You’re about to embark on a paving project and you can’t decide between tar and chip or asphalt. You’ve heard bits and pieces about both but aren’t sure which one’s more durable. Then you ask yourself, ‘how durable is tar and chip compared to asphalt?’

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll compare the durability, lifespan, cost-effectiveness and practicality of both materials.

By the end, you’ll be fully equipped to make an informed decision for your paving needs.


Understanding Tar and Chip Construction

You’re probably wondering what exactly tar and chip construction is, aren’t you? Well, let’s delve into that.

Tar and chip paving is a form of pavement that combines layers of heated asphalt (tar) with stones (chips) on a gravel base. This method has been around for centuries and it’s still in use today because it offers durability and affordability.

Here’s how it works: first, a layer of gravel is laid down using a shovel or a piece of machinery. Then, hot liquid asphalt is sprayed on top. Immediately following this step, the crushed stones are spread over the hot tar. The heat from the tar causes the chips to stick firmly in place once they cool down. To ensure everything bonds well together, a roller goes over the surface.

But why choose tar and chip over other methods like straight asphalt? That’s where its unique benefits come into play! Tar and chip driveways have an appealing rustic appearance that can’t be matched by plain blacktop. They also provide excellent traction on parking lots and driveways even in wet weather conditions due to their rough texture – so no more slipping around when it’s raining!

The Basics of Asphalt Paving

Let’s delve into the fundamental aspects of paving with this material, shall we? As you might already know, asphalt is a popular choice for road construction and driveway surfacing. It’s made from a mixture of crushed rock, sand, and petroleum-based binder which gives it its black color and stickiness.

You’ll appreciate that the process of laying asphalt isn’t too complex. First off, the area to be paved must be thoroughly cleaned and prepped. Then, an underlayer or base course is laid down before the hot mix asphalt is applied on top. A heavy roller compacts it all together to form a smooth surface.

But what makes asphalt appealing? It’s not only its durability but also its ability to withstand different weather conditions. When installed correctly, it can last up to 20 years with regular maintenance! However, keep in mind that its longevity heavily relies on proper installation and upkeep.

Now here’s something you might find interesting – although tar-and-chip driveways are less durable than asphalt ones, they’re cheaper to install and maintain. So if durability is your prime concern, you’d probably lean more towards choosing asphalt over tar-and-chip.

Durability Factors of Tar and Chip

It’s important to understand the factors that influence the lifespan of a tar-and-chip driveway, despite its cost-effectiveness. Just like any other investment you make on your home, maintaining it properly ensures durability and longevity.

You must consider several elements when assessing the endurance of your driveway:

Quality of Installation

You want a well-executed job. A poorly installed driveway can lead to cracks and damages faster than one that was professionally done. So we recommend you to hire a professional contractor like JR Paving & Construction in Pittsburgh, PA as they have the expertise and equipment to properly prepare the surface, layer the hot liquid asphalt, and evenly distribute the stone chips. They will also ensure that the tar and chip mixture is applied at the optimal temperature and thickness to create a durable and long-lasting surface.

Additionally, their team of experts has the knowledge and experience to address any potential issues or challenges that may arise during the installation process. By trusting them, you can be confident in the durability and longevity of your tar and chip pavement. 

Maintenance Routine

Regular maintenance is essential. Don’t ignore minor issues because they can escalate quickly into major ones.

Weather Conditions

Severe weather conditions can decrease your driveway’s lifespan significantly.

Remember, while tar-and-chip driveways are less expensive initially, they may require more frequent touch-ups compared to asphalt ones. It would be best if you pondered over these factors before deciding which material to use for your driveway.

Investing in quality materials won’t matter much if you don’t take care of them properly or if they’re not suited to your local climate conditions. Therefore, choose wisely and ensure regular maintenance so that whatever option you pick lasts as long as possible with minimal repairs necessary along the way.

Lifespan and Maintenance of Asphalt

Understanding the lifespan and maintenance of an asphalt driveway is crucial, especially if you’re considering this material for your home. On average, an asphalt driveway can last 20 to 30 years with proper upkeep. It’s a durable option that withstands various weather conditions and regular use.

Maintenance isn’t as daunting as you might think. You should seal your driveway every three to five years to safeguard it from water damage, oil leaks, and UV rays. Sealing not only extends its lifespan but also enhances its appearance by giving it a fresh, rich black color.

However, like anything else in your home, it’s not impervious to wear and tear. Cracks or holes may appear over time due to heavy loads or extreme weather changes. Don’t worry though; repairs are generally straightforward and affordable.

In comparison with other materials like tar-and-chip driveways, asphalt requires more frequent maintenance but readily rewards you with longevity and durability. So if you’re willing to commit the time for upkeep, an asphalt driveway can be a great investment for your property.

Comparing Weather Resistance: Tar and Chip Vs Asphalt

When talking about weather resistance, you’ll find that both options have their strengths and weaknesses.

Tar and chip driveways are known for their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions better than asphalt. This is because the rough surface of a tar and chip driveway provides excellent traction in rain or snow, making it less likely for vehicles to slip.

However, don’t dismiss asphalt completely. It’s actually more resistant to extreme heat compared to tar and chip. Asphalt doesn’t soften easily under high temperatures, providing longevity in warmer climates.

Consider these points:

Tar & Chip

Exceptional performance in snowy or rainy conditions due to superior traction.


More heat-resistant, which makes it ideal for hotter climates.

Both Options

Require regular maintenance, especially after severe weather, ensuring they last as long as possible.

Cost-Effectiveness: Tar and Chip Against Asphalt

You’re probably wondering about the cost-effectiveness of these two driveway options, aren’t you? Well, let’s dive into it.

When it comes to upfront costs, asphalt typically runs a bit higher than tar and chip. However, don’t let this initial price tag deter you.

Consider the long-term perspective. Asphalt requires routine maintenance and resealing every few years, adding on extra costs over time. On the other hand, tar and chip driveways are lower maintenance and have that bonus of naturally replenishing their surface layer.

But there’s another factor to weigh in – aesthetic appeal. For some folks, the unique rustic look of a tar and chip driveway is worth every penny spent over an asphalt one.

So what’s your priority? If it’s saving money now with lower initial costs then tar and chip may be your choice. But if you value aesthetics or don’t mind forking out cash for regular upkeep then asphalt could still be a contender.

Remember though: what matters most is choosing something that fits not just your budget but also your taste and lifestyle needs too!

Practical Applications and Suitability: Tar and Chip Vs Asphalt

After analyzing the cost-effectiveness of both tar and chip, and asphalt for your driveway or road projects, it’s crucial to also consider their practical applications and suitability. This is just as important as knowing how much bang you’re getting for your buck.

Asphalt offers a smooth finish making it ideal for heavy traffic or high-speed areas. But if you’re looking into aesthetics, tar and chip might be more up your alley with its rustic charm that blends well with natural settings.

Here are some key factors to ponder on:


While both materials are durable, they react differently to intense weather conditions. Tar and chip withstands hot temperatures better than asphalt which can soften in extreme heat.


Asphalt requires seal coating every few years while tar and chip driveways need little to no maintenance.


The rough surface of a tar and chip driveway provides excellent traction even in wet conditions.



In conclusion, both tar and chip and asphalt have their pros and cons. If you’re after a durable, cost-effective option with a rustic appeal, tar and chip could be your best bet. However, if longevity, low maintenance, and weather resistance are crucial for you, asphalt might suit better.

Ultimately, your choice should align with your specific needs and preferences.