Tar and Chip Driveway

Customers understanding and use of  terms vary by location Tar and Chip is synonymous with Chip Seal

Tar And Chip Driveways

Local terminology calls similar services by different names. Industry accepted terms are often different from what customers are looking for. We say the service we provide is chip sealing driveways but we also know that in searching for this specialty paving service some people call it “Tar and Chip”. We want to be able to serve all potential customers that are looking for a rock solid decorative surface for their driveway.

Distinctive Driveways

Tar and chip pavement surfaces are not a new concept at all. it is very likely that you have driven across hundreds of tar and chip roads and some driveways built the same way. Many counties use this surface on secondary and rural roads. Homeowners use this process to create a “look” for their home, estate or cottage. It is a cost-efficient method of repaving and sealing a driveway.

A video view of how these driveways are installed

Tim Carter from Ask The Builder.com has two videos that talk about chip sealing or as he says Tar and Chip. The two terms are both talking about the same process it is just based on local vernacular

Tim explains the construction process to build a tar and chip driveway. As the contractor, we apply a layer of liquid asphalt on the driveway base. This is sprayed on the driveway from our heated truck at a thickness of about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Into that hot tar (asphalt cement), the selected stone chips are spread on top but not mixed into the tar binder. They can be brown, gray or any other gravel color that is available. The limiting factor in color selection is available hard stone that will hold up to traffic. We take care not to apply too much tar or the chips will be covered by the tar preventing the stone finish that is the desired goal. The tops of the stone chips stick out of the tar, the lower two-thirds of gravel is firmly embedded in the tar. The tar and chip driveway performs like a standard blacktop driveway. It looks like the stone mix selected creating a stone driveway. This type of drive provides excellent traction in the winter. If you want to plow the snow off the driveway, just keep that snowplow blade up a little by raising the plow shoes.

Tar and Chip on Town Roads

A tar and chip driveway is very similar to standard blacktop in composition. Both types of driveway use asphalt cement as the ingredient which creates adhesion to the aggregate. Blacktop is mixed at a central plant. The asphalt cement completely coats the large, small, and fine pieces of aggregate. Tar and chip surfaces combine either a special cutback liquid asphalt cement or an emulsified asphalt cement and small similar sized pieces of clean, angular, washed gravel. These ingredients are mixed together at your house.

Tar and chip surfaces were standard fare on virtually every highway in the USA prior to 1935. Central mixed blacktop technology was just beginning at this time. Tar and chip surfaces are a wonderful alternative that unfortunately is, being left by the side of the road. But not by all.

Tar and Chip Applications

The main considerations for selecting the tar and chip surfacing are typically relatively low traffic volume, lower cost than paving, durability and great water protection. Places that tar and chip paving is used here in New England are the following

  • Low Volume Roads
  • Private roads
  • Estate Driveways
  • Private Lanes
  • Farm Lanes
  • Parking Lots
  • Driveways

With chip sealing a driveway you get a driveway with a designer look.  The finished product has a hard colored stone finish, not just a black driveway. You get the durability of an asphalt driveway that will last for years. It will not require crack sealing or driveway sealing since the seal is blended in with the stone.

How Tar Chip is done

After preparing your driveway base whether it is paved or needs maintenance we do all the steps to provide a solid foundation to pave on and make sure the new surface will bond to the tar and seal to be installed. We apply hot tar over the complete area to be sealed and take great pains to make sure no other surfaces are contaminated with tar. While the tar is still hot we spread the stone of your choice over the driveway area, then we compact the chips into the tar a roller to make sure there is a complete bond between the tar and the chips so they stay locked in place.

Rear Beltl Discharge Dump

A view of chip stone at the back of our truck that safely unloads without dumping

Tar and Chip seal benefits

Some of the reasons our customers look to create a unique look for the entrance to the property

  • Virtually Maintenance-free
  • Beautiful Appearance
  • Very Cost Effective
  • Extremely Durable
  • Superior Traction
  • Seals Small Cracks and Imperfections
  • Excellent Weather Proofing
  • Gives New Life to Weathered Surfaces
  • Protects Underlying Pavement from Oxidation, Aging and Traffic Wear

Advantages of Tar and Chip over Asphalt:

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  • Maintenance: Tar and chip is relatively maintenance free. It requires no sealing and fewer repairs than Asphalt.
  • Traction: The rough surface of a tar and chip driveway provides extra grip to the shoe underfoot and tire treads in wet or snowy weather.
  • Cost: Tar and chip costs less to install than asphalt.
  • Durability: A Tar and Chip driveway will last longer than an “equivalent” blacktop drive

Finish rolling edge of driveway

Watching the details so the project comes out right and all the chip stone is set in place.


This picture was taken just before starting chip sealing


Installation is done ready to head for home.

If you are considering a tar and chip driveway you should contact us for a review of the job conditions and a price for tar and chip sealing you’re driving surfaces. Call us at 1-781-254-2773 or fill out the brief quote form.

Contact Us

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+00 123 456 7893