How Does Chip Sealing Work

Ever wondered how to preserve your driveway or road with chip sealing? You’re in the right place! This straightforward guide breaks down the process for you.

You’ll discover what materials you’ll need, the steps involved, and even the pros and cons of this process. Whether you’re considering a DIY project or hiring a professional contractor, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s dive in and learn how chipseal works!

Understanding Chipseal or Asphaltic Surface Treatment

You’re likely wondering what chip seal is and how it’s applied to roadways and driveways. Well, let’s break it down.

Chipseal (chip seal) or asphaltic surface treatment is a process where a thin layer of asphalt is laid down on the road surface. Then, small chips or crushed stones are scattered on top overlay. The stones are pressed into the asphalt, creating a seal.

This might sound simple enough, but it’s a process that requires precision. The asphalt has to be hot when the chips are applied so they can stick properly. Moreover, the chips need to be evenly distributed over the surface for a uniform appearance and feel.

The main purpose of asphaltic surface treatment is to protect and extend the life of the road surface. By creating a sealed layer, it prevents water from seeping into the pavement, which can lead to potholes and other types of road damage.

Materials Needed for Chip Seal

To get started with chipseal, you’ll need to gather a few key materials. These materials play a vital role in creating a durable, long-lasting surface that can withstand varying weather conditions and heavy traffic. By using the right materials, you’re ensuring a successful asphaltic surface treatment project.

Here’s a list of the essential materials you’ll need:


This is the ‘chip’ in chipseal. You’ll need to select a high-quality aggregate that’s durable and has a size suitable for your project.

Emulsified asphalt

This acts as the ‘glue’ that binds the aggregate to the pavement. It should have the right consistency to allow proper adhesion and durability.


You’ll use this to dilute the emulsion to the right consistency.

Prime Coat

This is a type of asphalt used to prepare the surface and enhance the bonding of the chip seal.

Seal Coat

The final layer applied to protect the new surface from water penetration and weathering.

With these materials ready, you’re all set to begin your chipseal project. Remember, quality is key in each material, so don’t cut corners. Your road’s longevity depends on it.

Preparation Before the Asphaltic Surface Treatment

Before starting your chipseal project, it’s essential that you properly prepare the surface to ensure a successful outcome. You’ll need to start by cleaning the area thoroughly. This means removing any loose debris, dirt, and dust to give the chip seal a clean surface to adhere to. You can use a power washer or a broom for this task.

Next, assess the surface for any cracks, potholes or depressions. It’s crucial to repair these imperfections as they could compromise the integrity of the chip seal. For cracks, use a crack sealer. If you encounter potholes or depressions, you’ll need to fill them with a patching compound. Allow these repairs to cure completely before proceeding.

Lastly, consider the weather. The asphaltic surface treatment should ideally be done in warm, dry conditions. If it’s too cold, the sealant won’t adhere properly. If it’s too hot, the sealant may not set correctly. Rain or high humidity can also affect the process negatively. Therefore, it’s best to check the forecast and choose a suitable day for your project.

The Chip Seal Process

Starting the chip seal process, you’ll first apply a layer of hot liquid asphalt to the prepared surface. This bituminous binder adheres to the road, creating the perfect base for the next step.

Next, loose chips or aggregates are spread evenly over the hot asphalt. You’ll need to ensure these aggregates are embedded securely into the asphalt, forming a strong, stable layer.

Finally, any excess chips are swept away and the surface is compacted with a roller. This compaction helps to embed the chips further and creates a smooth finish.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the process:

– The process of chip sealing begins by applying a hot layer of liquid asphalt to the prepared surface.

– Spread loose chips or aggregates over the hot asphalt.

– Ensure the aggregates are securely embedded into the asphalt.

– Sweep away any excess chips.

– Compact the surface with a roller to embed the chips further and create a smooth finish.

Keep in mind that the chipseal process requires careful planning and execution. You’ll need to consider factors like weather conditions, traffic control, and the type of chips used to ensure a successful seal.

Post-Sealing Steps and Maintenance

Once your chipseal job is complete, there are several crucial steps you’ll need to take to maintain the newly sealed surface and ensure its longevity.

First, you’ll need to keep traffic off the sealed surface for at least 24 hours. This allows the chips and sealant to bond properly without being disturbed.

For the first few weeks, it’s common to see loose stones on the surface. Don’t worry, it’s normal and part of the settling process. Regular sweeping during this period will help to remove these excess chips. However, if you notice significant losses of stone or areas where the surface appears to be wearing away, it’s time to call in the professionals for an assessment.

Regular maintenance is key to maximizing the lifespan of your chip sealed surface. This can include periodic sweeping, patching any cracks that may appear, and applying a seal coat every 2-3 years.

You should also avoid using studded tires or chains, as these can damage the surface.

If you follow these steps, your chip sealed surface can last for many years, providing a durable and attractive finish.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Asphaltic Surface Treatment

While you might appreciate the cost-effectiveness and aesthetic appeal of asphaltic surface treatment, it’s crucial to understand its potential drawbacks as well.

Firstly, let’s cover the positives:

– Chipseal is significantly less expensive than traditional paving methods, which can save you a substantial amount of money.

– It provides an attractive, rustic appearance that many homeowners and business owners appreciate.

– Chipseal is a quick process, usually completed in a day or two.

– It offers excellent traction, reducing the risk of skids and falls.

– It’s an environmentally friendly option since it uses fewer resources.

However, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Here are some potential negatives:

– Asphaltic surface treatment isn’t as durable as asphalt paving, meaning it may need more frequent maintenance.

– It can create dust and loose stones, which can be a nuisance.

– It’s not suitable for all types of roads or driveways, particularly those with heavy traffic.

– The process is weather-dependent, so rain or cold temperatures can delay your project.

– Finally, it’s not as smooth as asphalt, which may not appeal to everyone.

Consulting a Professional Contractor

If you’re considering the chipseal process, it’s important to consult a professional contractor to ensure the best results for your specific needs. They’re experienced in assessing the condition of your pavement and can recommend the best course of action. They’ll examine factors such as your pavement’s age, current condition, and the local climate, which all play a significant role in determining the effectiveness of the asphaltic surface treatment.

A professional contractor like JR Paving & Construction Co. ensures that the chip seal process is carried out correctly. They’ve the right tools, the knowledge to mix the right amount of aggregate and emulsion, and the expertise to apply them properly. They’ll also handle the timing and cure of the seal to maximize its durability.

Furthermore, JR Paving can provide an accurate cost estimate based on your specific situation. This way, you won’t be caught off guard with unexpected expenses. Doing the job yourself might seem like a way to save money, but if it’s not done right, you could end up spending more on repairs.