Here at Sunrise Asphalt we provide a number of different services to give our customers a range of options and for whatever situation they may have. One of those services is chip seal! This time on the Sunrise Asphalt blog we’re going to give you the low down and answer what is chip seal, when should you consider using it, and the benefits in using it!

What is Chip Seal

Chip seal is known by a few names including oil and chip, chipseal, tarseal, surface dressing, and tar and chip. All of these names describe the same thing: a different type of paving from traditional asphalt that has been used for over a century to resurface driveways and parking lots. It’s made up of oil and pea gravel. First the oil is heated by a distributor truck and applied to the base. Then a truck uses a spreader box to apply the pea gravel to that first layer of oil. When the oil is completely covered by gravel a roller is then used to compact the layers together combining them into a single layer.


How Durable is Chip Seal

Let’s answer how long it lasts first! Briefly, the life span of chip seal is about five to seven years. In the surface/pavement arena that’s not as long as something like asphalt but that doesn’t mean it’s worse to drive on! While it may not last as long as asphalt, chip seal is fairly easy to repair and resurface when the time comes and it doesn’t really require any special maintenance. Asphalt may crack and need to be sealed but chip seal doesn’t require that sealing – it’s a seal itself! Be careful with certain vehicles or equipment as anything heavy being dragged across the surface can damage it. Snow plows for example are a common cause of chip seal damage, pushing their plows on the surface. Luckily in Tucson we don’t have to deal that much.

What’s the Cost of Chip Seal

Overall, chip seal is a much more affordable option than traditional asphalt, coming in at around $5-7 per square foot on average. This price will vary based on specific conditions and circumstances of course. 

Let’s lay out a quick list of the advantages and disadvantages of chip seal – people love lists!

Advantages of Chip Seal

  • Can be used to repair thin or crumbling pavement
  • Resurfaces large dirt areas easily
  • Skid-resistant surface.
  • Extremely durable
  • Cheaper than other pavement methods

Disadvantages of Chip Seal

  • Longevity: Needs to be resurfaced every five – seven years.
  • Can be damaged more easily by certain vehicles.
  • Harder to find contractors who install chip seal driveways.


Now, if we just laid out those disadvantages without further explanation we’d be doing you a disservice. Here’s why – while chip seal will last five – seven years, it is easy to repair and replace when needed. While it may be more difficult to find contractors who do this service – if you’re in the Tucson area, you’ve already found your chip sealers here at Sunrise Asphalt!

If you didn’t know about chip seal before, you certainly know about it now. We’ve heard all of these common questions before, and we’ll hear them again. The real question, though, is if chip seal is right for you. Luckily, we at Sunrise Asphalt have been installing chip seal driveways for decades! Contact us today and we can see if chip seal is the answer for your job!

Note: Any prices are estimates only, Sunrise Asphalt works with each homeowner to estimate and price the individual job correctly.


Get Your Free Chip Seal Estimate Today!