Surface dressing is a preventative treatment, to prolong the life of the roads. It is an essential part of Dorset Council's road maintenance strategy, alongside patching and resurfacing.

Why we use surface dressing

Surface dressing:

  • helps prevent potholes forming by providing a waterproof seal
  • improves skid resistance, with a thin layer of new stone chippings spread on the finished surface
  • is very cost effective; roads can be kept in good condition for longer, so that resources can be directed to fully resurface the roads that need it most. Full road resurfacing costs 12 times more per mile

A newly dressed road may feel 'bumpy' as the grip will have been restored. The surface will also be noisier initially while the chippings 'bed down'.

About the treatment

Surface dressing can only be carried out when the road is dry. When it rains, the work has to stop - changing dates across the whole programme of work.

It is a quick process - rural sites take less than a day to complete and urban roads will take 1 to 2 hours, depending on the length of the road.

Bitumen binder (glue) is sprayed onto the road, stone chippings are spread onto this and then compacted down with a roller. A sweeper then travels along the road the following day to clear any immediate loose chippings.

Surface dressing in action

Closing the road

We have a team of 20 people, two purpose built chipping spreaders, one spray tanker, six lorries feeding chippings and two suction road sweepers. This is a lot of equipment to fit into the road, even without traffic!

Doing the work in the daytime

We cannot work overnight as surface dressing relies on the evaporation of water from the bitumen binder (glue) for it to set, and it needs traffic to travel on the new surface for it to 'bed down' and lock onto the old surface.

We also cannot work in wet weather - any amount of rain or surface water dilutes the bitumen and so doesn't hold the chippings in place - which is why our surface dressing programme runs from April through to September. In rural areas we will be working 8am to 4pm and in urban areas we will be working 9am to 4pm.

Loose chippings

There may be loose chippings still on the road. It takes cars driving on the surface to help the stones bed into the bitumen.

This is why there will be 20mph limit after the work. Travelling at a reduced speed through the newly dressed area will prevent skidding on the loose chippings, it helps 'bed down' the material and it will save your paint work! We sweep the road the day after the work to get rid of excess stones.

How you can help it go smoothly

After surface dressing your road, we hope not to bother you again for another 10 years!

But there are a few things you can to do help us, and yourself:

  • please move your car off the road before 9am
  • please keep children and pets away – for safety and cleanliness
  • please keep to the temporary speed limits and avoid heavy braking to allow the surface to stabilise and ‘bed down’
  • check your shoes before entering your car or home
  • remove stains promptly with a cleaner for removing bitumen/oil which can be purchased from any motoring store

Before work starts

  • yellow advance warning signs will be put up on affected roads two days before the work is due to start – each week we will publish on our newsroom the roads being dressed the following week
  • please ensure you either park your car off the road or, if you need it during the day, move it to a nearby road (but check this road isn’t also being treated)
  • wet weather causes delay and will change our programme

On the day we will

  • sweep the road to remove any loose material
  • cover all drains and manholes covers
  • dress the road surface
  • reopen the road


  • loose chippings will be swept up the day after the work
  • uncover taped up drains and manhole covers
  • white or yellow lines and disabled bays will be replaced within 14 days

You can find roadworks in your area on our roadworks map.

Surface dressing sites 2022

This work is carried out by Dorset Council highways service.

West area

Road Past Parsonage Farm, Dewlish

White Hill Lane, Tolpuddle

Wynd Close, West Stafford

Knighton Heath Barn Lane, West Stafford

Redbridge Lane, Crossways

Higher Came Farm Lane

Back Lane, Chetnole

C93, Chetnole

Ryme Road, Yetminster

Birch Lane, Yetminster

Church Street, Yetminster

Gordon's Lane, Lillington

Lenthay Road, Sherborne (2021 remedial)

Blackberry Lane, Sherborne

Holwell Road, Pulham

Spring Lane, near Duntish

Cat Lane, Buckland Newton

D40708 - A31 Marsh Bridge to Dairy House, Mapperton

South area

Coombe Valley Road, Weymouth

Bridlebank Way, Weymouth

Westhaven, Weymouth

Russell Avenue Weymouth

St. Leonards Road, Weymouth

Newberry Road, Weymouth

Williams Avenue, Weymouth

Fairview Road, Weymouth

Walker Crescent, Weymouth

Park Estate Road, Portland

Church Lane, Osmington

Water Meadow Lane, Wool

Between Three Acre Lane & A351 Langton Matravers

Between Crack Lane & A351 Kingston Road

Tabbits Hill Lane - from Sandy Hill Lane to Harmans Cross

D50207 - from Arne Road to Maranoa Farm, Arne

Morden Road, Sandford

Whitefield Road, Morden

Dullar Lane, Lytchett Matravers

Loop Farm Road, Lytchett Matravers

Between Eddy Green Lane and Peaton

Between Bartons Lane / Middle Road and Eddy Green Lane

Middle Road, Lytchett Matravers

Dillons Gardens, Lytchett Matravers

Dacombe Drive, Lytchett Minster

North area

B3081 - Solar Farm to county boundary

New Road, Madjeston

Hunger Hill, Madjeston

Belchalwell Street, Okeford Fizpaine

Calf Close Lane, Sturminster Newton

White Lane Close, Sturminster Newton

D31923 - From Copse Hill To Angers Lane, Broad Oak

Pentridge Lane, Bagber

The Cliff, Bryanston

Gorcombe Farm Road, Charlton Marshall

Clapcotts Farm Lane, Spetisbury

South Farm Road, Spetisbury

Church Lane, Anderson

Quar Close, Mappowder

Bullocks Lane, Stoke Wake

Kitford Lane, Ibberton

Marsh Lane, Ibberton

Stibles Lane, Ibberton

East area

Station Road, West Moors

Ringwood Road, Verwood

Culverhayes Road, Wimborne

D40513 - From B3078 To Hinton Mill Farm, Hinton Parva

D40602 - from B3078 to C24 Hell Corner, Chalbury Common

D40309 - from C103 Blacksmiths Shop to hairpin bend, Gussage St Michael

Castle Hill Lane, Cranborne

Winnards Close, West Parley

Corfe Mullen

Blacksmith Close

Ivor Road

Albert Road

Dalkeith Road

Insley Crescent

Rushcombe Way

Link Rise

Hilltop Road

Hanham Road

Cecil Close

Heather Close

Wayman Road

Brickyard Lane

Red Lane

Ashley Heath

Woolsbridge Road

Pine Manor Road

Grosvenor Close

Shelley Close

Bracken Close

Willow Close

Sylvan Close

Ivy Close

Craigside Road

Lions Wood

Laurel Lane

Heather Close

Malmesbury Road

Fir Tree Close

Hill Way

Monkworthy Drive

Ashley Drive West

Ashley Drive North

Ashley Drive South

Paddock Close

Struan Gardens

Ashley Park


Martins Drive

Wimborne Road East

Whincroft Drive

Woodside Road

Greenwood Avenue

Monkton Close

Victoria Gardens

Penrose Road

St.Marys Road

Larch Way

Willow Way

Robins Wood Drive

Beaufoys Avenue

Queens Road

Bunting Road

Prunus Drive

Laburnum Close

Aldridge Road

Lone Pine Way

Dane Drive

Lone Pine Drive

Blandford Road

Premium Surface Dressing

B3075 Morden Road, Sandford

B3081 Verwood Road

B3081 Gillingham

New Road & Hunger Hill, East Stour

B3092 Stour Provost

A30 West Stour

A30 Sherborne Road

A30 Crackmore

A3066 Mosterton and Broadwindsor

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