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Does Chip Seal Have You Stuck in the Stone Age?

Have you ever met anyone who has fond memories of chip seal? Me neither! There’s nothing pleasing about the sound of small rocks pummeling your car’s wheel wells, or the sudden fright you experience when one of those loose stones “chips” your windshield at 40 mph. We know the cosmetic damage chip seal can potentially cause so why is it used, and is there an economical alternative to this “stone age” surface? Let’s take a look.

Chip Seal - Stuck in the Stone Age

Why is Chip Seal Used?

Chip seal is a low cost road maintenance treatment that basically eliminates the need for crack sealing and it provides good skid resistance. Because of its lower cost, chip seal can be applied more often than an asphalt overlay. However, because of its “beware of flying objects” tendencies, it is usually recommended only for low traffic roadways.

Chip Seal vs. Hot Mix Asphalt

Chip seal actually contains the same structural ingredients as hot mix asphalt. The difference is in the construction method. With hot mix asphalt, aggregates and liquid asphalt binder are combined into one concoction before being spread and compacted. With chip seal, a thin layer of liquid asphalt is sprayed on the surface first, followed by the placement of small aggregates (or chips). The chips are then compacted and excess loose stones are swept away. So in essence, you’re getting the same materials as in an asphalt overlay, but chip seal is typically one-fourth to one-fifth the cost to apply, making it economically friendly.

Is There an Economical Resurfacing Alternative to Chip Seal?

Yes. Slurry seal has a similar price point as chip seal minus the noisy, flying debris. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, slurry seal is a cold-mix paving treatment that contains specially graded aggregate, asphalt emulsion, water and other additives. Slurry provides a new wearing surface for traffic and helps replace the fines in the existing surface that have raveled out over time. Cure time for traffic is typically 24 hours and slurry can improve the life span of existing pavement by 5-7 years. While there is some loosening of stones associated with slurry seal, the aggregate is much smaller than those used with chip seal, so they don’t tend to have the same damaging affects if kicked up from traffic. Slurry can be used on roadways with both low and high volumes of traffic as well as parking lots and golf cart paths.

So if your “road less traveled” is in need of resurfacing, consider a slurry seal instead of a chip seal. The driver behind you might just thank you for it.

Contact ACE for a free quote today.

ACE Asphalt is a full service asphalt maintenance, repair, and paving company with offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Dallas,Texas. Ace serves the parking lot repair, maintenance, and paving needs of property managers, building owners, and contractors.

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