Read our answers to frequently asked questions about grooving.


Is grooving really effective?

NASA says Yes! (See NASA SP-5073 “Pavement Grooving and Traction Studies”.)
LAPA says Yes! (See the ACPA BASW TB-10 “Airport Pavements and Airline Pilots Viewpoint”.)
The FAA says Yes! (See Advisory Circular No 150/530-12B Section IV “Grooving Runway Pavements”.) Friction studies prove it. (See SAE “New Methods for Rating, Predicting and Alleviating the Slipperiness of Airport Runways”.)

Will grooves fill up with rubber or dirt?

Under normal runway usage, the grooves will remain clean of runway debris and a grooved runway actually accumulates less rubber than an ungrooved runway.

What is the Optimal Standard Grooving Pattern?

Factoring in various considerations, the United States FAA has determined the optimal groove pattern to be ¼” wide (6 mm) by ¼” deep (6 mm) on 1-1/2” centers (38 mm). Please see the attached FAA Advisory Circular for a full outline of grooving specifications.

What about Trapezoidal Grooving?

In conjunction with the FAA, Cardinal has developed a revolutionary new method for the installation of trapezoidal grooves in both asphalt and concrete runways. Please see the Trapezoidal Grooving page for more information.

What is the cost of Grooving?

The cost of grooving depends on many factors including type of material to be cut (asphalt or concrete), hardness of the aggregate, work hours, slurry disposal requirements, water availability, mobilization expenses, the availability of support equipment (for those projects outside of North America) as well as other factors specific to the jobsite conditions.

How should cleanup be performed?

Cleanup is extremely important and should be continuous throughout the grooving operation. The grooving machine should be equipped with an on board slurry vacuum system. Waste material should not be allowed to enter the storm sewer system. All material should be removed to prevent discoloration of the surface upon drying. When possible, material collected should be deposited into the infield or collected to be dumped at a location on airport property where it can be more easily and cheaply disposed of at a later date.

What portion of the runway should be grooved?

It is strongly recommended the entire length and width of the runway be grooved, allowing ten feet (three meters) off all four edges of the runway to allow for the maneuverability of the equipment. In instances where there are paved, reinforced shoulders, the grooving may be continued to the edge of the runway if it allows adequate space for the equipment. It is also recommended that high speed taxiways, also known as RETs be considered for grooving.

Are both asphalt and concrete runways grooved?

Yes. In the US, all runways that have commercial traffic, whether asphalt or concrete, are grooved.

Will grooves be damaged by freezing weather?

Years of experience and millions of square yards of grooved runways have demonstrated that freezing weather has no deleterious effect on the grooves and that the grooves actually help prevent surface ice from forming.

How long does it take to groove a runway?

Grooving production is contingent on many factors including type of material to be grooved (asphalt or concrete), the type of aggregate, dimensions of the runway, slurry disposal requirements, etc. but a reasonable expectation is from 400 square yards (330 square meters) to 700 square yards (585 square meters) per actual production hour in asphalt and about 60% of that in concrete for non-domestic projects. It is strongly recommended that these figures be considered when specifying how long grooving can take.

How can grooving costs be kept to a minimum?

Providing as long as possible a contiguous work window for the grooving at least five or six days a week is a primary factor that is within the control of the owner. The other major component that can be set by the airport is slurry disposal requirements. Managing these two factors should go a long way to keeping costs as low as possible.

Nobody grooves runways as quickly and efficiently as Cardinal/International Grooving and Grinding of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. With over fifty patents in the grooving and related fields, Cardinal is the recognized world leader in airport grooving quality and production. And now, having worked in conjunction with the FAA, Cardinal has developed and perfected the Trap Z® method, the world’s first practical method of efficiently and cost effectively producing trapezoidal grooves in both asphalt and concrete runways.



P.O. Box 450, 100 Barren Hill Road
Conshohocken PA 19428


Philip.Zuzelo@CardinalGrooving. com


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