Is driveway sealcoating worth the money?
Sealcoating your driveway can improve the value and curb appeal of your home. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Derek E. of Clifton Park N.Y.)
There's no greater exclamation point on the front of a home than a well-maintained driveway. It's such a little thing that can go a long way when considering how others view your home.
After you've sunk thousands of dollars into getting the perfect driveway professionally installed, you may wonder if it's worth the extra expense to keep sealing it every few years or if it's better to just let it go until it really needs to be replaced.
Understanding what sealing does and how much it costs will help you make the right decision for your home.
What sealing your driveway does
Whether your driveway is concrete or asphalt, sealing it is an important part of keeping it looking like new for a long time. The sealant, which sits on top of the driveway, acts as a barrier that prevents water, ice, car fluids, the sun, salt and other chemicals from staining and eating away at the surface of the driveway.
The frequency with which you should seal the driveway will vary based on your location. Homeowners in climates with cold, harsh winters and numerous freeze-thaw cycles will have to seal their driveways every one or two years. Those in much milder climates can probably do it as little as every four years.
You'll want to wait before sealing your new asphalt driveway until it's had time to cure, generally 90 days after installation.
Sealing it yourself
Sealing the driveway yourself will be cheaper than hiring a professional, but you're still going to have to fork over some cash to do the job right. First you'll need some basic tools, like a brush for cleaning the driveway, gloves for your hands and a squeegee for applying the sealer. Then you'll need to buy the chemicals, which will include a cleaner to prepare the surface, a crack filler — so you're not sealing in any problems — and the sealer itself.
Putting aside $50 for the tools, the rest of the ingredients will likely run you just under $150 for every 1,000 square feet of driveway. These material costs can vary wildly by region and year, so be sure to price your supplies at your local home improvement store before embarking on the job. Also, this price doesn't factor in any costs incurred from the time you'll spend doing the job, instead of other things.
Hiring a professional
On the surface, hiring a professional to seal your driveway is the more expensive option. Because material costs do vary between regions, it's impossible to nail down a single price for a professional job, but it will probably be from $50 to $100 more expensive per 1,000 square feet, than doing the job yourself. This price will also be a little more expensive if a significant part of your driveway abuts objects because these areas will have to be done by hand instead of rolled, which greatly increases the amount of time the job will take.
On top of doing the job right, the professional will know what products work best in your area, what sealers to avoid altogether, how to make sure the sealer doesn't pool accidentally and how often the driveway will need to be resealed.
For most people, the benefits of getting the job professionally done will far outweigh the savings generated by doing the job themselves. However, for homeowners on a really tight budget who already know how to seal a driveway properly, going it alone can save some money, especially on large driveways. Just be aware of the hidden costs of not having the job done right, which include eventual driveway damage and having to reseal the driveway earlier than normal.