Home Improvement

Sealing a driveway can extend its life

Installing an asphalt or a concrete driveway can be an expensive undertaking. To preserve the fresh, new look of the driveway, have the driveway sealed and then routinely seal it to keep it looking pristine.

A good sealant can keep a driveway looking new longer and also can rejuvenate the appearance of an older driveway. Sealant can be compared to car wax. It provides an outer coating that will repel stains, stop UV rays from fading the driveway and help to protect against cracks and driveway degradation.

Over time, asphalt driveways will begin to fade in color and the stone and rocks used in the asphalt mix will appear more prominent. By sealing the driveway, a homeowner can maintain its original dark color.

Another reason to seal a driveway is to reduce the chance of freeze-thaw damage. This type of damage results when water penetrates the surface of the driveway and then expands as it freezes. The expansion can cause cracks and fissures, as well as compromise the soil underneath the driveway, making it sink or become unstable. Sealed driveways help to keep water beading on the surface of the driveway, rather than being absorbed into the driveway material. When water no longer beads on the driveway, this is often an indicator that the driveway needs to be resealed.

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There are some guidelines to follow when sealing driveways. When starting, sealant should not be applied immediately after the driveway is poured. Concrete needs to cure for a period of up to one month before sealant should be applied. Fresh asphalt contains oils that eventually evaporate. The oils are what makes fresh asphalt pliable and soft. Once these oils evaporate, the asphalt gets harder and more durable. Sealers can prevent evaporation and may make the asphalt permanently soft.

After the initial base application of sealant, the driveway should only be sealed every two to three years, depending on its condition. Sealants are just coatings, and adding too many layers can cause the sealant coatings to crack and peel away.

Sealing a driveway is a labor-intensive process that’s best left to professionals. These professionals have the knowledge of technique and the right tools to get an even, thin coating of sealant. Remember, a driveway should not be walked or driven on for a minimum of 24 hours after sealant is applied. Weather conditions also can influence the amount of time it takes for the driveway to cure.

Having the driveway sealed prolongs its durability and appearance. It also can make the driveway less prone to staining and cracking, making this project a sound investment.

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Drywall contractors caution homeowners

Tim Mercer and Jeremy Reis have both been working with drywall since they graduated high school. Mercer, a graduate of Rutland High School, and Reis, of RICE High School, partnered in January to start their own business Champlain Valley Drywall.

“I was probably one of the 3 percent of the graduates from RICE who didn’t go on to college,” said Reis through a dust mask in an interview Monday. “But now I’m making good money.”

Their company has swelled to 10 full-time employees who are now working on a large job converting the old hospital in Newport to apartments. Reis, of Milton, explained that the building takes approximately 2,500 sheets of drywall and a normal home takes around 200.

“He’s the brains, he does the math,” said Mercer of Reis. “I’m the loud side; I do most of the talking.”

“Hard work, sweat, tears, blood… and a lot of money,” that’s what goes into putting up drywall according to Mercer, who now lives in Essex Town.

Both Mercer and Reis agree that the biggest mistake homeowners can make is to do drywall themselves.

“They end up making a lot more work and they thought they were going to save money,” said Reis. “You’re better off leaving home improvements to professionals.”

“Everyone thinks they can do it, but they can’t,” Mercer chimed in. “Just call us first.”

Located at 39 Gentes Road in Essex, the guys put up drywall all year round. “We stay dry in the summer and warm in the winter,” said Mercer.

Learn more about Champlain Valley Drywall at champlainvalleydrywallvt.com.

— Elsie Lynn
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Q&A How to prepare your lawn for winter

Troy Lund has been in the landscaping business for 15 years. His Colchester business was a career change for Lund after he graduated Champlain College and worked in customer service for a few years.
“I saw other landscapers and new I wanted to start my own business,” Troy said in an interview Monday. “It looked fun because you’re outside all the time.”

After 15 years of landscaping, Troy, the father of a 4-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son, is still happy with his choice.

“It’s a rewarding job,” he said. “It almost gives you instant gratification. You can show up in the morning to a mess and by the end of the day the yard looks great.”

Troy elaborated on a few fall tips for the yard.

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Q: How should homeowners prepare their lawns for fall?

A: Some people they figure they’ll leave all the leaves on the ground until spring, but if you do that you’ll end up killing grass and have big brown patches. The dead leaves smother the lawn and mold can grow.

It’s better to rake up the leaves a few times. Rake once as the leaves start to fall of the trees, usually first or second week in October, and then again in November. It’s better on the back and better for your lawn to do a couple clean ups.

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Q: How do you help your clients get ready for fall?

A: We’ll rake the leaves, cut back perennials that have gone by and pull up annuals. It’s also a good time to put down a fall application of fertilizers and cut the grass. You don’t want to leave the lawn too shaggy over the winter; we tend to cut it down to about 2-2.5 inches.

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Q: What is aeration? And why is it important

A: It’s a matter of making little holes in your lawn, so the air can circulate through the ground better — not that your lawn has a heart or arteries — but it allows fertilizing and watering to have a greater impact.

It’s a good thing to do especially if your lawn is not as thick as you’d like it to be because all those small holes make more surface area for the fertilizer and grass seed.  If you aerate and then over seed the lawn, after the snow melts you’re lawn should grow in thicker — which is, after all, the game plan.

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Q: Who does Lund Landscaping serve?

A: We can do it all, from residential to commercial properties.

This time of year there are eight of us working together. A lot of the guys have been with the company for a number of years. One of the guys has been here about 8 years and another at least 5; and the others tend to be seasonal.

After fall we go into our snow business. We’ll do shoveling, snowplowing, snow blowing and salting. We serve folks in Colchester, Essex, Williston, Burlington, South Burlington and the greater Champlain Valley.

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—   Elsie Lynn 

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Lund Landscaping visit lundlandscapevt.com.