Asphalt VS. Tar And Chip Driveways: What’s The Difference?

Key Takeaways:

  • Asphalt, tar, and chip driveways’ affordability and durability make them popular among homeowners.
  • Tar and chip is a unique paving option that will boost your home’s curb appeal.
  • In terms of cost, tar and chip fall somewhere between asphalt and concrete.
  • Asphalt is the go-to option for residential driveways because it is less expensive than concrete and can be installed quickly.
  • Tar and chip driveways are a unique paving option that combines the best features of asphalt and gravel driveways.
  • A tar and chip driveway is created with a method much similar to asphalt paving.

Asphalt is the most popular choice among homeowners for driveway paving and a good reason. It’s durable, weather-resistant, and relatively easy to install and repair. However, it’s not the only option. A better alternative, tar and chip driveways, are becoming increasingly popular. Prime Asphalt will weigh the differences between asphalt vs. tar and chip paving on a few metrics:

– Installation

– Maintenance

– Cost

– Life Expectancy

Let’s first recall an introduction to these two kinds of paving methods.

Asphalt Driveway

Our good old asphalt driveway is made of two different materials: rock and bitumen. The rock is usually gravel or crushed stone, and the bitumen is a black, sticky substance that binds everything together.

The asphalt mixture is heated to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit to soften the rocks and bitumen. Next, this mixture is compacted by a large roller to form a solid surface. Today, we see asphalt everywhere: from parking lots to highways. The black sheet is smooth, weather-resistant, and can last for years with proper maintenance.

Tar and Chip Driveway

tar and chip driveway (also called “chip seal paving”) is much similar to an asphalt driveway. It also consists of two different materials: rock and bitumen. Despite that, one look at the two driveways, and you can see a big difference.

The rock used in a tar and chip driveway is crushed limestone, which gives it a unique look compared to asphalt. The bitumen is also different; cold tar is applied to the rocks instead of hot tar.

Once the tar is applied, a layer of small rocks is spread over the surface and compacted. The result is a unique, textured driveway with a natural rustic look. Tar and chip driveways come with their pros and cons.

Let’s see how they further differ:

1. Installation

Asphalt Driveway:

Installing an asphalt driveway is a pretty straightforward process. First, the contractor excavates and grades the subgrade (the area of driveway installation). Next, they will add a layer of gravel and begin compacting. In the final steps, the asphalt is installed on top of the stone and compressed again.

Tar and Chip Driveway:

As we briefly discussed, the tar and chip driveway contractor will first grade and excavate the subgrade. Next, they will lay down a layer of gravel and apply hot tar to the surface. After laying tar, they sprinkle on stone chips (usually made from crushed limestone). The final step is to compact the entire surface. 

In regions such as Cowley, TX, where the summer gets extremely hot, it’s crucial to have a driveway that can withstand the heat.

2. Cost

Asphalt Driveway:

The cost of an asphalt driveway varies depending on a few factors. First, the size of your driveway will impact the price. Larger driveways will be more expensive than smaller ones. Second is the condition of your subgrade.

It will add to the cost if you have a lot of rock or other debris that needs removal. Finally, the price of asphalt can fluctuate depending on the market. In Texas, contractors offer a per-square-foot rate of $7 to $13.

Tar and Chip Driveway:

Tar and chip driveway cost also depends on a few factors. The size of the job is the first factor, followed by the condition of your existing pavement. If your subgrade is in good condition, you can expect to pay less than if it needs extensive work.

However, it shall be relieving to know that these driveways cost lesser and can last just as long as asphalt, if not more. The contractors may offer a rate of $4 to $7 per square foot for your tar and chip driveway in Cowley, TX, which may fluctuate according to many factors.


Asphalt Driveway:

Sealcoating and repairs are the main asphalt driveway maintenance costs you’ll face. When it comes to sealcoating, our experts recommend that you do it every three to five years to protect your investment and maintain your driveway for looking its best.

Cracks and potholes are yet another asphalt driveway issue you’ll have to deal with over time. These can be caused by weather, wear and tear, or even tree roots. You can fill small cracks with sealant, but larger ones require patching or repaving.

Tar and Chip Driveway:

Although a tar and chip driveway is a relatively low-maintenance option, you will need to have it resealed every few years to keep it looking its best.

One of the benefits of a tar and chip driveway is that it is less likely to crack or develop potholes than an asphalt driveway. However, if cracks do develop, they will need to be repaired promptly to prevent further damage.

Life Expectancy:

Asphalt Driveway:

The longevity of an asphalt driveway depends on some factors, including the climate, the amount of traffic it receives, and maintenance. In general, however, an asphalt driveway can last 15 to 20 years before it needs to be replaced.

Tar and Chip Driveway:

A tar and chip driveway has a similar lifespan to an asphalt driveway. With proper maintenance, it can last for 20 years or more. When you compare the two types of driveways, a tar and chip driveway is a more cost-effective option in the long run.

The Final Verdict:

With both options having their multiple characteristics, your preference holds power depending on what you need. Asphalt is the way to go if you require a low-maintenance option. However, a tar and chip driveway may be the better option if you’re looking for a more affordable and unique look for your home.

Tar and Chip Driveway Contractor in Cowley, TX

Professional expertise goes a long way. When it comes to your home, you want only the best for it. That’s why choosing a reputable tar and chip driveway contractor like Prime Asphalt, serving Cowley, TX, is essential when paving your driveway. With unmatched expertise and years of experience, our team will provide you with a beautiful, long-lasting tar and chip driveway that will impress you.

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