Asphalt driveway sealing costs are determined by strict calculated method and not just a simple square foot price. Throughout my career, many times, we’ve had customers call us and ask, “How much would it cost to seal my driveway... just give me your square foot price?” And that seems pretty simple right? It seems like it would make sense for a contractor to just be able to throw out a number, doesn’t it? You should cautious of any contractor who is willing to just throw out a number.
Let's say you call a contractor and ask them, "What's your square foot price?" And let's also say, just for example, after asking you a few questions, the contractor says, "$.30 cents a square foot". You say, "Oh? Great, can you come and give me a bid?" What do you think that contractors going to do now? They just got an idea of your budget and you didn't even realize it. Now, when that contractor comes to give you a bid, what do you think they're going to do now? They're going to say, "Well I didn't realize you had this and that so... the price is actually $.50 cents a foot".
Sure you could say no, but then this is where the "fly by nighters" really get you. Now they know exactly what you're willing to pay to have your driveway sealed and they'll make you think they're going to cut their price to earn your business when in reality their going to cut the quality and increase their profits!
Asking a contractor, "What's your square foot price?" is simply setting yourself up to get ripped off. Not all of the time, but some of the time.
The truth is... there are many variables that determine an asphalt driveway sealing cost:
First and foremost, how big or little is the driveway? How many square feet do you have?
How much cleaning is involved? Is the driveway dirty? Are the edges overgrown with grass or weeds?
How many oil spots are there that need to be cleaned and primed?
How much hand work is involved when applying the sealer?
How far is the job site away from the asphalt sealing manufacturing plant?
How many coats are going to be applied?
What method of application do you desire? Spray or squeegee?
How many feet of cracks need to be sealed? Are they deep and need a backer? Are they wide and full of dirt and or weeds?
These are big factors in determining a price when figuring asphalt driveway sealing cost. Obviously, as with just about anything, the more volume, the less the square foot price becomes.
So, when a contractor supplies you with a quote, they’re factoring in the following:
Cleaning & Preparation
The asphalt sealer material
The application costs
The crack sealer material
The crack sealer application costs
Repairing damaged areas
And of course... their profit
Here's how asphalt driveway sealing costs are calculated:
Most contractors will factor in a mobilization fee which is the amount of money it costs just to get the equipment and crew to a job site. When you look at the cost a contractor incurs just getting to the job site, it can add up pretty quickly before they've even put a bit of asphalt sealer down. Obviously, the bigger the job, the more the mobilization costs are spread out. The smaller the job, the less the mobilization cost are spread out. This is a big factor in what can make smaller jobs more cost per square foot than larger jobs.
Cleaning & Preparation
The next cost factored into an estimate, is the amount of cleaning and preparation that’s involved and for that, each driveway is unique in it’s own way. A little driveway will take much less cleaning and preparation than big driveway, that goes without saying. But what if the little driveway is filthy dirty, the edges are all overgrown and it just takes a lot of cleaning? And what if the bigger driveway isn't very dirty and takes less time to clean? The cleaning aspect is different for every job and the most important aspect to a good sealcoating job is how clean the surface of the asphalt is. The cleaner it is the better the sealer will stick.
When it comes to the cracks, it's basically the same scenario. Some driveways have very little cracks and some have a lot of cracks. With some driveways the cracks are clean but very deep and need a backer installed in them. Some are full of dirt and weeds and take time to clean. Each driveway is different.
The asphalt sealing material can vary in price depending on the quality of the material and whether the contractor mixes it according to manufacturers specifications. It can also vary in price depending on the application method, spray or squeegee, and how many coats are being applied.
When it comes to sealing the cracks, a good quality rubber crack sealer can be quite expensive. And the deeper or wider the cracks, the more money it will cost to seal those cracks. There's no way of knowing how much material they'll need unless they're measured accurately.
Applying The Sealer
When it comes to the actual application of the sealer your contractor will need to determine how much handwork is involved, determine how much time it will take to apply the sealer, and factor in usage or replacement costs for the use of the equipment. When we factor in the wages and workers compensation insurance of 2 to 4 crew members as well as liability insurance and equipment, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more, the charges in the application process can easily run into a few hundred dollars per hour. We have to figure and calculate as best as we can to stay competitive in price. Calculate too little time and we lose money, calculate too much time and we probably don't win the bid. Either way, it’s a risk that comes out of your contractors profit if it’s miscalculated and not yours.
The last part of the cost to seal a driveway is the profit to the contractor. This is obviously a number decided upon by the contractor. Now this number is not only a calculation for profit but it is also a risk vs reward number. This is a VERY risky business. There is a considerable amount of risk which asphalt sealcoating contractors take when running this type of business. Contractors can lose lots of money very fast if something goes wrong and sealer material gets sprayed on a house or garage or landscaping. Broken down piece of equipment, traffic jams, “No Show” employees, weather... all kinds of things can cause a contractor to lose money fast. So, this number is not just about the profit. These hard working folks take on a lot of risk and work late hours many days in a row for this profit. Asphalt sealcoating is also seasonal work in some states. So this number is also an offset for the winter months the company is producing little or no income for themselves, their employees and their businesses.
And that’s how asphalt driveway sealing cost is determined. In my opinion, any contractor who is willing to throw out a number without any knowledge of any of the things mentioned above, should ALWAYS preface their answer by saying, "I'd have to see it to be 100% accurate but..." and then give you a budget number.
Now, some contractors may say they'll cut their profits to earn your business…. But we say, that’s when you should be very careful! Before you hire any contractor, see our report on “The Most Common Ways Asphalt Repair, Maintenance and Sealcoating Contractors Rip Us Off and How To Avoid Them". You'll be glad you invested the time.