Spring has arrived in central Ohio and for many homeowners and property managers that means sealcoating the asphalt (blacktop) driveway or parking lot. Choosing the best sealcoating company can seem like a daunting task. In this article I’m going to point out some of the most important things to look for as well as some red flags to avoid.
The most crucial factor when choosing an asphalt maintenance contractor is trust. There is a wealth of information available online. I’ve never had a customer tell me that they regretted doing research before hiring a sealcoating contractor. Following these tips will help you choose a reliable, honest contractor.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a good place to start. Your local BBB gathers information on both accredited and non-accredited businesses, in your area. An accredited BBB member has agreed to abide by certain standards of; trust, transparency, truthfulness, responsiveness and integrity. The BBB assigns each company a grade based on adherence to their code of integrity. Jet-Seal has earned and maintained an A+ ever since the grading system was implemented. Accredited members have agreed to a process of mediation should a problem arise. BBB ratings are not a guarantee of a business’s reliability or performance. BBB recommends that consumers consider a business’s BBB rating in addition to all other available information about the business. The central Ohio the BBB website is, https://www.bbb.org/en/us/local-bbb/bbb-of-central-ohio. So, let’s move on to another online resource, Angie’s List.
This is how Angie’s List works: Companies set up free online profiles or get one when a consumer rates their services. The business is notified when an Angie’s List member leaves a review and the business has an opportunity to respond to the review. The business owner has an opportunity to present their side of the story in the event of a negative review. After a minimum number of reviews are met, companies with the highest rated reviews over the course of each calendar year can receive the coveted Super Service Award (SSA). The SSA is awarded to less than 5% of businesses in a respective industry making the award a pretty big deal. Use this service as you would the BBB, in combination with other resources to choose a sealcoating company. Jet-Seal has won the SSA the past three years and did so in 2017 without paying for advertising. The website for Angie’s List in Central Ohio is https://www.angieslist.com/companylist/columbus/.
Other sources for reviews are; Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp and more. These sources all provide a piece to the puzzle and I wouldn’t recommend using any sole source without further research. If you examine an asphalt contractor using three or more of the above services, you will begin to get a better idea of who you are considering for the service. You are on your way to becoming a diligent consumer, but your work isn’t finished quite yet.
In Westerville, Ohio asphalt sealcoating service companies aren’t required to possess a license to operate. As the owner of Jet-Seal, I would support licensing. It would help consumers better sort through this process. After narrowing down your choice of asphalt companies perhaps the most important requirement to consider is insurance. Ask to see a certificate of insurance for general liability with the limits for coverage as well as a worker’s compensation certificate. These two items will protect you in the event of an accident while the contractor is working on your property. Without this insurance you are responsible for any accident that occurs on your property. An uninsured contractor with the best intentions can cause you just as much grief as the fly-by-night outfits the BBB warns about. Just because the neighbor said they do excellent work is not assurance you can depend on. Saving a couple of bucks on the cost of your driveway repairs is not worth the risk of being held liable for property damage or physical injury.
At this point you are ready to get to the nuts and bolts of the sealcoating service. A primary consideration is what type of sealcoating product the company uses. There are many brands but only two types of driveway sealers used in central Ohio; asphalt emulsion and refined tar sealers. Most contractors in the Columbus area use refined tar products. When mixed according to the manufacturers recommendations, refined tar products will outperform asphalt emulsion. Refined tar is a by-product of the steel coking process whereas asphalt emulsions are derived from petroleum. The latter will not provide protection against gasoline, oil or other petroleum-based fluid spills. Refined tar sealers will also last longer. A driveway sealed with an asphalt emulsion product will typically need to be serviced annually while a refined tar product, when properly mixed will only require service every other year. Jet-Seal proudly uses Brewer Cote products. For more information on Brewer Cote products visit https://asphaltstore.com/.
We are going to circle back to the trust component once again. If the contractor doesn’t use a proper mix design, the product will not perform as it should. Most sealcoating contractors purchase asphalt sealer in a concentrate. The manufacturer will recommend adding water, varying amounts based on the type of pavement, amount of traffic on the asphalt pavement and weather conditions such as temperatures and humidity. In addition to water, latex additives will promote faster, harder and blacker drying. Silica sand is added for extended wear and slip resistance. The latex (polymers) also help suspend the sand throughout the sealcoat film as opposed to the sand settling at the bottom and therefore not providing the intended benefits. Adding more water than recommended will save the contractor money and the customer will not know the difference until the product wears prematurely. Excluding latex polymers from the mix design will also save the contractor money. A five-gallon bucket of latex costs about $80 and should be added at a ratio of 2% of the concentrate. Again, a homeowner can’t possibly know if the mix design is as the manufacturer recommends. Trust!
Have I mentioned trust? An unskilled applicator can allow the sealcoat to splatter on surrounding structures. After the product has dried, (about five minutes on a hot sunny day) it will be difficult if not impossible to remove. The garage door, siding, brick, block, stone, concrete, etc., that was not supposed to be covered with asphalt sealer may become a permanent part of your homes landscape. This can happen to even the most talented applicator. An experienced, self-conscious applicator will always be prepared with a solution to remove the sealcoating from surrounding structures before it has time to dry.
Don’t hire a company with an out of town phone number or a magnetic sign on the truck. Don’t hire a contractor who uses a square tank. Asphalt sealer needs to be agitated to avoid separation and a square tank cannot be properly agitated. Don’t hire a company who claims to have “left over material” or a company who pressures you with a “today only” price.
In closing, do your homework and choose an asphalt sealing company that you have properly vetted. Ask about their warranty and read the contract thoroughly. These practices will help you sort through a process that can otherwise be a guessing game. If you have any additional questions or wish to receive a free quote, please don’t hesitate to contact Jet-Seal at (614) 882-6000 or visit our website at http://jet-seal.com/contact-us/free-quote/.