The Importance of Regular Sealcoating: The Myriad of Advantages and Benefits
The importance of seal coating of parking lots simply cannot be overstated. This is because such lots have to constantly and consistently bear the load of literally hundreds of kilograms every day and the slightest flaw in the structural integrity may be a cause for an incident or nearly unimaginable consequences.
What is sealcoating?
Sealcoating treatment typically consists of a combination of a diverse array of chemicals that include emulsified asphalt, mineral fillers, water, along with different other components that depend on both usage as well as utility of the coating being used. Some sealcoats use highly specialized top quality, premium grade materials made from very stable asphalt binders along with their aggregate particles.
Asphalt pavement sealcoating is conducted, when the pavement surface doesn't have structural flaws like potholes or cracks. Usually, the total surface thickness of seal coat is less than one inch (1 to 2 centimeters). There are several different types of seal coats that are used for parking lots, as well as highways and airport runways. Some of them include aggregate seal, slurry seal, and sand seal.
Advantages of sealcoating
As a general rule, the sealcoat is applied to the pavement to effectively seal the surface. Therefore, it is able to protect the surface from the degradation caused by a potent combination of water, sunlight as well as oxidization due to the interaction of the elements.
Furthermore, sealcoating also acts as a shield against engine drippings of even large trucks that may leave large puddles of oil and gasoline while parked or even when traveling across your asphalt.
Yet another advantage of applying a sealcoat is that it essentially redecorates the whole parking lot by giving it a look of smooth black uniformity on which marking lines may be evenly painted. Such surfaces are also very easy to sweep as well.
Moreover, many older parking lots can also benefit from sealcoating treatment because it effectively replaces small particles that get removed from the asphalt surface through wind erosion. Also, it seals the smallest of cracks and thus prevents them from becoming larger and eventually rendering the pavement inoperable.
This way, it also guards the supporting lower base material from water intrusion that may be caused either by rainfall or as a result of the pavement being located in low-lying areas where stagnant water may be prone to accumulating.
Initially, sealcoating was invented almost exclusively for off-highway use to aid in road grip at low traffic speeds, but today, the technology has become advanced enough for it to be applied to parking lots, highways, and airport runways as well, thanks to the invention of increasingly more complex blends of seal coating chemicals. The current blend of seal coating substances has been specifically designed to handle both fuel (and even heavy equipment and parts being dropped on the surface) along with passenger buses and luggage carts.
For many parking lots the alternative to sealcoating a pavement is repairing or even replacing the damaged asphalt, often at a moment’s notice, thus putting a spanner in the works of even the busiest of parking places near a large mall, with cars being diverted to other lots creating traffic jams.
Compared to the huge costs of such disrupted schedules, it is far less expensive to simply sealcoat the asphalt surface so as to minimize such incidents, if not stop them altogether. Furthermore, such sealcoating treatment is also considerably cheaper than such treatments like micro surfacing and heavier slurry sealing, especially when it comes to the day to day parking lot maintenance.
How long does sealcoating last?
Sealcoat treatment typically lasts around three to five years, before it needs to be reapplied. But such timelines are dependent on the materials used as well as the number of layers applied on the asphalt (these layers are referred to as ‘millage’ or thickness of the treatment, and the thicker the layer is, the longer it would last). Here it is important to remember that sealcoating significantly extends the overall life of the pavement and thus helps in curbing the expenses with rebuilding the same, on a regular basis.
Application of sealcoats
However, when calculating the aggregate life of the sealcoat, it should be remembered that the characteristics of the existing pavement surface and the character (surface texture) and size of the aggregate used in seal coating are of pivotal importance. In effect, if the surface of the pavement is open-textured and has oxidized to a certain extent, then a portion of the binder will penetrate that surface and partially act as a primer, on its own.
This is why it is imperative that a heavier application is used for such surface. Viz-a-viz applications are required where the existing surface is considerably smoother. The character of the aggregate (surface texture, irrespective of whether it is absorptive or nonabsorptive) and its maximum effective size are of seminal importance in deciding on the rate of application of both the aggregate along with its corollary binder.
Problems and their causes
Some of the more common problems and issues that are commonly associated with seal coat treatment include cracking and poor adhesion of seal coat to pavement. However, these problems are not part of the sealcoating process per se, but due to the improper application of the mixture.
This could be due to the brittleness and shrinkage of the sealcoat itself, or alternatively such cracks may occur because of the reflection of cracks in the underlying pavement (on which the sealcoating treatment takes place). Other common problems that lead to the sealcoat eroding before its time, include not cleaning the surface area properly when the coat was being applied or putting in too thin a layer on the pavement itself.
However, if such issues are taken care of during the application process, there is no doubt that sealcoating remains the prime choice for protection, beautification as well as the preservation of the parking lots.
If you don’t want to compromise the performance of your parking lot and keep it safe for the cars and pedestrians, you need the services of a qualified team, which will assess the structure of your parking place, condition on the surface and make a plan that will fit you and your needs. We at Mid Atlantic Ashpalt have been repairing and maintaining pavement and asphalt lots for 40 years in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., Delaware and Pennsylvania. Our expertise and the effort we put in our work will help you preserve the top condition of your property for many years to come. Contact us when facing any pavement issues and we will come up with a reasonably priced plan to fix them and improve your property.