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I drove by a road repair project the other day where the crew was laying down new asphalt and it got me thinking about the process involved in re-sealing a driveway. If you have an asphalt driveway and plan to tackle this project, make sure you use the proper products and process to do the job right.

The first step is to clean the driveway with a good all-purpose cleaner and degreaser such as DeWitt’s Degrease It, dewittproducts.com, to get rid of any gas, transmission fluid or oil that may have accumulated on the surface.

According to DeWitt’s Don McClellan, once you clean the surface you then have to fill and seal any cracks in the asphalt before sealing.

“Water gets into the cracks in the winter and then freezes and thaws, causing the asphalt to buckle,” he said. “So sealing them now will prevent that.”

McClellan said once you seal the cracks, then you can use either a water-based or oil-based asphalt sealer, and the line of DeWitt’s sealing products will cover 100 square feet per gallon on a driveway that was previously sealed. However, don’t choose the product strictly on price.

“Our oil-based DS-6000 product costs around $50 for a 5-gallon container versus around $25 for our best DS-5000 water-based sealer, but it will only take one coat to seal using the oil-based version while it usually takes two coats with the water-based,” McClellan said. “So when you factor in the added cost of using more water-based sealer and the extra labor, it can make more sense to use the oil-based sealer.”

The hot summer weather may not be the best time to do a driveway re-sealing project because the sealer can dry too fast and doesn’t allow the product to adhere the way it should.

“I generally recommend doing a re-sealing project when the temperature is between 65 degrees and 80 degrees,” McClellan said. “If someone wants to do it when it is really hot, they should mist spray water on the driveway to cool it off before they spread the sealer.”

According to McClellan, many manufacturers of asphalt sealer indicate that their product will last between two and 10 years before needing re-sealing, but that usually isn’t the case.

“In Michigan with all the shoveling and snow blowing we do on the driveways in the winter, it is more likely that the sealer will last between three and four years at the most,” he said.

In addition to DeWitt’s products, you can also find other good sealers at area home and hardware stores, such as Black Jack sealers by Gardner Gibson, gardner-gibson.com, and Latex-ite driveway sealer from Dalton Enterprises, latexite.com.

While this is a fairly popular do-it-yourself project, it is messy and time consuming so protect yourself with rubber gloves, work boots, safety glasses and even a respirator for the fumes. And follow the three-step process of clean, repair the cracks and seal.

If you plan to hire a professional to seal your asphalt driveway, check the contractor’s references and make sure the contractor is licensed and insured. Before you hire a contractor, I would also recommend you download a good educational brochure on asphalt driveways available from the Asphalt Pavement Association of Michigan on its website at apa-mi.org/asphalt_driveways.php.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.

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