REPORT: Road Surface dressing


Published on 29 August 2014 by Gill

Will road surface dressing chippings damage your motorcycle? Find out more here


The surface dressing season is with us again and up and down the country many miles of roads are having the surfaces re-sealed with bitumen and stone chippings.  

Surface dressing is used almost everywhere in the world to seal the road and put the skid resistance back, by restoring the texture – pretty much like a new set of tyres on for your bike. Again, just like a new set of tyres for the first few days of its life it needs to be ridden with care, to avoid slips and spills. Once it is bedded in it provides some of the best riding non-Trunk roads in Britain with plenty of texture and grip.

Unfortunately just as there are small number of tyre fitters who omit to tell you about the first sixty or so slippery miles of a new tyres life, there are a small number of contractors who do not adhere to the industry practice codes. The results are equally poor.  

The Road Surface Treatment Association works to improve the performance of the materials as well as the methods of application and especially the all-important aftercare to continually improve the outcome.

Advice of Surface Dressing ‘aftercare’ can be found on page 19 in this document; (right click to download)

RSTA Comment rsta

Surface Dressing has a history of successful use going back over a hundred years both in the UK and around the world. It is the single most widely used treatment on UK roads with some 70 million square metres (That is over 8,000 miles) are treated each year.  The process has not stood still, though.  Using the oil industries latest bitumen chemistry these surfaces will provide the public with 10-15 years of skid resistant service. As with most road building products, there are a number of procedures that must be followed during installation.   If any one of these procedure are omitted it can result in problems, particularly during the early life of the new surface.  This is why it is so important for local authorities to only employ experienced and qualified contractors.  As we are all aware, most local authorities having experienced several years of budgetary cut-backs there really is no alternative economic option to using Surface Dressing to keep our roads safe. For every mile of road that is surfaced with asphalt some 8 miles can be sealed and made skid resistant using a Surface Dressing.

Dr Howard Robinson
Chief Executive
The Road Surface Treatments Association Ltd

The key question is: Is your local authority using a contractor that works to the industry best-practice?  Why not ask them and if not, why not ask them why so?  You can find your local authority by entering your postcode at this website.


Will surface dressing damage your motorcycle? Find out more here