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Driveway Installation 101: What is Chip Seal, and is it Right for Your Home?
Driving down the road, you pass several homes with freshly paved driveways. You notice that some are smooth while others have a textured surface that looks like it belongs on an asphalt street rather than someone's driveway. So what is the difference?
The majority of new driveways installed in Houston are done using asphalt pavement, which is made up of gravel, sand, and crushed stone bound together by petroleum-based asphalt cement. Asphalt pavements are easy to work with because they are flexible. To keep them looking nice, they do require annual sealing, which involves applying an oil-based product over the asphalt, making it resistant to cracking but also waterproofed and stain-resistant, increasing their lifespan.
However, another option is chip seal pavement or a chip seal treatment. What exactly is a chip seal pavement? Keep reading to find out!
What is a Chip Seal Pavement Treatment?
A chip seal treatment uses a similar process as asphalt driveway installation, but instead of applying asphalt over the top, it applies aggregate chips that are dark gray or black in color. These chips work similarly to gravel on an unpaved road and help provide traction for vehicles pulling in and out of your driveway. The surface can be textured or smooth, depending on what you want and how much money you have to spend.
Paving with chip seal rather than asphalt offers several benefits:
- Chip seals have been proven to last 15-20 years before they need another.
- They are inexpensive, costing as little as $1.75 per square foot compared with $3 or more per square foot for traditional asphalt pavement.
- Chip seals are easy to repair.
- Very durable, which is especially important if you have a steep driveway
- It has the same "wet look" of asphalt, making it highly waterproof
However, just like all pavements have advantages and disadvantages, so does a chip seal treatment. There are some cons to this treatment that you should be aware of before hiring a professional or doing it yourself:
- A chip seal coating can get very hot during the summer months, which may result in your driveway being hotter than the surrounding asphalt streets
- The surface is slightly rougher than an asphalt driveway because of the chips, so it will not be stain-resistant or easy to clean up after a spill.
- You'll need to invest in a special sealant for your driveway if you want it to retain its wet look.
- Chip seal requires more maintenance than an asphalt driveway, including sweeping it clean of debris and applying new chips every five years.
Houston Homeowners Benefit from a Chip Seal Pavement Treatment
The benefits are obvious, but are they worth the effort? For many Houston homeowners, they are. This is because the high humidity in this area causes asphalt to break down faster, resulting in cracks. A chip seal treatment can prevent these cracks from occurring and also improve your home's curb appeal!
Reduce Property Damage
- Since the chip seal is textured, it provides better traction for vehicles pulling into or out of your driveway. Without gravel under them, cars would have a higher risk of slipping on soft driveways during wet conditions or if the driveway has not been properly maintained.
Chip seal is more durable than asphalt, which means it can last 15-20 years before needing repair or replacement, compared with five years for an asphalt driveway.
Improve Curb Appeal
- Chip seal has a similar "wet look" to asphalt, making it highly stain-resistant and easy to clean up any dirt or debris that accumulates on the surface. This will keep your driveway looking fresh!
Repair Cracks Easier
- Cracking in an asphalt driveway is inevitable over time, but chip seal treatment makes them easier to repair. For larger cracks (up to 1/4"), it's possible to use a hot mix in the cracks by heating them up and then filling them with new gravel; this helps restore the surface.
- For smaller cracks, a thin layer of the cold mix can be applied over the top of the gravel chips to resurface your driveway. This is much faster than tearing up all of the old asphalt and applying new layers!
Why You Should Always Hire a Professional
While chip seal can be a DIY project, it involves applying heated tar and gravel chips to the surface of your driveway. This means you'll need access to equipment like an asphalt paver or hot box that heats up tar. If you do not own this equipment already (or know how to use it), then you should hire a professional.
Not only will this help prevent accidents or injuries while using machinery for paving, but it might also save you money in the long run because professionals are experienced with working on driveways and know how to apply the correct amount of gravel chips for your specific needs!
Houston Driveway Installation - The Best Option?
There's no question that Houston homeowners can benefit from a chip seal pavement treatment, but what about asphalt driveway installations? This type of driveway is more expensive than a chip seal treatment because it involves tearing up the existing surface and repaving with new asphalt, but it will have a much longer lifespan.
Houston residents who want to prolong the life of their driveway can consider resurfacing instead of doing a full installation. Resurfacing means only the top few inches of asphalt are replaced with a fresh layer, which reduces costs and provides most of the benefits. While there might be some cracking in this area over time, it won't accumulate as quickly or cause structural damage to your home!
For Houston homeowners who do not want to deal with cracks in their driveway for several years, an alternative is using interlocking pavers instead of asphalt or concrete. These pavers are made from recycled concrete and hard plastic, which makes them more durable than traditional interlocking blocks. This type of paver requires no adhesive to hold the pieces together, but it also has a higher upfront cost compared with other driveway materials.
Contact our team of driveway installation experts today to get a quote on a new driveway for your Houston, Texas home.