Asphalt pavements are made up of stone (aggregate) fine stone or sand, and asphalt cement. The asphalt cement is what gives the pavement its black appearance and is the “glue” that holds everything together.
Have you noticed that new asphalt is jet black but soon begins to fade and in a year or two has turned gray? That’s oxidation. The effects of the sun and rain/snow oxidizing the asphalt cement in the pavement. Given enough time the pavement becomes brittle and has less resistance to the loads placed on it. This can lead to a multitude of problems. Asphalt is a petroleum product so any other petroleum derivatives that contact it will dissolve into the asphalt, weakening or dissolving the asphalt’s “glue like” properties. A good quality sealcoating will protect the asphalt pavement from all these damaging factors while providing the curb appeal of a new-looking black appearance. It’s often overlooked that sealcoating not only seals the harmful elements out but seals the beneficial properties of the asphalt cement in. Many years of research has proven that proper maintenance including sealcoating can double the life of an asphalt pavement.
They need immediate attention. A host of problems leading to major failure can result from the small start of a few cracks left unattended. Sealcoating only addresses hairline cracks. Actual cracks in the pavement require specialized crack sealant materials. Left alone cracks allow moisture to penetrate the asphalt surface. Water expands as it freezes, so moisture in the cracks does the greatest damage in the winter months. Water penetration does great damage to pavement no matter what the temperature. It just does more damage faster in freezing conditions. The main issue in sealing cracks is that they MUST be clean, dry, and have no vegetation present prior to any sealing.