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Tar and Chip Driveway: 8 Facts You Should Know

You are probably familiar with the use of asphalt, gravel, and concrete for constructing driveways. These three are quite popular among homeowners. But then there is always the option of deviating from the tradition. 

You may choose to use the tar-and-chip pavements for your driveway for a change. Though their use on a driveway isn’t as popular, they are a cheaper yet efficient alternative to conventional asphalt. They are also durable and have a wider variety of color options. 

The Tar-and-chip driveway is also commonly called liquid asphalt and stone or chip and seal driveway. This post will educate you on some facts you need about Tar-and-Chip driveways.

What are Tar-and-Chip Driveways?

This surface was invented by John Loudon McAdam who was an engineer from Scotland. It is also known as Macadam, named after its inventor. When the macadam was first created it was water-bound but these days it is usually tar-based. The reason why macadam is mostly tar-based these days is associated with the shortcomings of its water-bound type. Its water-bound version generated excess dust while driving. Hence, using tar to bind the macadam became the solution.

How Is The Tar-And-Chip Driveway Constructed?

The tar-and-chip is made from a mixture of hot liquid asphalt (tar) and stone chips. This helps create a surface harder than using just gravel. The process involves spreading hot tar over a gravel foundation and applying stone chips to it while it’s still hot. These stones are usually in loose crushed forms and are applied over hot tar so they will stick better. The stone chips used are often ensured to be appealing to the eyes. 

Since most people go for the macadam because of its aesthetic benefits, old ugly stones are avoided. Also, the stone chips can be personalized to suit your taste by choosing a specific color. Following the spread of the stone chips over the tar, a steamroller is used to squeeze them tightly into the tar. The stones allow the surface to be firm and durable.

What Are The Pros Of Tar-And-Chip Driveway?

a. Aesthetic Benefits: 

Tar-and-Chip has an attractive appearance on a driveway. They give driveways a natural earthy look. The chipped stones inside are an appealing splendor to the eyes. Usually, only the finest category of available stones are used, offering the road a subtle yet elegant look. It can also be tailored to suit taste by selecting a color of choice. 

For homes with a natural outlook, a tar-and-chip driveway would be a pleasant fitting to the landscape. Furthermore, oil spills on them are not as pronounced as concrete or asphalt driveway.

b. Low Cost:

 Tar-and-chip is durable yet not as expensive as an asphalt driveway. They are considered an affordable substitute for asphalt. Though they often double the price of gravel, they make up for that with their durability. They are harder and more stable than plain gravel and can last up to ten years.

c. Low Maintenance: 

Maintaining tarmacadam is easier compared to asphalt. Thus, making it the driveway of choice for the busy individual who wouldn’t want the stress of regular driveway maintenance. Tar-and-chip does not require to be sealed regularly as asphalt. Also, tiny cracks that may arise usually repair themselves and are barely obvious. 

At high temperatures, the liquid asphalt heats up to fill the cracks then chipped stones close them naturally. Every nine to ten years, resurfacing can be done. You can apply hot bitumen over the surface and misplaced stones can be replaced too.

d. Good Traction For Safety: 

Tar-and-chip driveway provides good traction for a vehicle making it a safe choice for drivers. Unlike the somewhat smooth surface of asphalt when wet, tar-and-chip has a coarse surface. The spread of chipped stones on its top layer gives it a rough uneven surface. 

This feature is beneficial when it rains or snows because it provides your car with good road traction while driving. You can also use a shovel or snow blower to clear its surface without damaging the road.

e. Easy To Construct: 

Compared to asphalt, tar-and-chip is easier to install. First, the gravel foundation is fixed. Then the tar is spread over it, then the chipped stones are added. Tar-and-chip can also be fixed over other driveway types that are in good condition.

