If you're new to the sealcoating business or getting ready to purchase an Asphalt Sealing System, you are probably confused about the different choices and options that are available on the various systems. Depending on where you live and how much you've researched on the internet, you have probably seen several names for the same piece of sealing equipment and I know this can be rather confusing.
We will discuss all of your options here, outlining each system, how it works and what it's called. Keep in mind this is a very basic overview and not intended for the professional that's been in the business for a while.
I do my share of research and reading and I've been amazed at the so-called "professionals" who chat in "open forums" and are glad to give you advice, but for the most part, are very closed minded when discussing new products or processes. It seems it's their way or no way!
It's not that these guys don't know what they're talking about, it's just that some of them think that if you don't have the biggest and the best then you need to go home. Let us put your worries at ease because this isn't true anymore. Sure, 20 years ago, many of the asphalt sealing systems that were available, were made for professional contractors. But over the last 15 years and even in the last few years, advances have been made to make the sealcoating sealing machines more compact, lighter and easier to use all while still being just as reliable as the "best" expensive units. We strive to help homeowners, small businesses and start-up contractors afford the equipment that will get the job done reliably.
At Asphalt Sealcoating Direct, we specialize in supplying a product assortment that will fit nearly any budget, allowing the newest person to easily get into the business, begin making money, and giving you the opportunity to purchase an asphalt sealing system that offers affordable options.
We are now going to look at some easy-to-understand asphalt sealing equipment differences to help aid you in your purchase, starting with the Agitation Process. There are three main ways to agitate your sealcoat sealer: Circulation Agitation which is sometimes known as Transfer Systems or Transfer Pumps. The next is Manual Agitation which is... well, the manual labor "Hand Agitation" method. And finally, the Hydraulic Agitation method is sometimes known as Pneumatic Systems. Hydraulic agitated systems typically use a higher-pressure air diaphragm pump and we will finish up by discussing the benefits of a high-pressure sealing system.
Agitation of the sealcoat sealing liquid is necessary to keep it completely stirred so it is applied in a uniform coat. In addition, some sealcoat manufactures will not sell or warranty their sealcoat if you do not have some form of "Manual Agitation". (Check with your supplier) Emulsion sealers especially must be agitated because they are water-based sealing material. Failure to mix up the sealer will result in the water separating to the top of the sealer and the heavier concentrate will settle to the bottom. In addition, sand can also be added to the sealer to aid in its consistency. Failure to mix the sand can... well, you get the idea.
CIRCULATION AGITATION / TRANSFER SYSTEMS
The most basic agitation process is a system using bypass circulation which is normally done with a transfer pump. These pumps are known as centrifugal pumps, water pumps, trash pumps and we sometimes like to call them rotating pumps. They pull sealcoat from the bottom of the tank and discharge it to the top of the tank. As the pump impeller rotates, it acts as a "Mixer" and breaks up clumps of sealcoat and sand (if you use sand) and helps blend the liquid. Strainer baskets are not normally used on these systems because the pump impeller does a good job of mixing but it never hurts to add a strainer basket.
Even though these systems are very basic and inexpensive, they are very effective sealing systems. Keep in mind though, that you need to know the limits of these systems. The smaller asphalt sealing systems will allow sand to mix in the sealer but it will shorten the overall life of the pump. It's also difficult to remove a "Sand Bar" from the bottom of the tank if you have sand and sealer remaining in the tank when you're finished with the job.
These systems do a great job and are easy to use, but you should remember that you need to keep your pump going all the time to achieve a good mix and the pump should have a cast iron impeller and also use a mechanical seal. If the impeller is plastic, it will wear down very quickly and this will cause low pump pressure.
You will achieve approximately 25-40PSI if you run the pump on high, and this is plenty of pressure to properly apply sealing liquid assuming you keep your hose length to 50'. Your pump pressure will drop as you add the hose and your pump will run hotter than normal as well.
The smaller sealing machines and portable sealing systems are perfect for those on a budget or those planning to use the system through out the course of a year like a home owner, small business, property maintenance professional, or airport. If you plan on going into sealcoating full time, we recommend the larger sealcoating systems we offer.
