Q.1 How can I tell when my new pavement is ready for sealer?
A.1 Pavement is normally ready for sealer two or three months from the time it is installed in warm weather months. There is a relatively simple test that will tell you. Take a 5 gallon bucket of water and pour it on the pavement. Watch the runoff. If you see any rainbow colors, or the water "beads up" the way it would on a waxed surface, it's too soon to seal. If it "sheets out" like it would on an un-waxed car it is time to seal it.
Q.2 What should I use for a sealer?
A.2 What this contractor recommends is the water based sealers. That would mean either a coal tar, or an asphalt emulsion type. If you can get it, coal tar is the preferred product because it dries a deeper black and lasts longer. If you can find it with sand added, even better. We would suggest staying away from petroleum based sealers because they have a shiny surface once dried, and have a tendency to be slippery when wet. Once you have installed this type sealer, you cannot go over it with a regular water base sealer because it will not adhere properly, and have a tendency to delaminate. If you MUST go over it, the entire area should be primed with asphalt primer which is hard to find and more expensive than the sealer itself.
Q.3 What causes the asphalt to crack?
A.3 Normally, asphalt will crack due to a basing, or compacting problem. It can also be caused by poor butt joints in the asphalt, which means that the previous run of asphalt had cooled too much for the new run to meld properly when rolled.
Q.4 Are those cracks going to continue to grow and, if so, why?
A.4 In all probability they will continue to grow over time. As to the why, the answer is a combination of water getting into the asphalt through the cracks and causing damage, and (in the northern areas) the freeze thaw cycles that the asphalt goes through in the spring and fall. Each time the ground freezes, the crack opens microscopically. Multiply that by the number of times this happens and pretty soon you can see the difference with the naked eye.
Q.5 What can I do about this?
A.5 It depends on the size of the cracking. Normally you can go to the hardware store and select crack seal available in a variety of forms. They have cold crack seals in tubes, pour bottles, and paste. Each has particular qualities, so read the labels and select what is right for you. If the cracks are too large, or too many for this type repair, you might want to call your asphalt maintenance contractor for consultation.
Q.6 What causes those long cracks down the sides of my driveway?
A.6 Those cracks are normally caused by a basing problem. Quite simply, the base needs to extend 18" to 24" out from the asphalt. Many times, due to price constraints, the contractor (for example) will only base 12' on a 12' drive. When the surrounding ground freezes, it causes the asphalt to expand upward slightly. When it thaws, it goes back down. When this happens repeatedly, those cracks can develop. The only to fix them would be to excavate each side of the asphalt to the depth of your original base and two feet wide, bring up to within 8" of grade with fresh gravel, and top with 8" of loam for the grass or flowers. A more economical option would be to call your asphalt maintenance contractor and have the cracks hot crack sealed to allow for that movement. That type of repair may have to be readdressed every few years to allow for continued movement, and water seal.
Q.7 I have grass, weeds, and ants coming up through the cracks in my driveway, is there anything I can do about that?
A.7 For the weeds, and grass we suggest Roundup or similar product sold in most hardware stores. As for the ant problem, they are very tenacious little devils but there are a few things that seem to work. 1. Ant spray again available at your local hardware store. 2. common household salt, or garlic salt. (they don't like it much) 3. catnip 4. moth flakes. (2-3-4 are "old Yankee" hints passed on from others)
Q.8 What causes potholes & broken up asphalt, and how do I fix it?
A.8 Potholes are normally caused by initially cracked asphalt that water has gotten into, causing an undermining effect, then vehicles breaking it open due to lack of support for the asphalt. Once open it allows more and more water, and continues growing until repairs are made. In newer asphalt, it is probably caused from improper, or lack of, compaction of the base material. The same holds true for broken up asphalt. As for the potholes, the best homeowner fix is cold patch available at your hardware store (usually) Place it in the hole and tamp as tightly as possible with a suitable tool. Broken up asphalt: remove the broken pieces and try cold patch if it can be protected from traffic for an extended period of time.(cold patch doesn't set for 6-9 months.) If the aforementioned are not satisfactory, call an Asphalt maintenance contractor who does infrared repairs and have them come take a look at it.
Q.9 When is the best time to apply sealer to my asphalt?
A.9 The best time to apply sealer is when the temperature is above 50 degrees and expected to stay there for 24 hours minimum to allow it to cure. (That includes ambient as well as surface) It is best range is 50 to 90 degrees. If the asphalt gets too hot, the water can cook out of the material too quickly causing it to dry too fast and will result in a premature wearing of the sealer. Be aware of the surface temperature of the asphalt as it will run hotter than the ambient (air) temperature. If the asphalt gets too hot it can be cooled down with a garden hose set on mist. Best to use a temperature gun for true reading on asphalt.
Q.10 How often should I seal coat my driveway?
A.10 In most cases, about every two or three years depending on wear. Salt and sanding practices, as well as amount of traffic, and snow plowing practices all contribute to wear. Some heavy traffic yards require annual, or even biannual sealing.
Q.11 How many coats should I put on my asphalt?
A.11 Like new wood, a new asphalt should have 2 coats for the initial application.For asphalt that has been previously sealed 1 coat is normally adequate except if the surface has been let go for several years. Then it might be advisable to follow the new pavement guideline.
Q.12 Can I seal coat it myself, or should I hire a contractor?
