Chip seal driveway – your questions answered

A Chip Seal Driveway, also known as Tar & Chip, may not be a familiar concept to many – but chances are you have seen driveways and roads built this way. This type of tar and chip driveway offers an attractive and durable solution for those looking for a reliable surface.

Chip Seal Driveways offer a reasonable and often preferable solution for many – yet, this material may not be as well known to some. With chip-seal driveways, you can enjoy the perfect combination of aesthetics and reliability. In this article, we will delve into what exactly chip seal driveways are, while also exploring the many advantages they can bring.

hot liquid asphalt

Table of Contents

Tarmac vs Asphalt

Chip Seal Driveways is a type of asphalt pavement that is made up of a combination of liquid asphalt and compacted crushed stone chips. This mixture creates a durable layer that can provide protection and support to the surface beneath it. These driveways are often considered more economical as compared to regular asphalt, as they generally require less material to create. Not only can chip seal driveways prove to be cheaper in the long run, but they also have a very attractive aesthetic appeal due to its unique stone pattern.

tar and chip paving

What is a chip seal driveway?

Chip Seal Driveways are a type of asphalt pavement that is created from a combination of liquid asphalt and crushed stones. This mixture creates a strong, durable layer that is suitable for protecting the surface beneath it while also providing additional structural support.

Chip seal driveways are generally more economical compared to regular asphalt paving, as they require less material to create this protective layer. Furthermore, benefits like the attractive stone pattern, the ability to retain their structure over time and the cost savings make both chip and seal seal driveways an excellent choice for many homes and businesses.

The construction process of a chip seal driveway usually begins with a spray truck where an initial layer of liquid asphalt is spread over the surface of the existing pavement or base.

Once this layer has been spread evenly across the area, it is then followed by spreading small stones at appropriate rates over top to create a thick, resilient layer over which vehicles can be driven without fear of damage or deterioration. After this step is completed, a roller machine will be used in order to press down on the layers and create additional adhesion between all components.

Once the chip seal has been installed properly, it should last for several years before any further maintenance may need to be done. As long as you keep up with basic preventative maintenance such as cleaning off any debris or oils from any vehicles that have been on your driveway and keeping weeds away from forming in joints between stones, your chip seal driveway should provide many years of protection and beauty for your home or business.

tar and chip paving

How long does chip seal last?

Chip seal driveways are designed to last for between 5 and 7 years, depending on the quality of the material used in construction, the level of maintenance that it has received over time and the number of heavy vehicles that pass over it. Asphalt and tarmac driveways, on the other hand, can last for up to 10 -20 years.

With that being said, chip seal driveways are still a great option for many due to their attractive appearance and cost savings over time. To ensure that your chip seal driveway lasts as long as possible, it is important to keep up with basic preventative maintenance such as sweeping away any debris that may have accumulated.

Chip seal driveways can prove to be an extremely reliable and cost-effective solution for many – offering the perfect combination of aesthetics and reliability.

To further extend the lifespan of your chip seal driveway, it is important to select materials with a high-quality rating for maximum durability. Additionally, regular inspections should be done in order to identify any potential issues such as cracks (cracking is more prone in concrete and asphalt driveways) or damage that may have developed over time from heavy vehicles.

gravel driveway

How do you maintain a chip seal driveway?

While chip seal driveways are typically quite durable, they can still be subject to damage if heavy vehicles regularly pass over them as mentioned earlier (you shouldn’t have this issue if it’s just a chip seal driveway we are talking about).

This can cause the underlying materials to crack and loosen, resulting in weakened spots that need repair. In order to avoid this type of damage, it is important to ensure that heavy vehicles are not frequently driving over the surface.

In regard to chip sealed roads, a common culprit that causes damage is vehicles such as snowploughs, which, due to their weight and the constant scraping of their blades, can cause weakened spots. To counter this issue, it is important to clear away any debris or snow as soon as possible in order to prevent damage to your driveway.

snowplough driveway damage

Chip seal driveway cost

The cost of a full tar and chip seal driveway will vary depending on the size and complexity of the project, as well as the materials used. Generally speaking, chip seal driveways tend to be more affordable compared to other types of paving due to their easy installation process.

While exact prices for chip sealing alone will depend on a number of factors, many chip seal driveways can be installed for about $2 – $5 per square foot for smaller projects, with larger projects costing up to $6 per square foot.

Chip seal driveways are a cost-effective solution to the asphalt driveway when it comes down to the bottom line. Because they require minimal installation and maintenance effort, chip seals come in much cheaper than their asphalt counterparts – making them an attractive option for many homeowners.

tar and chip cost

Pros and cons of chip seal driveway

Below, we outline the pros and cons of chip seal driveways to help you decide if they are the right option for you:


  • Easy installation process – The installation process for chip seal driveways is relatively easy, making them a great, affordable alternative to asphalt. Chip seal driveways can be laid much faster
  • Low cost – Chip seal driveways are a more affordable option than asphalt. Generally costing around $2 – $5 per square foot for smaller projects, they offer great value.
  • Less maintenance required throughout its lifespan – Chip seal driveways require minimal maintenance throughout their lifespan, making them an ideal choice for busy homeowners.
  • Offers a unique, attractive appearance – Chip seal driveways offer a unique, attractive appearance that can’t be matched in comparison to gravel driveways.
  • Smoothness – Conventional wisdom suggests that chip seal driveways are not as smooth as asphalt or concrete, but this is actually untrue. The combination of gravel and sealant creates a surface that is both more durable and smoother to drive on.


  • Doesn’t last as long – Chip seal driveways do not last as long as asphalt and concrete, so they need to be replaced after approximately 5-7 years.
  • Can be damaged by large vehicles – Chip seal driveways can be weakened by heavy vehicles.
  • Not as easy to find professionals to install it – Chip seal driveways are not as common as asphalt and concrete, so it can be difficult to find a professional contractor to install your chip seal driveway.
driveway contractor


Chip seal driveways are a great option for homeowners looking for an affordable and low-maintenance solution to asphalt. While they may not last as long and can be damaged by large vehicles, their easy installation process and unique appearance make them a popular choice among many homeowners. The cost of installing a chip seal driveway is also very reasonable compared to other types of paving materials – making it an attractive option when budgeting for your home improvement project.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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