Preventing the Common Asphalt Sealing Scam

Preventing the Common Asphalt Sealing Scam

By Mark Beatty / Published March 2024

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Understanding this one concept will make your private roads last longer and will keep money in your residents’ pockets. I know preserving asphalt isn’t something you’re going to bed hoping to dream about. But, please invest a couple of minutes to understand this one very simple, non-technical concept so your community has the greatest opportunity for getting the most out of your pavement maintenance budget and the best chance of not getting stuck with a special assessment for an unplanned construction project.

     To illustrate what is so important to avoid and a mistake I see being made by too many private communities, I’ll compare shopping for a car.

     Let’s say you are shopping for a used car and have decided you want a Ford Mustang. You have some general requirements, such as you would like it to be red and also to have a black leather interior, black wheels, low mileage, and a 400 hp engine.

    Both of these pictured vehicles meet those requirements.

     There is, very obviously, a problem. Both vehicles meet the specifications, but only one will perform to expectations; the other will be an exceptional disappointment.

     Additional steps to ensure a successful purchase would be to talk with other Mustang owners, research the long-term performance history, and most importantly, drive the car.

     This example seems a little ridiculous, but when you compare it to the process that is regularly employed to manage pavement assets, it’s not that outrageous

     Often I see bid solicitations with the request going something like this… “Please provide a bid to seal the streets.” Um, that’s a problem. This approach will very likely put your community in a situation where you are acquiring the equivalent of a Mustang that has a smashed-in roof and isn’t fit to be driven. Why would I say that? Because you have basically asked to have something applied that will, more than likely, turn your streets black but not necessarily extend the life of the pavement. There’s a good chance that they will only be turned black for a brief period. The proposals are likely going to provide the cheapest, watered-down sealer that a contractor can install, and that doesn’t correlate to what will effectively extend the life of your community’s streets.

     The key is to not put your community into this situation. A primary solution for avoiding this is providing specifications in your bid requests. We provide a free RFP template that can help HOAs understand better what they are getting bids for. Some sealers are very watered down and provide only a year or so of benefit while others have a performance track record of a minimum of five years but often provide an extension of pavement life far beyond that. In addition, when evaluating bid responses, make sure representatives from your community tour—if possible—older installations of the surface treatment you are considering, talk with other communities that have used the treatment, and in general, focus on the long-term performance history.

     What’s the best way to get an RFP template or education that you need? Contact me at and request an RFP template, and I’ll make sure you get an editable template that includes specifications.

Mark Beatty

Senior Vice President, Holbrook Asphalt Company

     Mark Beatty is on the Advisory Board for the International Pavement Management Association and consults with public agencies and HOAs throughout the U.S. He is a sought-after presenter at public works events as well as HOA seminars. Mark serves as the sr. vice president at Holbrook Asphalt Company. You can contact Mark at