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Winter is almost upon us – the season for giving eggnogs and unfortunately, driveway damage. You may not realize how much damage the winter can do to your asphalt driveway, but come springtime, you will start noticing all of the cracks and scrapes to your once flawless driveway.
Driveway sealcoating is an important, often overlooked, home maintenance project that not only adds to your home’s curb appeal, but also protects your driveway from these damages.
What exactly are these damages? Take a look at the four ways winter can damage asphalt:
Freezing and Thawing
Temperature fluctuations during the colder months, marked by a freeze-and-thaw cycle, can affect the structure of your driveway and the foundation beneath. As a result, cracks will appear on the surface, letting moisture get in and loosen the aggregate making up the asphalt. When this happens, you’ve gone from a few hundred dollars’ worth of repair to thousands of dollars’ worth of replacement.
Some types of de-icing agents, such as rock salt or magnesium acetate, can cause damage to the surface of your driveway. Use them sparingly to reduce the risk of damage to your asphalt and to the environment. Best discuss this with your asphalt contractor, who can recommend the best de-icing agents to use, and which ones to avoid, for your specific type of driveway.
This type of damage is quite common and is typically considered a minor problem. Anything that scrapes along your asphalt surface can cause damage, although most snowplows are careful enough to avoid damaging smooth surfaces. When there are scrapes across your pavement, this may strip the existing sealer and expose the unsealed aggregate underneath. The good news is a simple sealcoat application once the snow melts can restore your driveway’s original appearance.
More than any other kinds of pavement, asphalt is better at absorbing heat from the sun, meaning ice or snow melts much faster. When ice or snow melts, water can get into the pores of your asphalt. When the water refreezes, it expands and exerts pressure on the walls of the pores, causing pieces of asphalt to flake off. Applying a sealcoat during the fall is the best way to prevent this problem.
SealCoating: DIY or Call the Pros?
One critical decision you have to make from the get-go is to determine whether to do it yourself or hire professional sealcoating services. It won’t be too difficult of a job if your driveway is in decent shape, and you’re willing to invest in the right materials and follow all the steps recommended to get the job done right.
But, if you lack the commitment or any basic knowledge of sealcoat application or any work related to asphalt driveway, best call the pros. Note that there’s more to sealcoating than rolling a layer of sealer. It takes careful and thorough preparation, which makes a world of difference, and in your case, is best left in the hands of professionals.
Your driveway’s lifespan ultimately depends on the quality of the original installation. How many inches of gravel was used for the base? How well was it compacted? Was the soil solid underneath? Given all these factors, sealing your driveway now is still a critical measure to prolong its lifespan.
If you’re serious about driveway maintenance, put sealcoating at the top of your priority list.