Hard Workers with about $10,000 to $50,000 to invest can start and grow a profitable sealcoating business that could generate a six-figure profit in just a few years.
In fact, some reports estimated that in 2023 sealcoating contractors could earn $150,000 in year one, depending, of course, on the competition, the scale of the operation, equipment needs, location, and other associated costs. Bottom line, with a lot of hard work, this is great potential.
What is Sealcoating?
While we assume you have at least a general idea of what sealcoating is, given that you are reading this article, let's describe the business.
Sealcoating is a process of applying a protective coating to asphalt surfaces, typically roads, driveways, parking lots, and other pavement areas.
Sealcoating aims to protect the asphalt from the damaging effects of sunlight, water, and chemicals, extending its lifespan.
Sealcoating involves the application of a thin layer of asphalt-based sealer over the existing pavement surface. This sealer acts as a barrier, preventing water penetration, reducing oxidation, and providing resistance against oil, gasoline, and other chemicals. It also enhances the appearance of the pavement by giving it a fresh, black finish.
The sealcoating industry is quite prominent in the United States, with numerous companies and contractors specializing in this field.
These companies offer sealcoating services to a wide range of clients, including homeowners, businesses, municipalities, and property management companies (airports are one of our personal favorites). They typically use specialized equipment, such as sealcoating machines, spray systems, and squeegees, to apply the sealcoat efficiently.
Sealcoating is generally recommended as a part of routine asphalt maintenance to prolong the life of the pavement. The frequency of sealcoating varies depending on factors such as climate, traffic volume, and pavement condition. However, it is commonly recommended to sealcoat asphalt surfaces every two to three years.
Also, sealcoating contractors typically do minor repairs, filling small holes and cracks. So that ends up being part of the job.
How Much Can a Successful Sealcoating Business Earn?
Now that we have a shared definition of a sealcoating business let's describe how much a successful sealcoating business can earn.
The earning potential of a new sealcoating contractor can vary widely depending on several factors, including the contractor's location, the size of their business, the local market demand, pricing strategies, and the number of projects they undertake. It's important to note that the figures mentioned below are general estimates and can vary significantly. Lastly, we are writing this article in 2023, so things may have changed if you're reading this in 2025.
On average, a sealcoating contractor can earn between $50,000 to $150,000 per year, on typical operating margins of 40-to-60 percent.
However, it's essential to consider the costs and expenses associated with running a sealcoating business. These costs may include equipment and machinery purchase or rental, materials, labor, insurance, permits, marketing, and general business overhead.
Your ability to secure and complete projects is crucial in determining your income. Many new residential sealcoating contractors, for example, sell door-to-door. We will mention this more in the marketing section below. Finally, factors such as reputation, quality of work, customer satisfaction, and effective marketing can significantly impact the number of projects a contractor receives and, consequently, their annual earnings.
Your earning potential can increase as you gain experience, build a customer base, and establish a strong reputation. There may be the opportunity to expand their services beyond sealcoating, such as offering pavement repair, line striping, or other related services, which can further enhance their income.
Sealcoating contractors must conduct thorough market research, develop competitive pricing strategies, provide excellent customer service, and continuously improve their skills and knowledge to maximize their earning potential in the industry.
How Much Money Do You Need to Start a Sealcoating Business?
The amount of money required to start a sealcoating business can vary depending on diverse factors such as the scale of the operation, equipment needs, location, and other associated costs. Here are some general cost considerations to help you get an idea.
- Equipment. The essential equipment for a sealcoating business typically includes a sealcoating machine, spray system, squeegees, brooms, blowers, and other tools. The equipment cost can range from a few thousand dollars for basic equipment to tens of thousands of dollars for professional-grade machinery.
- Materials. The cost of materials can vary based on the volume you plan to purchase and the quality of the products. You will need to budget for asphalt sealer, crack filler, line striping paint, and other materials required for sealcoating.
- Business Registration and Licenses. You may need to register your business, obtain any necessary licenses or permits, and meet local regulatory requirements. The costs associated with these requirements can vary depending on your location.
- Insurance. Adequate insurance coverage is essential to protect your business, equipment, and liability. The insurance cost will depend on factors such as the coverage limits, business size, and location. One contractor we know had a trailer stolen, only to find out that his insurance didn't cover it because he left it at a job site overnight. He was out $10,000. Finally, remember workmen's comp insurance.
