2017 Coal Tar vs. Asphalt Sealer Price Comparison: Coal Tar Unappealing; Asphalt Prices Flat

It’s time for our annual survey of the retail prices for coal tar and asphalt based sealers. 

Here’s the heart of what we know: 
1. The average of 14 different retail asphalt sealers is unchanged since last year
2. The overall use of coal tar sealers is in decline so much so that some believe that it is no longer the largest selling sealer in the US.
3. The overall market for sealers is strong and expected to increase through 2024. 
Last of the Major Retail Products
From online sources it appears that True Value is the last major US retailer to sell a coal tar-based driveway sealer. Quite a change from the mid-1990’s when a researcher bought a dozen different 5 gallon buckets of driveway sealer. His testing found 11 of 12 contained coal tar. You can read this article from 2011, which is one of the most popular on this site at Just How Toxic are Coal Tar Sealers?.
The product True Value sells is made by Sakrete, who makes both asphalt-based and coal tar based products. Here’s a screenshot from the True Value website. Behold the dinosaur on the brink of extinction! 
We aren’t that far from that welcomed day when the end of its retail availability is over. How about it True Value? 
I say this optimistically of course. Any retailer can go back to selling coal tar sealers in most of the US until it is banned nationwide. Let’s just hope, for now, they’ve figured out the liability isn’t worth the cost of selling it, as Lowes has.
Canadian Retail Coal Tar Seller
We have long celebrated the decisions that Lowes and Home Depot made about a decade ago to stop selling coal tar sealers. But Lowes just bought a major Canadian home improvement chain, RONA, which continues (as of this writing) to sell coal tar sealers. Preliminary conversations with Lowes are continuing.
Prospects are Good for Sealer Industry in the US Even Without Coal Tar

A market research company recently confirmed what one CEO of a sealer company said a few years ago: bans really won’t hurt the sealcoat business.

In the projected period through 2024, the industry is expected to experience “moderate growth” but “rising bans on coal tar-based sealers, the improved performance of asphalt-based sealers, and competitive pricing are expected to result in the increased consumption of bitumen and asphalt sealers…”

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 the 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.

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