Is your pavement up for sealing or crack repair this year and are you looking for a contractor to do it for you? If you've been shopping for a new contractor for a couple of weeks and you're still unsure who to sign because you don't know which questions to ask, then this article is for you.
Here are some questions to ask so you can shortlist your candidates and choose the best company.
1. Can you share online reviews for your company?
Check customer reviews and ratings online (via Pixabay)
The internet is the best source of information if you want to find reputable sealcoating contractors in your area.
Simply type 'sealcoating contractors near me' on Google or Bing and voila! You'll be presented with multiple company names, plus addresses and phone numbers. If you're lucky, you'll also get a few online reviews.
Reviews and ratings posted online are valuable sources of information about the reputation and workmanship of the sealcoating company you're considering.
These online reviews can usually be found on the company's Google Business Profile or Facebook pages.
Many asphalt sealcoating companies also post customer reviews on their own websites, so make sure to check those out, too.
If you don't trust online reviews, then it's a good time to ask family and friends who had their pavements maintained before for recommendations. That way, they can vouch for the performance of the company, as well as the quality of the products used on their driveway or parking lot.
2. How long have you been in business?
There are advantages and disadvantages to hiring established sealcoaters and newcomers. Let's explore them below.
Established pros have the benefit of hindsight thanks to their years of experience in the business. They likely have a good reputation in the sector and their workmanship can be vouched by many happy customers. Unlike new contractors, they're also less prone to make mistakes.
But there are also some disadvantages to hiring older and more established asphalt contractors. Some are less open to feedback (they've been working in the business for many years, after all), while others are less innovative (when it comes to technique and technology) than their younger or newer counterparts.
And while the services offered by established companies are top-notch, they can also be more expensive than those who are starting out and have something to prove.
There are definitely many pros to hiring industry veterans, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give newcomers a chance. Newcomers have a lot to prove to customers, so many are willing to work hard to make a good impression.
They are also more innovative when it comes to techniques and are eager to embrace new technology. And because they're still building a customer base, they are more likely to be more flexible when it comes to pricing.
But since they are new to asphalt maintenance, they have a lot to learn on the job, and their sealcoating and crack filling skills definitely need improvement.
So, when it comes to choosing between a new contractor or an established one, weigh your options carefully.
3. What type of materials do you use?
No one wants to have their pavement sealed or repaired only to discover that the contractor used subpar materials. Substandard materials not only do not last long – they are also a liability to property owners.
Before hiring a contractor, ask your candidates what type of sealcoating, crack filling, or pothole patching products they use. Take note of the brand names they mention and conduct your own research to see if they are, indeed, high quality.
The asphalt sealer contractors use right now include asphalt emulsion, coal tar, gilsonite, and acrylic emulsion.
Coal tar sealer, a type of asphalt sealer that contains high levels of toxic chemicals, is banned in many states and is being phased out in others.
Ask your prospective asphalt contractor if they use asphalt emulsion sealer instead. This type of asphalt sealer is designed for residential and commercial use and is long-lasting. It produces a rich, dark color, and it's more environment-friendly compared to coal tar sealer.
4. Can you provide references from past clients?
Another question you should ask is whether the contractor can provide references for you to check.
Online reviews are great. In fact, we love them! But it can only give you a limited amount of information and some of them can be biased or downright fake.
So what can you do? Ask contractors if they are willing to give you at least three references. (You can ask for additional references, but it can be cumbersome to talk to them one by one.)
What are the topics you should talk about with the references the contractor provided?
First and foremost is the quality of the contractor's work and if the customer found issues after the work was done (peeling, cracking, non-adhesion, etc.).
Ask them how the contractor handled complaints and if they honored the warranty. How fast did they finish the job? Were they satisfied with the work and the price of the service? Would they consider hiring them again?
5. Do you offer a warranty for your work?
No matter how experienced or meticulous a contractor is, things can sometimes go awry and they can make mistakes. That's why you need to ensure that their work is covered by warranty.
You need to ask about a warranty from asphalt maintenance contractors because it will give you peace of mind. It shows they're confident in their service and care about customer satisfaction. So, if anything goes wrong, you're covered!
However, if you ask for something that the contractor wouldn't recommend, they likely won't warranty it. Examples can be if you wanted to get your concrete or gravel sealcoated — it's not something a contractor would normally do, as it's not a recommended practice.
6. Can you provide an estimate?
Request an estimate (Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay)
Requiring an asphalt contractor to provide a free estimate can help you budget and compare costs. With an estimate, you'll know what to expect without committing. It also ensures transparency and avoids nasty surprises later. So, always ask for the price and a free estimate before making a decision.
Request a breakdown of the cost of each service you're planning for your property so you can budget properly. Ask contractors if there are any additional charges for asphalt surface preparation.
Once you have received the quotes from the contractors, you can start comparing the prices and choose the one that fits your budget.
7. How long will the sealing/crack filling/pothole patching process take?
This question is especially important if you own a commercial property where customers come and go at all hours and you can't afford to close the parking lot for an extended period.
Discuss your timeline and concerns with the contractors you're considering. Ask them if there will be any inconvenience or access restrictions while they work.
Look for someone who can work overnight or can work in sections so you can still use your parking lot during business hours.
8. What steps will be taken to prepare the surface?
If there's one step in the asphalt maintenance process that can make or break the results, it's surface preparation.
Ask the contractor if they conduct proper surface preparation. If they do, then it's time to discuss their surface prep process. Check out the video below to learn more about the surface prep process for sealcoating.
Sealcoating Surface Prep
9. Are you available asap? Or is there a waitlist?
Check if they can work on your driveway or parking lot as soon as possible or if you need to wait for a few weeks. If they have a waitlist, ask them how far in advance the project should be scheduled.
If your asphalt maintenance project is time-sensitive, then make this clear to the contractors so you can weed out those who have a long waitlist right away.
10. Does your company have insurance?
One of the sure signs you're dealing with a fly-by-night contractor is that they do not have insurance.
Insurance helps contractors mitigate potential financial risks associated with accidents, injuries, property damage, or lawsuits. It also provides a safety net to cover unexpected costs.
Many states and contracts require contractors to have certain types of insurance. Compliance with these regulations is essential to operate legally.
So, don't be shy to discuss this with the contractors. Confirm if they have liability insurance and workers' compensation before you hire one.
Customers like you can have peace of mind knowing that a contractor's insurance will cover any potential damages or injuries that may occur during the project.
11. How can I maintain my asphalt driveway or parking lot after sealing or crack filling?
Be proactive and ask your contractor for tips on maintaining your asphalt after sealing or crack filling. The best asphalt contractors will hand you a leaflet detailing how to care for your newly sealed asphalt.
But most of the time, you just have to ask and jot the tips down on a piece of paper or notebook so you can refer to them in the future.
There you have it. The top questions to ask before you hire an asphalt maintenance contractor.
Looking for a trusted asphalt maintenance contractor in your area? We're here to help. Browse the AK PRO Certified Contractor Directory and find the best asphalt sealcoating and crack filling contractor in your city.
Do you have questions for us about hiring contractors or just about any topic concerning asphalt maintenance? Just comment below, and we'll try our best to answer them.