Blacktop Paving

Blacktop paving is a popular choice for everyday paving needs. Its versatility and characteristics make it a go-to material for various projects. If you’re unfamiliar with blacktop, this article will illuminate its essentials.

Blacktop, often confused with asphalt, is a specific type of asphalt mixture used primarily for paving roads, driveways, and parking lots. Its installation involves laying and compacting a hot mixture of aggregate, binder, and filler. The cost varies based on project size and location, but it’s generally considered cost-effective. Blacktop pavements are known for their durability, typically lasting up to 20 years with proper maintenance, which includes regular cleaning and timely repairs of cracks and potholes. When comparing blacktop to other paving options, it stands out for its affordability, ease of repair, and strong resistance to weather conditions. However, it can be susceptible to damage in extremely hot climates and requires resealing every few years to maintain its integrity.

Discover more about blacktop paving, including detailed cost analysis, installation tips, maintenance guidelines, and a comprehensive comparison with other paving materials.

What is the difference between blacktop and asphalt?

A newly installed asphalt over the gravel driveway.

When it comes to paving, the terms ‘blacktop’ and ‘asphalt‘ are often used interchangeably, yet they represent distinct materials with unique properties and uses. Understanding the difference between these two is crucial for making informed decisions about paving projects. Let’s delve into the specifics of blacktop and asphalt to clarify their differences.


Blacktop, also known as hot mix asphalt, is a specific type of asphalt mixture. It’s primarily used for paving residential and commercial driveways, smaller roads, and play areas. The composition of blacktop is a blend of bitumen (a sticky, viscous liquid), sand, and stone. This mixture is heated at a higher temperature, which makes it more malleable and easier to spread. Once cooled, Blacktop Paving hardens into a durable, smooth surface. It’s favored for its dark, rich color and smooth finish, which is why it’s commonly chosen for aesthetic purposes in residential applications.


Asphalt, in a broader sense, refers to a mixture used for constructing roads, airport runways, and parking lots. It contains a lower percentage of bitumen and a higher percentage of crushed stone compared to blacktop. This composition makes asphalt sturdier and more suitable for handling heavy traffic and larger vehicles. The texture of asphalt is usually rougher, providing better traction and durability under high-stress conditions. Asphalt’s robustness and endurance under heavy use make it the preferred choice for commercial and public infrastructure projects.

How blacktop and asphalt are made

A workers busy on making a driveway using a blacktop.

Understanding how blacktop and asphalt are made can be quite fascinating. These materials, while similar in appearance, have different production processes that give them unique qualities. Let’s take a closer look at how each is created.

How blacktop is made

While that paving material shares similarities with asphalt, there’s a distinction in their composition. Most mixtures in this paving category feature natural stone as their primary component. As you navigate your paved surfaces, whether it’s a roadway, parking lot, or driveway, you’ll notice a distinct shine and sparkle on the surface compared to a dense layer of asphalt. This aesthetically pleasing effect is achieved by incorporating a higher proportion of natural stones into the crushed mixture.

Blacktop is heated to elevated temperatures of about 300 degrees elevated temperatures (around 50 degrees greater than asphalt), which, together with the varying ratios of stones, contribute to its durability. 

As time goes on, this material would generally be more resilient than asphalt. This resilience is due to the process of production requiring higher temperatures, rendering it a more pliable surface that you can reseal instead of it to suffer potholes and sharp cracks easily.

How asphalt is made

Asphalt is made directly from the heaviest component of petroleum after it is processed from fossil fuels. This dense and heavy product requires a cutting agent such as crushed stone to get the right consistency. 

The use of crushed stones as cutting agents help to achieve the required correct consistency. The petroleum by-products and crushed stones mixture are then placed in a big drum to help keep climate control for the mixing phases. It is now pliable enough to pour on driveways, roadways, parking lots, etc. Asphalt is mixed at a minimum of around 250 degrees to make it tough enough to endure anything that moves, walks, and runs over its surface.

The 250-degree level is a standard that is required to be reached for asphalt. However, the temperature needs to remain in that range rather than rising higher. Anywhere between 250 and 260 degrees is perfect because higher temperatures negatively affect the finished product. The asphalt surface is rigid, but it does not have the same flexibility as a Blacktop Paving surface.

What blacktop and asphalt are used for

A wet surface of blacktop road

While blacktop and asphalt might appear similar at first glance, they serve distinct purposes based on their composition and durability. Let’s explore the specific applications for which each material is best suited.

