Will Sealing A Driveway Cover Oil Stains? (Should You Remove The Stains First?)

Charlie D Paige profile pic

Sealing is a great way of adding an extra layer of protection to your asphalt-based driveway. Not only will this protect against water and UV damage, but it can help prevent damage from oil stains. However, can sealing a driveway cover existing oil stains, or should you remove them first?

Sealing a driveway will not cover oil stains. This is because the sealant cannot bond with the oil and will just dry out in those spots. Instead, oil stains will need to be removed before sealing a driveway. How oil stains are removed from asphalt depends on its freshness.

In this article, we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about sealing a driveway with oil stains. From why sealing a driveway will not cover oil stains to the process of actually removing them, this is what you need to know before you start sealing your driveway! 

Will Sealing A Driveway Cover Oil Stains? 

Oil leaking from an old car on a block driveway
Oil leaking from an old car on a block driveway

From concrete to gravel, there are numerous popular materials used for the construction of driveways. When it comes down to driveway materials, asphalt remains one of the most popular choices. In many ways, a properly constructed asphalt driveway functions like a concrete one while remaining most cost-effective.

However, despite being a more inexpensive material, asphalt is more prone to wear and tear. Typically, this damage is a result of weather and traffic. This is particularly true for the asphalt used in the construction of many driveways. However, there’s a way to protect your asphalt driveway from this damage. 

Of course, the best means to do this is by way of driveway sealing. When done at regular intervals, sealing a driveway is a fantastic way of providing lasting protection. Sealing is typically done to pavements and driveways that are asphalt-based

Besides providing a layer of protection against water and damage from UV rays, sealing your driveway protects against another element: oils. Driveway sealing is a popular method of preventing damage caused by oils. However, many homeowners question whether sealing a driveway can cover existing oil stains. 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to cover existing oil stains by sealing your driveway. The reason you cannot do this comes down to how the sealant bonds with your asphalt-based driveway or pavement

For your driveway sealant to protect your driveway, it needs to properly bond with the entire surface. In areas with stains caused by oils or other automobile fluids, the sealant will not be able to bond with the driveway’s surface. Despite this, many homeowners still attempt to cover oil stains with this sealant. 

Not only will driveway sealant not cover oil stains, but the oil stains will hinder the sealant’s ability to protect your driveway. Where sealant has been applied to oil stains, the sealant will simply dry out and blow away. Due to this, many homeowners are unsure of how to proceed when sealing their oil-stained driveway.

Should You Remove Oil Stains Before Sealing The Driveway?

Paint roller and paint tray being used to seal a tarmac driveway w
Paint roller and paint tray being used to seal a tarmac driveway w

As we discussed above, it is not possible to cover oil stains by sealing your driveway. The reason this does not work in covering existing stains is that the sealant is unable to bond with the oil-stained sections of your driveway. You may be wondering whether this means that you should remove any oil stains before sealing your driveway. 

You would be correct in that assumption! When sealing, staining, or resurfacing your driveway, any oil must be removed beforehand. Even without oil stains present, it’s always recommended that homeowners power wash their driveway before sealing it. Of course, this will ensure any loose debris or substances are removed.  

However, there’s another reason a power wash is recommended before sealing your driveway – and it’s the same reason you need to remove any oil stains. When your driveway is properly sealed, you’re effectively providing an extra layer of protection. For this to be successful, you need to ensure the driveway is clean so that the sealant can adequately bond with the surface. 

To summarize what was discussed above: it’s crucial that you remove any oil stains before sealing your driveway. However, regardless of whether you’re sealing your driveway or not, it’s always important to promptly deal with oil stains. Oil stains that are not dealt with can be more than just unsightly!  

Does Leaking Oil Damage Asphalt? 

When your driveway becomes stained with oil, it can significantly impact the appearance of the asphalt. However, did you know that oil can also damage your asphalt-based driveway? That’s why it’s crucial that oil stains are quickly dealt with. However, before we look at that, let’s consider the damage this oil can cause.

Besides being an eyesore, oil stains can weaken and soften asphalt, which can lead to the material deteriorating. When this is combined with cold weather, cracks and potholes can even begin to form on your driveway where the oil stains were located. Oil leaks and stains should be dealt with immediately to prevent this. 

As we discussed earlier, sealing your driveway is another great way of protecting against damage. Most notably, sealing your driveway will protect against UV and water damage. However, it can also help protect against oil stains. When your driveway is sealed, the oil will not be able to immediately penetrate your asphalt driveway. 

This gives you a window to clean the spill and prevent any damage from occurring. However, the sealant is not impervious to damage caused by oil. In fact, when oil stains are left on a sealed driveway, the oil can eventually penetrate the protective layer. That’s why it’s crucial you know how to remove oil stains from your driveway!

How To Remove The Oil Stains From Asphalt 

An oil leak on the asphalt floor
An oil leak on the asphalt floor

As we’ve discussed, oil stains must be removed from asphalt when sealing your driveway. However, these stains should be dealt with promptly to mitigate any damage they may cause, as we discussed above. Read on as we look at how to remove both fresh and settled oil stains from your asphalt driveway!

Removing Fresh Oil Stains From Asphalt

It’s always best to remove oil stains from asphalt while they are still fresh. To remove fresh oil stains from your driveway, three simple steps can be followed. Whenever you notice a new oil stain, this should be your course of action! 

Step One: Remove Any Remaining Oil 

Firstly, you’ll want to remove any excess oil from the surface of the asphalt. To do this, you can use an old rag or paper towel. Kitty litter is also considered effective in absorbing excess oil. 

Step Two: Scrub Oil Stain

Once you’ve removed any remaining oil from the asphalt’s surface, you’ll need to scrub the stain. To do this, you’ll want to use a product like baking soda or a powdered laundry detergent. Scrubbing the stain with products like this will help dissolve the stain. 

Step Three: Use Soap To Wash Oil Stain 

Finally, once you’ve scrubbed the oil stain, you can proceed to wash it with soap and water. After you’ve done this, you should rinse the spot with cold water and let it dry. 

Removing Old Oil Stains From Asphalt

When oil stains have had a chance to set, they can be considerably harder to remove from asphalt. However, the above-discussed process can be attempted to remove the stain. The right detergent and a scrub brush can work wonders in removing old oil stains. 

However, there are many chemicals available today that can help you remove oil or grease from your asphalt driveway. These products can be purchased online and come with simple instructions to clean oil stains. For the tougher oil stains, these concrete cleaning and degreasing products work wonders. 


In this article, we looked at everything you need to know about sealing a driveway with oil stains. Of course, this is not recommended as the sealant will not be able to bond with the stained areas. Instead, any oil stains will need to be removed before the driveway is sealed. The method used to remove these stains will depend on how fresh they are.

Charlie D Paige profile pic
About Charlie D Paige

Charlie is a massive DIY fan, with dozens of DIY projects under his belt - ranging from tiling to electrics, and concrete pads to walls. Charlie loves tinkering, seeing how things works, the outdoors and playing with power tools... so is it any wonder that he's completed so many DIY jobs over the years?

Charlie loves spreading his hard-won DIY experience with the world via this blog.