The Similarities and Differences Between Slurry Coat and Seal Coat
Properly maintaining the pavement in your community or commercial parking lot not only extends the life of your investment, but it saves you money in the long run. However, knowing the right maintenance option for your pavement may be challenging because each surface is different. Two maintenance options often thought to be the same at times are slurry seal and sealcoating. While both options provide a protective layer to the top of your pavement, they vary in many ways. It is also sometimes interpreted that slurry seal is the “cure all” for pavement issues, but this is not always the case. Take a deep dive into these two important pavement maintenance terms below to understand the key differences between these two maintenance techniques so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your property.
What is Sealcoating?
Sealcoating is a protective coating applied to the asphalt pavement’s surface. It is a liquid mixture of asphalt emulsion, water, mineral fillers, and various additives squeegeed or sprayed onto the pavement’s surface. Sealcoating provides a barrier against water, UV rays, and chemicals that can damage the pavement over time, reducing its effective lifespan. It also enhances the appearance of the pavement, giving it a uniform, black color. Here are a couple of pros and cons of sealcoating:
- Cost-effective: Sealcoating is an affordable option to improve curb appeal and extend the life of your asphalt pavement.
- Easy and Quick to Apply: Sealcoating can be applied quickly, and the pavement can be opened to traffic the following day.
- Enhances Pavement Appearance: Sealcoating gives pavement a fresh, new look.
- Doesn’t Restrict Future Maintenance Options: Sealcoating can be paired with crack filling to help protect from water penetrating the asphalt and degrading its base layers.
- Sealcoating can also be done multiple times throughout the lifetime of your pavement.
- Multiple Uses: Used in both parking lots and on roadways.
- Shorter lifespan: Sealcoating typically lasts three to five years, depending on the weather and traffic conditions and should be maintained regularly.
- Not Suitable for Severely Damaged Pavement: Sealcoating is not recommended for pavement surfaces that are severely cracked or have potholes.
What is Slurry Seal?
Slurry seal is a mixture of fine crushed aggregate rock, asphalt, and water applied to the surface of asphalt pavement. This mixture creates a dense, durable surface that can withstand heavy traffic and weather conditions. Slurry seal is typically used for directional city roads and streets. Here are a couple of pros and cons to slurry seal:
- Longer Lifespan: Slurry seal can extend the pavement lifespan by up to 10 years, provided it is not applied over asphalt with structural failures.
- Fills Minor Cracks: Slurry seal can fill minor cracks, preventing them from becoming larger and causing more extensive damage.
- Enhances Pavement Appearance: Slurry seal gives pavement a uniform appearance.
- Higher Cost: Slurry sealing is more expensive than sealcoating.
- Extended Cleanup Process: Once slurry seal cures, you are required to have a street sweeper come in to remove loose rocks. Over time this product wears down and breaks into chunks. Many communities and property managers prefer not to have to deal with the continuous loose rock this can create.
- Limits Future Maintenance Options: Once you put down slurry seal you should only cover it with slurry seal, as other maintenance options will not correct any ongoing issues. This will limit your options in the future.
- Band-aid for Pavement Damage: Slurry seal appears to repair damage to the surface by covering it but doesn’t repair it.
- Restricted Usage: Not recommended for HOA roadways or parking lots where people make turns or short quick movements, as it causes the product to break up and become loose rock.
- Not Suitable for Severely Damaged Pavement: Slurry seal is not recommended for pavement surfaces that are severely cracked or have potholes.
In summary, you can see why these terms may be used interchangeably, but after carefully looking through the pros and cons of both products, they both have their applicable uses, but are very different products. Parking lots and community roadways where people make a lot of turns and sharp movements should stick with sealcoating as it won’t break apart and produce the loose rock debris that slurry seal will cause. While slurry seal has its place in the industry, we think it’s extremely important to know the difference between the products and to keep in mind no one product is a “cure-all.” As you evaluate your pavement for future maintenance, consult with a pavement maintenance expert such as Black Diamond Paving & Concrete to ensure you are implementing the right maintenance options, at the right time for your property.