By Erik J. Martin, CTW Features
A driveway is something that most homeowners overlook and forget about. But whether it’s asphalt or concrete, it should be resealed from time to time to prevent deterioration, cracks, potholes, and other defects.
Fortunately, this is a DIY project that most handy homeowners can tackle on their own, although the experts often recommend enlisting a pro for the job to prevent mistakes or DIY remorse.
“Every kind of driveway needs to have maintenance and be resealed,” says Courtney Harmon, president of The Driveway Company. “This can extend the life of your driveway and prevent premature degradation.”
Chenise Bhimull, a real estate expert with ZFC Real Estate, agrees.
“If your driveway is in constant use, fluids from your automobile often spill onto it. Cracks develop on the surface, absorbing oxygen and water, making it weaker over time. Thus, it’s important to reseal your driveway every once in a while to ensure its strength,” she says.
Resealing involves applying a topical product like a chemical membrane over the surface of the driveway that’s designed to protect it from the effects of sun, rain, salt, gasoline, and other chemicals that can naturally wear away the asphalt or concrete, according to Leonard Ang, CEO of iPropertyManagement.
“Sealing your driveway at least once every few years will help prolong its life and enable you to avoid the much more expensive project of patching or replacing the entire driveway,” Ang adds.
Many experts recommend resealing an asphalt driveway every three years or sooner and a concrete driveway every four or five years. This project is best done in warmer months when the temperature is consistently higher than 50°F.
“Concrete is a very open, porous material when unsealed, and water is its worst enemy. Sealing it will fill in these pores and prevent water damage on the surface. Water damage leads to cracking, which leads to compromises underneath the concrete, which leads to uneven surfaces,” cautions Harmon.
While it’s often best to hire an experienced professional, you can reseal your driveway yourself by following the proper steps. First, choose the right window of time; the ground should be dried before attempting to apply a sealant. Postpone the project at least a full day after rainfall.
“The night before, prep the area carefully by mowing your lawn and cleaning off the driveway thoroughly,” advises Bhimull. Remove any debris, dirt, and stains you see.
For concrete driveways, a penetrating sealer is recommended, which produces a barrier against water and oil and safeguards the surface from discoloration. A special asphalt-based sealer is best for asphalt driveways.
“Always purchase a bit more product than you think you will need since you will have to apply it in one complete coat to get an effective seal and avoid a permanently visible line in your driveway,” advises Ang. “Note that thicker sealant is much harder to work with but can be a better choice for driveways that are in rough shape or those in colder latitudes.”
Store your sealant upside down the night before you start your project, as this will help it to mix more effectively the day you start.
For an asphalt driveway, pour the product onto the driveway and spread the sealant using a paint roller, squeegee, or wide broom in an even fashion.
For a concrete driveway, the experts suggest using a tank sprayer or paintbrush and roller and overlapping the product in steady, even strokes.
“Tackle the edges and cracks of your driveway first, since they will need a more precise touch and you’ll be able to more quickly to the middle afterward,” adds Ang.
Add a second coat of sealant if the product calls for it after allowing the initial coat to dry for up to 10 hours and permit the sealer to cure for a minimum of 24 hours prior to using your driveway.