What Is the Difference Between Asphalt Paving and Sealcoating?

Doug Enright 

It's common for people to get confused about the difference between asphalt paving and sealcoating. While both help promote durable attractive concrete surfaces; they are very different products. Read on to better understand when each paving solution is appropriate for your needs.


This is a coating applied to asphalt pavement surfaces to help protect them against damage. The sealcoat is a combination of asphalt and either petroleum products or a type of coal tar pitch, which is mixed with other substances such as water, inert fillers and additives. It's then applied over the top of an asphalt surface in a thin layer, either by using a squeegee or a spray.

The sealcoat is an effective preventative measure that helps protect an asphalt driveway or parking lot from wear and damage caused by water, salt, oil and gasoline, which all work to degrade asphalt. Sealcoating also helps protect against ultraviolet rays which can cause asphalt to become brittle or crumbly over time.

Once it hardens and cures, the sealcoating acts like a barrier, filling in small fissures and cracks where moisture would be able to seep in. This helps preserve the structural integrity of an asphalt surface, preventing the dreaded freeze-thaw cycle where water seeps beneath an asphalt surface and causes potholes. Sealcoating also gives an asphalt surface a fresh, attractive appearance, making it a cost-effective solution for reinvigorating an old-looking concrete surface.

Sealcoating is a recommended part of a regular maintenance program for asphalt surfaces, starting between 2 to 5 years. At this point, most driveways and parking lots will start to develop signs of wear. If you don’t invest in proper maintenance to preserve durability, you may end up having to pay to have the entire concrete surface replaced.

asphalt seal coating

Asphalt Paving

Unlike sealcoating which is essentially preventive maintenance, asphalt paving is a repair procedure. It involves the mixing and application of new asphalt, normally using one of two techniques:

Asphalt Overlay

A fresh asphalt overlay is installed over existing pavement, providing a less-expensive, short-term fix for pavement that is coming close to the end of its useful life. While they can be very effective in the right instances, overlays should not be used over pavement with a destabilized or weakened foundation. It is also not recommended for concrete surfaces that are severely potholed or cracked, since the damaged areas may begin to show through within 18 to 24 months or sooner.

New Asphalt Surface

When asphalt is severely cracked, or the foundation is destabilized, it’s best to remove the damaged area, shore up the foundation and install new asphalt pavement.

Severe deterioration can occur due to excessive wear and tear, improper installation and a variety of other factors. That said, water is the most common cause of asphalt breakdown. If your asphalt surface develops a lot of cracks, water will work its way into the subgrade and pool up beneath the top layer. When it gets cold, this moisture will freeze and expand. Over time, repetitive expansion and contraction will cause cracks to develop and further exacerbate the problem. Eventually, potholes will form, and the asphalt surface will begin to fail.

Depending on the severity of the asphalt deterioration, you may need a brand new concrete surface. Even if an overlay is appropriate for your situation, you may still need to have a few foundational areas shored up to ensure the integrity of the restored asphalt surface.

When assessing the difference between sealcoating and asphalt paving, it helps to think of the first option as prevention and the second as the cure. Which solution is right for your unique situation? To know for sure, you will need an expert assessment from a reputable concrete paving contractor.

Founded more than three full decades ago, Enright Asphalt has developed a well-earned reputation for being one of the most reliable, affordable and efficient concrete and asphalt contractors in the Denver metro and the surrounding area. During this time, our knowledgeable team has provided masterfully crafted asphalt surfaces for residential homes and local commercial properties using the very best materials and the industry's best installation methods.

With unrivaled experience and diverse capabilities, our seasoned concrete specialists can help you determine the best paving option based on your unique needs. Our team knows how to create attractive concrete surfaces that fit your budget while providing exceptional durability, whatever the demands. Contact us today to get started.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram