The How’s And Why’s of Seal Coat
It’s as simple as waxing your car to protect the paint. Blacktop oxidizes (reacts with oxygen in the air) and decays if it’s left unprotected, fading to a dull shade of grey and leaving it vulnerable to cracks, potholes, and chuckholes. Sealcoating provides a protective barrier against the elements, wear, freezing, and vehicle leaks that can cause serious damage and deterioration. Take the initiative to utilize a blacktop seal coating and you could protect your asphalt before it begins drying out and decaying. Properly maintained asphalt can last up to 30 years before replacement and will literally save you thousands of dollars over time in asphalt repair and replacement costs. No maintenance, on the other hand, can result in expensive replacement in less than 10 years.
First of all, you need to know when you need asphalt maintenance.
Pour water on the surface and if it beads, you’re protected. If not, it’s time to apply sealant.
First Things First
There are a few important steps that must be completed before applying coat of asphalt sealer. Either hire a pro to fix problems, or click on the links to learn how to do it yourself.
- Repair Asphalt Potholes: They can be dangerous, they’re certainly unsightly, and they're ruinous to your pavement.
- Repair Asphalt Cracks: Cracks can lead to water damage in your pavement’s foundation. They may look harmless, but it won’t take long for them to turn into potholes if left unchecked. Our recommended crack sealing equipment and asphalt crack filler will do the trick.
- Does Lawn Border Your Blacktop? Trim it back before you start, or you may end up with black grass imbedded in your asphalt.
Never Apply Sealant To A Dirty Surface
For sealcoat to stick to blacktop and protect it, the surface must be completely clean. Just like you wouldn’t put wax on a dirty and greasy car, you can’t put asphalt sealer on dirty or greasy pavement.
Here's the supplies you'll need to clean the surface before sealcoating:
First, use the gas blower to clear all dirt, debris, and sand from the surface.
If you have any parking lot lines, be sure to clear all flaking paint, otherwise the asphalt sealing will not adhere. A scrub brush can help with that.
Use the environmental degreaser cleaner before you apply sealer to clean any and all stains. Simply apply, scrub, let sit for 5 minutes (add water if needed to keep wet), and then rinse with water. Be sure to take a look at it when it’s dry so you’re positive the stain is gone. If it's not, repeat the process as needed.
If you have a smaller asphalt surface, like a home driveway, you may be able to use a leaf blower or broom to clear dirt and debris.
Supplies Needed For Sealcoating
Here’s the list of what you will need. We’ll get more detailed on each one in a moment.
We'll explain how to calculate the quantity below. Remember to account for enough sealant for 1 or 2 coats, depending on how many you are doing. Be sure to get an asphalt sealer that is specifically designed for both protection and rejuvenation.
Choose a sprayer that is best suited for your property. These extremely useful systems can sealcoat a 4-car driveway in less than 15 minutes and are very easy to use. Home owners with small driveways can use a squeegee or broom for asphalt sealing.
Pylons, Saw Horses, Caution Tape
These will help block off the area to keep traffic out while you work, and while it cures.
Cardboard And Tape
These will help block off and protect sidewalks, doors, lampposts, curbs, lawns, gardens and anything else you don’t want blackened with sealer.
How to Purchase Sealcoat Sealer
There are two things to consider: quality and quantity.
The quality of asphalt sealer is important to how long it lasts and how well it protects. The highest quality sealer contains coal tar, and it is the most effective at protecting against the elements and repelling water, gasoline, oil, and transmission fluid.
Another good quality indication is if the sealer is marked “airport-grade”, which must meet the high standards needed for airport runways. You may not be able to find such a thing at your local store, but you certainly can find such high-grade asphalt/blacktop sealer right here on our website.
As for quantity, you must measure the area where you plan to apply sealant. Simply multiply the length by the width for the square footage. If you have multiple areas, measure each one individually and add them together. Enter this number into our sealcoating calculator, as well as how you plan to apply it, and you’ll know exactly how much you’ll need. Remember, it’s better to have too much than have to stop and order more before you're finished.
Keep In Mind: If you have neglected asphalt sealing for many years, you will need to apply it in 2 thin coats, allowing time to dry in between, so you’ll need to double up on your order.
Learn More: Enroll In Our Free Course
Property Owner's Asphalt Maintenance Course
This free asphalt driveways course is everything a property owner needs to know about asphalt maintenance and repair.