Uses for blacktop

Unlike asphalt, blacktop surfaces are more susceptible to highly congested areas. It does not have much weight strength to tolerate heavier loads, so it is not as popular as asphalt to be used on major roadways. Instead, it is a perfect blend which is commonly used on:

  1. suburban roads, 
  2. driveways, 
  3. residential sidewalks, 
  4. parking lots,
  5. Playgrounds,
  6. Usually, this material is also used to construct game and court areas.

Blacktop does not have heavy traffic and weight load, like major roadways using asphalt; thus, it is usually used when referring to game areas and residential pathways.

Uses for asphalt

Asphalt is primarily recognized for its long-lasting performance and capacity to withstand harsh conditions. Hence, it is mostly used for:

  1. Major roadways, 
  2. highways, 
  3. freeways.

Aside from major roads that cross the world’s cities and byways, the versatile and water-resistant characteristics of asphalt make it suitable also for:

  1. Airport runways
  2. Reservoir linings
  3. Cable coatings
  4. Pool linings
  5. Soundproofing
  6. Tile underlying waterproofing
  7. Damp-proofing

Blacktop grade and asphalt grade 

A workers flatten the surface of asphalt road.

In the world of paving, both asphalt and blacktop come in various grades, each tailored for specific uses and environments. Understanding these grades helps in choosing the right material for your paving needs. Let’s delve into the different grades of asphalt and blacktop.

Asphalt grades

When you talk of blacktop and asphalt variations, it is also important to note that asphalt has more distinctions. The five grade types of asphalt include:

  1. Quiet Asphalt: This type of asphalt is widely used in residential neighborhoods or motorways that are near residences
  2. Porous Asphalt: It is generally used for parking lots or other pavements where you want the water to flow under the surface down to the ground.
  3. Warm mix asphalt: It uses a reduced heating temperature to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and prolong the paving season.
  4. Hot Mix Asphalt: This is identical to blacktop paving since “hot mix” is what makes its blacktop
  5. Perpetual Pavement: It’s a multilayered asphalt process. It can be deemed much comparable to the blacktop since it is the most versatile way of installing asphalt.

Blacktop grades

Blacktop, while less varied than asphalt in terms of grades, offers a unique blend that caters well to specific paving needs. Its composition is tailored to provide both aesthetic appeal and functionality for areas with lower traffic intensity. Here’s a closer look at the characteristics of blacktop’s singular standard:

  • Single Standard Type: Predominantly available in one standard form.
  • Composition: Comprises a mix predominantly of natural stone and bitumen.
  • Appearance: Recognizable for its smooth, glossy finish.
  • Usage: Best suited for residential driveways, playgrounds, and areas with less vehicular stress.
  • Key Feature: Designed to offer durability and visual appeal in lighter traffic conditions.

How to Install Blacktop Paving in 8 Steps

A blacktop road that is surrounded by trees on both sides.

There are several aspects that homeowners and business owners may not know about when it comes to paving with blacktop. Of course, there are specific steps you need to take and things you should consider while installing a new blacktop or replacing an existing one, ensuring its longevity. 

Whether you want to carry out the project yourself or contract a professional, below are the steps you should take to properly install a blacktop pavement.

1. Remove Old Paving

The installation process starts with the removal of any old paving. This is done using heavy machinery such as forklifts, small bobcats, and front loaders. The goal is to clear the area thoroughly to create a stable base for the new blacktop, ensuring that the new surface will be even and properly aligned.

2. Grading and Sloping

Grading and Sloping

This step involves leveling the surface that will be paved. Using laser-guided transits and automated motor graders, professionals ensure that the area has the correct slope. Proper grading and sloping are critical to prevent water accumulation, which can cause damage like cracks, potholes, and heaving in the pavement.

3. Preparation of the Sub Base

The sub-base is crucial for providing a stable foundation for the new pavement. It must be compacted adequately to prevent shifting and settling. An improperly prepared sub-base can lead to premature deterioration of the blacktop, reducing its lifespan and durability.

4. Sub Base Repair, Undercutting, and Proof Roll

After grading and compacting the sub-base, additional steps such as proof rolling, undercutting, and sub-base repair are performed. This ensures that the ground surface is stable and ready to support the new Blacktop Paving. These steps are vital for preventing future issues with the pavement.

5. Binder and Surface Course

The binder layer, consisting of large aggregate mixed with oil, is then installed. This layer is crucial for the pavement’s strength and durability. It acts as the foundation for the blacktop, providing stability and resilience against traffic and environmental conditions.

6. Apply a new blacktop

The worker is applying new blacktop paving

The final surface layer of blacktop is applied next. This layer is heated to around 300 degrees for optimal application. It provides a smooth, comfortable ride and gives the pavement a shiny, attractive finish. Careful application is key to ensuring a uniform surface.