- Marketing and Advertising. Promoting your business through marketing and advertising efforts is essential for attracting customers. Costs can vary depending on your chosen marketing strategies, such as online advertising, website development, printed materials, local advertising campaigns, and door-to-door sales.
- Operational Expenses. Consider other ongoing expenses like fuel, maintenance and repairs for equipment, employee wages (if applicable), office supplies, and general business overhead.
Providing an exact figure is challenging as the costs can vary significantly based on your circumstances. However, a rough estimate for starting a sealcoating business in 2023 can range from $10,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the scale and equipment needs of the company.
You will want to take the time to create a detailed business plan and conduct thorough market research to assess the costs specific to your situation. Consider consulting with industry professionals or experienced sealcoating contractors to gain further insights and guidance on the financial aspects of starting a sealcoating business.
How to Finance a Sealcoating Business
When it comes to financing a new asphalt sealcoating business, there are several options you can consider. Here are some common ways to secure funding for your business.
- Personal Savings. Using your personal savings is one of the most straightforward ways to finance your business. It is also our favorite method here at You, Money, Happiness. Consider taking a part-time job and putting everything you earn into savings until you have enough money to start your asphalt sealing company. If you have accumulated savings, you can allocate a portion or the entirety of it toward the startup costs of your sealcoating business.
- Family and Friends. While this won't be an option for everyone, you can sometimes secure investments from family members and friends.
- Partnerships or Investors. Consider bringing on a business partner or seeking investors willing to provide funding in exchange for a share of the business. This option requires careful negotiation and legal agreements to define the terms of the partnership or investment.
- Small Business Loans. You can explore obtaining a small business loan from a bank or a financial institution. These loans typically require a solid business plan, good credit history, collateral, and a clear repayment strategy. Researching different lenders and comparing their terms and interest rates is advisable to find the most suitable loan option.
- Government and Small Business Administration (SBA) Programs. Investigate government programs or SBA loans specifically designed to support small businesses. These programs often offer favorable terms, such as lower interest rates and extended repayment periods, to assist entrepreneurs in launching and growing their businesses.
- Equipment Financing. Since sealcoating requires specific equipment, you can consider equipment financing options. Some lenders specialize in financing equipment purchases, allowing you to acquire the necessary machinery while spreading the cost over time.
- Business Lines of Credit. A business line of credit gives you access to a predetermined amount of funds you can draw from as needed. This option can provide flexibility for covering various expenses, including equipment purchases, materials, and operational costs.
Remember to thoroughly research and evaluate the terms, interest rates, and repayment options associated with any financing option you consider. Consider consulting with financial advisors or professionals who can provide guidance based on your financial situation and business goals.
Create a Business Plan for an Asphalt Sealcoating Business
The sort of individual who considers opening an asphalt sealcoating business is a doer unafraid of getting outside and working hard in the summer heat. But paperwork can be unfamiliar territory, so things like business plans might get left behind. We plead with you to take the time to work through it.
Developing a comprehensive business plan is crucial for the success of your asphalt sealcoating business. Here's a step-by-step outline to help you through the process.
Start your business plan with an executive summary that provides an overview of your sealcoating business. Include key information such as your business name, location, mission statement, goals, and competitive advantage summary.
Provide detailed information about your company, including its legal structure, ownership, management team, and any unique qualities or experience that set your business apart from competitors. Thinking through these steps will help ensure you have dotted the "i's" and crossed the "t's" of the business setup.
Here is a little extra about the business structure. You need to decide if you will be an LLC, an S Corp, or some other form of business. The form you select will impact reporting, taxes, and much more.
Conduct thorough research on the sealcoating industry and your target market. Determine the market size, growth potential, and trends or opportunities that may impact your business. Identify your target customers, assess their needs and preferences, and analyze the competition. If there are 500 sealcoating contractors on Google in your county, you might have a lot of competitors.
Services and Pricing
Outline the sealcoating services you will offer, including additional services such as crack filling or line striping. Define your pricing strategy, considering material costs, labor, equipment expenses, and market rates. Explain how your pricing aligns with the value you provide to customers.
