A Guide on When to Sealcoat Commercial Asphalt
For businesses, a parking lot is a pretty basic necessity. It’s also a reflection of your company. You want the very first impression for your customers to be a good one. As they pull up to your business, you want your parking lot to be convenient and well-maintained.
Consider these recent statistics from asphaltroads.com. Smoother pavements result in longer pavement life. In fact, smooth pavement lasts 10-25 percent longer than rough pavement, which results in significant savings in maintenance costs. Smooth asphalt also saves your customers money, up to $400 a year in lowered maintenance costs.
To put it in other words, the smoother the pavement, the happier the customer.
Why, then, do so many businesses seemingly neglect to maintain their parking lots? Perhaps they don’t know where to start or perhaps they simply take good asphalt for granted. Maybe they don’t know when to get commercial asphalt lots sealed. Maybe they don’t realize their customers are slowly getting frustrated with subpar parking surfaces.
Regardless of the reason, there are also solutions for how to fix deteriorating asphalt or for preserving smooth pavement for years to come.
With that in mind, we’ve worked to bring together our guide on when to seal an asphalt parking lot. All our tips are designed to help extend the life of your lot while making parking easier and safer for your customers. Considering that you only get one chance to make a first impression, we know your commercial lot is an important part of your success.
Questions to Ask Yourself Concerning Your Lot
To really understand if you are due for a new lot sealcoating or not, you need to start by asking yourself a few questions. While parking lots may seem to be unimportant and may go unnoticed, by taking a moment and truly considering the condition and age of your lot, you may discover there is much you can do to improve the condition of your parking surface. Start with these questions:
How Old Is Your Parking Surface?
If your asphalt is brand new, you do not need a sealcoat. By the time it is between 6 months to a year old, you are going to want to think about when to apply a sealcoat.
Now, just because your asphalt is a year old does not mean it necessarily needs a sealcoat. There are a lot of additional factors that will help you determine when you need to apply a sealcoating, but these questions all come after first assessing the age of your pavement.
When Did You Last Apply a Sealcoat?
If your asphalt is older than a year, you next have to determine when you applied your last sealcoat. It is recommended that you apply a new sealcoat every three to five years. This will help preserve the surface of your asphalt while preventing far more expensive repairs further down the road.
Can You See Deterioration?
Of course, even if you’ve never applied a sealcoat or simply cannot remember when the last one was applied, surface deterioration is another tell-tale sign that you need to apply a sealant as soon as possible. Even minor wear, such as small cracks or a surface color change from black to gray, can be a signal that it is time to consider minor maintenance.
Just because you see these signs doesn’t mean you have been doing anything wrong, they are often simply the result of minor wear and tear. Remember, parking lots carry heavy loads on their backs and are subject to the harshness of winter, a fact that is especially true here in Central Pennsylvania.
Why Sealcoating Is Important
Of course, this discussion of when to consider sealcoating begs the question: Why is it important in the first place? Is this just a minor cosmetic fix, or does it actually help make pavement stronger and more durable?
Sealcoating is an incredible way to protect your investment. With that in mind, here are the primary reasons to consider sealcoating your asphalt.
Sealcoating Protects Against Water Damage
It seems counterintuitive that something as hard as asphalt can be damaged by water. Unfortunately, water is one of the biggest enemies of pavement.
Small amounts of water can penetrate the tiny cracks in asphalt’s surface. When that water seeps into those cracks and then freezes in winter, the water expands, thus expanding the crack. Then, when water fills that now slightly larger crack and freezes, the crack expands again. Eventually, this process of repeated expansion of water-filled cracks produces large, potentially dangerous fissures and potholes in your surface.
Sealcoating provides your asphalt with a protective waterproof barrier. That means even those initial micro-cracks are protected from water seepage.
Sealcoating Also Helps Siphon Water to the Proper Place
While most customers won’t be driving fast through your parking lot, one of the most dangerous moments for a car in the rain is pulling into a parking lot off a high-traffic road. At that moment, the car is transitioning to the slower speed used to navigate a parking lot.
Unfortunately, if there is significant water pooling on your parking surface, this moment can also lead to hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is especially dangerous when a car is trying to quickly change speeds or directions.
Because sealcoating waterproofs the surface, it will also guide the water away. Of course, your parking surface also needs to be properly graded, but if your parking lot was installed properly, a sealcoating will make the grading more effective. Additionally, if your parking lot needs to be regraded in order to prevent future water pooling, a sealcoating is an essential part of ensuring the repair lasts as long as the rest of your parking surface.
Sealcoating Improves the Effectiveness of Crack Repairs
If you have a significant crack in the surface of your asphalt, a simple sealcoating will not fix it. It needs to be filled with a repairing material, which will make sure the crack won’t refill with water and reopen. However, in order to ensure your crack repair lasts and is effective, a sealcoating should be applied on top of the entire surface of asphalt. That way, there is a single surface that covers both the crack fill and the asphalt, ensuring that the different textures of the materials do not give water the opportunity to penetrate.
Sealcoating Also Protects Against Corrosive Materials
Water isn’t the only liquid that can damage an asphalt pavement. Gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, and de-icing chemicals can all stain, corrode, and destroy your surface. While it is important not to let these types of hazardous chemicals sit for long periods of time, since they can be poisonous to wildlife, a sealcoating will make sure they stay on the surface, thus saving your asphalt from further wear and tear.
