Monday, August 15, 2016

Seal-Coating a Big Driveway

Wear your old glasses.

Those shoes you were going to throw into the trash?  Set them aside for seal-coating, and then throw them away after the job.  If that's not an option, buy a cheap pair of flipflops or a pair of tennies at a garage sale.

Have a hand scrub (like Mean Green) or a scrub brush in the shower for when you finish the job.
Likewise, make sure Softscrub is on hand because your usual frugal, enviro-friendly cleaners are not going to get the shower clean when you're done.

Don't buy the 8-year blacking.  Buy the 4-year.  It's got some longevity but seems to dry hard in less time.  With the 8-year, the coating was being ripped (still!) three weeks later whenever someone turned their tires.  The container said 24-72 hours without vehicle traffic.  Even with the 4-year, allow at least a week with no parking on the driveway and no changing directions (such as turn-arounds on the parking pad).

Buy extra pairs of cheap work gloves.  Whatever you use for the job will go into the trash afterwards.

When you're blacking, have a bucket of warm soapy water with a couple of rags outside with you.  Also have a couple of large dry rags.  You shouldn't need any of this.  But you know Murphy's Law.  If you don't have something for insta-clean-up, you will splash something somewhere that you regret ... and that you can't fix an hour later.  

So that I remember for next time:
Patch cracks and holes in June.  Fix more holes than you think you need to.  In particular, fix the seam between the driveway and the road.  Give it a month to cure.  
Edge driveway.  Remember that it takes only about 5 days for the grass to grow back from where you edged before it begins sneaking back onto the driveway.
Clean and scrub driveway.  Rinse well.  Let dry.

Temperature requirements make this is a July or August job.  Each time you apply blacking, you need two days without rain.

With a driveway the size of mine -- do NOT follow the instructions that say to do the job all at once, starting at the house and working your way down the drive to the street without stopping.  The reason they advise this is because it's important that the blacking Not Begin To Dry at all before the squeegee comes back with the next stripe.  That's impossible when it's August and there's a section of the asphalt that is 37' wide, especially when you have to stop to open and stir a new bucket.

Next time, the first job will be to do the edges.  I will need a smaller squeegee, maybe 8" or 10".  I will need a pitcher or a bowl to dip from the big bucket -- partly to control splashing, partly to get into the corner by the house, partly to reduce strain from lifting and pouring from such a large bucket.  It would be wise to put paper on the nearby house walls in case of accidents. "Doing the edges" for me means a 12" stripe along all edges of the driveway as well as the corners by the stoop and the walk-through garage door.  There should be a good amount of blacking allowed to spill over the edge of the driveway, so as to seal-coat the side of the asphalt.  After all, the grass and weeds and crumbling attack from the edge, not from the middle.  This needs two days to dry, but it doesn't prevent us from using the driveway.

The next step, if necessary, will be to put down a first coat of blacking on any especially worn areas.  This will require on-street parking and another two days without rain.

Next step is to seal-coat the parking pad.  That will take two days to dry, but the driveway is available for use.

The rest of the driveway can be done in two halves or all at once.  If done in one swoop, have a helper sweep the driveway first, as well as being available to open and stir buckets.  If doing the job alone, blacken half the driveway, leaving enough space for the cars to fit in the driveway overnight.  Then do the second half after the first half has had two days to dry thoroughly.  It's a good idea to use duct tape (as masking tape) to make a straight edge by the garage door and by the street.

My plans that nobody else cares about:
In 2016 I used 7 buckets.  One in spots as a first coat.  One from the garage to the first stripe in the parking pad.  Two more buckets across the drive and parking pad.  One to finish the parking pad and head down the driveway.  One near the plum tree.  One near the road.
Next time I expect to use a bucket to edge, although I probably won't finish the edging.  Then two buckets: blacken the parking pad, finish the edging, and if there's anything left in the bucket, do the section immediately in front of the garage door.  Three buckets won't be quite enough to do the rest of the driveway.  So four buckets will allow for two layers of blacking in some spots.
Also remember to lock up the cats so that we don't increase the number of black paw prints on the floor of the garage and on the deck.