Water-based and oil-based driveway sealers differ in their composition and appearance, with the former having a smoother finish. Water-based sealers are easier to clean and more resistant to oil and gas spills. Both types of sealers have their pros and cons.
A water-based driveway sealer is made from refined coal and contains coal tar, clay, latex and polymers. An oil-based sealer is made from crude oil and contains asphalt, additives that increase the resistance of the sealer to oil spills, coal tar and polymers. While water-based emulsions of asphalt exist, asphalt does not dissolve in water as it dissolves in oil.
Water-based sealers offer better protection against ultraviolet rays that can cause roads to crack. They can prevent early road damage and ensure that maintenance is not needed for at least five years. Also, coal tar sealers require less frequent application than asphalt ones.
However, unlike oil-based sealers, water-based ones do not penetrate into the asphalt and instead remain on top. Coal tar sealers have higher levels of volatile organic compounds, causing them to produce more odor and have more adverse environmental effects.
Choose a driveway sealer based on the product warranty and its life span as stated by the manufacturer.