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Assuming that the initial asphalt pavement was designed and constructed properly, the primary reason asphalt fails is water penetrating the asphalt base.
This starts with oxidation of the pavement surface, which causes the asphalt to dry and become brittle. This leads to the erosion of the top layer of fine particles and the appearance of larger stones and small cracks on the surface.
These cracks grow over time if left untreaded and eventually will allow water to penetrate to the base of the pavement.
When water reaches base of the pavement the material moves and settles, leading to further cracking and an "alligator appearance".
When the pavement reaches this stage the only option is removal and replacement of the old asphalt.
Sealcoats generally consist of a mixture of emulsified asphalt, water, mineral fillers, and various other admixtures. They are applied directly to the surface of an asphalt pavement. They can be applied by rubber squeegee, broom, or mechanical spray.
Sealcoats seal the top of the asphalt and prevent water from penetrating through the surface, protecting the top layer of asphalt from oxidation and wear that can be caused by sun and air exposure. They beautify the pavement by providing a smooth, black, even surface idea for painting lines and sweeping.
Sealcoats are designed for off highway use where there are low traffic speeds and tight turning radiuses such as parking lots, mobile home parks, schools, shoulders, etc.
Sealcoats are different from slurry seals which use a much coarser aggregate filler and are designed for use on high speed areas with straight rolling traffic.
Sealcoating seals the asphalt pavement, preventing the oxidation and erosion of the top layer of asphalt.
Sealcoating on older pavements replaces fine particles lost from the asphalt surface due to oxidation and also seals the small cracks that can turn into large cracks. This prevents weather from seeping into the base material.
Sealcoating helps protects the asphalt from the sun as well as the harmful effects of chemical spills such as oil and gasoline. Sealcoating provides an attractive black surface that is ideal for painting lines and other markers.
Sealcoating leaves a smooth, clean surface ideal for sweeping, lowering cleaning costs. Sealcoating costs pennies a square foot compared to the dollars needed to repair or replace damaged asphalt.
Generally you should wait a few months before sealing new pavement to allow it time to cure. It is recommended to wait 6-12 months before sealcoating new pavement.
After a surface has been sealed it should be re-sealed two years consecutively,
a break of one year and repeat.