Sealing your driveway is a Do-It-Yourself project that many people can do in one to two days. Sealing the driveway will give it a fresh gleam, improve its durability, and protect the surface from salt and other chemicals. If you're ready to seal, should the driveway be dry? And how does weather affect how long you might have to wait to get the job done? We've researched the best practice for driveway sealing to get these answers for you.
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When getting ready to seal an asphalt or concrete driveway, the surface must have 24 hours of dry conditions. When the sealing begins, it is best to have two more days of a dry weather forecast so that one to two coats of sealant have time to dry and cure.
Whether you are sealing an asphalt or concrete driveway, this project can be done in one day but often takes two days for longer driveways. The process itself is fairly easy, but it can be messy. Please keep reading to learn how to plan your driveway sealing project, what tools and sealant type you'll need, and how to prepare your driveway for a successful outcome.
When Is The Best Time To Seal Your Driveway?
The best time to seal your driveway is in the spring, as it is good to fix any cracks or holes that have developed over the winter from the freezing and thawing. Asphalt driveways can be particularly affected by cold winters where you might use salt or other chemical deicers. Spring is also a great time to seal the driveway because the sun's ultraviolet rays can affect the top layer of asphalt breaking it down. This is especially important in the south and southwest as the summers will be hot and the sun's rays will be strong.
How Temperature Affects Sealant
When the sealant dries, water molecules evaporate out of the sealant, pushing the other particles closer together, which makes the seal over the surface. Sealant loses its tackiness during this process, and within three or four hours you can walk on the surface.
Many sealant brands recommend two coats of sealant and that you leave eight hours between coats. The entire curing process usually takes about 24 hours from the completion of the second coat. It is best to wait until these 24 hours pass before driving or parking on the newly sealed driveway.
What is the best temperature to seal a driveway?
Sealant needs warm weather to dry and cure. The best temperatures are between 75 and 90 degrees, though many contractors use 60 to 90 degrees as their range.
Avoid cooler temperatures
Temperatures below 60 degrees will too cold for the sealant to cure. Sealant is usually water-based, so the buckets should never be allowed to freeze as this will ruin the sealant. Temperatures above 95% will prevent the sealant from drying properly. As the sealant remains liquid it may run with the slope of the driveway leaving an uneven finish.
What happens if it rains on your driveway sealer?
If it rains after three or four hours of drying, you should be alright. When the rain stops, give this coat the full eight hours to dry. If it rains earlier before the coat is dry, you may need to start over as the sealant may have been washed away in places or is not evenly coated.
What happens if you don't seal your driveway?
Sealing driveways helps them resist the sun's ultraviolet rays and gives them another layer against the freezing and thawing of winter. The sealant also protects against salt and other chemical deicers. Sealing will help the driveway last longer.
Necessary Tools for Sealing a Driveway
The two main ways to apply sealant are either to pour and squeegee/roll it or to spray it on. Longer driveways may make more sense for using the sprayer.
For either method, you will need the following tools:
- Garden hose or power washer for cleaning driveway
- Screwdriver for opening the 5-gallon buckets
- An empty 5-gallon bucket for mixing
- Paint stirrer
- 4-6 inch paintbrush for doing the border
- Paint tape for the garage door
- Dropcloth for any decorative or brick walkways adjoining the driveway
- Bucket of soapy water and some rags for cleaning spilled sealant
- Water-based citrus cleaner for getting sealant off of skin
For the pour and squeegee/roll method:
- Squeegee for pulling the sealant across the driveway (pull it toward you for even application)
- Or you might use a ceiling roller for rolling the sealant toward you (for even application)
For the sprayer method:
- H.V.L.P. (High-Velocity Low Pressure) paint sprayer
- Selection of nozzles for the paint sprayer
- Xylene or lacquer thinner (for cleaning the sprayer)
- Rags for cleaning the sprayer
Personal Protective Gear & Work Clothes
Sealcoating your driveway is a messy job. Wear old shoes and pants that you are comfortable tossing in the trash. Wear old gloves, and you may need two pairs: one for each coat, depending on how messy you get. You may also want some type of safety goggles. Make a plan for where you will remove your shoes at any time for going into the house. You might put a drop cloth by the front door to remind yourself to remove your shoes and gloves.
Driveway Sealant Types
The most important consideration is whether you have an asphalt driveway or a concrete driveway? An asphalt driveway should be seal coated every two to three years, depending on the climate. The hotter and sunnier the climate, the more often sealing might be needed.
For an asphalt driveway, choose an asphalt-based sealer. In the past, coal tar-based sealers were often used for asphalt, but they have a lot of toxic chemicals. An asphalt-based sealer is literally made of asphalt and is super smooth for easy application.
The two main decisions for asphalt-based sealers depend on how cracked the surface is. If the surface is crack-free, then choose a plain surface sealer. If the driveway's asphalt has many cracks, choose one of the thicker sealers that fill and seal the cracks.
A concrete driveway can be sealed every four to five years. Climates with a lot of icing may need to be sealed more often to accommodate the freezing and thawing. The concrete is sealed with an epoxy or polyurethane sealant.
How do I prepare my driveway for sealing?
The key to seal coating your driveway is making sure the surface is prepped well. A well-prepared surface will receive the sealant well so that it adheres and makes a fresh surface.
Trim & Clean
Cut and trim the lawn first so that you're not tempted to cut it when the sealant is drying. After cutting, either edge the lawn along the driveway or use a string trimmer to cut the grass down low, so the grass does not stick to the new sealant. Next, use a leaf blower to blow any grass, dust, and dirt off the driveway. Pull any grass or moss in cracks. Use a garden hose or a power washer to make sure the surface is really clean.
Fill & Repair
It is important to caulk any large cracks. Click here to see driveway crack filler at Amazon.
For holes, use an asphalt patch. Click here to see driveway pothole patch at Amazon.
If you are filling holes, pay attention to how much product you buy and keep the receipt so you can return unused buckets. Better to have too much than not enough.
Protect Your Home's Exterior Surfaces
Use the paint tape to protect your garage door and any decorative stones or bricks that adjoin the driveway. Use the drop cloth for anything larger to protect it.
Prep the Sealant
The last step is to get the sealant ready the night before you will be working. Make sure the buckets are still sealed, then turn them upside down on your driveway. This will help anything that has settled to the bottom of the bucket to mix with the lighter sealant on top. Do this outside, not in the garage, so it is not a bigger mess if something leaks.
Sealing Your Driveway
In the morning, give the driveway time to dry from any dew. Open two of the buckets at the same time. Mix these two buckets into the empty 5-gallon bucket. As you go through the process, every time you get half a bucket down, open the next bucket and mix them as this will blend any color or texture inconsistencies.
Use the paintbrush to do a border around the driveway so that you don't have to squeegee/roll or spray close to the grass. Four to six inches is a good width for the border. For spraying, do a bigger border close to the house.
Once you have a bucket ready to go, start at the highest point and work toward the lowest. If the driveway is flat, begin at your garage door. Pour a six-inch-wide swath across the driveway. Squeegee or roll the sealant toward you in even parallel paths. For the next, pour overlap the sealant to keep it consistent.
Make sure you've read the instructions for using the paint sprayer. Fill it with sealant and begin near the house. As you begin, be especially careful not to spray the house. If you do, grab the soap water to clean it immediately.
The second coat is applied when the driveway is dry, three to four hours after beginning.
Your asphalt or concrete driveway needs to be dry before you seal coat it. Make sure it has been dry for 24 hours before beginning. The sealant will cure within 24 to 48 hours before you should drive on it.