The Best Type of Driveway Sealer

Lauren Farrelly

Adding a driveway sealant to your asphalt or concrete driveway will help protect it from damaging sun rays, water damage and ice damage. In general, a new coat of sealant should be applied to your driveway every three to four years.

Applying the sealant yourself can save you a large amount of money, saving the most cost on labor. In general, you can expect to spend about $12 to $15 for a high-end 5-gallon jug of asphalt sealant and about $20-40 for a concrete sealant, which should cover about 400 square feet.

Types of Driveway Sealants

There are two types of sealants available to be used on asphalt: coal tar based and asphalt based. Coal tar sealants are the best to use to protect against oil leak damage and are much more durable in harsher climates. Asphalt-based sealants are also very durable but do allow some permeation. These sealants emit low amounts of chemicals into the air. Asphalt sealants may need to be reapplied sooner, or a second coat may need to be added because the sealant is so water soluble. When you apply the sealant, the driveway may absorb the sealant quickly and may seep deep into the driveway. A second coat may be needed to be sure that the top layer is protected.

Asphalt sealants may end up costing you more in the long run--either because a second coat needs to be applied, or because the sealant needs to be reapplied sooner. The coal-tar based sealants will provide the best protection, regardless of how much wear and tear you put on the driveway.

If you have a concrete driveway, you will be able to purchase a concrete sealer at any major home improvement store. These typically cost more than sealants for asphalt driveways but will last a bit longer--approximately four to five years. Concrete sealants aren't just restricted to driveways, they are also used on patios, garages and even basement floors.

Price Differences & Quality

When it comes to sealants and protectors, the age-old wisdom is true: you pay for what you get. The cheaper the sealant, the thinner it will be and the less protection you will receive, and the more expensive the sealant, the heavier the liquid and the better the protection. The chemicals inside the sealants also vary. Cheaper and thinner sealants typically offer less protection, going on more like a thin coat of paint that chips and wears easily. However, the more expensive and thicker sealants contain higher-grade ingredients. They provide a thick layer of protection on your driveway, which will typically last for several years. Concrete driveway sealants typically cost about twice as much as asphalt driveway sealants. The quality of concrete sealants also varies by cost and ingredients.

Applying Driveway Sealants

When you apply your coal-tar based driveway sealant (the best quality sealant to use on asphalt driveways) or concrete sealant, you should always wear a mask. Sealants are full of various chemicals that can be harmful if you are working in a poorly ventilated area, and if you have pre-existing lung or breathing issues inhaling these chemicals could be harmful. You should also be sure to wear gloves to prevent the sealant from getting directly on your hands. The sealant can be very difficult to remove from your hands and skin.

If there are cracks or breaks in the driveway, you should repair these before applying the sealant. To repair them, you can use a simple driveway crack filler from your local home improvement store, usually under $8 for a large tube.

You should also be sure to purchase a large squeegee brush that can be used to apply the sealant. This will help you spread the sealant out evenly over the entire driveway. It will also help you get the sealant evenly to the edges and corners of the driveway.