leaking fluids staining or damaging a driveway sealed with coal tar. It does not fade or discolor from sunshine exposure and is very affordable.

However, a few drawbacks of coal tar sealer include the presence of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are dangerous to inhale or get on the skin, and the fact that coal tar is not eco-friendly.

2. Asphalt Sealer

Asphalt sealers are similar to coal tar sealers in that they look attractive and give you a nice black finish. Asphalt sealers also protect your driveway, but they do not last as long, and you may need to apply a second coat of the product after the first coat thoroughly dries. It is semi-permeable, so some staining may occur over time. The greatest advantage of asphalt sealant is that it does not contain VOCs that irritate the skin or are harmful if inhaled.

The problem with asphalt sealers is that they are water soluble, meaning that liquids seep into the surface of the driveway over time and stains are not uncommon. While asphalt sealing is less expensive than coal tar, you do need to apply it more often over time to keep your desired finish.

3. Acrylic Sealers

Acrylic sealers are made of synthetic materials, with polymers and acrylic being the primary ingredients. These are two to three times more expensive than either asphalt or coal tar but have plenty of upsides for the increased price. If you want something that looks great for years, acrylic sealers are a good choice.

Acrylics have virtually no VOCs, so they are safe to use and do not have the strong odor that both asphalt and coal tar emit. If you want something that is more decorative, acrylic sealers are available in several colors to accent your home beautifully. They also dry quickly and are easy to apply with either rollers or spray guns.

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However, one of the greatest draw backs is that acrylic sealers do not last as long as asphalt or coal sealers. This can hurt the value of a property, as it means that the future owners will need to maintain the driveway with acrylic or have it completely resealed with a more durable sealant.

4. Water Based Sealers

Water based sealers have either asphalt or coal tar suspended in them as emulsions. When applied, water based sealers form a protective layer on top of the surface that coats but does not penetrate the surface of the driveway. Water based sealers do not contain as many VOCs and are environmentally friendly. However, they also wear off quickly over time and are water permeable, so you may experience some staining when oils and gasoline come into contact with it.

5. Oil Based Sealers

Oil based sealers are petroleum-based and contain asphalt chemicals and rejuvenators suspended in an oil base. These oil-based sealers soak into your driveway, penetrating and providing a flexible bond that does not crack due to temperature changes.

However, there are more VOCs in oil-based driveway sealers, and some states in the United States have banned the use of oil-based sealers because they pollute the environment. They also take longer to dry completely and have a strong odor that lingers for days.

6. Crack Fillers

Crack fillers seal cracks in asphalt driveways rather than forming a thin coating that covers the entire surface of your driveway. You can purchase crack filler sealers in both a hot application version and a cold application version.

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The heat-applied version is more appropriate for small cracks and can be difficult to use, as you must simultaneously heat the filler with a torch and put the filler in the cracks. For larger cracks, a cold-fill version is available that is applied with any caulking gun.

7. Epoxy Sealers

The first six sealers mentioned above are generally used for sealing asphalt driveways. Concrete driveways require a different type of sealant, and epoxy sealers are the most commonly used. Epoxy provides a strong, durable coating that covers and protects the surface from gasoline, chemicals, oils and temperature fluctuations. It is nonpermeable, so there is little danger of staining the concrete if you apply an epoxy sealer.

Epoxy sealers are much stronger than acrylic sealers and provide superior abrasion resistance and  protect against staining for years. Epoxy is a surface sealer that is often used in high traffic areas such as airports, warehouse and malls.

8. Linseed Oil Sealers

Linseed oil-based sealers have been in use for years to seal concrete driveways, long before artificial sealants were introduced. Linseed oil sealant is one of the most environmentally friendly and mild forms of concrete sealer. This is why it is often chosen by people who are sensitive to strong odors, VOCs or harsh chemicals.

The linseed oil must be boiled before application to the concrete to ensure penetration. Once it is applied and absorbed, it forms a bond that makes the concrete harder and more resistant to the elements and moisture.

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