If your driveway has been around for a few years, chances are good that it’s seen some wear and tear. The once deep black color of fresh asphalt has long since cracked and faded to a dull gray, covered with debris, leaves, dirt and pollen – and maybe even some motor oil or other fluids from your vehicle(s). This is where sealing your driveway comes into play. You might be wondering how to make your driveway seal last.
Driving around the neighborhood on a warm summer’s day, you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot some fresh asphalt. In some cases, a pro might have come in and knocked the job out in a few hours. In others, maybe it was a DIY project. But just like a fresh coat of paint can make your home look vibrant and refreshed, resealing can work wonders if your driveway is looking a little worn out. So where do you start?
Before You Start: Asphalt sealer takes a while to cure. Make sure before you start your project that the weather is expected to be above 45 degrees Fahrenheit and rain-free for at least three days before beginning this project.
Step One: Trim, Weed, And Edge
Does your lawn run alongside your driveway? If so, you probably have overhanging grass, weeds, and flowers that lean out over the asphalt. If your driveway has cracks in it, you may even have spots where greenery has sprouted through, making things look even more ragged.
The first step to getting your driveway looking pristine is to ensure that the lawn is out of the way. That means trimming the grass and edging along your driveway to ensure that your lawn doesn’t keep encroaching beyond its natural bounds. If you have weeds coming up through the surface of your driveway, you’ll want to pull them out by the roots and spray some herbicide to ensure that they don’t grow back.
Step Two: Break Out The Broom
Once you’ve cleared the perimeter of your driveway, it’s time to get sweeping. Removing all the dust and debris from the existing surface is critical to ensuring that the new layer of asphalt will bond completely with the old one, filling in gaps and cracks along the way. It may seem silly to be outside swiping away at your driveway with a broom, but trust us – you won’t regret it in the long run.
Step Three: Power Washing Time
At the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to remove every last bit of grime from your driveway with just a broom. Renting or buying a power washer – or hiring someone to do it for you – is the best way to ensure that your driveway is as clean as possible before going to all the trouble of adding a new layer of asphalt and sealing it so that it lasts for years to come.
Pro-tip: Make sure you allow your driveway to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Step Four: Pour On The Good Stuff
Before you seal the whole driveway, you’ll want to use some patching mix (available at any home improvement store) to fill in any large cracks or depressions/divots. This ensures that when the new sealing coat settles and cures that you’ll wind up with an even surface.
Once you’ve taken care of the big issues, it’s time to break out the sealer. Keep in mind that asphalt sealers can contain caustic chemicals, so ensure that you’re wearing protective clothing (shirts with sleeves, long pants, and eye protection). Using a mix (also available at home improvement stores) and a long-handled brush or squeegee, you’ll want to apply the sealer carefully and evenly in thin, overlapping coats.
For at least 24 hours after you’ve coated your driveway, make sure that there is no traffic of any kind – foot, vehicle, or otherwise. You’ll want to keep vehicles off of the new sealed coat for 2-3 days to allow the mixture time to bond to the asphalt underneath and cure completely. If you need some help keeping people, pets, and automobiles off the driveway, consider driving some wooden posts into the lawn at the bottom corners, and stringing some caution tape between them.
Pro-tip: When it comes to asphalt sealer mixes, more isn’t necessarily better. Applying in thin, even coatings allows the product to seal and cure the driveway as it was designed to do, without taking an excessive amount of time to dry. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them to the letter, without going overboard.