What is the Difference Between Paving and Sealcoating?

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When it comes to asphalt maintenance, two of the most common terms you’ll probably hear are: asphalt paving and sealcoating. Although many use these terms interchangeably, they are actually two distinct products with unique purposes. Generally, sealcoating is for prevention while paving is restoration.

How does asphalt paving and sealcoating differ? Which is the right treatment for your asphalt driveway? Let’s check out their differences to help you decide which product to pick.

Asphalt Paving

The term asphalt paving refers to the application of hot, liquid asphalt to a driveway or open space. It can either be for a new installation or for repair. Typically, asphalt re-paving is recommended when asphalt is badly damaged due to potholes, major cracks, or fissures. The type of asphalt paving project depends on the damage. For simple cracks, asphalt overlays can be done while for major damages, complete resurfacing may be necessary.

In asphalt overlay, a layer of fresh asphalt is installed over the existing pavement. The existing asphalt layer is retained and reinforced with the new layer. Although overlays are considered a short-term fix that can only last for about a year or two, when done properly, asphalt overlays can repair both minor and major defects, such as potholes and cracking.

Overlays should not be used for pavement with destabilized foundation, deep cracks, or severe potholes. The damaged areas will eventually emerge shortly in a matter of months, hence, it will only be a waste of money.

Meanwhile, complete resurfacing involves removing the old pavement, repairing the foundation, and replacing it with a new asphalt layer. This restorative project is recommended for major problems such as cracking edges, water pools, foundation damages, and other issues due to aging. This project entails a hefty cost – just like spending on a new installation – but it is a worthwhile investment.

Asphalt Sealcoating

Sealcoating is a product applied over the asphalt pavement to stabilize its properties. It is a liquid solution that quickly dries up to form a tough, impenetrable layer over the asphalt. The sealcoat protects the asphalt from damage due to UV rays, water, oil, fuel, and other corrosive chemicals. Sealcoating your asphalt significantly reduces the rate of damage due to the element. It keeps your asphalt looking black and shiny.

Unlike paving, sealcoating cannot repair major cracks or potholes. However, it can smoothen out tiny imperfections giving the pavement a smooth, perfect look. Additionally, it can beautify an asphalt driveway by enhancing its rich, deep color and restoring any faded sections.

According to engineers from ABC Paving, sealcoating contractor from Florida, sealcoating is a necessary preventive maintenance procedure. Sealcoating along with other maintenance procedures such as crack-filling can increase the lifespan of your driveway. The good news is that it is an inexpensive but very effective product. Although it is relatively cheap, sealcoating is not permanent and requires reapplication at least every three years. But even with regular sealcoating, it is still much more cost-effective than resurfacing a damaged asphalt driveway or spending all over again for a new asphalt pavement.

Asphalt Paving or Asphalt Sealcoating: Which Should I Choose?

Here’s a quick guide to help you decide which project to implement for your asphalt pavement.

Choose asphalt paving if…

  • your asphalt driveway is near or has reached its life expectancy (15 to 20 years)
  • your asphalt driveway has major problems like water pools, crumbling edges, deep cracks, spider cracks, and severe potholes
  • your asphalt driveway sustained major damages but you’re not yet ready for a complete asphalt driveway replacement, asphalt overlay may be done

Asphalt paving is a major project that can actually be prevented with proper maintenance. It is a costly endeavor but might be necessary especially if your asphalt has fully served its lifespan.

Choose sealcoating if…

  • your asphalt driveway is at least six months old and has not been sealcoated over the last three years
  • your asphalt driveway has been recently repaved or potholes and cracks have been recently repaired
  • you want your asphalt to maintain its spotless look, deep color, and smooth surface

Asphalt sealcoating can significantly reduce natural degradation process by protecting your pavement from the effects of thaw-freeze, extreme temperatures, water, fuel, and other elements. It is the best way to make the most out of your investment.

So, which product is best for your asphalt pavement? Hopefully this guide has helped making an informed decision easier for you. Better yet, you can ask expert paving contractors to check and evaluate your asphalt pavement’s condition, and determine an appropriate preventive maintenance measure.