The time to start protecting your new asphalt driveway is shortly after it's installed. Talk to your contractor about having a surface treatment for asphalt put on your new driveway when it's time. This usually isn't done immediately after installation because the asphalt needs to cure first.
Here's why asphalt begins to deteriorate after it's applied to your driveway, how a surface treatment can help, and how surface treatments for asphalt driveways are applied.
Asphalt Binders Dry Out
As soon as your driveway is installed, fading from sun exposure begins. In a matter of years, you'll notice your driveway looks pale, and it may even start cracking. This happens because the binders dry out due to sun and weather exposure.
Asphalt is made from an aggregate that's bound together with residue left over from petroleum refining. The residue is black like oil but thicker. It acts like glue that bonds the aggregate together to create a solid surface for parking and driving.
Over time, this residue dries out and your driveway becomes less flexible, so cracking is more likely. Plus, the aggregate can separate. You might even see pieces of aggregate embedded in your driveway as the binder wears away and exposes the aggregate inside.
A Surface Treatment Protects And Restores The Binder
There are a few surface treatments for asphalt, but applying a surface coating is a common one that isn't too expensive. This type of treatment doesn't involve using an asphalt overlay. Instead, it's a thin petroleum-based product that goes over the surface of your new driveway to improve the adhesion of the aggregate.
This slows down the fading and drying of the asphalt, and this can slow down the development of cracks and potholes too. The surface treatment protects the asphalt from sun and water, so you could get a few more years from the asphalt before you need to start making major repairs or using other types of surface treatments that include overlays.
A Surface Coating Is Painted On
This type of surface treatment for asphalt is thin, so it is applied like paint or a coating. Heavy machinery is used to spray the surface treatment on asphalt roadways and large parking lots, but your contractor may apply the treatment by hand to your driveway. This could involve spraying it on or applying it with a squeegee.
The driveway should be cleaned first, and if any cracks are present, they should be filled since a surface treatment doesn't repair asphalt damage. The treatment dries quickly, so you might be able to use your driveway after several hours, but your contractor lets you know how long to stay off of the asphalt. Call a paving company, like Pavement Surface Coatings, to learn more.