Tar and Chip Seal Vs. Gravel for Ranch Driveways

Tar and Chip Seal Vs. Gravel for Ranch Driveways.  Tar and chip seal and gravel are both popular paving options for ranch driveways, but is one better than the other?

If you’re on a budget and aren’t willing to spend a large amount of money on asphalt, there are two highly popular alternatives that are both very affordable—tar and chip seal and gravel.

Tar and chip seal is similar to asphalt in that it uses a combination of liquid asphalt and aggregate to create a sturdy, compact surface. Gravel, on the other hand, uses loose aggregation of rocks and sand.

How do these two options compare? Let’s take a look…

The Cost

While it should be noted that both tar and chip seal and gravel are fairly affordable overall and both are more cost-effective than asphalt or concrete, one is generally more affordable than the other—it’s gravel.

Tar and chip seal may cost roughly $2 – $5 per square foot, whereas gravel may cost around $1 – $3 per square foot, depending on your contractor, materials, property, and other factors.

The Look

Most homeowners prefer the look of tar and chip seal to gravel. To start, tar and chip seal shares more of a resemblance to traditional asphalt, making it feel right at home with all of the other driveways in the neighborhood.

What’s more, the tar and chip seal driveway offers a slightly flatter and shinier surface than the gravel driveway. Tar and chip seal contractors also offer “chip” color options so that the buyer is able to customize his or her driveway for the property.

The Maintenance

While gravel has the potential to outlive tar and chip seal paving, it does come with its fair share of maintenance issues along the way.

Tar and chip is compact and self-healing, to the point where even cracks can close up over time. With gravel, loose aggregate is kicked around over time, which means that you’ll need to replenish it regularly.

You’ll also need to make an effort to keep loose stones off your lawn, as running over them could easily cause damage to your lawnmower and other vehicles.

If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, you’re going to find it especially difficult to maintain a gravel driveway, as ruts and sinkholes will form easily.

The Texture

While tar and chip provides a rougher surface than blacktop, it offers the perfect amount of traction throughout all seasons. Gravel, on the other hand, can wear down your vehicle’s tires over time.

Another factor to consider is driveway activities. If you have children who use the driveway for sports such as basketball, bicycling, skateboarding, or rollerblading, a gravel driveway will make these activities very difficult.

The Verdict

While beauty is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, we highly recommend going with tar and chip seal for your ranch driveway, considering some of the different factors we’ve mentioned above.

While you may pay a little more for your driveway, you’ll get a better-looking product that is easier to maintain over the journey!

More Questions about Tar & Chip Seal compared to Gravel

Can you can you chip seal a gravel driveway? Yes, you can tar and chip seal a gravel driveway was long as the existing gravel is in good condition. If the existing gravel driveway is in poor condition with cracks, tears, holes, etc. than it will affect the look and integrity of the tar and chip seal. Our recommendation is to repair the areas needing work before installing the tar & chip seal.

How long does a chip and seal driveway last? Generally tar and chip seal is installed on driveways that are low traffic. But if they’re maintained and traffic is low than a chip and seal driveway can have a lifetime of 15 years where it’s still looking great! Make sure to maintain it to keep it lasting longer.

Does gravel or tar and chip seal look better? It depends on the property’s style and look, but generally tar and chip seal is a better look than gravel. The nice thing about tar and chip is that you can choose different chip sizes to give it a stylized and textured look. In addition, the chips come in a variety of colors so that your driveway can match the accommodating buildings that it’s near.


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Elite Asphalt is formed of a team of pavement experts. With over 30 years’ experience, we have worked on all types of asphalt pavement and concrete projects. With an up-to-date, cutting-edge fleet of equipment, we offer services for all types of paving jobs, from complete installations to ongoing maintenance.
We carry out projects for property managers, developers, contractors and homeowners. If you need an Estimate for your next commercial, industrial or residential project, please call (817) 451-0011 today to speak with one of our trusted advisers.

Elite Asphalt LLC.
5080 Ben Day Murrin Rd.,
Fort Worth, TX 76067
Tel: (817) 451-0011

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