7. Final roll

After laying the blacktop, it’s essential to smooth out transition areas and butt joints. A roller truck is used to compact the entire surface, ensuring proper grading for water runoff and a smooth finish without any aggregate or stone protruding through.

8. Curing

The newly laid blacktop requires time to cool and strengthen. It typically takes 24-48 hours before it can be used. Allowing adequate curing time is critical; otherwise, it might stretch and sustain damage more quickly.

How much does blacktop paving cost?

Workers are applying blacktop paving

Three factors may affect the average cost of blacktop installation, including:

  • Location on Property
  • Regional Variations
  • Excavation/Grading

Location on Property

The cost of blacktop paving varies depending on where it’s being installed on the property. For a standard 2-car driveway, the average cost is about $3,600. However, the price range for many homeowners falls between $950 and $7,940, influenced by factors such as driveway size and the complexity of the installation. In contrast, blacktop installation in a backyard or other non-standard areas may be more costly, ranging from $3,500 to $32,500, depending on the specific requirements of the project.

Regional Variations

Geographical location plays a significant role in determining the cost of blacktop paving. Labor and material costs can differ widely from one region to another. For instance, urban areas or regions with higher living costs typically see higher prices for paving services. Additionally, the availability of the materials in a given region can also impact the overall cost.


The initial groundwork, including excavation and grading, is a crucial factor in the overall cost. This process involves preparing the site for paving, which may include removing existing surfaces, leveling the ground, and ensuring proper drainage. The complexity and extent of this preparatory work can lead to varying costs. Sites requiring extensive excavation and grading work will generally incur higher costs due to the additional labor and machinery involved.

How durable is blacktop paving?

A big house with a residential blacktop driveway.

A blacktop pavement can last between 10 and 30 years, depending on several factors, including but not limited to, the following: 

  • Proper Installation
  • Type of usage (residential or commercial)
  • Weather conditions
  • Maintenance culture

Proper Installation

The first step towards a long-lasting pavement is proper installation. So, ensure you hire the right contractor who will observe all the correct steps in the process to avoid damage caused on top of the pavement by water pooling.

Type of usage (residential or commercial)

You could cause premature damage to your driveway if you fail to plan for the correct type of use. So, ensure  to properly determine the vehicles’ style and weight that will be using the driveway or parked on it.

Weather conditions

Weather conditions, including Cold, freezing temperatures can cause contraction and crack of the pavement. If you reside in a region with significant seasonal changes in temperature, then this is something you need to watch out for.

Maintenance culture

Furthermore, remember that proper maintenance and repairs can elongate the durability of your pavement. Hence, always ensure you give adequate care to your blacktop pavements. 

Blacktop paving maintenance 

The worker is laying an asphalt pavement

If you want your blacktop surfaces to last long or longer than expected, you need to adopt proper maintenance because good maintenance contributes to pavement durability. Below are tips on how you can adequately maintain your blacktop pavement:

  • After installation, allow your pavement to cure properly before use.
  • Assess the blacktop pavement periodically for cracks and immediately patch them to prevent water from seeping into and weaken the material. 
  • Don’t park vehicles that are leaking fluids like oil or gasoline on your driveway because it can cause damage that can result in early repair of the driveway.
  • It is also important to keep heavy commercial vehicles away from residential blacktop driveways. If required, park tow trucks or other similar vehicles in the street.
  • During wintertime, use rock salt to remove ice and snow or thick brush for the same purpose, rather than to use a shovel or snow blower to shield this material’s upper layer from scratches and damage.
  • Do not drive along the blacktop edge because the closer it gets to the edge of a paved region, the weaker the blacktop gets.
  • Do not park vehicles in the same spot in the driveway at the same location because it will sustain excessive pressure and weight on one blacktop area. This area could then begin to degrade over time.

The Pros and Cons of blacktop paving vs. other paving options

A residential driveway surrounded by plants.

Here are the pros and cons of using asphalt compared to other materials.

Pros of using blacktop

You can use blacktop in several places, including parking lots, roadways, home driveway, game areas, etc. Below are the advantages of using blacktop:

  1. Safe: blacktop pavement provides a very smooth, sparkling, and attractive surface. This implies a comfortable ride for your tires, resulting in fewer accidents.
  2. Minimum disruption: Since blacktop can be handled in lanes or strips, you can use your parking lot or road in places where the contractor is not working. Besides, since projects can be carried out fast, they can often be executed outside regular business hours, which does not hurt your business.
  3. Noise control: Blacktop pavement is the quietest option for paving surfaces. It is claimed to reduce noise pollution by 50 percent.
  4. Cost-effective: Blacktop pavement is inexpensive to maintain. It can be done on time, saving you money on human resources.

