What Is Tar & Chip Driveway Paving?

What is tar & Chip driveway paving

Table of Contents

Tar & chip driveways are revered for their rustic beauty, cost-effectiveness, and practical functionality. Tar & chip paving provides a charming alternative to the more common asphalt and concrete surfaces. It offers aesthetic diversity and notable durability, making it a particularly attractive choice for residential and commercial driveways.

What Is Tar & Chip?

Tar & chip, also known as chip-and-seal, seal chip, or macadam, combines asphalt layers with fine aggregate layers to create a textured and resilient surface. The “tar” in tar & chip refers to the liquid form of asphalt cement, while “chip” pertains to the aggregate used, typically composed of stones or gravel. After the hot asphalt is sprayed or spread over the base, a layer of loose aggregate chips is immediately applied. The chips are then pressed into the hot asphalt with rollers, creating a strong bond that results in a textured surface.

How Is Tar & Chip Different From Asphalt

At first glance, tar & chip and asphalt paving might look similar because both surfaces combine asphalt and aggregate. However, the critical difference lies in their installation methods, which influence the durability, maintenance, and final appearance.

Asphalt paving involves mixing asphalt cement with aggregate like sand and small stones to create a uniform, smooth surface. This mixture is heated at a high temperature and laid down in a thick, compact layer, hardening as it cools. This method creates a smooth, solid surface that is particularly favored for high-traffic areas due to its durability and ease of maintenance.

Tar & chip paving, however, does not require a pre-mixed composite. Instead, the process involves laying down a hot layer of liquid asphalt directly on the base of the driveway. Immediately after, loose stones (chips) are spread over the hot asphalt, embedding them into the surface by rolling or compacting. This method creates a more textured appearance and provides excellent traction. The installation process is generally faster and less costly than asphalt paving, primarily because it can be applied directly over existing roadways or driveways without them needing to be removed.

While both materials include asphalt and aggregate, the distinct installation techniques of tar & chip paving offer an alternative that is visually appealing and cost-effective. This textured finish and ease of application make tar & chip a popular choice for residential driveways and rural roads where high traffic durability is less of a concern.

Advantages of Tar & Chip Paving

Tar & chip is celebrated for several advantages:

  • Ease of Installation: This paving method can be applied directly over existing pavement, significantly reducing installation time and associated costs. 
  • Low Maintenance: Tar & chip driveways require little upkeep beyond periodic sweeping to remove loose stones. They do not necessitate the frequent sealcoating that asphalt does, making them a hassle-free option in the long term.
  • Traction: The aggregate’s rough texture provides superior traction, reducing the risk of slipping in wet or icy conditions, a vital safety feature for any property.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Generally more affordable than complete asphalt paving, tar & chip offer a durable surface at a lower cost, both in initial investment and ongoing maintenance.
  • Design Options: Tar & chip driveways are available in various stone types and colors, allowing for customization that fits any landscape design or architectural style.

Disadvantages of Tar & Chip Paving

However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Tough To Clear Snow: The uneven surface can hinder snow removal efforts, as standard snow plows can dislodge the chips from the tar. This requires more careful handling compared to smoother surfaces like asphalt.
  • Less Durable than Asphalt: While tar & chip is durable enough for most residential applications, it can show wear under heavy traffic or extreme weather conditions quicker than asphalt. An asphalt driveway can last close to 20 years, while a tar & chip driveway may last 8-15 years. 

Reliable Tar & Chip Driveway Pavers In Atlanta, Georgia

A&A Asphalt Paving & Concrete Services is a leader in installing tar & chip driveways in Atlanta, Georgia. We are committed to delivering not only a driveway that enhances the curb appeal of your property but also a durable solution that stands the test of time.

Contact us today for a personalized consultation and to explore our range of tar and chip options. Let us help you achieve the perfect balance of beauty and functionality for your driveway.

FAQ About Tar & Chip Driveway Paving

The answer depends on your specific needs. Tar and chip driveways are often preferred for their rustic look and lower cost. They provide excellent traction and require less maintenance in terms of no need for sealcoating. However, asphalt may be a better choice for areas with heavy traffic or for those who prefer a smoother finish as it typically lasts longer and withstands wear better.

One main disadvantage of tar and chip is its susceptibility to weather conditions. Extreme temperatures can cause the tar to become sticky and potentially dislodge the chips. Additionally, snow removal can be challenging, as plows can scrape off the chips, requiring repairs or reapplication sooner than with asphalt.

Tar and chip is generally less expensive than traditional asphalt paving both in terms of initial installation and maintenance. This cost-effectiveness is due to the simplicity of the installation process and the materials used, which do not require the asphalt to be pre-mixed or heated to the same extent.

Tar-and-chip can be up to 30-40% cheaper than asphalt paving. This significant cost difference is due to the materials and the installation process, which is less labor-intensive and faster than that of asphalt. The exact savings can vary depending on local material costs and the condition of the existing driveway base.