Bedford Sealcoat Blog
It is currently March and as I write this the snow is still flying. Hopefully, this winter will eventually end and our thoughts can soon turn from plowing our driveways to protecting them, from shoveling curbs to curb appeal, and now is the perfect time to think about sealing your driveway.
Many people out there think that the best time to seal your driveway is the fall. This is not so. I am not entirely sure why the idea came about. I think it has to do with problem of quick drying sealer on hot summer days. Home owners trying to seal their driveway in the extreme heat of the summer, run into the problem that the sealer dries too fast to apply it correctly. It might be that most people have procrastinated in sealing their driveway until the fall of each year. This pattern has gone on for so many years, that people now assume that fall must be the best time of year. Fall isn't the best, it is just the most popular.
I think now is time to give late spring a chance, and here are my top five reasons.
- Curb appeal- Winter damages the sealer more than any season, and it shows. Why not get the sealer applied after the winter, and have your driveway look new all summer long. Commercial properties often schedule their parking lots for sealing and striping in the spring just for this reason!
- Price- Prices are often cheaper in the spring when residential sealing is slow going. Often, you can make deals with the contractor to have a sign placed in your yard for a little longer than normal. In the beginning of the season, most contractors want to get the signs out as soon, and for as long as possible. They want to start carving out territory. The fact is, most homeowners will go with the same contractor as the guy down the street did ( if the job looks professional). So often by doing one driveway , sealcoating contractors have a good chance of be the contractor of choice for that whole neighborhood.
- Scheduling- In September contractors are so busy, they are almost always packing there schedule as tight as possible and plan the schedule as such. This means very little leeway in getting them to agree to a specific day or week. Since it is slower in the spring, you might be able have the driveway done when it suits you. Going away for a long weekend or on vacation? Not a problem.
- Durability- If you sealed your driveway late in the fall, the sealer might not cure as well because of the cold weather. In the late spring, temperatures are usually perfect and there is no worry about freezing temperatures ( Well maybe a little worry this is New England after all and with the weather you never know...)
- More flexibility with weather- Since it is the beginning of the sealing season, there is no problem of running out of time like in the fall. If there is a months worth of rain, we can still get to the driveway the following month.. in the fall it would be the following year. If a problem arises with the job, there will be plenty of time to remedy the situation, in the fall you would have to wait until....spring.
For some driveways especially newer ones less than two years old, and driveways that get direct sun exposure all day long fall might be a better choice. Ask your sealcoating contractor for what would be best for your driveway... better yet ask me.
So you have just had your driveway sealed, it looks beautiful.. smooth.. perfect.. etc. Two days later you open it up to drive on it and the tires scuff the surface.
You think, Oh no! Did I not wait long enough? Was there an issue with the sealer? Something is definitely wrong here. This can't be happening!
First of all, tire marks are more common than you think. It is mostly a cosmetic problem. It will not ruin your driveway. In fact, tire marks will diminish over time, usually disappearing all together as the driveway continues to cure, but there are some steps to take to reduce the probability or proliferation of them after you get your driveway sealed.
Here are some of the factors that contribute to tire marks in sealer:
- Age of Pavement- In newer pavement the asphalt binder is softer than a driveway that is two years or older. Sealing your driveway too early may lead to more noticeable scuff marks. We recommend having the driveway harden over one winter before sealing.
- Vehicle weight- A monster size SUV will obviously have an impact on the pavement surface.
- Tire Tread- Tires with a more aggressive tread pattern will lead to more visible tire marks because of the increased friction with the pavement surface.
- Driving habits - Dramatic acceleration, deceleration, or quick turns increase the tire friction and lead to pronounced scuffing of the surface. Stationary turning of the wheels is almost certain to make marks on fresh sealer.
- Curing time- Sealer takes a lot more than two days to fully cure, but the majority of the hardening will take place over the first few days. It is good to let the sealer have this time to harden. This being said, in the fall curing is slower because of the colder temperatures. It can help to wait an additional day if you have your driveway sealed at the end of the season.
- Heat- Driveways that exposed to direct sunlight for most of the day can reach temperatures of over 140° during the summer. If sealed during this time of the year the sealer will have a tacky feel at these high temperatures, leading to sever tire marks.
- Tight turns- Many homeowners have to make sharp turns to drive into garages, or delivery vehicles using a turn around. The sharper the turn the more friction is caused.
The more you know....
It finally happened to me .. it was a weekend in June and I taking care of my kids when I heard a knock at the door.
He said something like ‘Hey, I’m with blah blah blah sealcoating company and we are gonna do yer neighbor’s driveway and we got some extra sealer left over in the tank and I was wundrin…’
I stopped him right there, and so should you. Any professional sealcoating contractor will not solicit sales in this way.
When I send out the residential crew, they have their list of driveways. They do not deviate from their list. We schedule six to eight driveways per day. The crew is busy working on driveways; they don’t have time to go around bothering neighbors trying to pressure people to seal their driveway.
How do we market to that neighborhood? We let our work speak for itself.
If there is a local sealcoating contractor in the neighborhood and you can feel comfortable with them you can always ask for an estimate, and some may have an opening in their schedule…or …you can always wait to see the finished product. They’ll post a yard sign, we do, so you can contact them in the future. In our business yard signs, meaning the ability to see a sealed driveway first, is the most effective tool in acquiring new customers.
I have heard too many stories about a guy who comes into neighborhood and starts door to door trying to seal driveways and they try offering you a “deal”, these stories almost always end badly.
If you want to get a better deal talk to your neighbors first and try for a group discount, most pavement maintenance contractors out there will offer a group rate depending on how many driveways can be scheduled together.
Our industry has taken some hits in the past. A few shady characters have taken advantage of some homeowners in the past, and basically make it harder for us, and the many other hard working pavement maintenance specialists out there.
Ask these five questions and you should be able to weed out most of the disreputable "contractors".
1.) Do they have proof of insurance?
You need to protect yourself and your family from any liability.
2.) Can they give you examples of past work in the area?
Most contractors can offer at least one or two driveways that you can drive by, ask to see one from last year to see how well the sealer is holding up. We keep records of all our driveways and are happy to show examples of our work.
3.) Do they provide the proposal in print/writing?
Any reputable contractor should give you a written estimate with a firm price. We will match our competitors' pricing , but only if it is in writing.
4.)What is the guarantee (if any)? What is and is not covered?
Any guarantee should cover all peeling, flaking or unusual wear of the sealcoating. In cases of extremely dirty driveways, or driveways with moss or mold you might need to pressure wash the driveway before sealing to have the work guaranteed. We guarantee our work for one year from the day the driveway is sealed
5.)Does the sealer have sand added?
Sand adds durability and traction to the finished product, although too much sand can reduce the flexibility of the sealer which may cause it to crack. To keep sand mixed in with the sealer there must be some type of agitation system on the sealer tank to keep the sand suspended in solution.
I have started this blog to help answer some of the questions that we get at the office on a day to day basis. I hear many homeowners concerned about what to do when it comes to protecting their investment. I also hear too often, horror stories about people being scared with misinformation.
It seems to me that there is a lack of information out there on what exactly sealcoating does, what to expect after it is applied, what are the different types of sealers there are to choose from. My intention is to help educate the home owner, with the basics so they can make decisions about how to maintain their own driveway with confidence.
Then it occurred to me, it might be interesting to show some case studies on different driveways and situations that have happened in the past and the ever expanding list of new and interesting news in the pavement maintenance field in general.
Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you might have.
Thanks for reading!