Sealcoating Makes the Surface Easier to Clean
Dirt and chemical staining can be near impossible to remove from the surface of untreated pavement. However, with a sealcoating, cleanup is much easier. The same is true during winter. With a sealcoated surface, half-melted snow won’t then freeze and adhere to the porous asphalt. Instead, it will simply lie on the top of the coating, meaning shoveling will be easier.
Sealcoating Protects the Appearance of Your Asphalt
While sealcoating isn’t solely cosmetic, it definitely has cosmetic advantages. Sealcoating preserves that brand-new black asphalt look, preventing it from becoming a dull gray. Additionally, if your asphalt has begun to show signs of age, it will restore its appearance.
While cosmetics shouldn’t be your only motivation, remember that your parking lot is often the first impression you make on a new customer. So if you want your lot to look new, safe and accommodating, sealcoating is the best way to extend its new appearance.
Similarly, sealcoating will make the lines on your parking lot pop. Again, this may seem like a superficial issue, but not only do brightly painted lines look better, they also help encourage safe and dent-free parking. By keeping your individual parking spaces clearly marked, your customers will find parking straight in a spot easier, limiting the chances that a customer will come out to the frustrating sight of a ding in their car door.
What to Do When You’re Ready for a New Sealcoating
Now that you have an understanding of when to get a commercial asphalt lot sealed, what are your next steps?
Get a Professional Opinion
We’ve given you a good eyeball test for deciding if it’s time to get a new sealcoating. However, in order to be sure that it is the best time to get an asphalt lot sealcoated, you should get a professional opinion. First, a professional will determine if a new sealcoating is actually going to fix the issues. If your cracks are too extreme or your pavement is too worn, you may need to consider a full resurfacing rather than a sealcoating.
A professional will also be able to spot those smaller trouble spots you may have missed. These small cracks can be addressed easily and affordably when they are still minor, preventing you from more expensive fixes later.
A professional will also begin to discuss what sort of preparations you need to make in order to make sure the sealcoating application will last for as long as possible.
For more information on Daniel B. Krieg's commercial sealcoating services for the Harrisburg, PA region and beyond, feel free to fill out a form online or give us a call at 800-334-4929.
Wait for It to Get Warmer
While sealcoating is important for making sure your surface survives the winter, the best time to get an asphalt lot sealcoated is during the warmer months. Before even considering the sealcoating application, the temperature needs to be consistently higher than 65 degrees, both day and night. While a warm spring may be appropriate, it is probably best to wait for summer. Similarly, make sure to get the job done before it starts to get cold again. While July might not be the usual time for preparing for winter, when it comes to sealcoating, you don’t want to think about the process too late in the year.
Clear the Surface
Once you have scheduled an appointment, you need to make sure your surface is as clean as possible to ensure a proper seal. That means not spreading fertilizers – whose chemicals can react with the sealant – and turning off any sprinkler systems to make sure the surface is not wet.
Additionally, if you can, the most efficient way to have your surface resealed is to close your parking lot for a day or two. However, if you need to keep at least part of your lot open, you can also partition one area for parking while resurfacing the rest. Once the newly resurfaced section is ready for traffic, just switch the areas.
What We’ll Do When We Arrive
Once you’ve set up your appointment, your job is done. The rest is up to the professionals who have years of experience applying sealcoat. Still, what’s the process can you expect when we’ve arrived to get the job done right?
Edge Any Surrounding Grass
You want your sealcoat to go all the way to the edge of your surface. That means we need to edge away any grass that might be in contact with the very edge of your lot.
Many problems with asphalt surfaces begin at the edges, as they tend to be more porous. By removing the grass, our sealcoat will cover the edge, improving the life of the sealcoat and your asphalt.
Do a Final Surface Cleaning
Our next task is making sure there is no debris or dust that could damage the sealcoat application. The specific equipment used will depend on the size of your lot, but for most surfaces we use some sort of combination of high-pressure blower and mechanical rotary brush.
Treat Oil Spots
Unfortunately, oil spots prevent adherence of the sealcoat and cannot be removed by mechanical cleaning equipment. In order to address this issue, we use a primer to cover the oil spots. Once that is completed, the sealcoat will not have any issues adhering to surface.
Do Crack Repairs
After cleaning and treatment, we next repair all and any cracks. We use a rubberized crack filler that will prevent further water damage.
Block Off Traffic
At this point we block traffic as required by the job in order to ensure no cars damage the sealant.
Apply the Sealcoating
This is where we do the real work of sealing and preserving your surface. We apply our coal tar emulsion sealcoating using either a brush or sprayer, depending on the size and condition of your asphalt. We always brush the edge of the lot by hand so emulsion isn’t accidentally sprayed on any unintended surfaces. This will also give the edge of your lot a clean, sharp, professional surface.
As you can see, sealcoating is important, but so is getting it done right. If you have more questions about our approach to sealcoating, feel free to explore further.
A good sealcoating will improve the life and look of your parking lot. While many business owners might neglect their parking surfaces, we can assure you that a good, smooth pavement will make your customers happier. Now that you know when to reseal a commercial parking lot, go outside, look at your lot and ask yourself if you are making the best first impression that you can.