Seal coating increases your asphalt driveway's longevity, keeping it in good condition and preventing damage from sun, rain, and snowmelt. But before you have your asphalt driveway sealed – or re-sealed – there are some things you need to do to prepare it. And this preparation can be weather-dependent, so don't put it off if you don't have to.
Repair Major Damage
Asphalt can't be sealed until the surface has been fixed, so the first thing you need to do is look for major damage like potholes or areas where chunks of asphalt have gone missing. If you've kept up with the maintenance on your driveway and it hasn't been subjected to extreme wear, you may not have any major damage. But if you do, you'll need to have those holes patched with flexible asphalt fill.
Many asphalt fills are labeled as "all-weather," but there are still some things you should take into consideration. Fixing potholes in a cold winter climate could mean needing to scrape snow and ice from your driveway, which makes the process harder. And waiting for spring to roll around means your asphalt can be infiltrated by water as the snow melts, causing further damage. So if possible, it's best to have potholes patched as soon as you can – especially if winter is coming.
After fixing potholes, it's time to fix more minor cracking. Applying sealant to cracked asphalt is pointless; water will still use those cracks to get inside the asphalt and cause further damage, and cracks in asphalt tend to spread, compromising the surface over time. If you have cracks in your asphalt driveway, they will either need to be sealed (with flexible material) or filled (with non-rubberized material).
Sealing is used for larger cracks while filling is used for smaller, more minor ones. This is because large cracks will flex more with changes in temperature, so using a flexible rubberized fill will keep them from cracking apart. Smaller cracks are subject to less stress, so non-flexible fill is sufficient to repair them; a professional contractor can examine your cracks and determine which is best for you based on your local climate.
Since cracks expand and contract with the temperature, the best time to have cracks sealed or filled is during the fall. This puts the cracks somewhere in the middle – not at their widest or their narrowest. That way, after being repaired, they will flex slightly both ways instead of flexing a great deal one way. However, if it's necessary, cracks can be repaired during any dry weather.