Every year, we improve the county's 9,000km of roads with a regular programme of surface dressing.
Surface dressing offers a quick, efficient and cost-effective way of maintaining skid-resistant and waterproofed road surfaces, helping to prevent future deterioration. It's not always popular with road users, mainly because of the loose chippings which are an inevitable part of the process. However, the speed of the operation, and the short time motorists are inconvenienced, are important benefits.
What is surface dressing?
We spray the existing road surface with a coating of bitumen, then spread stone chippings on top. The chippings are then rolled into the bitumen. Once the bitumen has set, we will sweep the road to remove any loose chippings. This will usually be done after 24 hours, but during hot weather this may take longer.
Traffic is allowed onto the new surface, at a reduced speed, to help to push the chippings into the road. The action of traffic soon begins to embed the chips, forming a stable and hard wearing new surface. We then complete a final sweep after seven days.
It is important to keep to the temporary speed limits of 20mph, and avoid sharp turns. This allow the surface to stabilise, and prevents any damage to your vehicle.
Surface dressing provides added protection to the carriageway surface, as well as enhancing the skid resistance, making it safer to drive on.
What's the difference between surface dressing and resurfacing?
Surface dressing is preventative, for roads which are in relatively good condition. It can last around ten years, roads can be re-dressed up to three times, and is very cost effective. Also, the work is done relatively quickly, minimising the inconvenience for residents and motorists.
Resurfacing is a more extensive structural maintenance treatment which involves digging down and removing the top layer of a worn out road surface, and replacing this with new material. Resurfacing is around five times more expensive than surface dressing - 200 miles of roads can be surface dressed for the cost of resurfacing 40 miles. Find out about other types of road maintenance here.
It's much more cost effective to preventatively surface dress a road which is in relatively good condition, to prolong the life of the road surface.