"Just as you paint a house to keep the sun and water from ruining the wood, you need to sealcoat a pavement to prevent the sun and water from ruining the pavement," Lowis says.
But when property managers think of sealcoating it is often for the most obvious of reasons: To improve the look of their property. And with good reason.
A spokesperson for the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) says the concept of "curb appeal," or how a property looks to the public, is covered in all of IREM's classes, textbooks, and lectures.
"You only get one chance to make a first impression and that first impression is how the property appears from the outside," the spokesperson says. "There's no question that appearance is an important consideration. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, appearance ranks a 7 or an 8. And the parking lot is a big part of that."
Lowis says that's true particularly for commercial properties, "who are competing with other properties just down the road," and also true for residential homeowners who are proud of the home and want their property to look as good as it can.
"One of the simplest things to do to improve the look of your property is to sealcoat and stripe it," Lowis says. "It simply makes it look a lot better."
Bushell says curb appeal of hotels, for example, helps attract or deter customers.
"People aren't going to stay at a hotel where you have weeds growing up out of the parking lot," Bushell says. "Sealcoating provides the image that the property is well kept, that it's a well-kept hotel."
Edward Kelley, author of Practical Apartment Management, says he thinks the greatest value of sealcoating is in improving curb appeal. He says property aesthetics, and sealcoating in particular, have an impact on occupancy rates and rent.
"People buy with their eyes," Kelley says. "Property managers understand that so it is curb appeal in the manager's mind when considering sealcoating. It's a whole picture and the pavement is only one section, but in any mental photograph of a property the pavement plays an enormous part."
Kelley says he generally recommends sealcoating to property managers. "Not necessarily every year but on an every-other-year basis," he says. "Sealcoating, especially when followed by new bright stripes, gives the property a new look. It shows customers the property managers are caring for the customer and putting money back into the property."
Sealcoating helps pavement
But in addition to making the property look better, sealcoating makes other tangible improvements in pavement.
Seals hairline cracks. Deterioration of asphalt mats often begins with small hairline cracks. These cracks admit water, which weakens the asphalt and eventually creates larger cracks. Sealer fills these hairline cracks and prevents water from making them larger.
Resists oxidation. Exposure to air and the sun's ultra-violet (UV) rays causes the pavement to oxidize. As it dries it becomes brittle, resulting in cracks and other deterioration.
"Sealer prevents the sun from oxidizing the asphalt and drying out the oils that are in the pavement," Lowis says. "UV rays will destroy just about anything over time, and asphalt pavement is no different. Binder, the 'glue' that holds the sand and stone in place, loses strength from sun's rays. UV rays will eventually oxidize the asphalt pavement and will make the mat brittle, eventually allowing the stone and sand to roll out. The mat actually cracks, allowing water to get in, which leads to alligatored areas, potholes, and other defects."
Sealer protects the asphalt mat from the air and slows the oxidation process.
Protects against oil and gas leaks. Oil, gasoline, and other fluid leaking from cars onto parking lot pavement can severely damage the asphalt. Refined coal tar sealer is naturally resistant to these types of materials and asphalt emulsion-based sealer incorporates additives to enhance its resistance.
Regular application of sealer protects parking lots from this damage, which otherwise would result in costly remove-and-replace pavement repairs.
Note: Before sealing over existing oil spots or similar damage those areas must be cleaned and treated with an oil spot primer. Without proper treatment sealer will simply peel off oil spots.