Surface dressing

What is surface dressing?

Surface dressing is a simple and highly cost-effective method of repairing the road surface, which can prevent much more expensive work being needed later.

The process involves spraying the road with a layer of hot liquid bitumen (known as a binder) and then covering it with loose stone chippings.  The dressing is then rolled, which together with the actions of slow moving traffic, embeds the stone chips into the road surface.

Why do it?

It has many advantages: It is very cost effective, seals the road surface to prevent water getting in and causing damage like potholes; and, because it provides a hard wearing surface with good texture, it also has anti skidding properties.  This added protection can extend the life of the road surface by up to 10 years.  It is also one of the most environmentally friendly ways to repair a road because the existing road surface is left in-situ and only a thin layer is added on top, thereby minimising the use of natural resources ie, quarrying for aggregate.

It’s quick! Traffic can be allowed to run on the new surface almost immediately, avoiding lengthy closures and disruption.  Also the speed with which it can be laid reduces delays to traffic.

Surface dressing is a weather sensitive process and works can be delayed by both wet, cold and very hot weather.  It is usually carried out in April/May as the treated road surfaces then have four good months to embed properly before the start of winter.

Surface dressing in pictures

Things to be aware of of if surface dressing is happening near you