First and foremost, if you’re looking for an economical alternative to traditional asphalt surfaces, and you need something more durable than loose gravel, tar and chip seal roadways and parking lots are the perfect option. Especially when you consider that they have a pretty decent lifespan, depending on how you use it. Chip seal can also be used to extend the life of an aging asphalt surface.
There are a number of factors that make it difficult to say just how long a chip seal surface will last, but the average lifespan is seven years. The chip seal application process can be fickle and it helps to have experienced professionals who have laid a chip seal in a variety of conditions. The technique is key.
So, what is a tar and chip seal surface?
A chip seal surface is applied to an asphalt parking lot or roadway by applying a hot mix liquid asphalt onto the surface and then spreading a chip aggregate directly afterward. Then, the layer of crushed stone is rolled and spread on top of the hot mix. It is then compacted down and cured. The finished product is aesthetically pleasing and provides a smooth parking lot surface.
What are the benefits?
Aside from gravel, which has nowhere near the lifespan of tar and chip, chip seal is a budget-friendly choice.
Depending on where you live, you will be able to select the color of the rock (chip) to go onto the surface.
Warm conditions often heat the surface up in the summer and the chip seal settles back into itself making cracks vanish! That said, not all seal up so be sure to address larger cracks and potholes quickly.
What is the lifespan of chip seal?
Well, not as long as asphalt. But it’s pretty good when you factor in the cost. For many customers the cost advantages make sense. Typically, a chip seal surface requires a new sealing on top of the existing one every 7-10 years.
In order to get more life out of each seal application, avoid using heavy machinery like snowplows or vehicles with studded tires. When plowing, make sure the blade is raised above to avoid getting a snag and ripping up a portion.
It’s also recommended that even after the surface has cured and set you should avoid aggressive driving behavior. Stepping on the gas or slamming on the brakes adds unnecessary strain on the surface, so go easy! Debris from cars including motor oil and various car fluids tend to break down the binders in the chip seal surface overtime. If possible, a good wash and rinse of the surface periodically can go a long way.
Want to learn more?
Check out our blog for everything you need to know about concrete, asphalt, and paving.