Cons of using blacktop

Despite its many benefits, it also has a downside. The disadvantages of using blacktop for your paving project are but not limited to, the following:

  1. Its uses are limited to areas that do not regularly experience heavy traffic.
  2. The mixing nature of blacktop’s ingredients is not sturdy enough and does not last long compared to asphalt paving.
  3. Blacktop paved surfaces tend to need more maintenance than other paving options.
  4. Blacktop has a higher mixture of stone than its other option, requiring it to be heated to a higher temperature (around 300 degrees). This means more time would be needed to prepare the mixture.

Other attributes of blacktop and asphalt

A smooth surface of a blacktop paving with leaves on top.

Here are some attributes of asphalt and asphalt that you may want to consider

Mixing Requirements and Seasonal Considerations

Asphalt and blacktop exhibit distinct characteristics in their mixing requirements. Both materials necessitate elevated temperatures during the mixing process. Consequently, it is customary for contractors to undertake paving projects primarily during warmer months to ensure optimal working conditions.

Surface Texture and Composition

When comparing asphalt and blacktop, differences in surface texture become apparent. Asphalt generally boasts a smoother finish, while blacktop contains higher concentrations of crushed natural stone in its mix. This variation in composition contributes to differences in the final texture of the paved surface.

Application Considerations

The choice between asphalt and blacktop often hinges on the specific requirements of the project. Asphalt, with its smoother finish, is well-suited for applications where a superior, smoother ride is desired. This makes it an ideal choice for constructing major roadways, where a comfortable driving experience is paramount. In contrast, blacktop, with its stone-rich composition, may be preferred for certain applications where a different texture or aesthetic is desired.

FAQs about Blacktop Paving

Discover now the most frequently asked questions about this material.

Is blacktop cheaper than pavers?

Yes, blacktops are generally more cost-effective than pavers. The installation process for blacktop is quicker and requires less labor compared to laying individual pavers. The overall cost may vary based on factors such as project size, material quality, and local labor costs.

Is blacktop better than concrete?

The choice between blacktop and concrete depends on several factors. Asphalt is more flexible and can withstand freeze-thaw cycles better than concrete, which may crack under certain conditions. Additionally, blacktop is easier to repair, making it a suitable choice for areas with frequent temperature fluctuations. However, concrete is known for its durability and may be preferred in certain applications. The decision ultimately depends on specific needs, climate considerations, and maintenance preferences.


Blacktop paving is a safe, durable, and commonly used paving option for a wide range of projects as much as asphalt. While blacktop is durable like asphalt, it is more malleable, and asphalt is typically more rigid than blacktop. 

Their resemblances make them both commonly used materials for paving projects, but their disparities help you better understand which will be your project’s best pavement choice.

It is critical to analyze how each material will impact the performance, irrespective of the project intent. A small variation could go a big step in the making or marring of your next project. So, ensure to consult a professional paving contractor for any paving project you may need for your home or offices. 

Professionals know the right material for a particular project, understand the perfect time for paving work, and can give you a precise cost estimate to ensure the project’s success.

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About the Author: Chris Hawk

Chris is a paver with more than 15 years' expertise in the field. He has established a reputation as an expert and trustworthy specialist with a track record of providing his clients with top-notch paving solutions.


Are you an architect learning about parking lots and their constructions? Or maybe you are a building owner wondering which parking lot will go best with your facility?

Well, in either case, you are in the right place because this article will give you valuable insight into what these parking lots are. You will also learn about installation, repair, and maintenance and their benefits and drawbacks.

Whether your building is for an industrial, commercial, or medical purpose, you must ensure to choose an adequate parking lot design. A parking lot is the first introduction of your facilities to the visitors and may impress or disappoint them about your services.

“A parking lot is your business gateway through which every employee, customer, and visitor will pass. Therefore, you must install and maintain a blacktop parking lot because it is aesthetically pleasing. Moreover, you must also ensure that you have a well-conceived parking lot with adequate parking lanes with markings without any hampering. A blacktop parking lot will allow you to turn your parking lot design into a positive experience to motorists visiting your facilities.”

Therefore, it is wise to familiarize yourself with what asphalt parking lots are. 

What Are Blacktop Parking Lots

They are known by many names, such as asphalt parking lots or tarmac parking lots. An asphalt parking lot is pliable, making it more forgiving than any other type of parking lot material such as concrete.

These types of parking lots perform better in the freeze and thaw cycle. Therefore, if you live in a snowy region, asphalt parking lots can be an extremely beneficial and long-lasting solution. The black color of these parking lots can absorb the sun’s heat and melt snow more rapidly than any other parking lot surface.

