Chip Seal vs. Asphalt

Chip Seal vs Asphalt

Every paving project has its own unique needs, which means not every project should use the same material. There are many different options when it comes to paving a driveway, personal road, or parking lot, so which one is best? If you’ve done some research on affordable paving materials, there are two that will come up often – asphalt and chip seal.

Both asphalt and chip seal has unique advantages and disadvantages for different paving projects and needs, so you must do some research to find the right one for you. Luckily, we’ve laid out some of the most common pros and cons of both to give you a great start.

What is Asphalt?

Paving asphalt is a mixture of petroleum byproducts, fillers, binders, and aggregates like sand and stones. Asphalt is one of the most popular paving materials in the world due to its affordability and versatility.

Advantages of Asphalt

  • Versatile – You can use asphalt for several different projects in several different climates including sidewalks, patios, driveways, roads, and more.
  • Cost-Effective – Asphalt is one of the most cost-effective large-scale paving materials. Despite its affordability asphalt can last anywhere from twenty to thirty years while chip seal paving projects only last ten to fifteen years.
  • Durable – Asphalt can handle heavy loads and the elements without failing. Asphalt can also handle much more traffic than chip seal roads without damaging.

Disadvantages of Asphalt

  • Requires Maintenance – Asphalt requires regular maintenance including inspections, minor damage repair, and sealcoating. Most asphalt installation companies offer low-cost inspection and maintenance programs.
  • Extreme Temperature Sensitivity – Asphalt is sensitive to both extreme cold and hot. Extreme cold can make asphalt more susceptible to cracking and chipping while extreme heat can make asphalt malleable.

What is Chip Seal?

If you’ve driven down a back-country road, a fancy driveway, or used passage roads along farmland, you’ve likely driven on top of chip seal, the ‘original’ paving style. In a chip seal road, a thin layer of asphalt is laid down before layers of crushed stone and aggregate are compacted on top of the asphalt.

Chip seal is also known as macadam, named for a Scottish pioneer for paved roads. The engineer John McAdam invented the revolutionary crushed stone layer roads with binders in the early 1800s. Though modern chip seal takes advantage of better binders, they still resemble McAdam’s macadam style roads.

Advantages of Asphalt

  • Multiple Appearances – Asphalt is only available in classic black, but you can choose different top-coatings for chip seal projects like river rock, slate, brick, granite, and more. You can match your property’s style with a chip-seal driveway.
  • Cooler – Because it’s not jet-black, the chip seal will not absorb as much heat during the summer. The lighter the color, the cooler your chip seal paving project will be.
  • Less Expensive – Chip seal is more affordable than asphalt projects of the same scope.

Disadvantages of Chip Seal

  • Not Long Lasting – Due to its low durability, a chip seal is often used for low traffic purposes like private roads and driveways. Asphalt projects can last anywhere from twenty to thirty years while chip seal projects typically last ten to fifteen years. The more traffic on the chip seal, the shorter its lifespan.
  • Susceptible to Weather Damage – Chip seal driveways and roads are more susceptible to snow, ice, driving winds, and other elemental forces than asphalt.

Choosing Asphalt or Chip Seal

Both asphalt and chip seal have their unique advantages and disadvantages. If you need a low-traffic passage for your backcountry property, chip seal can likely do the job but if you need a long-lasting driveway for your suburban home, you’ll need the durability of asphalt.

To figure out your paving project contact Colorado Pavement Solutions for a no obligation estimate. With some homework and our expert’s help, you’ll find the perfect paving choice for your next asphalt project.

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