A.12 Seal coat is available in most hardware outlets, Lowes, Home Depot etc. In addition to the sealer, you will want the necessary tools to clean and edge the asphalt prior to sealing. You will also want spreading brushes, materials to clean and fill cracks, a method of mixing the seal coating in the 5 gal. pails, (use the empty pails for a barricade at the end of drive) an outfit of clothes that will be disposable, a spare set of footwear, a day or two out of your schedule, determination and yes homeowners can do this job! For many, it's a "one time shot" because of the work, mess, and preparation time. Once finished you might save a few dollars but have a great deal of satisfaction knowing you did it yourself.
On the other hand, the professional contractor will show up with a better grade sealer than you can purchase at the hardware store. He also has all the necessary tools and equipment to do the job,(because he does this every day) and is prepared for the unforeseen difficulties, and is in and out quickly leaving you with a professionally applied area for about the same/or slightly higher investment. Normally the professional contractor makes your home look as good as he can because he also wants calls from your neighbors. You just have to make up your mind which way is best for you.
Q.13 What causes delamination of my asphalt?
A.13 There are several things that can cause delamination. First if you did not clean the surface properly. Seal coatings will not adhere to dirty or oily surfaces. Any kind of wax or tire cleaners used in drive, and flushed off with a hose can cause the material to come up in patches. Oil stains have the same effect. Seal coating installed when the temperature was cold, and not getting to cure properly can cause massive failure. Water based seal coating put over an oil based sealer can have the same effect. The pitch or sap from trees can cause this same type problem.
Q.14 Is there anything I can do about question 13?
A.14 In the case of the wax type surfaces, tree saps & oils, they should be power washed with hot soapy water and a wire brush or broom. With oil/gas stains (minor) scrubbing with a mixture of dawn dish detergent and water, then flush. As for the last two problems the cold application could be power washed depending on severity of problem. When you put a water base sealer over an oil base, you might try the power washer method, or you may just have to let it wear off and know better next time. In ALL CASES (with the exception of the cold application) above the affected areas should be treated with an asphalt primer prior to any re-application of sealer.
Q.15 My car leaked oil/gas onto my driveway...is it ruined ? How can I tell?
A.15 It really depends on how much, and how long ! If it is a recent incident you can usually take a good detergent (like dawn) and mix with a little water, and use a scrub brush with fairly stiff bristles. It should break up the stain. Then flush with clean water. If the problem is not taken care of with the above action, you may want to take a pointed object (like a screwdriver) and see how deep you can penetrate the asphalt. That will tell you if the binder has been compromised. Where asphalt pavement is a petroleum derivative any gas or oil that saturates into it will neutralize the binder that makes the asphalt hard. If this happens, you cannot do anything to it that will stiffen it up again. The corrective action would be to remove the contaminated asphalt, and repair with a cold patch product, or call an Asphalt Maintenance company that does infrared repairs.
Q.16 How do I decide whether to keep repairing and seal coating my driveway, or think about getting it repaved?
A.16 If you are unsure of what to do I would first call an asphalt maintenance company and ask for a free evaluation and estimate. They will normally give you good advice. If your driveway is beyond their help they will tell you that in hopes of securing your business after you have repaved. Many of them have products to give your asphalt a whole new look at a fraction of the cost of an overlay, or tear out and replace driveway.
Once you have their advice, and estimate in hand, you may want to call a couple of pavers for their estimate. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to paving. Unlike proposals can be confusing, and what is the cheapest price is not always the best deal.
Q.17 What causes cracks to come back after having new asphalt put down over my old one? (See Q.18)
A.17 When you have an overlay done over an existing driveway that has cracks, every old crack is a weak link in the chain when it comes to expansion or contraction, or ground movement due to frost heaving. (also can be caused by poor basing or compaction) Visualize 3" of old asphalt with a crack...now visualize 1" of asphalt put on top of it. You still have a crack that starts 3" from the bottom, coming up through the pavement, and you're expecting the 1" on top to hold it together?? NEVER WORKS !!
Q.18 I have decided to repave, is there anything I should know?
A.18 If you know for sure you want to re-pave over older asphalt, have the cracks repaired first with a hot crack seal process. You will end up with pavement that will still crack at some point, but much further down the road. Again, your local asphalt maintenance dealer, that does HOT crack sealing, would be the best answer prior to paving.
Q.19 Grass seems to be growing from my lawn out onto the asphalt. What should I do about this?
A.19 The best course of action here is to cut a line down between the edges of the asphalt and the grass. Remove the encroaching grass & sod, and flush clean with garden hose. Then install metal edging in the cut line along the asphalt. CAUTION : (make sure that the metal is imbedded deeply enough so that it will not interfere with lawn mowing, or snow removal)
Q.20 How do I get asphalt sealer off my car, garage door, or rugs ??
A.20 There is no one size fits all answer here. First for most cars, and most painted surfaces, including vinyl sidings, and doors you can try Awesome spray cleaner, WD-40, automotive bug and tar remover, or most any clean oil. That can be salad, cooking, motor etc. Remember asphalt sealer is a petroleum product, so most other petroleum products will break it down. Awesome, Fantastic, or a good rug cleaner is recommended for the rugs. CAUTION: (With any of the products listed above, test a small piece in an out of the way place before " jumping right into this"!) Rhino-Seal assumes no liability for damages done to property or material, and will not be responsible for damages.
Q.21 I have moss/mildew growing on my asphalt. What can I do about it?
A.21 This is common in damp/shaded areas. Make a mix in a pail or 5 gallon bucket of household bleach, Dawn dish detergent, and water. Scrub the affected area with a stiff scrub brush, and flush with garden hose. If the first action does not get it all, put more bleach in the second application. NOTE: (The reason for bleach is that it kills the mold or mildew spoor) This method also works with vinyl sidings, and painted surfaces!