A beautiful blacktop parking lot

How Do You Install Them

If you wish to learn about the asphalt parking lot installation, there is so much you need to be aware of. So let us look at the step-by-step process of how to install them from start to finish.

1. Removing Existing Surface

The first step to install these parking lots is to demolish and remove the existing surface. For this, you will need to use heavy machinery, including forklifts, and bobcats, etc. Other types of equipment to use are large dump trucks and front loaders etc.

Once you have demolished the existing surface, make sure to remove all debris.

2. Preparing the Surface

Now that you have demolished the old surface, it is time to grade and slope the surface for adequate water drainage. This is critical because water can be a significant source of damage to your parking lots.

3. Preparation of Sub-Base

Sub-base is one of the most vital parts of your parking lot as it provides a stable surface in order to support your new pavement. Additionally, it will also work as a frost barrier to reduce the winter damage caused by freezing and thawing.

The better your sub-base is, the more years of durability it will guarantee.

4. Proof Rolling

Proof rolling is an extra step that ensures that your underlying surface is strong enough to support the new asphalt. Proof rolling uses heavy trucks to check if the gravel flexes under the weight. If it does, then the surface is not ready yet and is known as soft areas.

You can use undercutting to repair these soft spots by digging the surface up to 3 feet under the soft spot and replacing the soft clay with stronger material. Once you have addressed all soft spots, your surface is ready for the next step.

5. Adding the Binder

In this step, you will add the binder layer, which contains a large aggregate with oil that ensures the strength and durability of your parking lots.

6. Parking Lots Installation

Once you have added the binder, your surface is ready to install the new blacktop/asphalt surface. This surface contains a small amount of aggregate, oil, and sand, creating jet-black material providing a surface with a smooth ride and attractive, shiny finish.

7. Transitions and Butt Joints

Butt joints refer to areas where your old parking lot surface meets the new asphalt surface. These transitions require extreme care to ensure adequate water run-off and grading. Moreover, these butt joints ensure that your pedestrians and drivers do not feel the difference between the two surfaces.

8. Final Roll

The last stage is a final roll to smooth and compact the parking lots using a roller truck. This process ensures to rectify small bumps of stones and aggregate poking through the surface.

A workers busy on sealing a cracks in blacktop parking lot.

Blacktop Parking Lot Maintenance

Do you already have an asphalt parking lot with signs of severe wear and tear due to years of use? In that case, you may require a tremendous amount of repair and maintenance in terms of patching the uninviting, blotchy, and uneven surface.

These parking lots will require regular repair and maintenance. That said, an adequately installed surface with adequate and timely maintenance can last up to 30 years approximately.

The maintenance of such parking lots includes the following.

  • Sealing

Your parking lots can suffer from cracks and potholes over a period of time which requires sealing. However, you must not seal the new parking lots until they are at least six months old. Once this time period has passed, you must reseal them with regular intervals of 2 to 3 years in order to slow down the deterioration process.

The frequency of resealing your asphalt parking lots also depends on the volume of traffic. The more traffic you get, the higher the frequency to reseal. Moreover, it is also advisable to use a high-quality asphalt sealer to ensure durability and strength for a long time.

  • Material for Sealing

Asphalt is prone to crack, and you cannot add controlled joints to ensure where these cracks appear. However, whenever a crack appears, you should pour a hot rubberized sealer to seal these developing cracks.

This process of sealing the cracks will rectify further damage and development of any potholes over time. The ideal time to seal the cracks is during the fall season because during this time, the asphalt is cooler, and cracks are wider.

By the time summer returns, the asphalt will warm up and expand due to the sun’s heat and tightly seal the cracks offering prevention against water run-off and rain damage.

A blacktop parking lot with paint guide.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Blacktop Parking Lots Vs. Other Parking Lot Materials

If you are looking for cost-efficient and durable parking lots for your commercial facilities, then an asphalt-based parking lot is the best and practical solution. These parking lots offer you an investment that will continue to provide you with benefits for many years to come while paying for it.

Apart from the monetary benefits, a parking lot offers an impeccable first impression to your visitors, customers, and employees before they set foot into your facilities.

Think about it; if you drive into a well-maintained and flawless parking lot, you will automatically believe the actual business to offer even far better services.

That said, like any other thing in life, parking lots have their own benefits and drawbacks. So let us look at them.

Benefits of Asphalt Parking Lots

Here some of the pros of using such parking lots for your business facilities.

