Surface dressing is a cost-effective way of restoring the road surface and sealing it in one process. The surface dressing also:

  • improves skidding resistance which makes the roads safer
  • helps to make a road waterproof
  • protects the road against frost and water damage which causes potholes



Surface dressing involves treating roads which are in relatively good condition.

First, we spray the road with a bitumen binder, followed by a layer of stone chippings. The dressing is then rolled, which, together with the actions of slow-moving traffic, embeds the stone chips into the surface. Each site is then swept to collect the surplus chippings.

Which roads are being surface dressed this year?

All the roads due to be surface dressed this year can be seen on the following map. Click on the site to see further information, including provisional start date works. The sites will change colour once the works have been completed.

This is a preview version of our new maps that allow us to share our works as they happen. We are aware there may be some display issues when using this map on certain devices. Please bear with us while we work to improve and if you would like to comment please use our Feedback Form.


When will work take place?

Surface dressing is very much dependent on the weather and so our rolling programme needs to be highly flexible. This means that in periods of changeable weather the planned start dates can change several times. You can see a provisional start date on the above map and we will also aim to erect signs on-site at least 24 hours before work begins. In periods of good weather, we aim to put up advance notice boards further in advance if we can.

How long will the work take?

Surface dressing at each site is usually completed within the day, although larger sites may take 1 to 3 days to complete. Sweeping will be completed at given intervals for each site for approximately one week, followed by the replacement of any lining and cat’s eyes.

Will the road need to be closed?

Usually, the road is kept open with stop/go boards used to manage traffic. Some sites within the programme will require a temporary road closure, however, this will usually be localised where the road is too narrow, to safely allow traffic to pass the operation of the work. Due to the nature of the work, there may also be short periods of time when access to properties cannot be maintained. Where there are particular access requirements please speak to our colleagues on-site who will usually be able to accommodate your needs.

Why is the road not being resurfaced?

Surface dressing is often misunderstood and dismissed as a cheap alternative to resurfacing. In fact, that is a myth – they are very different processes. Resurfacing is a more extensive maintenance treatment which involves removing layers of a worn-out road surface and replacing them with new material. We surface dress roads in relatively good condition to ensure they last much longer before resurfacing is required. It’s like the difference between painting wooden windows to stop them from rotting, rather than simply replacing them. Resurfacing has its place but is not always the right option as can cause increased traffic congestion and is more expensive and time-consuming.

Why are there so many loose stone chips?

We purposely lay more chips than required to ensure that the whole surface is covered and we don’t end up with bare patches. We leave the loose chips for a short period to be embedded by traffic, after which any surplus chips are swept clear. Advisory speed limit signs are left out for a few days until most of the loose chips have been removed. This is to maintain the safety of the highway user, protect the new dressing and prevent damage to vehicles. Depending on the weather we may carry out additional sweeping or dusting to minimise the effect on traffic.

How is the damage risk to vehicles minimised?

To protect your vehicle it is important to follow the site signage and drive accordingly. Warning signs are erected along with 20mph advisory speed limit signs. As long as these are observed there should be no damage to vehicles. If you would like to make a claim, please make a note of all the details and contact us via our Insurance claims page.

Why have the cat’s eyes been removed on a particular section of road?

The cat’s eyes have been removed in preparation for surface dressing works in the future. Once the dressing has taken place, the road surface has settled and the section has been swept, the cat’s eyes will be replaced along with the road markings.

How often is surface dressing required on roads?

This is dependent on several factors. Ideally, a new carriageway will be surface dressed around three times at intervals of between eight and 15 years.

How do you determine which roads are surface dressed each year?

A road is chosen for surface dressing following an extensive prioritisation process. The process uses the allocated budget and ranks the roads in order of priority using several different criteria including mechanical surveys, inspections, works records and network importance.