Asphalt sealing, also known as blacktop sealing or seal coating, is a popular do-it-yourself project for many homeowners. Some people seal their driveway for the aesthetics, while others hope to prevent damage from oil drips and freezing weather. In the northeastern US, fall is the most popular time of the year for sealing driveways, since summer temperatures have cooled and winter weather is drawing near.

Why seal asphalt pavement?

  • Increases pavement life and saves on replacement costs

  • Protects pavement from freezing weather

  • Sealing helps prevent drying and oxidation from the sun

  • Better cosmetic appearance

  • Many sealers prevent damage from gasoline and oil drips

How to seal an asphalt driveway

Step-by-step instructions for sealing a blacktop driveway

Best weather for sealing

Choose days for sealing that are sunny and cool, instead of hot and humid. September usually offers ideal weather for pavement sealing in Pennsylvania and the Northeastern U.S.
Check the weather forecast to make sure you have dry weather for your sealing project. Don't risk sealing your driveway if there is any chance of rain.



Buying sealer
Select a quality blacktop sealer that has all the characteristics you need, and is compatible with any previously used sealer.
Previously sealed asphalt: 1-gallon per 100 square feet.
Unsealed asphalt: 1 - 2 gallons per 100 square feet.
Tip: Sealer always goes farther when it isn't drying too fast, so take advantage of cooler weather early in the morning.
Some sealers come with "grit" for improved traction on finished surfaces. Agitate the sealer thoroughly to mix any settled grit laying on the bottom.
Work clothes
Locate some old clothes and shoes to wear while working with sealer since you may want to throw them away when you're done. Automatic clothes washers, and especially clothes dryers (due to the heat), can pick-up sealer and stain later loads of good clothing.


Project sequence

Day 1 - Use a string line trimmer to trim back grass edges along the driveway. Clean-up oil stains and vehicle drippings. Finally, hose-off all dirt, mud and other debris to ensure a clean surface. Hosing off the driveway a day or two ahead of time allows for adequate drying time.
Day 2
- Move vehicles you will need for later out of the garage. Use crack filler to fill any cracks over 1/8-inch wide. If cracks are too numerous, it may not be feasible to fill them with crack filler.

cracks in asphalt
Apply crack filler to any cracks over 1/8-inch wide. Cracks over 1/2-inch will require special work. Most crack fillers come in a one-gallon squeeze bottle -- trim the spout large enough to put down a nice size bead of crack filler.
blacktop sealer squeegee
The squeegee side of a driveway applicator (shown facing up) pushes crack filler into the cracks and levels it with the driveway's surface. Pulling the rubber edge backwards (toward you) over the cracks works the best.


The art of applying blacktop sealer

Sealing Day

Day 3 - Check the weather forecast again to make sure it isn't going to rain. Start sealing right after dawn - sealer is easiest to work with early in the morning before the sun heats-up the pavement. Read the label on the sealer and follow label instructions.

Use a leaf blower or broom for one final cleaning of the driveway before starting your application.

If leaves are falling, keep the leaf blower nearby for additional clean-up as you seal.

Use the brush side of the driveway applicator (shown facing up) for spreading the sealer. An 18-inch wide applicator works best on most driveways.

It's easiest to work from the top of a slope toward the bottom. Don't paint yourself into any corners.

asphalt sealer applicator



It may be necessary to use an old paint brush to cut-in around pipes, corners and other places that are hard to reach with an applicator. Tip: Brushing away from objects you want to keep clean helps prevent splatters.

Do any necessary cut-in work with a big old paint brush

Pour a puddle of sealer toward one edge of the driveway. Having an ample amount of sealer in front of your applicator allows you to 'flow it on' using a squeegee-style motion instead of 'brushing it on.' Tip: Always pour from the same side of the bucket to keep the handle clean.

blacktop sealer

Push the sealer from side to side in an arching pattern that allows you to stay slightly ahead on both edges. Brush out thicker areas as you work, using a squeegee-type motion. You need to go back and forth over most areas two or three times to ensure complete penetration of pin holes and cracks.

asphalt sealer being applied

The finished driveway sealer coat should be uniform, without any clumps, ridges or missed spots. Block-off or flag all access points into the driveway to prevent vehicles and pedestrians from entering. Most sealers need 24-hours to dry before they are ready for any sort of traffic. Keep pets away from wet sealer.

sealed blacktop driveway

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