Sealcoating: Putting A Roof On Asphalt

SealcoatingWhen you apply a sealcoat to a parking lot, or any asphalt surface, it’s like putting a roof over your house. That barrier protects your client’s parking lot and provides you with a smoother surface to sweep. It’s also pretty and makes striping easier.

“I used to have a sweeping business in Wisconsin,” says Mark McLeod, vice president of Maintenance Inc. “A typical blacktop life cycle is 20 years. You can double the service life of asphalt by sealing it.”

What To Look For In A Sealcoat

A good sealcoat should last two to five years whether it’s coal tar or asphalt based. When you are shopping around, you want to look for something that will hold up. “There are three big things that wear down a sealcoat,” says George Eales, marketing and technical director of PAVEGUARD products. “The ultraviolet rays from the sun deteriorates the sealcoat. Mechanical wear and tear is caused by traffic. But, the biggest enemy is water—it does a lot of damage. The best sealcoat is one that will mitigate all three failure mechanisms.”

“You can expect high traffic areas like Walmart and McDonald’s to wear faster, but it should still last two years,” says Gordon Rayner, California Pavement Maintenance.

What works in Florida may not work in Kansas so make sure that what you buy is good for your area. “We have heard from engineers that have taken sealcoats that are considered top-notch in California that won’t dry and cure in other parts of the nation,” says Eales.

If you are in Texas, Oklahoma or anywhere along the I-35 corridor where there is a lot of limestone, you will need a different type of product or additive. “If you can see white stone sticking up out of pavement in a parking lot, it means that the hot asphalt didn’t stick to that stone,” says Rayner. “If you can’t get hot asphalt to stick to it then you will have a hard time getting an asphalt sealcoat to stick to it unless you use additives. You’ll need to find one to match that type of aggregate that you are dealing with. You may find that it may take a little or a lot, but you can do test sections such as 10×10 to see how much additive you need. Or, you can use coal tar.”

“However, the advances that are being made with asphalt right now are making it a much better product than what people are used to seeing,” says Rayner.

Tracking can be another problem. “Depending on what sealcoat brand you use, some track more than others,” says Eales. “As cars drive on them, it can cover up the striping and cause problems for sweepers.”

Another concern is irrigation. “Water can puddle in the parking lot and sealants can seep into the water turning it black,” adds Eales. “You want to watch for those sealants that track and make sure that the water stays as clean as possible.”

Most companies perform a test on their sealcoats but don’t publish the results. Instead of doing the trial and error methods yourself by waiting two to five years to see how the sealcoats hold up, you can ask the manufacturers if they will supply the test results to you. “These wet tack abrasion tests allow manufacturers to see how well their sealcoat will do without waiting years,” says Eales. “You’ll want to see how the sealcoats hold up under all three problem areas: sun, weather and mechanical.”

“All sealcoats provide a roof for the pavement—it just depends on how long it will last,” says Doug Ford, president of Pavement Coatings Inc.

Products On The Market

There are a number of coal tar and asphalt based sealants. SealMaster and Pitch Black are big names in the industry, but there are others as well.

“Both coal tar and asphalt based sealants have their place,” says McLeod. “Asphalt based sealants have come a long way—they are tougher, harder and have some better film formation. I have additives for both coal tar and asphalt based sealers.

Ford and Eales manufacture a product based on a formula that Lockheed designed. “It’s iron clad and has polymers that make it fuel resistant and gas resistant. We have stair step products that go all the way up to preventing oil spots from forming. The Lockheed formula helps all three of the problem areas that wear down asphalt.”

Ford and Eales sell a family of products at PAVEGUARD—CC, IG and CG. PAVEGUARD CC stands for cold cure because it allows you to apply it in the cold or at night and it will still cure. PAVEGUARD IG is their industrial grade product that has “every bell and whistle.” “It’s our better product,” says Ford. “It’s where you get the most bang for your buck on a long-term basis. It will outlast everything else.” PAVEGUARD CG is the commercial grade. “It’s the younger brother to industrial,” says Ford. “It isn’t quite as tough and fuel resistant. It’s a great product for a contractor on a competitive bid that needs a competitive price.”

The two are excited about their new products. “It’s a different family—it can be enhanced so that you can spill jet fuel and it will wash off. It does a superior job. Lockheed began to treat asphalt to make it fuel resistant.”

“The geographic area will have a sealcoat to address whatever weather circumstances they are dealing with,” says Eales. “One of the benefits of coal tar is that it is very effective in high humidity climates and other emulsion-based products have a hard time curing in high humidity.”

McLeod says that is where additives come in. “Everybody thinks they should only use them during the spring and fall or in other conditions when they need a fast drying additive,” says McLeod. “Additives are sealer film enhancers that fortify all types of sealers.”

“A sealer is a sealer,” says McLeod. “It’s the additive that makes a difference. “When a contractor wakes up, they need to ask: What do I want my sealer to do today? Do I want it to dry fast? Encapsulate sand? Is the ambient temperature the optimal 50 degrees or higher? Am I applying it in extremely hot weather? Additives help with all of those things as well as cures the sealer film faster reducing down time and scuffing of the sealer film.”

“We have multi-dimensional additives and we fortify all types of sealers,” adds McLeod. “We have a patented additive called FASS-DRI. Through nano cure technology it cures from the bottom up. Our additives improve oil and gas resistance, reduces tracking and improves sand dispersion and curing
time by 50 percent.”

Application Methods

PAVEGUARD recommends to apply the first coat with a squeegee to level out any divots and to spray the second coat. “Some buy it and spray two coats while others squeegee two coats and they seem to like it just fine too,” says Ford. “For dual applications, the squeegee coat allows you to fill areas and the spray coat will mirror the first.”

“When you squeegee, you get more consistent run off with water,” adds Eales. “It also helps to sheet off the water and repair divots.”

“Some of the older methods use a broom and it does kind of a nice job,” adds Ford. “I don’t see much of it anymore, but it leaves a nice texture. It’s comparable to squeegeeing and fills divots. However, it does leave a thicker layer on the surface so it uses more product. With a squeegee, you can be an artist and can cut in and paint. With the broom, the job goes quicker, but it’s a dying art.”

As you can see, there are a lot of different products and methods out there. Talking to others that apply sealcoats in your area can help you to narrow down products when testing new ones. Rayner suggests that if you don’t find a product that you like on the market, then you can buy different additives to mix in and make your own. Then you can test them to see what works best. But, he warns, “that while a sealcoat product may cost $2 per bucket, additives can run you $15. The good thing is that a little bit of additive can go a long way.”

Resources
For more information:
■ PAVEGUARD, call George Eales at 951-675-8153, or email geales@paveguard.net to order
■ Maintenance Inc., please visit www.maintinc.com
■ SealMaster, please visit www.sealmaster.net
■ Pitch Black, please visit www.ussealinc.com

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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