Marketing and Sales Strategy
Describe how you will market and promote your business to attract customers. Identify your target audience, outline your marketing channels (such as online advertising, local directories, or direct mail), and detail your sales tactics. Consider strategies for building relationships with property managers, homeowners' associations, or municipal clients. Oh, and if your marketing strategy does not include door-to-door selling, you are wrong.
Outline the operational aspects of your business, including the location of your facility (if applicable), equipment needs, and inventory management. Describe the process of sealcoating, from initial customer contact to project completion. Include any subcontractors or suppliers you will work with and discuss the measures you will take to ensure quality control.
Develop financial projections that estimate the costs, revenues, and profitability of your sealcoating business. Include startup costs, equipment expenses, material costs, employee wages, marketing expenses, and overhead costs. Project your revenues based on your pricing strategy and anticipated sales volume. Prepare a cash flow statement, balance sheet, and income statement for at least the first three years of your business.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation
Identify potential risks and challenges that your sealcoating business may face. Develop strategies to mitigate these risks, such as insurance coverage, contingency plans, or alternative revenue streams.
Outline the steps you will take to launch and grow your sealcoating business. Include a summary of the resources, permits, licenses, or certifications required for operation. Define a timeline, set milestones, and assign responsibilities to yourself and any employees.
Include any supporting documents or information, such as your resume, licenses and permits, market research data, supplier agreements, or marketing materials.
Remember, a business plan is a dynamic document that should be regularly reviewed and updated as your business evolves. It's also essential to seek feedback from mentors, advisors, or industry experts to ensure the plan is comprehensive and aligned with your goals.
Finally, if you have a great business plan, it will also help secure financing and stay on track.
A Day in the Life of a Sealcoating Contractor
Let's consider what the typical day might look like for a residential asphalt sealcoating contractor.
- Morning Preparation. You'll start the day by preparing for the day's projects. This may involve reviewing the schedule, organizing equipment and materials, and loading the necessary supplies onto their sealcoating truck or trailer. They ensure that all equipment, including the sealcoating machine, spray system, and other tools, are in good working condition.
- Travel to Job Sites. The contractor travels to the first job site of the day, which could be a residential driveway or a small parking lot. They plan their routes efficiently to minimize travel time between locations.
- Site Inspection and Preparation. Upon arrival at the job site, the contractor assesses the condition of the asphalt surface and identifies any areas that require special attention, such as cracks or potholes. They clean the surface thoroughly by sweeping or using blowers to remove debris, dirt, and loose asphalt.
- Repair and Patching. The contractor may perform necessary repairs or patching before sealcoating if there are any cracks or potholes. This may involve filling cracks with crack filler or applying asphalt patching materials to fix damaged areas. They ensure that these repairs are properly cured before proceeding.
- Masking and Edging. The contractor uses tape or other masking materials to protect adjacent surfaces, such as curbs, sidewalks, or garage doors, from the sealcoating material. They also apply an edging agent along the edges of the pavement to ensure clean lines and prevent overspray.
- Sealcoating Application. Using a sealcoating machine or spray system, the contractor applies the sealcoat evenly over the asphalt surface. The contractor pays attention to details, ensuring a consistent and smooth application. They may use brushes or squeegees to ensure proper coverage, especially in challenging areas or tight spaces.
- Drying Time and Cleanup. After applying the sealcoat, the contractor allows it to dry per the manufacturer's recommendations. This typically takes several hours, during which the contractor may use caution signs or barricades to prevent any accidental contact with the fresh sealcoating. They use this time to clean their equipment, including rinsing the sprayer and other tools.
- Final Inspection and Client Interaction. Once the sealcoating has sufficiently dried, the contractor inspects the finished work, looking for any touch-ups or areas that require additional attention. They remove any masking materials and perform a final cleanup of the job site, leaving it tidy and debris-free. The contractor may also interact with the client, providing care instructions and answering questions or concerns.
- Travel to Next Job Sites. If additional projects are scheduled for the day, the contractor travels to the next job site following a similar inspection, preparation, and sealcoating application process.
- Sell Door-to-door. At about 4:00 pm, clean up, dress nice, and start selling. We will discuss this more in the next section of this article, but you should expect to get out and knock on doors to secure business.
