Oil-Based Vs Water-Based Asphalt Sealer

Best Asphalt Sealers Oil-Based Vs Water-Based Asphalt Sealer: Eco-Friendly

The integrity and longevity of your asphalt pavement depend on several factors. Besides high-quality materials and professional paving, you need to consider effective seal coating. The right seal coat can increase the lifespan of your asphalt driveway by ten or more years.

When it comes to seal coating your driveway, you have several options. Two of them are Oil-Based Vs Water-Based Asphalt Sealers. Ideally, you should consult an asphalt expert before deciding on your driveway or parking lot. However, you can do some research on your own to assist with the decision-making process.

Deciding on an asphalt sealer can be tricky! Oil-based sealers offer deep protection, but water-based options are quicker drying and more eco-friendly. Both can be applied with crack filler for a complete solution.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding between a water-based and an oil-based sealer.

1. What Are Sealers Made of?

For someone who has never worked with asphalt sealers before, a water-based sealer may seem less strong than an oil one. However, a water-based sealer is a durable coal-tar or asphalt emulsion or a mix of the two.

To create a water-based asphalt emulsion sealer, the manufacturer simply suspends asphalt in the water. Coal-tar emulsions are somewhat harder to make. They are a byproduct of the steel manufacturing industry. These sealers are also suspended in water. However, their makeup isn’t similar to the asphalt’s.

Meanwhile, oil-based sealers are petroleum-based. They are made of asphalt rejuvenators or chemicals suspended in oil.

2. How do Sealers Work?

One of the biggest differences between water-based and oil-based sealers is the way they work.

  • Water-based sealers (acrylic sealers) create a protective layer over the asphalt driveway.
  • Oil-based sealers penetrate the surface and create a bond that prevents the asphalt layer from contracting and expanding during the cold months. This keeps the pavement from cracking.

Due to the difference in application and penetration, water-based sealers need to be reapplied more often than oil-based sealers do.  The former needs to be reapplied every two to three years while the latter can last for about five years.

Oil-Based Vs Water-Based Asphalt Sealer


Water-based sealers may contain latex, polymers, and clay. While they work similarly to oil sealers, they are usually more resistant to oil spills. That’s why asphalt highways and other major roadways are generally sealed with water-based sealers.

Since waterproof sealers have higher resistance and integrity, they can be a better choice for roads with heavy traffic. However, for driveways that don’t need to endure heavy loads, oil-based sealers can be just as efficient.


The most important difference between oil-based vs water-based asphalt sealers is their appearance. One of the reasons why property owners choose the sealcoat on their asphalt surfaces is for the sealcoat’s appearance.

With time, asphalt pavements start looking greyer and duller than they did in the beginning, reducing the overall appeal of the property. According to ABС Paving, a seal coating contractor from Florida, a seal coat can make a driveway look fresh again.

Oil-based sealers contain additional mixed polymers to make them durable when resisting vehicle fluids. Due to this, they appear duller than their water-based counterparts. Water-based sealers remain on top of the pavement instead of penetrating it. That’s why they create a more appealing finish.

Effect on the Environment

Due to the differences in makeup and penetration, oil-based vs water-based asphalt sealers have different effects on the environment.  

Oil-based sealers have a longer cure time than water-based sealers do. They also produce a strong odor that stays in the air for several days after the sealcoating process is over. Oil-based sealers contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contaminate the environment. In some states, oil-based sealers are prohibited due to their adverse effect.

Water-based sealers are more environmentally friendly. That’s why they remain the preferred option for many property owners.  

3. Oil-Based Vs Water-Based Asphalt Sealers: The Takeaway

When you choose the sealer for asphalt seal coating, you generally have two choices. An oil-based sealer is longer lasting than a water-based sealer. However, it doesn’t provide the “new asphalt” shine and contaminates the environment.

More often than not, companies and homeowners choose the environmentally friendly water-based sealer. It can do an excellent job protecting the asphalt and helping it last for decades. Even though the sealer needs to be applied every two to three years, its low cost makes seal coating accessible for the majority of homeowners.


While both oil-based vs water-based asphalt sealers protect your driveway, they offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. Oil-based sealers penetrate deeper for better flexibility, but come with strong odors, long cure times, and environmental concerns. Water-based sealers, on the other hand, are eco-friendly, cure faster, and have minimal odor, but may require more frequent reapplication.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your priorities. If long-lasting protection is paramount, oil-based might be the way to go, despite the drawbacks. But if environmental impact and ease of use are your concerns, water-based is the clear winner.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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