All about Driveway Sealers

by Martha
(Pittsburgh, PA)

We bought driveway sealer and never got around to using it the year we bought it. That sealer is now 3 yrs. old. Can it still be used? What are the possible problems, if we do use it?

Hi Martha,

If your sealer is water based and has been frozen then it's more than likely un-usable. After stirring the product you can usually tell from the look of it that the formulation has broken down.

If your sealer doesn't have a nice smooth, consistent look then I would advise you to dispose of it.

A solvent based product though would, in most cases, be usable but the only way to find out is by applying it. With that said, (for me) it would all come down to how much I paid for the sealer and if the wasted cost is worth having to deal with big chunks of my coating de-laminating (lifting) from the surface.

If you do decide to coat your driveway here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Dress properly and wear the recommended type of mask (if needed). Driveway sealers tend to splatter destroying your clothing and shoes. Such sealers can also smell very bad along with being toxic when inhaled.

Edge your lawn to keep the coating from touching it.

Prior to starting your project scrub the entire area with a driveway soap or de-greaser (purchased from your local home improvement centre) and a long handled scrub brush.

You can now pressure wash the surface to remove stuck on dirt and debris followed by a good squeegeeing to remove the excess water. Once done be sure to let the driveway dry out thoroughly.

Clean cracks and joints completely of loose debris (use a hammer, cold chisel and Shop-Vac if needed) then fill them flush with a driveway crack/joint filler (caulking type or otherwise).

Throughly stir the sealer with a long stirring paddle, one that can be attached to a heavy duty electric drill (remember to re-stir on an ongoing basis). Proper stirring is essential. Not doing so can result in your finished project having a streaky or patchwork look that doesn't adhere properly to the driveway.

Follow all label instructions in regards to the tools and products being used (cleaners, fillers, sealers etc.).

Immediately wipe off any surfaces that get accidentally coated

Three to five years is usually the most amount of time that you will get out of a sealed driveway even on a ten year rated product. After a couple years the sealer begins to fade or turn grey. Once the sealer begins to grey it should be re-sealed.

The reason for the short longevity of such products is due to using an inferior coating or not having the required optimum application procedures and conditions to begin with.

The afore mentioned includes (but not limited to) poor condition of the surface, improper preparation of the surface itself and an un-recommended environment in which the project is being done (to much heat, excessive cold, along with high humidity or wind).

Another thing to keep in mind, when it comes to the environment, is a dried sealed driveway can be very slippery when wet. So either buy a product that is recommended for such situations or be careful when walking on the surface after a rain or snowfall.

As a final note, longer warrantied products tend to last the longest (due to a higher solid content) even though they may not last as long as the warranty may claim. Keep in mind too that your warranty is void if the product was not applied in optimum conditions. Also, the longer the warranty, the more the product tends to cost.


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