Frequently Asked Questions about Asphalt & Sealcoat
1. What is the difference between sealcoating and asphalt resurfacing of my project?
Resurfacing involves structurally repairing the damaged asphalt. When resurfacing a new layer of asphalt will be placed of about 1”- 3”. Sealcoating is not a structural repair. The sealcoat protects and extends the life of your asphalt, but does nothing to correct structural flaws, divert water flow or fill standing water spots. Sealcoating is substantially less expensive than resurfacing your project.
2. What are the materials that make up Asphalt?
When the aggregates, stone, sand, and gravel are mixed together with hot asphalt cement, the mass of material becomes asphalt. This material is also commonly called Bituminous Concrete.
3. Why do different textures of asphalt appear within the same paved surface?
Asphalt is made by combining varying sized stones, sand, gravel and asphalt cement. There will be a variation in the surface texture of the asphalt. This will be noticed among different loads of asphalt as well as the surface of the pavement. In areas wider than approximately 12’ the asphalt will have to be connected. When the asphalt is connected a seam may be visible. This seam is created by the asphalt having to be connected to the previous strip of asphalt. In areas where the asphalt is worked by hand the larger stones will tend to come to the surface while the sand in the mixture sifts downward creating a variation in the surface.
4. When can I allow cars back on my paved surface?
Your new asphalt surface can take more than 90 days to cure. The temperature plays a big role in how fast your new pavement will cure. In very hot weather it may take longer. In general, however, you should be able to drive on the surface after 5 days if you are careful. However, motorcycle and bicycle kick stands, high heels, boat trailers and sharp objects will penetrate the new asphalt for some time while the asphalt is curing. On hot days you may want to water down your new drive by spraying water over the surface.
5. My car left tire print marks and also a circular mark about the size of a paper plate. Are these permanent?
Tire marks are caused when you turn your car’s steering wheel while the car is stationary. If it is a hot day and the asphalt has not completely cured, the surface will get a circular blemish or even show a tire pattern. This is caused by the movement of the fine sand particles in the surface of the asphalt. If this occurs simply tap the area with your foot or a flat object. Over time, most of this will disappear.
6. Why did the roller leave marks in the surface of the asphalt?
It is critical your asphalt is compacted properly. This will ensure the longevity of your asphalt. We recommend that 90% + compaction is perfect. Sometimes the rollers leave lines or marks in the asphalt. This is fine and the marks will blend in as traffic is allowed on the surface.
7. What can I do about poor drainage on my drive?
Good drainage is achieved when the sub base has a minimum of 2% ‘fall’. This means that the grade (tilt) of the driveway should have a ¼” decline for each foot of pavement. For every 20 lineal feet of pavement the surface should fall a minimum of 5”. More is always better! Many driveways do not have this amount of grade and water tends to accumulate. Drains or swales in the asphalt may alleviate this problem.
8. Why can’t I have my driveway paved during the colder winter months?
Asphalt must be worked while it is hot. Most asphalt will come off the truck at over 300 degrees F. The installation crew must work quickly to install the asphalt before the asphalt gets cold. Once the asphalt gets cold it is not pliable and/or rollable. This is why you never want to buy asphalt from someone who comes door to door claiming they have “left over” asphalt in their truck and can put it down at a discounted price.
9. What should I do to help prevent the edges of my driveway from cracking?
We recommend putting topsoil up to the edges of your driveway to prevent the edges from breaking. Parking lots have the advantage of curbs to protect the edges of the drive. If a vehicle goes over the edge of a driveway that is unprotected the edge is sure to break off. The topsoil also prevents erosion from taking place.
10. Our car is leaking oil and now the asphalt is soft and mushy. Why is this happening?
Asphalt is a petroleum based product and oils, gasoline and brake fluids act like a solvent, causing the surface to soften and become more susceptible to damage.
11. I have grass growing in the edges of my pavement. Why is this?
Even though asphalt looks like a solid surface, it actually has air voids in it. Voids are especially common along the edges of the drive because the edges are compacted by hand as opposed to using a roller. Bermuda Grass (Wire Grass) is especially harmful to driveways. This type of grass grows on long runners and spreads out from a ‘mother’ plant. The runners can be several inches below the surface of the drive. Bermuda grass will usually pop up on the edges of the drive. Be vigilant about controlling this grass in your yard. Contact an herbicide specialist to guarantee this grass will not come back.
12. My driveway is showing signs of aging. How long should I wait to have it repaired?
Much like any household repair, it is significantly cheaper to repair deteriorated areas before they start to spread than to wait and rehabilitate the entire drive. The sooner you can get to the repairs the less it’s going to cost you in the long run.
13. I need a patch in my driveway. How is it going to look?
This is one of the most common questions we get asked. Once we patch part of your drive, it will be a darker black area in the midst of your existing graying surface. If the patch is being placed in a driveway that has several layers of sealer the new asphalt will look much different and texture and color. Depending on your personal preference and budget, other options can be implemented. Many times customers will have a resurfacing or sealcoating put over the top of the entire surface to avoid seeing the patch.
14. When should I sealcoat my new drive?
Finnegan Paving recommends your driveway be sealcoated with in the first year of installation and every 2-3 year thereafter.