  • It Adds to Property Value

These parking lots improve the exterior aesthetics of your commercial property that may increase its value. Using porous asphalt will not only save you money but also boost your property’s value by using green infrastructure, adding to its curb appeal.

  • It Contributes to Noise Reduction

Asphalt parking lots are quieter than any other material as they reduce traffic noise by three decibels.  

  • It offers Longevity

Blacktop parking lots require preventive maintenance, which prolongs its life.

  • The Sustainability Factor

As asphalt is the primary material used in these parking lots, it can be renewed or reused. This offers cost reduction as you can cycle asphalt on parking lots while reducing the need for new pavement material.

  • Versatility for Usage

No matter what your parking lot needs are, asphalt is an ideal solution. You can use it for areas with flooding, water storage, and erosion issues.

  • It is Safe

The smoothness of these parking lots offers a firmer grip and superior contact to vehicle tires. You can use open-graded asphalt, allowing it to drain the water off to the side. This also helps reduce the water splash caused by the vehicle.

The adequate water drainage to the side away from the surface will also make the surface less icy during the winter season. This will reduce the chances of vehicles slipping or skidding. On the other hand, it will also prevent any pedestrian incidents of slip and fall.

Moreover, your parking lots will offer better visual distinctions when it comes to markings and signs.

Parking lot with persons with disabilities area.

The drawback of Asphalt Parking Lots

Although these parking lots are perfect for parking lot surfaces, they do have certain disadvantages as well. Let us find out what they are.

  • Requires More Maintenance

Blacktop parking lots require more frequent maintenance than any other material such as concrete. You must reseal these parking lots every 3 to 5 years in order to prevent them from cracking. Moreover, you will have to bear with the closure of the parking area for resealing.

It will require two to three days for the resealed surface to be ready for the cars to drive on it. This will cost you both time and money while causing hindrance and nuisance for the visitors, customers, and employees.

  • It Cracks

In case of inadequate installation, your parking lot surfaces are prone to cracking and creating potholes. Trying to fix this issue can be an expensive exercise.

  • It is not Environmental Friendly

Asphalt is a byproduct of petroleum that releases hydrocarbons leading to pollution. The most commonly used in such parking lots is known as coal tar. Cutback asphalt is another material commonly used in parking lots and is infamous for emitting higher levels of hydrocarbons than other materials.

  • It Requires Heavy Equipment

These parking lots require heavy machinery for installation. These include sand spreaders, distributor trucks, paving graders, and other heavy-duty equipment to lay smooth and flawless asphalt surfaces. The cost of hiring this heavy equipment can be considerably high.

Parking lot cracks on the yellow paint.

Related Article: Blacktop Paving

Tips for Low Maintenance

If you wish your facility’s blacktop parking lots to offer durability for an extended period of time, simply follow these best practices for low maintenance.

  • Apply seal coating at regular intervals of at least two years
  • Act quickly and seal any cracks as they appear to prevent them from widening
  • Use proper signage and markings
  • Repair any potholes and pits as they appear.
  • Make sure that there is no water standing in your parking lot. Water damage is the leading cause of damage to asphalt parking lots and turning into wide potholes. If you leave it for too long, there will be no other course of action but the too-expensive reconstruction of the entire patch.

Remember, the potential hazards pertaining to blacktop parking lots include alligatored areas, broken curbs, large cracks, and failing inlets. The only way to rectify these problems is by following scheduled preventative maintenance. This is going to help you save the exponential cost of reconstruction while offering a longer life span.

However, if the problem is too widespread and your budget allows it, reconstruction of the entire area of the affected parking lot is better than applying preventative measures. This will help you save money and time required for frequent repair and maintenance.


Whether you are a business looking for a paving company to construct a parking lot or a company offering paving services, you can register with PavingFinder. They are industry leaders that allow companies to register for free. This allows potential customers to connect with the paving companies across the country and vice versa. Click here to register now and become a part of the nationwide network of paving companies.

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About the Author: Tim Dawson

Tim is a seasoned paving expert with 30+ years of experience in the industry. He has worked on countless projects, from small residential driveways to large commercial parking lots.

Blacktop Sealcoating

Explore the critical role of Blacktop Sealcoating in protecting and enhancing asphalt driveways and parking lots, ensuring longevity and aesthetic appeal.

Blacktop sealcoating is crucial for safeguarding asphalt surfaces from environmental elements. This process involves applying a mixture of asphalt or refined coal tar, clay, water, and fillers. As the water evaporates, the emulsion hardens, forming a protective layer. This not only extends the lifespan of driveways and parking lots but also enhances their appearance with a sleek, black finish. It’s a cost-effective method to maintain both residential and commercial asphalt areas, ensuring durability and visual appeal.

