Microsurfacing vs Slurry Sealing: What’s the Difference?

As a business owner or building manager, you understand how critical it is to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to pavement maintenance. Not only does it play a crucial role in preventing your pavement from deteriorating to the point where major reconstruction is required, but it also ensures the exterior of your business remains aesthetically pleasing for your visitors.

As asphalt ages and deteriorates, the treatment changes, resulting in higher treatment and repair costs. Luckily, microsurfacing and slurry sealing are pavement resurfacing techniques that can extend the life of your asphalt without breaking your budget. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the differences between microsurfacing and slurry sealing and examine the various advantages that each resurfacing option provides.

Keep reading to learn more and find out why South Central Sealing & Paving is Wichita’s top choice for high-quality asphalt maintenance services.

What Is Slurry Sealing?

Slurry sealing is a surface treatment application that is a mixture of water, asphalt emulsion, aggregate, and chemical additives. Per its name, slurry refers to the combined mixture of the emulsion and aggregates, while the “seal” refers to the application of this mixture to existing pavement, which is intended to seal the pavement surface.

Slurry seals are classified into three types.

Type I: Fine aggregates with diameters less than 2.36mm, commonly used in low-traffic areas, such as bicycle paths and walkways.

Type II: Aggregate particles with maximum diameters of 6.4mm, often used to repair raveling and other more advanced states of wear commonly found on residential roadways.

Type III: Coarse aggregate chunks, commonly used on roadways with high traffic volume, such as highways, to compensate for more severe surface imperfections, fill surface depressions, and reduce the amount of water ponding.

Slurry sealing applications are designed to seal cracks, correct minor flaws, restore lost flexibility to the surface, and provide a deep, rich black pavement color while preserving the appearance of the existing pavement. It is most commonly used on surfaces that are in poor condition, as it can help to extend the life of the surface and improve its appearance.

Slurry sealing is typically applied on an intermittent or cyclical basis, and surfaces selected for slurry seal applications have low to moderate distress and narrow crack width. As a result, slurry sealing is most commonly used on residential streets, and cyclical applications would be applied every five to seven years.

While the application technique is similar to microsurfacing, slurry sealing is applied in a single layer that is typically 12 to 14 inches thick. Although slurry sealing has no structural benefit for the pavement, it is a very cost-effective treatment option, making it an excellent choice for low-budget projects.

What Is Microsurfacing?

Microsurfacing, like slurry sealing, is a slurry mixture of emulsified asphalt, water, fine aggregate, and mineral filler. However, unlike slurry sealing, microsurfacing typically uses a polymer-modified asphalt emulsion, which improves mixture properties and provides greater flexibility than a traditional asphalt binder.

While it is primarily used to reduce raveling and oxidation on asphalt pavement surfaces, microsurfacing also improves friction and appearance on both asphalt and concrete surfaces. Microsurfacing with larger aggregate can also be used for filling shallow to moderate depth ruts in asphalt pavement and sealing low-severity cracks. 

Microsurfacing is commonly used on an as-needed, project-specific basis to preserve and protect the underlying pavement structure while providing a new surface. Location, weather, traffic, and surface conditions are all considered when deciding whether or not to use microsurfacing.

In most instances, surfaces chosen for microsurfacing treatment have mild to moderate distress, no rutting, and generally narrow crack widths. As a result, microsurfacing is typically used on high traffic volume roadways and is often suggested to be treated every five to seven years.

What Are the Major Differences Between Microsurfacing and Slurry Sealing?

Microsurfacing and slurry sealing are both excellent options for keeping your asphalt surface in the best condition possible. However, the primary distinction between the two surface treatment options is that microsurfacing is a preventative measure that will help delay the need for a complete replacement, whereas slurry sealing is more reactive and will help repair any damage that has already been done.

While slurry sealing relies heavily upon the sun and low humidity to evaporate the water in the emulsion, the asphalt emulsion used in microsurfacing contains chemical additives that force water out, allowing it to break without requiring low humidity or evaporation from the sun and heat.

Microsurfacing is quicker than slurry sealing, which means it can be used when conditions would not allow slurry sealing to be placed successfully. Furthermore, the polymers used in microsurfacing make it exceptionally good at resisting power steering tears and shedding the small aggregate.

What Are the Advantages of Microsurfacing and Slurry Sealing?

Slurry sealing and microsurfacing are cost-effective surface treatment options suitable for various asphalt pavement types experiencing various levels of damage. However, choosing the best choice for your needs can help you save time, money, and stress in the long run.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of microsurfacing and slurry sealing.

Slurry Sealing

Cost-Effective: Slurry sealing is inexpensive to install and extremely cost-effective to use.

Aesthetic Value: Slurry sealing gives a new wearing surface of uniform black color or texture, increasing property value and marketing potential and giving it an eye-catching appearance.

Variety of Uses: With a single application, slurry sealing can correct existing distress in various surfaces and provide an all-weather, long-lasting surface.


Easy to Apply: Due to the thin depth of microsurfacing, no milling or extensive utility adjustments are required, thereby lowering costs even further.

Environmentally Friendly: When compared to traditional resurfacing methods, microsurfacing reduces greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 44%, energy consumption by nearly 54%, and raw material by 35% or more.

Increases Asphalt Lifespan: When compared to traditional resurfacing methods, microsurfacing can add between 6 to 8 years of life to your asphalt’s surface.

Choose South Central for the Best Asphalt Sealing and Repair Services in Wichita

When looking for cost-effective ways to maintain your asphalt pavement, resurfacing is critical to extending its overall lifespan. As a result, understanding your options can help you make the best decision for your business. If your asphalt needs professional attention, South Central Sealing & Paving should be your first choice.

At South Central Sealing & Paving, we’re proud to offer a wide range of asphalt maintenance services, including slurry sealing and sealcoating, pothole repair, and more. We deliver high-quality solutions that our customers can afford, and we adhere to strict manufacturer specifications to ensure a longer-lasting final product.

For more than 30 years, we’ve been Wichita’s number one choice for professional asphalt repair and maintenance, and we can’t wait to learn more about how we can assist you.

If you would like to learn more about our extensive asphalt maintenance services and speak with one of our specialists, give us a call at (316) 613-0192.

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