How long should an asphalt parking lot be closed after it has been sealcoated? Opening a parking lot too soon can affect the short and long term performance of the sealer. Sealcoating even under ideal conditions requires time for it to dry and cure properly.
Sealcoating dry’s by dehydration. Perfect weather conditions for sealcoating are 70 degrees, sunny, and a breeze with low humidity. The process of the sealer curing is in three steps.
The first phase the sealer is dry to touch. In ideal weather conditions this may take less than an hour. At this point it is dry but cannot be driven on and may re-emulsify if water comes in contact with it by rain or sprinklers.
The second phase occurs 24 hours after the final coat has been applied in ideal weather conditions. At this point the sealer has set up to resist water and can be driven on. Products such as QSA, FSA and other fast setting additives can be added to the sealer before it is applied to cut phase two’s curing time by 50% or more. These products allow parking lots to be opened up to traffic much faster. In phase two the sealer can be driven on but may show signs of scuffing or power steering marks caused by vehicles taking sharp turns or just turning its wheels, while staying in place. The warmer it is the more scuffing that occurs.
In phase three the curing process is complete. This could take as long as three to four weeks depending on the weather conditions. The lower the humidity, the faster it cures. At this phase the sealer binder has hardened and has become resistant to markings by vehicles and water.
Everyone wants there parking lot opened right away. Opening the lot up to early may cause harm to the sealer and cause premature wearing. The end result is you may have opened up the lot to traffic sooner and making everyone immediately happy; but in the big picture you will be inconvenienced by having to seal your pavement more frequently. The answer maybe to do the area in sections. New England Sealcoating can help you to devise a sealcoating plan that will be the least disruptive to your business, tenants, customers or residents.
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