You might not think of yourself as a driveway owner, but if you’re a homeowner, the driveway is your property too. For whatever reason, people tend to overlook their driveways and take them for granted. A hard asphalt or concrete surface is something you think should last forever with no real issues — until, of course, something goes wrong. Then you’ve got possible repair or replacement scenarios on your hand, and you start to ask yourself how this could have been prevented.

Sealcoating is one of the most important ways in which homeowners can protect their pavement from the elements and prolong its lifespan by years or even decades. In fact, sealcoating is really the only regular form of preventative maintenance your driveway needs — aside from repairing cracks and potholes while they’re still small, in order to prevent them from turning into serious issues.

So how does sealcoating actually work, and why is it so effective at preserving your driveway?

First, let’s consider what pavement actually is. Whether you have asphalt or concrete, the material itself is a mixture of stones, rocks, and/or aggregate that’s held together with a binding substance. As hard as this substance is, it’s not impervious to the elements — and it does have pores. As rain, snow, chemicals and other environmental factors are introduced to the pavement over time, they will begin to seep in through the surface and gather in the base and sub-base layers of the pavement (that is, beneath the hard surface of the pavement). Even the sun’s rays can have an effect on pavement.

Sealcoating is a measure taken to minimize or eliminate these corrosive effects. The chemicals used are usually acrylic or bituminous, and mixed with other elements such as sand and polymers. There are different kinds of sealcoating, and a reputable expert will only use the finest mixtures. The sealcoating itself can be applied with a machine, brush, or squeegee. Most experts recommend this process be completed once every two or three years. Beware of any contractor who suggests that sealcoating is necessary every year, or even twice a year — this is simply not true, and it may signify that the contractor in question is disreputable.

It’s also worth noting that sealcoating (in addition to the structural protection it offers) keeps your driveway looking fresh and new for longer. This is important for many homeowners who want to maximize curb appeal, whether they’re trying to sell their home or simply want it to look great all year round.

Who should sealcoat your driveway?

People are more interested in DIY projects these days, and a lot of homeowners are trying to sealcoat their driveways without professional help. There are products that help you do this — but the bottom line is that if you want the job completed to a high standard, professional work is a better bet. It’s also worth noting that some of the most reputable asphalt specialists will sealcoat your driveway for free if they are the company who installed the driveway. Either way, the experience and efficiency of a good professional is impossible to match, and will ensure that you get the best possible results from the sealcoating process.