Discover the benefits and techniques of blacktop sealcoating, and how to choose the right contractor for optimal results.

Why You Should Sealcoat a Blacktop Driveway or Parking Lot

The process of sealcoating on a blacktop

An asphalt driveway could last up to 30 years if the driveway was installed correctly and regularly maintained. Regular maintenance includes filling cracks annually and blacktop sealcoating when needed.

Driveway cracks as a result of age and weather, especially in unsealed driveways. When water from snow or rain seeps through the asphalt or concrete, it creates pools of water underneath it, which leads to cracking, especially when that moisture freezes and thaws repeatedly. This seepage occurs because most driveways are made from porous materials. 

Blacktop Sealcoating offers numerous benefits:

  • Driveway sealing closes off the pores so that water can’t penetrate the paving material.
  • Most seal coatings protect your driveway color from fading by protecting it from heat and UV damage.
  • Asphalt driveway seal coat sits on top of the driveway and acts as a barrier.  That barrier prevents water, ice, oil and car fluids, sun, salt, and chemicals from eating away at the driveway or parking lot surface.
  • Driveway sealing helps extend the life of an asphalt driveway or parking lot by preventing the asphalt from hardening and crumbling. 
  • Sealants also make cleaning oil or other leaked fluids from your vehicle much easier because the liquid can’t seep into those tiny pores on the driveway.
  • Seal coating is a cost-effective method of repairing or surfacing the existing pavement, extending the pavement and driveway’s life. Without sealer, the asphalt could require an overlay in as little as five to six years, costing thousands of dollars. 

The 6-step blacktop sealcoating process

Depending on the manufacturers’ recommendation, the right time of the year to seal coat is when temperatures are expected to remain above 55 degrees. That temperature will ensure that the product cures appropriately.

1. Clean and prepare your paved surface

the worker is cleaning the surface before applying the blacktop seal coating

Be sure the driveway is as clean as possible before you seal it. If you trap any oils between the asphalt and sealant, it can eat away at the asphalt and ruin your driveway. 

Pull weeds and remove the debris with a push broom. Use a pressure washer to clean the surface, especially any large cracks or potholes. Clean up oil spots with a strong asphalt cleaner specifically designed to remove oil stains. Scrub the driveway with detergent and water.

Rinse the soap and dirt residue with a power washer nozzle or a strong stream of water from your garden hose. Fully rinse the driveway with clear water. Let the driveway dry completely before you apply the seal coat. Do a final sweep with a push broom.

2. Repair cracks before you start

Sealing a cracked or chipped driveway will defeat the purpose of seal coating, so be sure to repair asphalt before you begin. Seal coat products can be used to cover cracks as wide as 1/8 inch, but don’t try to use it on wider cracks. 

More significant cracks should be filled with a product designed for such use before the surface seal coating is applied. A rubberized crack sealer is ideal for repairing such cracks.

Older driveways will require you to use a combination of patching compound for small cracks and dents and a blacktop patch for deep potholes.

Be sure to schedule for a few extra days before you seal the driveway to give these patches time to dry.

3. Mix the sealcoat product

A few days before you plan to sealcoat the driveway or lot, you should buy the sealant and turn the buckets upside down. Turning them upside down will help mix the sealer and give it a more consistent color. When one bucket is down to about one-third full, mix most of the second bucket with it. Mixing the two will help keep your asphalt sealer uniform in color.

Sand can be mixed in with the product to create a non-slippery surface and provide a little more consistency to the sealcoating product.

4. Apply the asphalt sealer

A man sealing a pothole on asphalt driveway

A thin layer of sealant works best. Applying excess sealer doesn’t help, so using a thick coat wastes money. Two thin seal coats are enough to ensure complete coverage without wasting money on too much sealer.

Dip a dashing brush in the sealer and apply a coat to all four edges of the driveway or lot. Be careful not to spread it too thin. You want the sealer to fill in all the pores and small cracks.  Cut in the four edges of the driveway or lot with the large dashing brush.

Pour a gallon on the driveway or lot and work in small areas. You want to make sure the sealer doesn’t dry too fast while you spread it out. The job goes smoother if you use a squeegee or brush broom to apply the seal coat in overlapping lines across the driveway or parking lot. With the squeegee or brush broom, pull the sealer carefully to the edges.

5. Lay down the first coat in long, horizontal lines down your driveway.

Before you use up one bucket of sealcoat, blend in the next bucket. There can be differences in colors between buckets, and this method helps you maintain color uniformity over the entire surface.

After the first sealcoat has dried (about 6 to 12 hours), apply the second coat in vertical stripes. 

