Although asphalt driveways are not the most exciting topic, they are an important but easily overlooked part of regular home maintenance. Keeping your driveway in good shape will let you continue to take it for granted, so let's look at what need to be done.
Filling cracks and sealing your driveway are the maintenance you can expect to do. The first step is debris removal. Pull any grass or weeds growing up through driveway cracks and trim away any grass growing close to the sides. If you have any stains, like gas or oil spills, clean them with a mild soap (Dawn is great for removing oil). If you leave the stains, they will show through your new sealer. The next step is to sweep any debris off of your driveway. Using a crack sealer, fill any fissures, cracks or holes that have started in the asphalt. Follow the instructions on the crack sealer for best results. Once it has set, hose down your driveway to remove any remaining dirt or debris. If you use a power washer, use a fan-type nozzle and avoid washing over the newly-filled areas. Allow your driveway to dry for 24 hours before sealing.
Summer is a great time to seal your driveway because the hot sun will cause the seal to dry faster. Early fall is also a good time (before the leaves fall) as it will protect your driveway from the encroaching winter. You need a sunny day to apply your seal and it has to stay dry for at least 24 hours after completion, so check the weather forecast before you begin. The seal will cure fastest in hot weather, but it's miserable work to do under a blazing summer sun, so apply it in the morning before the day reaches its peak heat and then your driveway has the day to set. Keep everything off the driveway for approximately 24 hours after you're done.
For sealing your driveway, you need to first select a sealer. Coal tar and acrylic are the two most popular options. Coal-tar is a popular choice that has been around for a very long time. It's weather resistant and has that long-lasting black sheen to it. It has to be re-applied every 3 years or when it is aesthetically required, whichever comes first. Acrylic sealers are a relatively new option. Extremely durable, they provide a great barrier between your asphalt and things that will damage it, like oil, gasoline and the elements. Acrylic sealers are the most environmentally friendly choice, and though they are more expensive, they only need to be reapplied every six years or so, so in the end, they are not only environmentally friendly, but also the most economical option!
While you should always follow the directions on the sealer packaging, the gist of the application process is that starting at the top of your driveway, pour enough sealer to cover a 4ft x 4ft area. Using a specially designed type of broom or a driveway roller, spread the sealer into a smooth, even square. Do this until you reach the bottom of your driveway. Be sure to smooth out the edges for the nicest finish. Clean your equipment with soap and water, and be sure to wear sturdy work gloves throughout the process.
Try to repair cracks as they appear, as when water gets into them then freezes and thaws it can quickly cause damage throughout your driveway, meaning you'll need to totally fill and re-seal it instead of just some simple crack filling.
A well-groomed driveway will prevent your vehicles from being damaged by large cracks and potholes in it, and adds greatly to the curb appeal of your property. Maintain your driveway regularly, and you'll receive a pleasing return on your investment.
Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - August 7, 2014
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.