Do you need one, and do you know how to choose one? For any property manager or owner, an asphalt sprayer is an investment that quickly pays for itself in time and money saved.
When you figure that you should sealcoat every 2 years, doing it yourself is a big savings over contracting the job out. "But do I really need a sealcoating machine? Can't I just use a squeegee or a broom?" On anything but the small driveway, this is not a good use of time, and it is very hard work.
It's not only faster to use a machine, but also more efficient. A machine uses 40% less material. If you have asphalt equipment, you will be saved from spending too much time and effort when you maintain your asphalt driveway. What's even better? This equipment should last you many years to come, if well-maintained.
Even the simplest sealcoating machine that draws directly from the drum of seal coat will make the work simple, quick, and professional looking. For the property that has larger demands, you can go all the way up to a heavy-duty machine that handles up to 300 gallons of sealant in a seal coat storage tank.
This article will give you the facts you need for finding the best machine for your needs.
First Step To Asphalt Sealing
An important part of knowing how to apply blacktop sealer is determining when to seal it. Sealer can be applied once new asphalt has cured for at least 90 days. Though, ideally it’s best to wait for six to nine months before the first coat. Don’t apply blacktop sealer when it’s raining or snowing.
I your blacktop is clean, all potholes and cracks are filled, and you’re ready to start sealcoating, the next step is to check the weather forecast. You’ll need temperatures of 60º F or above, and no rain for the day. If the weather permits, you may begin to prep the area you will be applying the sealer to.
Any areas that you do not want black sealer to get on must be protected. Use cardboard and tape to protect sidewalks, curbs, lampposts, fire hydrants, garage doors, etc. This is the time to block off the area with traffic cones, sawhorses, and caution tape to keep all traffic out.
Did you know? Sealcoating must be stirred, just like paint, or the solids start to settle down to the bottom. Use an old broom stick to thoroughly mix. The consistency of the liquid should resemble thick soup.
Time To Apply Sealant
Plan out where you will start and finish, so you don’t paint yourself into a corner. Generally, you start asphalt sealing by doing the top and side edges first, keeping the spray even and applying a thin coat. It’s useful to have a second person work with you, holding cardboard to protect the grass, curb, sidewalks, or flower beds on the edges. Then start at the top and work side to side all the way to the bottom edge.
Consider a Wand Wizard Edger
If you've never used a spray shield such as the Wand Wizard Edger before, you're going to be amazed at how much time it saves you. Just attach it to a spray wand and go! You don't need to have another person holding plywood or cardboard so that you don't overspray onto sidewalks, curbs or lawns: this attachment makes it easy for you do it all yourself.
When using a spraying machine, do the top and side edges first. Then, starting at one of the top corners, go side to side until it's done.
Getting Poor Pressure at the Spray Tip?
If you start getting poor pressure at the spray tip while you're sealcoating, there are a few causes. Get three common reasons and how to fix this problem with some troubleshooting.
How Fast And Easy Is It?
Seeing is believing, so watch this video to see exactly how easy and how fast you can get the job done.
Now you simply need to allow time for the sealcoating to cure and dry. Two thin coats cure and seal far better than one thick, gloopy coat, so be sure to allow time to cure between asphalt sealing coats.
Keeping Your Sprayer and Accessories Clean
In order to keep your sprayer in good working condition, it’s important to clean and maintain the hose, sprayer gun, sprayer tips, and filter on your sealcoat system.
1. Flushing the Hose and Sprayer Gun
When you are done with work for the day, you should flush your hose and spray gun. To do this, you should have a 55 gallon drum of water (highly recommended, though you can also use a large 30 gallon bucket or other large container of water as your water source) and a transfer kit.
We strongly recommend you buy a transfer kit if you don’t already have one; it’s not only useful to transfer sealer from drums or other sealer sources, but it also allows you to flush your unit very well.
When you’re ready to flush your system, turn off the bottom valve at the very bottom of your tank. This shuts the tank so you won’t be pulling sealer through your sprayer hose and spray gun. Connect your transfer kit to the female camlock, and fill the transfer kit hose with water. Insert the end of the transfer kit into your water source and point your spray gun into your water source as well. Then, turn your unit on spray mode on top of your pump; your system will be pulling in water via the transfer kit, through your pump, down your spray hose, through your spray gun, and back into the water source.