- Administrative Tasks. In the evening or at the end of the workday, the contractor may allocate time for administrative tasks, such as updating project records, preparing invoices, scheduling future jobs, ordering supplies, or responding to client inquiries.
It's important to note that the specific tasks and sequence may vary based on the contractor's preferences, the size and complexity of the projects, and other factors. However, the general outline above captures the key activities of a typical work day for a residential asphalt sealcoating contractor.
Earning Business as a Sealcoating Contractor
In this section, we will provide a list of marketing ideas. It will be like a smorgasbord of ways to promote and advertise your new sealcoating business to homeowners and businesses alike. But before we start that list, we want to start with one thing — door-to-door sales.
Selling door-to-door will be the most effective strategy for a new sealcoating business, especially if you target residential customers, i.e., property owners.
You will want a business card and a door hanger or brochure to highlight the benefits of sealcoating and your unique selling points, but other than these, the key is just to get out there and ask for a sale.
Knock on doors in neighborhoods wherein you expect to find homeowners, not renters, where driveways could use a sealing, and where folks can afford your services.
When the door opens, introduce yourself and inform homeowners about your services. Offer free estimates and emphasize the value and benefits of sealcoating. Seek to schedule the sealcoating for the next available day and take a small deposit for the work.
We cannot emphasize enough that this will be your best method to secure business when your company is new.
Marketing and Advertising
Beyond door-to-door selling, there are many ways to help market your new sealcoating business.
This is a list of marketing and advertising tactics you might use as you start your successful sealcoating business. This list is meant to give you ideas and options, do think for a moment that you need to do everything listed here.
Develop a Brand Identity
You want your sealcoating business to look professional. Design a professional logo, choose consistent colors and fonts, and develop a brand voice that aligns with your target audience. Your company's brand will help establish a cohesive and recognizable image for your business. It will also help you with things like business cards or door hangers.
Don't spend too much money on this. Websites like Fiverr and 99 Designs allow you to get a professional logo for around $250.
Website and Online Presence
Your customers are going to look for your business online. You will want to build a professional website that showcases your services, previous projects, testimonials, and contact information.
You can use one of many inexpensive and functional website-building tools, including Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress. But under no circumstances should you pay for a website and marketing services from your local radio station. They almost always do a horrible job and charge way too much.
Once your website is up, create profiles on social media platforms relevant to your target audience, such as Facebook and Instagram, and regularly share engaging content related to sealcoating, maintenance tips, before-and-after pictures, and customer testimonials.
Local Directories and Listings
List your sealcoating business on relevant local directories, such as Angi, Thumbtack, Networx, Google My Business, Yelp, and Yellow Pages. Include accurate contact information, business description, and images. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews, as positive reviews can boost your credibility.
If you have the funds to invest, you can use advertising, placing spots on Google, Meta, or your local radio station. While this is certainly something you can do yourself, hiring an agency to help will go a long way.
Producing Estimates for Sealcoating
One of the most important parts of running a successful sealcoating business is pricing or estimating jobs for your customers. You want to provide a price that is a good value for homeowners, property managers, and small business owners that also generates a profit for your business.
Estimating is a learned skill that we cannot perfectly outline for you. Still, we will make some suggestions so that when estimating sealcoating projects for your business, it's important to consider several factors to provide accurate and competitive estimates.
Site Visit and Assessment
When you sell door-to-door, you will be right there and ready to review the site. If you get a call or web inquiry, schedule a site visit to assess the condition of the asphalt surface that requires sealcoating. Take note of the area's size, shape, and specific characteristics. Look for cracks, potholes, or other damage that need additional repairs before sealcoating.
Measure the Surface Area
Use measuring tools such as a measuring wheel or tape measure to determine the total surface area that needs to be sealcoated. This measurement will be crucial in calculating the quantity of materials required.
Evaluate Surface Preparation Requirements
Assess the extent of surface preparation needed. Consider the time and effort required for cleaning, crack filling, or patching. Note any specific challenges or obstacles that may affect the preparation process.
Based on the surface area and the recommended application thickness of the sealcoat manufacturer, calculate the quantity of sealcoating material required. This calculation will help determine the approximate cost of materials for the project.
Labor and Equipment Costs
- Estimate the labor and equipment costs associated with the project.
- Consider the time required to complete the surface preparation, application of sealcoat, and any additional services such as crack filling or line striping.
