"For cutting in, I encourage contractors to use a quick multi-step process," says Seal-Rite president Brent Loutzenhiser. He explains: "Using the spray wand, lay a bead of material down along your boundary. Then using a soft bristle broom, push the material out to the object (curb, brick, etc.), but don't get any on it - a soft bristle broom can do this. Then, to get to the desired width of cutting-in just come back and make the desired pass(es) with a squeegee. Normally, you'll want to get yourself away two or more feet."
After the sealant has been applied to the desired cut-in width, Loutzenhiser likes to complete the job with a spray wand. "Even though I grew up on a ride-machine," he relates, "I prefer the spray process because it's faster, easier, better, and you're more in control."
This former paving contractor leans toward spraying versus using a squeegee machine because, he says, he can get a more uniform job in less the time. "It's difficult to compete with spray. It's faster than using a squeegee or ride-on machine, and it gives the operator better control of the material. There is a misconception that spraying doesn't get as much material on the pavement. With the spray process all of the variables faced during application are in the contractor's control. When spraying, the application depends on the tip, how the material is cut, the pressure at which the regulator is set, the speed at which the contractor walks, and the height of the wand from the pavement - therefore putting all the variables in the contractor's hands. When you're using a brush, a squeegee, or a squeegee machine, the application rate is contingent on three variables over which the contractor has lesser control: How the material is cut, the squeegee that's being used, and the quality of the asphalt."
He adds, "While many people feel using a squeegee machine is a one person operation, it's not - you still need a crew. Plus, there are many residential and smaller commercial jobs where a ride-on machine is not warranted or where it would just be awkward to use."
More sealer is not always better, say the manufacturers. Loutzenhiser notes that following the directions on the material label will go a long way toward getting the job done right. "You should be following the material manufacturer's recommendation for application and cut rates. Make sure you get all the information you can plus the MSDS for the products you're using so that you fully understand what you're working with."
The goal in applying sealant is to protect the existing asphalt by keeping out vegetation, gas, oil, water, and sunlight. Sealing a drive or parking lot has an appearance function, too. "Customers want a neat-looking job, and that's where taking care and using the right approach for cutting in is important," Loutzenhiser reiterates. Paying respect to aesthetics, he encourages contractors to keep sealer where it should be, cover all of the customer's asphalt, and maintain square squeegee lines. As he points out, "Those lines may eventually bleed through and become more evident as time goes by, even if a second coat was applied."Based in Neenah, WI, Rod Dickens is a freelance writer specializing in the construction industry.