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Sealing asphalt driveway for the first time

I am getting ready to seal my asphalt driveway for the first time (it was put down June, 2007).  Do I need to do more than pressure wash it since there are no stains?  There are a few small holes where grass has tried to poke through.  Do I need to fill those in with something (crack filler??) or will the sealer take care of that?  Thanks:)

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Hi, as a father's day gift I recently sealed my father's driveway. It was my first time and it turned out well. As with many of the projects I do, I found it simple to research by browsing several of the large home improvement stores, starting with the main product and working backwards. In this case by the main product I mean the actual sealer product and by working backwards I mean reading the preparation directions on the sealer's container. There it mentioned both cleaning and crack/ hole filling recommendations. The benefit of starting with choosing a sealer first is that, more often, it is sold as a product line along with its own accessory products - cleaners and surface fillers etc. Also, most have some form or pamphlet etc., which you can take with you that lists all of the steps and associated products required.

As far as your specific question goes. If you have any experience with painting you can look at driveway sealing in the same way. The preparation is important to the finished product. Cleaning is for proper bonding of the sealer to the driveway material. Grease and oil is one of the biggest enemies of a good bond. If your driveway is free of that, pressure washing should be fine. If you intend to use any soap product along with the pressure washing that is not part of the sealer's product line be sure to get a good rinse so that no residue is left from the cleaner.

As for the matter of filling cracks, if you once again think of the sealer as a paint and recall how a new paint job on a wall looks you can get a feel of when something needs filled. As paint is applied in various coats it fills in small pores on the surface. Subsequent coats fill in more of the pores but deep gouges or cracks show through no matter how many coats are applied. The cracks and holes need to be filled in prior to the "painting".  For your driveway, filling small cracks before sealing is a matter of choice depending on the level of visual perfection you wish to acheive. If you apply the sealer without filling the small cracks, you should have a driveway that is weather protected with sealer working into the cracks but so that the cracks are still visible. If you are like me and are a bit of a perfectionist you'll want to fill as many imperfections as possible before sealing. For filling, there are basically two main types of filler products sold at the home mprovement stores. Which to go with depends on how large the cracks or holes are. For small cracks etc (say about less than 1/2 deep- but be sure to read the specific product instructions), an easy to use filler comes in a tube and is just squeezed into the crack with a caulking gun. For large holes or major cracks there are premixed or self mixing patching compounds available, many come in small tub containers and you would use a putty knife or whatever to push it into the hole or large crack and then smooth it out.  One thing to keep in mind is to plan for adequate drying time for the filler prior to applying the sealer. The one I used called for a minimum of 24 hrs.

Finally, like paints, there are different qualities and associated prices for the various driveway sealers. Sealers are often listed according to how many years it is stated to protect a driveway and of course the price goes up accordingly. I personally recommend that if you are going to go through the whole effort of sealing your driveway, don't waste it by going too cheap with the sealer. A quality sealer should be thicker but with good flow properties and might have a five or more year rating. I think I went with a 10 year one which was the highest I could find at the DIY type stores. The thing I recommend most is to do what I stated in the beginning, shop for the sealer you wish to apply then plan the whole job according to it's specific instructions. Hope this helps, and best of luck, Greg

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Thank you so much for your advice and experience on sealing asphalt driveways. When the rain stops for a few days, we will begin as we have all of the thinkgs that you mentioned:) Judy

One additional point I forgot to make... In applying the sealer you should try to keep a "wet edge" as you spread it until the entire driveway is covered. That simply means as you pour a little and work it into the surface of the driveway, develop a good rate which allows you make the next pour and move along blending in the outer edge of the first pour before it starts to harden. This avoids lines and a patchy look.  This means that once you start spreading the sealer, you do not want any interruptions.

That brings me to my main point- If the store you purchase the sealer from has a good return policy, buy extra containers of the sealer before you begin the job and simply return what is not used after you are finished. Most large home improvement stores find that a common practice and won't blink an eye at taking it back within a reasonable time. If it is the first time the dryway is being sealed it is currently more porous than one that has been done before and will probably take more of the sealer to fill those pores. It is good to have the extra containers on hand in case you end up using more than expected and run out before the full driveway is coated- you don't want to have to stop and run to the store halfway through an application and thereby allowing the partially finished part to dry and leave a visible edge.  Finally, don't forget to have plenty of the little things such as stir sticks for the sealer , etc.

You were great!  Thank you, and I hope that it finally gets done...after the chances of rain are over:)  Kay

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