Understanding the Different Types of Road and Pavement Treatments

Defining the Terms Used for Different Pavement Treatments

Road and pavement treatments are a lot more complicated than many people realize. Though pavement might seem simple, it takes a lot of work to make and maintain. There are seals, asphalt mixtures, and dozens of treatment approaches.

With so many different techniques, it may be hard to keep track of which terms are used to refer to which treatments. Don’t worry, though – we’ve made it easy.

Read below to learn about the most common road treatments.

Types of Road Treatments and Preservation Tactics

Road Renewal

As the name suggests, the road’s surface or layers sometimes need to be ‘renewed,’ or given an upgrade. This major treatment simply removes the road’s layers and replaces them with fresher, more durable layers. Then, a new surface is placed. Due to the work that is required, this type of project is more costly and lengthy than others. Fortunately, roads can go decades in between needing a renewal.


This process involves fixing up roads with bitumen. Specifically, the asphalt material is mixed with recycled materials from the road’s surface and put back on the road. Then, another surface treatment is given, sealed with water, and given a protective layer.

Asphalt Concrete Overlay

This popular treatment involves binding together a mineral aggregate and asphalt, then placing them in layers and compacting them. It’s often used on streets and highways and is important for road maintenance purposes.

READ MORE: What is Hot Mix Asphalt Pavement Anyways?

Chip Seal

An inexpensive alternative to asphalt concrete overlay, this treatment starts by having liquid asphalt sprayed onto pavement. Then, a thin layer of aggregate chips is placed on the asphalt, and a new surface is rolled so the two parts combine. Ultimately, a chip seal treatment can extend the pavement’s life for years.

Cold-in-Place Recycling

Also called CIR, this approach involves removing and reusing asphalt from an existing surface. Specifically, the top few inches of the asphalt is removed and mixed with a recycling agent – then it is paved back down.

Bonded Wearing Course

This type of Hot Mix Asphalt Overlay can extend pavement life for a decade or longer. It involves sealing placed over a polymer modified emulsion membrane. The two are sealed together, forming a high-strength surface.

Fog Seal

Fog seals involve applying a diluted slow-setting asphalt emulsion to pavement that is aging. This low-cost treatment can restore the surface’s appearance and flexibility.

Slurry Seal

Similar to a fog seal, cracked pavements can be improved with this treatment. A slurry seal starts with a mix of water, aggregate, and asphalt emulsion, and they are added to an aging pavement. The difference between a fog seal and a slurry seal? A fog seal does not have aggregates in the mixture, while a slurry seal does.

Cape Seal

A cape seal treats cracked pavement with a few steps. First, a chip or scrub seal is placed to seal cracks. Then, a slurry seal or microsurfacing takes place later on. This timely treatment ensures durable results.

Surface Dressing

This treatment is a cost-effective way to give busy streets a durable, long-lasting finish. It starts with clearing the road of uneven parts – potholes and other damage. Then, the road is coated with stone chips. Roads remain open, and as cars drive over the road, the chips set in. Eventually, excess stones are removed.

This treatment is favoured because it allows roads to stay open, as drivers actually help the process continue.


Similar to surface dressing, this process treats major urban roads and begins with fixing potholes and other road marks. Instead of a coating of stone chips, micro-surfacing uses a pre-set asphalt mixture that is placed on the road to settle.

READ MORE: Road Resurfacing: Popular Techniques and How They Work

Thin Lift Overlay

For roads with slight cracks, a thin lift can be a huge help and extend the road’s life for years. This treatment involves using an inexpensive asphalt mix to treat these minor faults. An additional benefit is that it stops these faults from developing into major problems.

The Takeaway

Not all roads can be treated the same way. As you can see from the list above, there are plenty of ways to improve the quality of pavements and roads. In each instance, professionals must consider aspects like cost, time, convenience to the public, and safety.

As a result of these processes, roads are safer and more durable. Drivers benefit by having access to cleaner, smoother roads, ultimately resulting in fewer accidents and similar hazardous outcomes.

Want to learn more about pavement treatments? A.L. Blair Construction is one of Eastern Ontario’s top suppliers of sand, gravel, stone aggregate, and many similar resources. Learn more about our services here.

Concrete Ready Mix Truck

Over the past 30 years in the Ready Mix Concrete business TRP Ready Mix has completed several commercial and residential projects, both large and small. Some of the more notable projects completed include;

  • Completion of several bridge pours on 417 highway
  • Water Tower in Russell
  • Large Agricultural barns

Contact Information

AL Blair Construction
7 Labrosse, P.O Box 220
Moose Creek, ON K0C 1W0, Canada

Phone: 613-538-2271
E-mail: [javascript protected email address]