- Account for the number of crew members involved and their hourly rates.
Factor in any additional costs related to the project, such as the cost of crack filler, patching materials, masking materials, or other supplies. Consider the cost of fuel, transportation, and any specialized equipment needed for the project.
Determine the profit margin you wish to achieve for the project. Consider your business goals, competitive pricing in the market, and the level of expertise required.
An Example Form for Estimating Jobs
You may decide to invest in software to help you estimate jobs. Even a good spreadsheet will do the job. In either case, here is an example of what your estimate tool might include.
|Estimating Sealcoating Jobs Form
|Length (in feet):
|Width (in feet):
|Total Area (in square feet):
|Cleaning Required (Yes/No):
|Crack Filling Needed (Yes/No):
|Patching Required (Yes/No):
|Estimated Material Calculation:
|Sealcoating Material Required (in gallons):
|Cost per Gallon:
|Total Material Cost:
|Labor and Equipment Costs:
|Hours of Labor:
|Labor Rate (per hour):
|Equipment Cost (if applicable):
|Total Labor and Equipment Cost:
|Crack Filler/Patching Materials Cost:
|Other Supplies Cost:
|Total Additional Costs:
|Profit Margin (Percentage):
|Estimated Total Project Cost:
Having just spent some time explaining how you might do estimates for your jobs, we wanted to mention the knowledge you will need to operate a successful sealcoating company.
As with many of the sections of this article, this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything you need to know to operate your business. Instead, this list is meant to help you consider what you need to know. It is intended to get you thinking about your business.
We think it's essential to have a solid understanding of the sealcoating process, equipment, materials, and additives involved.
- Surface Preparation. Proper surface preparation is crucial for a successful sealcoating job. This includes cleaning the asphalt surface thoroughly and removing debris, dirt, and vegetation. Address any cracks, potholes, or structural issues before applying the sealcoat.
- Crack Filling. Use quality crack fillers designed to withstand temperature fluctuations and provide long-lasting repairs. Fill cracks with suitable crack filler to prevent water infiltration and further damage.
- Application Techniques. Sealcoating can be applied using various techniques, such as spraying, squeegeeing, or a combination of both. Spraying is typically more efficient for larger areas, while squeegeeing allows for better control and coverage in tight spaces or around obstacles.
- Number of Coats. Determine the number of coats required based on the condition of the asphalt and the manufacturer's recommendations. Typically, one or two coats are applied, depending on factors such as surface porosity and the desired level of protection.
- Drying and Curing. Allow sufficient drying and curing time as specified by the manufacturer. This ensures that the sealcoat has fully bonded to the asphalt surface and provides the desired protection and appearance.
- Sealcoating Machine. You will need to know how to operate your specific machine.
- Spray System. A spray system consists of hoses, spray wands, nozzles, and filters. You will need to understand this to pick the appropriate spray system based on the size of the project, desired application method, and the viscosity of the sealcoat material.
- Tools and Accessories. Ensure you have the necessary tools and accessories, including squeegees, brushes, blowers, crack-filling equipment, and safety gear. These tools assist in proper surface preparation, crack filling, edging, and cleanup. And you will need to understand their use and maintenance.
Materials and Additives
- Sealcoating Material. You will need to understand what sealcoating materials exist, who sells them, and what characteristics they offer, such as durability, UV protection, and resistance to oil and chemicals.
- Additives. How do additives impact sealcoating? What are the additives? For example, can you include sand additives for improved traction, latex modifiers for increased flexibility, or drying accelerators for faster curing in colder temperatures.
- Pavement Markings and Line Striping. If offering line striping services, ensure you understand how reflective pavement marking paints or thermoplastic materials work. Be sure to familiarize yourself with local regulations and requirements for pavement markings.
- Safety Precautions. You will need to understand what safety requirements impact your business and how to implement them in a way that is both compliant with the regulation and good for worker safety.
Continuous Learning and Adaptation
Stay updated with industry trends, advancements in sealcoating technology, and best practices. Participate in training programs, workshops, and industry conferences to enhance your knowledge and skills. Adapt your processes and techniques to provide the best results and maintain a competitive edge.
Remember, continuous improvement, attention to detail, and a commitment to delivering high-quality work are key factors in running a successful sealcoating business.