This essentially flushes your unit with water. See the diagram below:
2. Cleaning the Filter Kit
Once you’re done with the flush of water, remove the screen mesh of the filter kit and stick it into a 5 gallon pail of water for an hour or two. The filter kit itself opens up nice and wide so you can get a hose in there and flush it out for 20-30 minutes. When you’re ready to use your unit, reassemble.
3. Cleaning the Spray Tips
Take your tip off the spray gun and put it into a small Tupperware of Goof Off, bug & tar remover, or even water. Use a small wire brush to clean the tip; a stiff wire bristle can clean the tip hole.
4. What to Do with Sealer Water
Never put the sealer water out into a sewer or dump it out! The best thing to do is just keep the 55 gallon drum of water throughout the season to flush your system. When your water gets very dirty, use that water as dilution water (our sealer can be diluted up to 20-30% with water) or to restore the liquid that evaporates during the season.
5. Remove the Transfer Kit
When you’re ready to reuse your unit, make sure the transfer kit is removed and the male camlock is back on where the transfer kit was attached. Open the bottom valve of your tank, recirculate your sealer, and use spray mode as normal.
6. Clear the Suction Port
Previously we blogged about troubleshooting sealcoating systems that are losing pressure at the spray tip, with one of the potential causes being a clogged suction port.
Clearly that was an issue for many, as we got questions about the best way for fixing and clearing the suction port. Here's what you need to know about this critical part of sealcoating maintenance.
- The easiest way to unclog it is to go in through the main top lid of the tank with a piece of rebar, a drill mixer, or a piece of 1x2 - something that can get in to the end of the tank where the suction hose connects to the bottom of the tank. Go in through the top lid inside the tank to the end of the tank where the suction hose connects and swish the sealer around. Over time the coal tar clay sediment settles to the bottom and the solids will clog the suction port if you don't have a manual agitation system.
- Even easier than clearing the suction port is to invest in a manual agitation system to prevent the clog from happening in the first place. The danger is a blockage can potentially have you running your pump dry and burning up your seals. If your pump isn't getting primed, because liquid isn't reaching it due to the suction port being blocked, that is when you can cause damage to your sealcoating machine. A manual agitation kit will help you avoid this problem.
- Another method of clearing the suction port is to remove the hose from the suction port of the tank, (located at the very bottom of the tank). Make sure the valve on your tank is off; otherwise when you pull the hose off, sealer will spill out everywhere.
Here is the step-by-step way to clear the suction port by removing the hose:
- Close your main valve on the bottom of your tank.
- Pull the hose off.
- Check the hose for blockage.
- Get a 5-gallon pail and place it below the main valve for the suction port.
- Open the valve.
- Let the thick sludge drip out of there, checking to make sure it has not solidified into a hard solid form. This would never remix, even with a drill mixer, as it is now a solid mass.
7. Prevent Blockages When You'll Be Away
Prevention is the best sealcoating maintenance. If your sealer is going to sit for a couple of weeks at a time because you are going on a vacation, you are going to have a difficult time agitating the sealer in the tank when you get back. Unless you have someone to come in and agitate it every 2 or 3 days while you are away, your real solution is to transfer it.
Start by removing the spray tip off of your spray gun. Then spray the sealer through the spray gun into 55 gallon drums. Seal the drums airtight. This way you protect and prevent your suction port from getting clogged in the first place.
Now you know the two best ways to clearing the suction port in your sealcoating machine. Agitation not only will help clear the blockage by keeping the sealer mixed properly, but by investing in a manual agitation unit and regularly agitating, you prevent the blockages from happening in the first place. Removing the suction hose, with the valve closed, also allows you to remove the sludge that has settled. Most of all prevention is your best bet. If you will not be using the tank while you are on vacation, either have someone come in every couple of days to agitate it, or transfer the sealant to drums and store.
Now’s the time to have fresh parking lot lines painted to replace what has been blacked out by sealcoating. We have a great selection of parking lot striping machines, products and a fantastic free line striping course that is just as easy to learn as applying sealer. You’ve already got the asphalt prepped and ready to go, so the time-consuming prep work is already done!
Don’t forget to store your machine and equipment, cleaned and ready to use for next time you do asphalt sealing. The barriers and caution tape can be taken down and stored once the asphalt has cured.
Interested In Knowing More? Visit our complete line-up of asphalt courses designed for everyone from homeowners to property managers to business start-ups.