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Steps to Follow Before You Seal and Protect Your Driveway

Asphalt driveways are an investment for your home that is well worth protecting. By spending a little extra time and money patching and sealing your driveway, it can extend the life of the blacktop and improve the curb appeal, as well as the value of your home.

But before you apply a topcoat sealer, you must inspect the driveway and make the necessary repairs. Here's how:

BEFORE YOU SEAL THE DRIVEWAY

1. Look for trouble spots

Carefully inspect every square foot of your driveway and make note of any cracks, oily stains, potholes, or areas that are crumbling. Pay particular attention to the very end and edges of the driveway, which are especially susceptible to damage.

2. Scrub away stains

If you find oil or grease stains, try removing them with hot, soapy water and a stiff-bristle scrub brush. If that fails, dissolve the stains with a de-greaser.

3. Fill in cracks

Most driveways will have at least a few cracks, which must be repaired before you apply an asphalt sealer. It's important to repair all cracks, even the smallest ones. If you don't, they'll only grow wider and longer over time.

There are several different products available for filling cracks in asphalt driveways, including ones that come in pour able-liquid squeeze bottles, caulking tubes, and preformed rolls. The appropriate filler to use will depend on the size of the crack.

For example, most liquid fillers will repair cracks up to about one-quarter inch wide. For cracks between one quarter inch and one-half inch, you'll need an asphalt-repair caulk or roll-type filler. In some cases, you may need to go through two applications to fill the crack so that it's flush with the surface of the driveway. For cracks wider than one-half inch, stuff foam backer rod into the crack, then apply caulk or roll-type crack filler. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for best results.

Important: Before applying any filler, use a wet-or-dry vacuum to clean the cracks of loose dirt, grass, stones, or other matter. If necessary, use a slotted screwdriver, awl, or similar tool to pick out any trapped debris, grass, or weeds.

4. Patch potholes

If your driveway's cracks have widened into potholes, you're in for a different fix. Repair potholes, deep depressions, and crumbled areas with blacktop patch (also called cold patch). Blacktop patch is essentially ready-to-use asphalt that comes in a bag. (If your new bag of blacktop patch feels hard or frozen, drop it on the ground a few times and roll it back and forth to break up the material inside.)

Brush or vacuum the area clean, making sure to remove any pieces of loose asphalt or substrate. Cut open the bag and use a shovel to spread blacktop patch about 2 inches deep across the hole. Compact the area with a hand tamper, or a spare length of 4 x 4 or 2 x 4. Add more blacktop patch, if necessary, and compact the area again. Repeat this process until the hole is slightly overfilled. Then drive your car back and forth over the patch until it's flush with the driveway. If the patch sinks below the surrounding surface, add more blacktop patch and repeat. Allow the patch to cure at least 24 hours before sealing.

5. Prep the driveway for sealing

The last step before applying a sealer is to thoroughly clean the driveway. Start with a push broom and sweep away the heaviest debris. Then use a garden hose, or better yet, a pressure washer to rinse the surface clean of all loose dirt, sand, and grit. Start at the highest end of the driveway and work down and out toward the edges. If your driveway is very dirty and difficult to scrub clean, consider using a concentrated asphalt cleaner.

I. Boyd Home Improvements can provide a free estimate on your driveway sealing project. We serve all of Maryland area with expert, affordable services. Contact us today!

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