What is Tar & Chip Paving?

If you’re considering repaving your driveway, you may want to consider tar-and-chip paving as an alternative to asphalt or concrete. And while you may immediately recognize the term “tar-and-chip” paving, you would undoubtedly know it if you saw it. This paving method creates a natural yet polished look, and can be a great addition to any home landscape. So what exactly is tar-and-chip paving and why is it such a popular driveway option?

Tar-and-chip paving process

Tar-and-chip paving involves pouring a layer of asphalt over a gravel base. The asphalt makes up the “tar” component of the pavement. Next, a layer of loose stone chips is spread over the hot asphalt, creating the “chip” surface. Your options for stones vary by color and material, and can give you a highly customized look for your driveway. While some homeowners will match the chip color to a retaining wall of their home, others will often opt for a contrasting color.

Benefits of tar-and-chip paving

There are a number of reasons that a homeowner might choose a tar-and-chip driveway. For one, this method tends to be cheaper than asphalt, and therefore can be an affordable alternative to other paving options. Additionally, while asphalt requires regular resealing, tar-and-chip driveways require very little maintenance which can continue to save homeowners money over time. In the years following a tar-and chip pave job, some stones may need to be replaced — but generally speaking, you can expect a tar-and-chip driveway to hold up for many years without intervention.

Tar-and-chip paving is also a popular choice for people who live in wet or snowy climates. This is because the uneven surface of the pavement provides better grip and less chance of slipping than concrete or traditional asphalt.

Drawbacks of tar-and-chip paving

One potential downside to a tar-and-chip driveway is that it complicates snow removal. Because tar-and-chip pavement has an uneven surface, it can be damaged if snow is cleared with a snowplow. Your best bet with a tar-and-chip driveway is to remove snow with a shovel or snow blower to prevent damage to the surface.

The only other common complaint about tar-and-chip driveways is installation — which is slightly more complicated than pouring traditional asphalt. This is definitely not a job to attempt yourself, and shouldn’t be done by inexperienced contractors.

Finding a tar-and-chip pavement specialist

While tar-and-chip paving can be a cost effective alternative to asphalt, the installation does require specialized expertise. If you’re looking for a contractor to pave your driveway, make sure that you find one who has specific experience with tar-and-chip paving.

Keep in mind that tar-and-chip pavement also requires specialized equipment and real-world experienced — contractors who don’t have the right tools or techniques shouldn’t attempt this type of pavement.

If the installation of a tar-and-chip driveway is well done, it should last up to ten years with little maintenance. In other words, it’s worth ensuring a high quality job. Ask around with friends, neighbors, or local businesses that have tar-and-chip driveways to find the best tar-and-chip specialists in your area.