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Different Types of Blacktop Sealers

There are several different kinds of sealers on the market today. Here’s a brief look at the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.

Judson Burdon
Posted by Judson Burdon on March 13

Blacktop sealers are an essential product for any homeowner or business owner with a driveway, parking lot or other asphalt surface. There are several different kinds of sealers on the market today. Here’s a brief look at the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.

Coal Tar Emulsion

Coal tar emulsion is the number one choice for seal coating asphalt. It is the most durable and provides the most protection. Since blacktop is a petroleum-based product, other petroleum products will bind to it on a molecular level. If the surface is not protected by a seal-coating, gasoline and motor oil will stain the surface quickly.

Coal tar emulsions are not petroleum-based so they are resistant to gasoline and oil. They are also resistant to water and UV light from the sun. Depending on the traffic, the coatings can last for up to five years.

The disadvantages of coal tar include environmental and health concerns. The environmental concerns may have been overstated, but coal tar blacktop sealer has been banned in some municipalities. If you hire a contractor, he should be aware of the ordinances in your area.

The health concerns have to do with applying the emulsions yourself. The emulsions can cause skin irritation; the fumes can cause respiratory irritation. It is a good idea to hire a professional if you are not familiar with using this material.

The only other disadvantage of coal tar emulsion is the color. It naturally has a gray color, not as dark black as asphalt. To account for this, some coatings are mixtures of coal tar and the asphalt emulsion, described below.


Asphalt Emulsion

This type of emulsion for seal coating asphalt is made from the same material used in your driveway, which means it really cannot provide much protection. The main advantage is the darker color, but it is the second best choice in areas where coal tar cannot be used. These coatings are water resistant, but not UV resistant. They fade relatively quickly and may only last for a single season.



The oil-based solutions for seal coating asphalt really have no advantage. They do not protect against UV rays or petroleum products. The odor is distinct and lasts for days. The cure time is longer, which is an important consideration for property owners who need to paint lines. It takes a week for these coatings to cure properly.



Fast-dry blacktop sealers are used primarily by road crews and owners of large parking lots. It cures in less than an hour, but cannot usually be purchased in small amounts, making it a bad choice for homeowners. It is also more expensive than some of the other options.



Using acrylic for seal coating asphalt is an expensive choice. In fact, it is the most expensive choice. It is durable, UV resistant, weather resistant and classified as environmentally friendly. It is available in different colors, which makes it a popular choice for tennis courts and shopping mall parking lots. Depending on the traffic, it can last as long as seven years before it needs to be reapplied.

Those are the current choices for blacktop driveway sealers. Professionals usually recommend the coal-tar emulsion because it is affordable and long-lasting.

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