6. Protect the surface while it dries

Don’t use your driveway or parking lot at all until the second coat completely dries. 

  • If you apply sealer on your asphalt driveway during summer when there will be full sunlight exposure in the high heat of the day, you can walk on it within 2 to 4 hours. 
  • Sealed asphalt can be driven on after 12 to 24 hours in the heat of the summer. However, we recommend you allow 48 hours to maintain an excellent looking finish.
  • If you carry out the application of sealer under cloudy, humid weather conditions, or the winter season, we recommend you wait for at least 72 hours before using your asphalt driveway.

Section off the front of the driveway or place empty sealer cans at the entrance to prevent anyone from accidentally driving on it until it’s dry.

Choosing the Right Blacktop Sealcoating

A comparison of old driveway vs new asphalt driveway with sealcoating.

Pavement sealcoat products come in a variety of standards. There are three types of pavement sealers.

  1. Refined tar-based seal coat offers the best protection against water penetration and chemical resistance. Tar-based sealcoating offers the best wear characteristics (typically 3–5 years). Coal tar sealers are not considered environmentally friendly, and some states and communities have banned their use.
  2. Asphalt-based sealer typically offers inadequate protection against environmental chemicals and harsher climates. Asphalt-based sealer may last up to 6 years. 
  3. Petroleum-based sealer offers protection against water and chemicals somewhere between the other two sealers. 

How Often Should you Blacktop Seal coat?

It is best if a commercial lot or residential driveway is sealed not less than six months after it has been installed, Thereafter, it should be regularly maintained by seal coating every two to three years.

Extending the life of your seal coating

You can get the most from your sealcoating by a few simple tricks to make it last longer.

  1. Don’t drive on the edge of the blacktop. Sealcoating is weakest at the edge, so stay about a foot clear of the edge.
  2. Periodically hose down the blacktop. Washing debris off the surface prevents build-up and erosion of the sealcoat.
  3. Avoid leaving heavy or sharp objects on the blacktop. Heavy or pointed objects can dig into and weaken the seal coat. A weak seal coat can crack and allow moisture and other erosion to set in.

What does Blacktop Sealcoating cost?

A newly installed residential asphalt driveway

Sealing costs are primarily determined by where you live and the square footage of your driveway or parking lot. Warmer climates such as Florida or Arizona do not require sealcoating as frequently as colder climates such as Wisconsin or Minnesota. 

Measure your driveway or parking lot to determine the square footage. Most seal coating contractors will quote your job based on your square footage. In warm climates, the cost per square foot is higher than in colder climates because the sealcoating is done less frequently. 

Finding the Right Balance: DIY vs. Professional Sealcoating Costs

Type of ServiceCost Range
DIY (Materials Only)$0.40 per sq. ft. (average)
DIY (Low-end Sealants)$6 to $9 (per 5-gallon pail)
DIY (Top-graded Sealants)$25 (per 5-gallon pail)
Professional Contractor$200 to $500 or more
Homeadvisor Asphalt Sealing Costs$140 to $1,500
Homeadvisor Typical Range$251 – $698
Homeadvisor National Average$472

According to Homeadvisor, Asphalt Sealing Costs can range from $140 to $1,500. The typical range is $251 – $698, with the National average at $472.

Some people or small businesses opt to seal coat their blacktop surface themselves. The average cost for the necessary materials to sealcoat a driveway or parking lot is approximately 40 cents per square foot for individuals doing the work themselves. However, these costs can be higher depending on the equipment you need to purchase. Low-end sealants range from $6 to $9 for a 5-gallon pail covering about 400 square feet, while top graded products will cost around $25 for a 5-gallon pail that can cover up to 300 square feet.

Hiring a professional contractor to seal a driveway can cost $200 to $500, or more, according to CostHelper. In addition to doing the job right, a contractor will be aware of 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 done professionally will far outweigh the savings generated by doing the job themselves.

How to Find the Best Blacktop Sealcoating Contractor 

When it is time to have sealcoating done on your driveway or parking lot, you want to make sure you get a reputable, dependable contractor experienced in sealcoating. Here are seven steps to follow to ensure you get the right contractor for your job

The best companies typically get their business by word-of-mouth, referrals, and marketing. Ask a friend or a neighbor who has had their driveway paved, who they used. Did they like the quality of the job? 

Your property’s blacktop driveway or parking lot is likely one of the most significant investments you have made. Blacktop Sealcoating is one of the most effective ways to keep your driveway or parking lot in the best possible condition for many years.

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About the Author: James Brennan

James has over two decades of experience in the paving industry and has worked on a wide variety of projects, from large-scale commercial installations to small residential repairs.