For an impressive, hard-wearing, and natural finish, tar and chip driveways are a popular alternative to tarmac surfacing or block paving. 

What is Tar and Chip surfacing

Tar and Chip Surface dressing is a hot layer of binder covered with a chosen aggregate. There are different types of binder depending on the varying sizes of the aggregate chosen.

Tar and chip surfacing on driveways is sometimes known as hot tar and chip, hot tar and shingle, spray tar and chipping, tar and gravel, chip and stone, or liquid-asphalt-and-stone. Whatever the name, you will have seen driveways with tar and chip surfacing in locations like stately homes, stable courtyards, national trust properties, heritage property, private driveways and also on some main roads.  You have probably driven over miles of tar and chip roadways and car parks. 

Tar and Chip Surface dressing uses

This form of driveway surfacing has a long history of successful use, especially in rural areas. Plus, it’s a good driveway choice for those wanting to keep costs down.  Tar and chip driveways create a decidedly rustic yet refined look. They are most appropriate for rural locations or informal landscapes. Because it is relatively inexpensive, tar and chip is a good surfacing material for locations with long driveways or large car parks. 

Tar and chip surface dressing is perfect if your existing surface has a lot of cracks and requires some repairs, it can be applied over tarmac, asphalt, concrete or existing tar and chip.


The main advantages of a tar and chip driveway or chip and tar driveway, is that it is much cheaper than tarmacadam to install and relatively easy to maintain. Tar and chip gives good traction and is much more durable than loose gravel, so is ideal for large areas with heavy traffic or footfall.  A tar-and-chip surface can have a different look depending on the type and grade of aggregate used.  Because the stones are held firmly in place, tyres and shoes are less likely to slip and slide about like they do on loose gravel.  The stones protrude slightly from the bitumen base, therefore any tyres or shoes are able to get good purchase in wet or icy conditions. Tar and chip surfacing provides excellent traction, whatever kind of aggregate you choose.

Hot tar and chip does not need raking and will not move in the way that a loose gravel drive will, so can be used in areas where a loose stone finish would move too much, for example on slight gradients. Tar and chip surfaces are not suitable for steep driveway applications as they will wear too quickly

Tar and chip will last a long time, on average between ten and fifteen years and if cracks do appear, they can easily be covered with more tar and chip. Tar and chip doesn’t always last as long as some other surfaces but over a lifespan of the above approximately ten to fifteen years, it’s an economical choice.

How tar and chip is laid

Tar & chip surfacing gives a smooth, uniform surface. The process for laying tar and chip is the same whichever aggregate type is used.

Firstly we repair all potholes and imperfections, then we ensure there is a clean surface to apply surface dressing.

Next, we select the correct spread rate for binder type and apply aggregate over the binder to the surface.

Finally, we roll over the surface dressing immediately to compact aggregate into binder.

it is best to start with a solid base such as concrete or tarmac. The tar and chip is then laid on the base, with a layer of tar applied and rolled onto a surface containing bitumen.

If there is no solid base, then we will begin by excavating the area, removing all the waste material from the site (muck-away).  New edgings of your choice will be installed as well as a new surface water drainage system including soakaway if required.  On top, a weed membrane will be installed

The base course will be laid next – the base course is immediately beneath the surface or binder course and provides extra load distribution and sub-surface drainage.

Finally, the area will be surface dressed using a hot surface dressing emulsion and the stone will be spread (10mm approx.) and compacted. The surface layer should be tough enough to prevent distortion from traffic as well as prevent excessive water getting into the layers beneath.

Local contractor

Tar and chip road surface dressing can be applied to asphalt, tarmac, concrete, existing tar and chip, road planings and even onto levelled hardcore.

It can be difficult to find a good local contractor for your tar and chip surfacing requirements.  We have over 35 years of experience with tar and chip as well as tarmacadam driveways and will help you choose which solution works best in your location.

Why choose DW Surfacing Eastern Ltd for tar and chip surfacing?

  • We provide a high quality service at very competitive prices. The tar and chip driveways we provide are always completed within the specified time, to a high standard.
  • We offer high quality tar and chip services that are completed by experienced team members to make sure that every job we do is of highest standards.
  • We have over 35 years of industry experience and we’ve built up an enviable reputation in the tar and chip surfacing industry over the years.
  • We can mobilise our tar and chip teams to work in any part of the country, so we are the ideal choice for customers with multiple sites.
  • We take pride in our work and respect our tools, equipment and surroundings

For a tough, durable, and natural-looking surface, tar and chip paving is a popular alternative to tarmac surfacing or block paving.  Looks great doesn’t it?