15. Asphalt v Concrete
Asphalt is flexible and will give and take a bit. Concrete on the other hand does not flex and it cracks instead. Concrete costs significantly more than an asphalt surface of comparable strength. Repairs to asphalt are much easier to do and much less expensive than concrete. It comes down to personal preference and budgetary concerns.
16. Can I pave over my old concrete?
Yes, but we don’t recommend it. When concrete cracks underneath the asphalt, the cracks will come up through the new asphalt. It is best to start with a good stable subbase to ensure a good product that will last.
17. Will you block off my project to traffic?
Yes, we will barricade all entrances to your asphalt with orange traffic cones and/or yellow caution tape.
18. Does sealer fill in cracks in the asphalt?
No, sealer will not fill in cracks in the asphalt. Sealer does not have the properties that crack filler does. Cracks should be filled with crack filler prior to seal coating.
19. Why are there skid marks on my freshly sealed surface?
It actually takes a full 2 weeks for sealer to cure. Although it is dry, car tires can make small blemishes in the surface. These will blend in as the sealer cures.
20. What is the minimum temperature for paving?
It is best to have a ground temperature of at least 50 degrees and rising or as required by the project specifications.
21. How long should my pavement last?
Under normal use asphalt pavement should last about 10 – 20 years. Variables include the care you give your pavement, weather conditions, subbase conditions, water drainage and traffic.
22. How soon can I use my newly paved surface?
We recommend staying off the surface for 5-7 days depending on the temperature. Colder temperatures, especially at night require less wait time
23. I don’t know what contractor to pick? How can I be sure?
Do your homework. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or go look at some of the contractors work. The contractors that produce the asphalt will recommend those who frequently purchase the product (evidence of a good reputation) and consistently maintain the best payment history (evidence of financial strength).
24. What causes asphalt pavement to fail?
Assuming that the initial asphalt pavement was designed and constructed properly, the primary cause of failure is the penetration of water into the asphalt base.
This process begins with the oxidation of the pavement surface which causes the asphalt to dry and become brittle. This leads to the erosion of the top layer of fine particles and the appearance of larger stones and small cracks on the surface.
If left untreated these cracks grow over time and eventually allow water to penetrate to the base of the pavement.
When water enters the base of the pavement the base material moves and settles leading to further cracking and an “alligator appearance”.
When the pavement reaches this stage the only option is removal and replacement of the old asphalt.
25. How does Sealcoating help my pavement?
Sealcoating seals the asphalt pavement, preventing the oxidation and erosion of the top layer of asphalt.
On older pavements sealcoating replaces fine particles lost from the asphalt surface due to oxidation.
Sealcoating along with crack filling seals the small cracks that can turn into large cracks and prevents water from seeping down to the base material.
Sealcoating helps protects the asphalt from the sun as well as the harmful effects of chemical spills such as oil and gasoline.
Sealcoating provides an attractive black surface that is ideal for painting lines and other markers.
Sealcoating leaves a smooth, clean surface ideal for sweeping, lowering cleaning costs. Sealcoating costs pennies a square foot compared to the dollars needed to repair or replace damaged asphalt.
26. Are all companies that do sealing alike?
27. Sealer is all the same, why shouldn’t I choose a less expensive bid?
There are far more variables to the seal coating industry than consumers realize. Most directly influence the differences in quoted prices. First off, sealer is water based. Therefore, it can be diluted to save money, or not diluted to provide a more superior product. Unfortunately, there is hardly any way to tell what the water content is in sealer. Most applications will have an average of 10%-25% water dilution rate. This is acceptable. Consumers should choose a reputable contractor. Usually a good installer will be more expensive because he doesn’t over dilute his material, he will use additives, which greatly improve the sealer, a reputable contractor has all the required insurances and licensing to be in business, pays his trained employees a fair wage to do a good job, and will stand behind the work. Shoddy contractors almost never have any insurance, offer a low price to get a large volume of work, hire cheap inexperienced labor, dilute the material heavily, and will never offer any guarantees once paid.
28. Do you offer free estimates?
Yes, we will come out and discuss the condition of your driveway or parking lot with you and make recommendations at that time. You will be provided with a written estimate of all work to be done.
29. Do you guarantee your work?
Yes, driveways and commercial projects are guaranteed for one full year. Please see our written warranty on the back of our proposal for full details.
30. Will resurfacing my pavement take care of big existing puddles?
No. Resurfacing is like a blanket over your existing asphalt. Although small puddling issues can be taken care of prior to resurfacing, large area require separate attention and correction.
31. Can I park my motorcycle on my new driveway?
Yes, you can park your motorcycle and boat trailer on your driveway provided you take some precautions. Your driveway will take a few months to cure. During this time your motorcycle kick stand and boat trailer hitch will go right through you new asphalt. In order to accommodate these items, you will need to distribute the weight of the item by placing a piece of plywood down. Once the plywood is placed a kick stand or boat trailer can be parked on your new asphalt. Make sure to rotate the positions of these items every day or two while your asphalt is new so dents will not occur in your new asphalt.
32. My downspout drains right onto my new driveway. Is this OK?
No. It is important the water be diverted with a corrugated pipe either placed prior to installing the new asphalt or after the asphalt is installed.