An aerial view of Outlack Quarry taken May 2001

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Surface Dressing...




Surface Dressing is simply a seasonal,  cost effective method of providing a new surface on roads. However, the technique is also applicable to footways, cycleways and untrafficked areas such as central reserves of dual carriageways. Many motorists do not agree with this method due to the possibilities of loose chippings or splashes of bitumen hitting their vehicle, however,  this can normally be avoided by adhering to speed restrictions.

The surface dressing process begins in the quarry. Surface Dressing Chips normally in the size of 6mm, 10mm and 14mm need to be free from dust so that they adhere to the bitumen emulsion or cutback.

A lorry will be loaded with the relevant sized stone for the required job from the crushing plant's storage bins. The material is then transported to the washing plant in the quarry where the shovel moves the material onto a vibrating screen where water continually flows. The washed material then travels over a small screen were small particles are washed onto the quarry floor. The surface dressing chippings that pass the screen are collected by the lorry and transported to their relevant stock pile ready for the surface dressing.

After roads have been identified, repaired and assessed a design is drawn up selecting the type of surface dressing, binder, chipping size and type for the road. The roads are then prepared; excess vegetation is removed, the road is swept with the road sweeper, reflective studs and ironwork are masked and road markings are recorded.

When temperatures are favourable and the weather conditions are good, traffic controls are set up. Binder in the form of cut-back or bitumen emulsion contained in a tanker with a spray bar at the back is applied to the road with a large spreader close behind. This spreader spreads the chippings at an appropriate rate and obtains the aggregate by receiving it from a lorry which it tows behind until emptied.

As well as  multiple wheels on the spreader compacting the chippings and binder it is compacted further with a large pneumatic tyre roller. This is the majority of the surface dressing process however aftercare is needed and continual inspection also.


Key Benefits of Surface Dressing

bulletCost Effective
bulletProvides both texture and skid-resistance to the surface
bulletSeals the road surface against the ingress of water
bulletStops disintegration and extends the life of the pavement


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Last modified: 10/20/05