Most consumer-grade sealers for driveways are usually water based, but may also come in the form of oil based sealers. Knowing the difference between the two types of sealer can help you decide which sealer is best for your situation.
Water based driveway sealers contain water, clay fillers, polymers, latex, additives, and may also contain either coal tar or asphalt. Coal tar is made by utilizing coke, which is made by the process of baking coal, while asphalt is created by the process of refining petroleum to make coal tar emulsion and asphalt emulsion respectively. Oil-based sealcoat contains petroleum products and is usually blended with asphalt rejuvenators, as well as asphaltic chemicals. The mix is suspended into an oily suspension until cured.
The largest difference between oil and water based driveway sealcoat is the process in which the two sealers operate. Oil based sealers will penetrate the driveway and form a bond much more flexible than that of water based driveway sealers. This bond will increase the strength and constant time of the sealcoat, and decrease the chance that it will crack during the freezing and thawing cycles. Water based driveway sealer may require more frequent application than oil based sealers.
Oil and Water Based Driveway Sealer Effects
Even though oil-based sealers bond to the surface of the pavement better than water based sealers, there are a few drawbacks to this increased performance. Oil, as opposed to water based driveway sealcoat, tend to have longer curing times, and will emit a distinct odor that will linger in the air for up to multiple days after the sealer has been applied. Oil based sealer also contains volatile organic compounds. These compounds have been linked to having harmful effects on the environment, causing pollution to be emitted into the air. There are, in fact, states that have even gone so far as to have banned the use of oil based sealcoat because of the environmental effects. Water based sealers are far more environmentally friendly.
Unlike water based sealers, oil based needs to be properly disposed of as well. The sealer must be removed by contacting a local or a commercial hazardous waste facility. For water based sealer, you can simply dispose of the sealcoat along with the rest of your household trash. If, however, the oil sealcoat is in a dry state, then it may also go out with the household trash.
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