ASPHALT EMULSION – the new latex paint?

Have you heard the word “Emulsion” before and were unsure of exactly what it meant? Don’t feel alone, for it is a lingo that is usually reserved for manufacturers and raw goods producers. However, with everyone “going green” these days, emulsion can put you right among the rest of the greenies. In coating terminology, when you hear the word emulsion … think “water-based”. So what exactly is Asphalt Emulsion and why is it now more important than ever?

In the past, manufacturers used solvents to blend with raw asphalt and manufacture coatings. The solvent is used as a diluent to keep the asphalt coating in a liquid state and then evaporated leaving only the asphalt behind. However, changing laws and increasing legislative pressure to produce more environmentally friendly products have forced many companies to switch to emulsified products. This process eliminates solvents and replaces them with water. After asphalt emulsions are applied, the water evaporates leaving the asphalt material behind. So how does the performance of asphalt emulsions compare with solvent-based asphalt coatings?

The result in a nutshell—a significantly less expensive product with numerous benefits. The benefits include:

  •  No odor caused by evaporation of solvents.
  • UV resistance thus reducing “alligatoring” & cracking and extending the life of the coating.
  • Water clean-up rather than stronger and more corrosive products such as mineral spirits and xylene.
  • May be applied over damp surfaces or green concrete.
  • Increased resistance to sagging on sloped roof surfaces.
  • Provision of an excellent base coat for aluminum top coatings.
  • Increased flexibility compared to solvent based products.

What’s the drawback? Asphalt emulsions must be protected from freezing. Asphalt emulsions also require a curing period to become fully water resistant. They should be protected from rain during that period much like a latex paint or a water-based driveway sealer. Widely used for years in the southern sections of the United States, they have been slow to grow in the Northeast & Midwest because of the greater chance of inclement weather. However, if used properly with cooperative weather conditions, one can stand to save a lot of money and be green simultaneously. So the next time you get questions about “durability”, “ease of application” and “environmentally friendly” …think ASPHALT EMULSION!

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