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2015 Coal Tar vs. Asphalt Sealer Price Comparison

Asphalt-Based Sealer Prices Flat or Falling; Retail Coal Tar Sealers Rare Nearly 20 years ago, a lab scientist went to the hardware ...

Asphalt-Based Sealer Prices Flat or Falling; Retail Coal Tar Sealers Rare


Nearly 20 years ago, a lab scientist went to the hardware store and bought a dozen buckets of pavement sealer to study their toxicity. 11 of those 12 were coal tar based. Today if you were going to do the same thing, you might have a hard time finding any coal tar containing, retail products.

It appears that in the US, the Sakrete line of coal tar sealers may be the last of the retail line of coal tar sealers.

While we celebrate that weekend warriors may rarely be exposed to applying coal tar sealers themselves, it still represents a drop in the bucket of the overall sealer use in the US. It has been estimated that only 10% of the overall sealer use in North America is from retail sales. However it may represent a shifting of the marketplace as well.

For several years all of the major commercial suppliers have offered non-coal tar sealers. There is a sense that the substitutes are improving in marginal curing conditions like high humidity and cooler temperatures. Over 10 years ago Consumer Reports was asked to review these products, but took a pass. Maybe it's time for them to take a fresh look at this.

Nonetheless I would like to hear feedback from applicators or customers themselves.

Asphalt-based products costs flat or fall

The average cost of 12 retail products dropped 5% from 2014 to 2015. That is the first time in 5 years that this has happened. Could this be because of the dramatic drop in the price of oil in the last several months?

Which Lasts Longer?

Frequently people ask which product lasts longest or is better.  Generally speaking, these products, no matter which primary ingredient it contains, become more expensive with the addition of polymers and fortifiers that make the product perform better.  In other words, which would you think would last longer a coal tar sealant at $113 per 5 gallon bucket or one that costs just $13?  

This is illustrated with above price versus warranty graph using the retail "Black Jack" line of asphalt-based driveway sealer.  A product that just has a 2 year warranty is about half the amount of one that has a 10 year warranty.  Which is "better?"  It would depend on what you can afford.  Longevity of the products are a function of the quality of the ingredients and the quality of the installation.

Cost Averages

From a retail perspective I "googled" the shopping search engine for driveway sealant products.  I got 20 separate products with the following breakdown:Asphalt-based: 14 products with 6 less than $20 per 5 gallon bucket with a low of $13 and an average of $21.  

Coal tar-based: 4 products with a low of $13 and an average of $15 .  Not included in these averages are some coal tar sealants available in 5 gallon buckets, but that cost as much as $113 per bucket!  This is about 10 times more expensive than the cheapest coal tar product.

Gilsonite-based (a special fossilized asphalt): 1 product for $50.

Acrylic-based: 1 product for $50.

So you can see for retail products, asphalt sealants continue to dominate at least the number of products available and come in a variety of qualities and a broad range of costs. 

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Coal Tar Free America: 2015 Coal Tar vs. Asphalt Sealer Price Comparison
2015 Coal Tar vs. Asphalt Sealer Price Comparison
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