Pros and Cons of Tar and Chip Parking Lots and Roadways

Tar and Chip Seal Driveway

Tar and Chip Roadways and Parking Lots. If you haven’t heard of a tar and chip parking lots, you’re not alone, they’re everywhere! But if you didn’t work in the paving business you’d have no idea, they tend to blend in.

Tar and chip seal paving is the most economical method for paving your roadway or parking lot. Not necessarily as long-lasting as asphalt, tar and chip has a reasonable life span of 7-10 years on average before another layer of stone chip and tar is required. The good news is that it’s a fraction of the cost!

A significant upgrade from gravel or dirt, tar and chip is the perfect solution for all sorts of businesses, municipalities, and homeowners.

tar and chip seal driveway

What is tar and chip?

Well, it’s fairly straightforward… liquid asphalt (tar) is poured onto a layer of gravel to form the base of the parking lot, followed by a coating of stones (chip) and then rolled over and into the hot asphalt.

One of the great things about tar and chip parking lots is that you can choose the aesthetic. Choose from different colored stones and blend in with the surroundings. While the process is fairly simple, the technique truly is not. Elite Asphalt’s team has thousands of truckloads of experience in chip seal roadways and chip seal parking lots.

Tar and Chip Seal Maintenance

Overtime a tar and chip roadway will degrade, it’s inevitable, but there’s not much to do about it. No maintenance required! What is required, however, is that you’re careful when clearing your chip seal roadway of snow and ice that you avoid causing damage with the plow. Be sure to adjust the blade above the chip seal surface so as not to pull up large pieces of the road. Doing so will drastically increase the lifespan of your tar and chip parking lot or roadway.

Lifespan of Tar and Chip Seal

Take it from a trusted and experienced tar-and-chip roadway contractor like us. These types of roadways and parking lots aren’t built to last forever. Here’s the flat out truth, they have the shortest lifespan out of all of your paving and road surfacing options.

But that’s okay!

For many businesses and municipalities, the cost advantages of tar and chip as opposed to laying asphalt for a road far outweighs the somewhat shorter lifespan. All the chip seal road requires is a new coat on top of the existing one every 7-10 years and you’re rockin’! (see what we did there?)


The Goldilocks option for your roadway surfacing and paving needs, chip seal roadways and tar and chip parking lots cost roughly double the cost of gravel and generally much less than blacktop asphalt.

There are some factors that will impact tar and chip costs from region to region based on material costs and labor, but in general, expect to pay twenty to thirty percent less per square foot when compared to asphalt.

Is a tar and chip parking lot or roadway the right option for you?

Drop us a line at any time, we’re happy to talk and offer our recommendations. To recap:

  • Pro: Costs less than traditional roadway surfacing and paving services.
  • Con: Has a shorter lifespan than paved roadways and parking lots (7-10 years).
  • Pro: Cost-effective alternative for turning an eyesore of a dusty and rutted out old roadway into a clean and smooth surface to drive on.
  • Con: Clearing the road of snow and ice can cause damage easily.

More Advantages of Tar and Chip Parking Lot

Here’s a few more advantages compared to a regular Asphalt parking lot that you should be aware of.

Beautiful and Unique Look

The traditional blacktop look for a driveway or parking lot is clean and professional, but few people would call it beautiful. A tar and chip paving can add to the character of your property. You can help your business stand out from competitors by its unique look. Tar and chip seal parking lots can be customized texture wise by the size of the chip that you use. Secondly, tar and chip can have color! You will be able to choose from a variety of colors to find one that works well for your property. Have it correspond with your building. Your parking lot or driveway won’t only be functional, it will be beautiful!

Great Traction For Vehicles

One of the advantages of tar and chip is that it has more traction. Living in Texas we’re sure that you’ve spent time driving in the wet and icy conditions. Asphalt is more likely to be slippery than tar and chip. The actual stones in the tar and chip parking lot add just a little more traction to help vehicles from not sliding in icy conditions. In addition, it can be added traction for individuals walking to and from their cars. 

Maintenance is Easy

Tar and chip seal parking lots can be easily maintained compared to asphalt parking lots. Unlike Asphalt, cracks can actually seal themselves in warm weather depending on their size. While their overall life is shorter compared to Asphalt, there’s less maintenance like fixing cracks and potholes that are more likely with Asphalt parking lots. 

If you’ve got more questions and concerns about tar-and-chip parking lots, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for. There’s no job too big or too small for Elite Asphalt.

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