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Using the Right Asphalt Sealer for the Job

by Steve Brahney, Brahney Pavement Solutions

    

When most property / facility managers specify “seal coating” they probably don’t realize there are several different options available. Most contractors will price out “Standard Fed Spec Coal Tar Emulsion” for projects. There is nothing wrong with standard Fed Spec Sealer, it has been the mainstay of the industry since the early 1950’s, but there are other alternatives available that can also improve the performance / service life of seal coating projects. Below are four of the most common types of sealer available to the asphalt sealcoating professional.

• Standard Fed Spec Pavement Sealer: This is a coal tar emulsion pavement sealer applied by the majority of sealcoating contractors in the United States. It is usually purchased directly from the manufacturing plant or from a retail distributor by individual contractors. Most of the time the sealer is sold in a concentrate form, however, sometimes it is sold in a ready-to-use form where the water is already added by the manufacturer.

• Asphalt Emulsion Pavement Sealer: This product is an asphalt based material and is viewed more as a “green” product and perceived to be more environmentally friendly, even though no test as of this date has concluded any coal tar based product is hazardous. The industry movement to asphalt based emulsions is mostly driven by lobbyist and asphalt emulsion manufacturers. Asphalt Emulsion sealers do have advantages, however, some of the disadvantages include: not impervious to gas & oil spillage, can’t be applied at night (won’t cure properly), temperature restrictions (is best applied from May – September, cutting the seal coating season short by 2 – 3 months to complete your projects), pricing and availability is volatile. In addition, it requires a specialized “mix-design” to perform properly on commercial projects.

• High Performance Grade Polymer Modified Pavement Sealer: This product is a coal tar emulsion pavement sealer which has special polymers and rubber hot blended into the base of the material during the manufacturing process. In addition, the material contains geotextile fibers for flexibility and to bridge small cracks. This high performance pavement sealer is designed for high traffic parking lots or parking lots wanting to extend the seal coating life expectancy from 3 years to 5 years. Due to the fact the product ingredients are “hot blended” during the manufacturing process, the sealer is more resistant to the elements and performs better in high traffic areas. The initial cost of this product is 20 – 30% more expensive than standard fed spec pavement sealer, however, the pavement will only need to be re-sealed on a 5 year rotation versus a 3 year rotation. Therefore, parking lots look black longer for increased curb-appeal and will limit the impact to the properties’ operations by only closing the parking lot once every five (5) years versus every three (3) years.

• Fast Dry Pavement Sealer (Ready for traffic 1 hour after application): This pavement sealer system is for high traffic parking lots such as retailers, shopping centers, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, hospitals and any other parking lot which is operational full-time and cannot have the impact of the parking lot being blocked off during / after business hours. This specialized coal tar emulsion pavement sealer contains geotextile fibers, a fast drying co-polymer and 6 lbs of silica sand per gallon of material. This is the thickest, most durable, fastest drying pavement sealer on the market. The material dries fast enough to allow the parking lot to be re-opened to traffic 1 hour after application. If there is concern about impact to retail operations and the customer has put off seal coating these parking lots or has not started a preventative maintenance management plan because they feel that closing these lots will be too expensive, Fast Dry Pavement Sealer is your answer. A parking lot that is not sealed every 3 years will deteriorate at a rate three times faster than a parking lot which has a scheduled preventative maintenance plan in place.

Brahney Pavement Solutions is a Single Source Provider of “Turn-Key” Pavement Maintenance and Management Systems to clients on both a Regional and National Basis. You can visit their website at http://www.fixasphalt.com/