What are the cons of Tar-and-chip driveway

a. Tar-And-Chip Driveway Contractors Are Hard To Find: 

Since the tar-and-chip driveway is not as famous as its counterpart, finding a skilled jobber for it can be tough. Also opt-in for a DIY isn’t a suitable alternative either because it requires expert skills. You should have a tar-and-chip contractor available before choosing it as a driveway option.

b. Less Durable Than Concrete: 

Though tar-and-chip is known to last longer than gravel, it is less durable than concrete. Compared to the about 40years lifespan of concrete, tar-and-chip only holds up to 10years before resurfacing is required.

c. It Is Difficult To Rid The Road Of Snow: 

When it snows extra care needs to be taken while clearing off the snow. The chipped stones in the top layer make snow plowing hard. This is because your plow blade may pop-up the stones if you go too hard. It is advised that while snow plowing and shoveling ensure your blade is just above the ground.

d. It Is More Expensive Than Plane Gravel: 

The tar-and-chip costs twice the price of plain gravel driveways. This is because of its gravel base and the tar and chip upper layer.

What Is The Cost Of Installing Tar And Chip Driveway?

Macadam costs more than gravel and less than asphalt. On average you are likely going to spend 2 to 7dollars per square foot. This price differs in different regions and individual costs of labor. For a 600 square foot driveway, you will typically spend about 1,250 to 2,500dollars to install a new pavement. Resurfacing the tar-and-chip pavement should cost about 650 to 1,800dollars per 600 square foot.

 However, oftentimes contractors tell you their total estimate and not pay per foot. For the macadam installation, you would require a skilled jobber with the necessary types of equipment. You will need gravel, tar, and small stones for the project. You may also need to pay for road permit fees based on your local regulations. Notwithstanding, installing, maintaining, and replacing tar-and-chip is more affordable compared to asphalt.

How Long Does Tar-And-Chip Driveway Last?

On average tar-and-chip driveways have a typical shelf life of 7 years to a decade. Following these years an extra layer is required to prolong its life for up to twenty years. A resurfacing is required because frequent movement through the driveway wears the chipped stone over time. A concrete driveway may be your best bet if you want a driveway lasting over 30years. But, macadam maintenance is easier.

How Can You Maintain A Tar-And-Chip Driveway?

Upkeep of the chip-and-seal driveway is not demanding. For one constant resealing is not necessary. However, certain factors play a role in their installation and maintenance. They include;

1. Weather Conditions: 

Installing the chip-and-seal driveway is best done under a dry and sunny atmosphere. This is because tar adheres better when the surface is warm and dry. 

Avoid installing on windy days as leaf droplets may disrupt the process. Another reason to avoid installing it on windy days is that you do not want the tar to dry fast. This is because the chipped stones need to be spread across the tar while it’s still hot. 

Usually, this should be within 2minutes of pouring the tar. Also, avoid installing during rainy days because emulsified asphalt can easily be washed off in the rain.

2. Winter Days Can Be Tough. 

During these days it’s challenging to get rid of the snow. It is better if they melt off on their own. You may however use a snowplow provided its blade is an inch above the surface. 

Other Notes Of Caution For The Tar-And-Chip Driveway

1. Ensure the tar-and-chip pavement is installed by a skilled contractor and avoid a DIY project.

2. Ensure the contract uses just the right amount of tar per square yard. An excessive or too little amount of tar can alter the result.

3. As much as possible, the chipped stones should be of equal sizes. Square-shaped stones are preferred to flat and tiny ones.

4. If a variety of colored chips are used be sure they blend properly. Also, avoid using loose chips on a steep driveway.

5. Give the macadam a minimum of 24hours after installation before driving on it.

Between Tar-And-Chip Paving And Asphalt

The term asphalt represents a solid pavement. It is created from a mix of bitumen and aggregate in a single layer to form a hard surface. While for tar-and-chip the liquid asphalt and the aggregate make different layers. Comparing both tar-and-chip is cheaper but doesn’t last as long as pure asphalt. Also, several contractors are skilled in installing asphalt but only a few can install macadam.

Should You Choose Tar-And-Chip For Your Driveway

Tar-and-chip is suitable if you seek a driveway material that is cheap and fairly durable. It is also suitable if you don’t want a driveway of regular maintenance