The formal definition of Class 5 Gravel is limestone rock crushed and screened to a maximum size of 1 inch. In the UP of Michigan there are variations of class 5: the two most common are “23A” and “Western Limestone.” What distinguishes the two types is the “binder” that is used that allows the gravel to be compacted. This is also the secret ingredient that will make a road last longer.
Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of each of the binders.
23A gravel uses a sand- or clay-based binder. This material is best used for Seasonal residents or budget-minded customers.
- Pros: This is the most economical material and has the best availability. It compacts easily and holds up well in dry weather conditions. In rural areas this material is widely used for road shoulders or turnouts.
- Cons: When 23A gets wet the surface has been known to get soft and allows tire ruts or potholes to form. This is most prevalent in the spring as the frost leaves the ground. Driveways / roads paved with 23A require annual maintenance. Failure to do so will surely form potholes. Some customers complain about the dust cloud created when driving over 23A when the gravel is dry.
Western Limestone uses a limestone dust binder. This material is best used for permanent residences or heavy usage.
- Pros: Once compacted it turns into a very hard surface and is resistant to rutting or forming potholes in the spring. Usually can last for 2 – 3 years before maintenance is required.
- Cons: It’s more expensive than 23A. Using this material will always leave a thin surface layer of loose gravel which only becomes an issue during early season snow plowing. The snowplow picks up this loose gravel and pushes it to the side of the road. This situation can be avoided by lifting the plow blade by 1 to 2 inches for the few first snow falls until the roadway becomes snow packed.