How Much Does a Chip-Seal or Tar-and-Chip Driveway Cost?

Typical Range:

$650 - $3,200

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated April 15, 2024

Written by HomeAdvisor.


  • Hiring a pro for tar-and-chip driveways ensures safe equipment usage, proper stone spreading, and timely asphalt hardening.

  • The average cost of a chip-seal driveway is around $3 per square foot.

  • Project size, state of the site, local labor and material prices, and fluctuating oil prices impact the project cost.

  • Popular materials for tar-and-chip driveways include hot asphalt and loose stones.

  • Choosing between single-chip seal and double-chip seal depends on the current state of the road or driveway.

  • Chip-seal driveways preserve pavement, improve skid resistance, protect against moisture, and improve road structure.

Highlights were summarized from this existing cost guide text using automation technology and were thoroughly reviewed for accuracy by HomeAdvisor Editor Ryan Noonan.

The average cost of a 16-by-40-foot tar-and-chip driveway is $1,950, with base costs ranging between $1 and $5 per square foot. Driveways on the low end can cost as little as $650, while more expensive ones cost about $3,200

A tar-and-chip driveway—also known as macadam, chip seal, or oil and stone—consists of hot-liquid asphalt covered with crushed stone that’s compacted before the asphalt hardens. Asphalt generally costs less than concrete but more than gravel. 

Chip-Seal Driveway Cost per Square Foot

The average cost of a chip-seal driveway is around $3 per square foot, though prices can range anywhere from $1 to $5 per square foot.

The size of the project, state of the site, and local labor and material prices will all affect the cost. As oil prices rise or fall, expect the cost of this project to do the same.

Average cost to install a chip-seal driveway is $1 to $5 per square foot

Average Cost of a Chip-Seal Driveway

Below are the average cost ranges for chip-seal driveways in single- and double-car sizes.

Driveway SizeAverage Cost
12-by-20 feet (240 square feet)$250 – $1,200
16-by-20 feet (320 square feet)$350 – $1,600
12-by-40 feet (480 square feet)$500 – $2,400
16-by-40 feet (640 square feet)$650 – $3,200
20-by-40 feet (800 square feet)$800 – $4,000
24-by-40 feet (960 square feet)$1,000 – $4,800

Macadam Road Costs per Mile

For a mile of macadam road with a width of 24 feet (about two lanes), the average cost can range between $1 to $5 per square foot or $9 to $45 per square yard. The total cost for one mile of a two-lane road in a rural area can range anywhere from $130,000 to $635,000.

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Average Price of a Macadam Parking Lot

The price for a one-spot macadam parking lot of about 18-by-9-feet is roughly $500. A 1,000-square-foot parking lot with four spaces and room to pull in and back out costs about $3,000. A 1,512-square-foot parking lot with six spaces is about $4,600.

Parking Lot SizeAverage Cost
One-Spot Lot (18’x9’; 162 square feet)$500
Four-Space Lot (1,000 square feet)$3,000
Six-Space Lot (1,512 square feet)$4,600

Single-Chip vs. Double-Chip Seal Costs

Chip seal preserves existing pavement. Choosing between single-chip seal versus double-chip seal comes down to the current state of the road or driveway. Below are the average costs for both types.

Single-Chip Seal

A single-chip seal costs roughly $1.50 per square yard. With this type of seal, liquid asphalt gets applied directly to the pavement, followed by a layer of 1/4- or 1/2-inch aggregate. 

Single-chip seals work well for protecting roads that are in good shape. They also offer quick, straightforward application for minimal disruption of traffic. Here are other key benefits of a single-chip seal:

  • Maintains the road’s quality

  • Protects against moisture

  • Improves skid resistance and traction 

Double-Chip Seal

A double-chip seal goes for around $3 per square yard and involves the application of two layers of single-chip seal, one right after the other. This type of seal helps improve the structure of roads with moderate to severe damage or deterioration. Here are the main benefits to consider:

  • Improves surface texture for better skid resistance and traction

  • Protects twice as much from moisture and oxidation

  • Reduces damage from snowplows

High Performance

High-performance seals typically cost around $1.85 per square yard. These offer a higher asphalt application rate and a higher-quality aggregate embedded in the asphalt during placement (unlike single chip). Good for heavy, daily-traffic use—here are the main benefits of this type of seal:

  • Highest skid resistance and traction

  • High-quality appearance

  • Best at protecting against oxidation and moisture

  • Longest life cycle due to higher asphalt application rate

  • Can install traffic markings after two days

Construction Price Factors

There are many different aspects to consider when building a tar-and-chip driveway.  Here are the main factors regarding cost and timing. 

Weather and Climate Considerations

Stone chips don't take to cool or hard asphalt, so the best time to install an oil and stone driveway is when the weather is hot and arid. The asphalt should get poured onto a warm, dry surface. 

Location and Accessibility

Tar-and-chip paving works best on rural, low-traffic, and slow-speed surfaces where loose or excess chips won't be as likely to damage vehicles.

Slope and Pitch

Driveways should slope away from the home to safely redirect water and allow proper drainage. Steeper slopes will drive up project costs.   

Licenses and Regulations

Permits typically cost between $500 and $2,300. A municipality may require them if the tar-and-chip driveway connects to a residential street. The average cost is about $1,100 but can vary significantly depending on the city or state.

Land Survey for New Driveways

Hiring a land surveyor costs most homeowners between $400 and $700. A pro can help pinpoint property boundaries if you're unsure of where they start and stop. This can also be useful in case of future land disputes.

Site Prep and Grading

Grading and leveling the land before installing a driveway costs around $1.50 per square foot. Clearing the surrounding land costs around $1.30 to $2 per square foot. Before installing a driveway, the site has to be clear and level. Extra expenses will vary based on the current state of the land.

Stone Type

Different colors and types of stone can impact the installation cost. If the desired variety of stone isn’t locally sourced or available, importing it will drive up material prices.

Overlaying an Existing Driveway

Chip-and-seal driveways can get installed over an existing driveway but may require repairs first. The price of asphalt driveway repairs is $2,350 on average.

Chip-Seal vs. Asphalt vs. Gravel Driveway Costs 

At $1 to $5 per square foot, chip-seal driveways are much more budget-friendly than the cost of an asphalt driveway, which is usually around $7 to $13 per square foot. Gravel driveways typically cost the least at about $1 to $2 per square foot.

3 costs compared by driveway type, with gravel ranging $1 to $2 per square foot
Photo: irina88w / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

DIY vs. Hiring a Paving Professional

Even DIY-savvy homeowners should leave a tar-and-chip driveway to the pros, who can safely work with the equipment and hot asphalt. A local asphalt paving contractor has the skill and equipment to pour the hot-liquid asphalt, spread the stones, and compact them before the asphalt hardens.


What is a tar-and-chip driveway?

A tar-and-chip driveway looks similar to asphalt but costs less and has a different installation process. Instead of straight asphalt, tar-and-chip features layers of hot asphalt overlaid with loose stones. The stones compress into the asphalt, drying into a smooth surface. 

How long will a tar-and-chip driveway last?

In general, a tar-and-chip driveway should last around 10 to 15 years. The overall life span depends on the level of traffic it sees.

What colors can a tar-and-chip driveway come in?

Tar-and-chip driveways can come in an array of colors, including black, gray, beige, red, pink, green, or even gold. Selections vary by manufacturer, so ask about color options when you book.

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