Surface dressing and micro-asphalt

Maintaining our roads and pavements

Surface dressing and micro-asphalt

The difference between surface dressing and micro asphalt

Surface dressing micro asphalt are both preventative treatments designed to improve the road surface and prolong the life of a road. Surface dressing is designed for roads with heavy traffic whilst micro asphalt is used on residential roads with slower moving traffic.

Surface dressing

What is surface dressing?

Surface dressing involves spraying bitumen binder (a sticky tar-like substance) on a clean, dry road surface, over which stone chippings are spread (small, consistently-sized aggregate).

The surface is rolled to embed the stones into the bitumen although some loose stones will remain on the road surface for about a week. The weight of vehicles passing over these loose stones will force them in to the bitumen to finish the new road surface.

To be successful, surface dressing relies upon warm dry weather, and for this reason work is usually carried out between May and August.

Please see the short video (less than 5 minutes) which gives further information on the surface dressing process and the loose chipping issues.

When does surface dressing take place?

The surface dressing programme runs from May to August. Please note that these works are weather dependent and may be rescheduled in the event of poor weather conditions.

Why do we use surface dressing?

Surface dressing has three main purposes:

  • To provide a safer, non-skid road surface
  • To seal and waterproof the road
  • To extend the life of the road surface, it could prolong the life of a road by over 10 years

Benefits of surface dressing:

  • It is a relatively quick treatment as 1km of road can be completed in about 2 hours, which minimises delays to traffic.
  • It is more environmentally friendly, as we re-use materials to conserve natural resources wherever possible.
  • It is up to three to four times cheaper than alternative ways of maintaining a road.
  • It can improve the appearance of heavily patched roads.

When can road markings be replaced?

Road markings will not be able to be replaced until after the final sweep has taken place. This can take a few weeks.

Does surface dressing create a noisier road?

Surface dressing can produce a little more tyre noise than some other road surface treatments. This noise will reduce in time as chippings are embedded into the surface.

We cannot always use quieter treatments because, in many situations, a good road surface texture and excellent skid resistance are crucial for the safety of road users and outweigh the need for reduced noise.

Why is there a temporary speed limit after surface dressing?

Surface dressing is vulnerable to fast or turning traffic immediately after laying. This is why there are temporary signs asking you to keep your speed down to 20mph. Travelling any faster than this may prevent the chippings from becoming properly embedded in the binder – as well as risking broken windscreens and chipped paintwork.

If the chippings do not become properly embedded, then the work will need to be repaired or replaced much earlier than usual.

Please help us to make sure that the resurfacing is successful by:

  • Driving at low speeds over new works until all warning signs have been removed
  • Not parking your car in the area to be resurfaced when work is planned
  • Letting us know if there continues to be a problem with loose chippings following the treatment.

Why are we surface dressing a road that was only resurfaced a few years ago?

Many surface dressing schemes are carried out as 'lifecycle' schemes, due to some surface materials having a lifespan of only seven years before they may let in water, which can lead to deterioration and increase the likelihood of potholes. Surface dressing reseals and waterproofs these surfaces, preventing this deterioration and extending the road life for up to a further 10 years.

When will the loose chippings be swept?

We will sweep the area after 24 hours, 48 hours and again one week after the new surface has been laid. We will return to sweep the road again after this if necessary.

Have you received a letter that your road has been selected for surface dressing?

We will make sure you can get to and from your house or business but there will be times when delays are unavoidable. Talk to a member of our staff on site if you need help – talking to our staff can solve most issues.

This programme is fast paced and weather dependent, it can change last minute, please keep an eye on our signs for any changes. You can also sign up for updates on these works using the roadworks map at or follow us on our socials.

It is important during these works that you park elsewhere while the works are in progress otherwise parked cars could be towed.

For a few days after the work and during prolonged spells of hot weather, the surface may still be sticky and could be carried into your home on shoes – make sure you take your shoes off to avoid marking your floor.

Micro asphalt

What is micro asphalt?

Micro asphalt surface treatment is a preventative maintenance treatment used to seal the existing road surface, improve the texture, and help water evaporate. This type of surface treatment can prolong the life of a road by up to 10 years. It is mostly used in residential areas with slower moving traffic.

The work involves applying a base and top layer of slurry to the existing road surface. The treatment acts as liquid when first applied, but this dries within 30 minutes and is then ready for traffic.

Following the treatment, loose stones may remain on the road surface for a period and temporary road signs are used to advise motorists and motorcyclists to drive carefully.

When can I park on the road?

When the micro-asphalt has set, you can drive on the road and park on it again. It can take anything from 30 minutes to over an hour to set depending on the weather conditions at the time.

Will the road be monitored after the initial work?

We will monitor the road over the following seven days and return to sweep if required.

For a few days after the work and during prolonged spells of hot weather, the surface may still be sticky and could easily be carried into your home on shoes. Please be careful and check your shoes.

Are there any circumstances that will stop this work taking place?

This type of work is weather dependent and bad weather means the work will be rescheduled. If we are unable to work on the date specified, please keep the road clear of vehicles the following working day.

When will the road markings be replaced?

Road markings can only be replaced after the final sweep has taken place which can be a few weeks after the works. Where needed, temporary signs are put in place reminding the public that road markings have been removed.

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