How to Create a Low-Maintenance, All-Gravel Driveway
Use a chip seal paving technique to get a classic driveway look that stands up to plowing and doesn't require annual raking and replenishment
Q: We'd like to have a gravel driveway, but we also need to be able to plow it in the winter. Is that possible? —roland boucher, Weston, Mass.
Roger Cook replies: Sure, if you use a paving technique called chip sealing. Basically, it's just a layer of washed stone embedded in a tar-like substance sprayed over asphalt. (It won't work on concrete.) But when the paving crew is finished, usually in a couple of hours, you have what looks like an upscale, all-gravel driveway without gravel's maintenance headaches: There's no raking stones out of the yard or adding new ones every year. And when it snows, the surface can be cleared with care using a plow or a snowblower, just like regular pavement.
This job must be done in dry weather—after the ground gets above 50 degrees F and before the leaves fall—by a paving pro with experience handling the hot tar, heavy machines, and tons of stone that chip sealing requires. Here's what to expect when a crew shows up at your house.
Note: Not a DIY project. Requires a paving crew of eight, heavy machinery, and specialized equipment for heating and applying bitumen.
Apply the Bitumen
Before the crew arrives, remove any weeds or moss and sweep the driveway clean with a broom. Hot tar can't stick to wet pavement, so the paving contractor will schedule the work for a dry day. The crew starts the process by using a long wand to apply an even, ¼-inch coat of MC3000 bitumen heated to 190 degrees F.