What You Need To Know About Asphalt Chip Seals

31 October 2016
 Categories: , Blog


One of the most wonderful qualities of surfaces paved with asphalt is that they can be periodically restored through the application of a chip seal. Unfortunately, many people fail to realize the benefits of chip seals. If you would like to improve your knowledge of asphalt restoration techniques, read on. This article will teach you everything you need to know about chip seals.

The Basics

Chip seals function to rejuvenate asphalt, thus prolonging its lifespan and preventing the likelihood of damage such as raveling, potholes, and cracks. In order to accomplish this goal, a chip seal is applied in two different steps. Initially, a special form of emulsified asphalt binder is sprayed thoroughly onto the asphalt. With this binder in place, a light coating of crushed gravel--the "chips" in question--is applied.

A rolling machine then presses the chips firmly down into the binder. This accomplishes two things. First, it helps to lock the binder more firmly into place, allowing it to fully penetrate the existing asphalt. Second, it smooths out the surface of the asphalt, filling in any of the holes that had been formed by old aggregate coming loose, and thus reducing the likelihood of destructive water pooling up on the surface of the road.

Chip Seal Vs. Seal Coat

Chip seal is often confused with another, more commonly understood asphalt preservation technique known as seal coat. The most basic difference between the two is that seal coat treatments do not involve the addition of crushed aggregate--in other words, there are no chips involved. In both cases, an emulsified asphalt mixture is sprayed onto the surface of the asphalt.

This emulsion is essentially a diluted form of asphalt, one that is liquid enough to be applied by means of a sprayer. The diluting agent commonly used is water. An emulsifying agent also has to be added to the mixture, otherwise the asphalt and water would soon separate back out once again. The emulsifier helps to keep the asphalt evenly distributed in the water.

Chip Seal Installation

Installing a chip seal requires the use of a specially equipped sprayer truck. This truck is responsible for laying a thin layer of the binder on the asphalt. Close behind the sprayer truck will be one whose task is to apply the chips. It is important that these two components be added quickly, one after the other. If not, proper bonding between the binder and the chips may not occur. Finally, an asphalt roller presses the chips firmly into place and the surface is left untouched until it has dried completely.

Reach out to a paving professional, such as Branche Industries, for more information.