For the price, many tend to favor the BIG-A 325 Gallon PolySkid-Pro which utilizes Circulation Agitation along with Manual Agitation.
Manual Hand Agitation is a paddle crank system that stirs the sealcoat as you turn the crank on one end of the tank. These are very effective if you are using sand in the sealcoat liquid.
Depending on the manufacturer, you can purchase an asphalt sealing system using between two paddles up to four paddles. Some of the systems use rubber wipers on the edge of the paddles as well, helping to clean the inside of the tank while some manufacturers use a rake paddle to claw and rake the sand, breaking up the sealer clumps. Our PolySkid-Pro series utilize the rake system.
Hand agitation is very useful as well as practical and keeps your sealcoat supplier happy particularly if they require some sort of manual agitation on your asphalt sealing equipment.
Combining a manual agitation system with a circulation pump on your system makes a very good asphalt sealing system because you get excellent mixing of the sealcoat liquid. These are also very affordable systems to purchase as well, usually not costing more that $3,000.00 for the entire system. With a Circulation system using manual hand agitation, it isn't necessary to continually turn the crank. Agitating the sealer is usually done before you begin and then every 10 to 15 minutes while you're sealcoating. This is normally enough to keep your sand in suspension.
You may also want to consider the use of a "Latex Additive" as this will also help keep the sand in suspension as well and reduces the frequency of cranking the paddle crank.
Hydraulic Agitation works the exact same way as hand agitation but utilizes a hydraulic motor to turn the paddles automatically. Hydraulic agitation systems typically allow both forward or reverse and can be run constantly while spraying. Hydraulic agitation systems are for the professional who has grown their business to the point of needing to save time from manually cranking the sealcoat sealer. Our BIG-A 525 Gallon Polyskid Plus is a great example of a Hydraulic Agitation system.
This asphalt sealing system uses a variety of components ranging from an air compressor, hydraulic pump control valves, and hydraulic motors and will be used by sealcoating professional that has been in the business for a while.
Hydraulic / Pneumatic systems usually range in cost from approximately $7,500 to $18,000 or more, depending on the size of the system, trailer system, or slide-in skid unit.
HIGH-PRESSURE SPRAY SYSTEMS
Most of the circulation agitation asphalt sealing system we have mentioned above are referred to as Low Pressure sealing spray systems. Several manufacturers, including us, offer a "Pressurized" system, allowing you to spray more volume at higher pressures. Asphalt sealcoating equipment that use High-Pressure air-operated dual-diaphragm pump systems, are typically mounted on trailers or skids allowing for optimal applications.
Many commercial sealcoaters that apply sealcoat to highways, streets, or large parking lots will use these types of asphalt sealing systems because they allow for an optional spray bar attachment that is capable of spraying 6ft to 18ft at once.
An AODD or air-operated dual-diaphragm pump and air compressor are used to deliver up to 120PSI of pressure in the high-pressure sealcoating systems which allows for longer lengths of spray hose because of the ability to create higher spraying pressures. (The maximum recommended length for a medium pressure system is ~50'). AODD pumps also produce a high GPM (gallons per minute), sometimes up around the 40GPM range.
These systems will range in cost from $10,000 to $18,000 and more, depending on the options you add to them. These are almost exclusively used by professionals that have been in business awhile or large municipalities who perform sealcoating on a large scale.
What it really comes down to, is that you need a way to spray sealcoat regardless of the system. If it performs as you need at the price you can afford, that's all that matters. We do our best to make sure you have access to a variety of options so you can get a reliable piece of equipment at a reasonable price.
Sealcoat can be applied a variety of ways including but not limited to the "Squeegee" method. If the pavement is properly prepared before the sealcoating application, then the results you get will be the same with your $30 squeegee as if you were spraying it with an $18,000.00 sealcoating machine. If you do decide to use the squeegee method, the only drawback is that you will use more material and your back will hurt ;-)
Regardless of the asphalt sealing system you decide on, just make sure you are making decisions based on credible information and remember that the "Biggest" is not always the "Best".