Key:surface

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+/- surface

One example for surface

Description

Describes the surface of a feature.

Group

Properties

Used on these elements

should not be used on nodes may be used on ways may be used on areas use on relations unspecified

Useful combination

highway=*
smoothness=*
maxspeed:practical=*

Status

Undefined Status: Undefined


Summary:

See also Landcover

To provide additional information about the physical surface of roads/footpaths and some other features, particularly regarding material composition and/or structure. Primarily concerned about the surface in relation to transport and sports and more commonly used on linear features. For broader descriptions of surfaces see Landcover.

For roads for motor vehicles there there is normally an assumption that the surface is surface=paved unless otherwise stated. Paved in OpenStreetMap is non-specific and may cover sealed, metalled, tarmac, asphalt, bitumen. surface=unpaved is treated as the opposite of paved. More specific tags can used used for surfaces which are normally classified into paved or unpaved for routing purposes. Navigation software should assume that roads-that-are-not-paved will have slower driving speed (and therefore longer driving time) and may be impassable in some weather conditions.

smoothness=* is also an important surface property and refers to surface regularity/flatness, regardless of material.

tracktype=* is also an important surface property and refers to surface firmness, regardless of shape.

Paths for non-motorised use: (highway=footway; highway=path; etc., should ideally always be tagged with surface (or alternatively tracktype=*) given that there is no default for such paths.

Rendering software convention varies, but generally roads-that-are-not-paved are shown in a different colour but same width as their paved cousins or use the same colour but are dashed.

Marking surface of road with tag surface without adding it to parallel roads (or adding only tags surface) may lead to unwarranted understating priority of road relative to surrounding[1]- so it is recommended to add also proposed tags smoothness=* and maxspeed:practical=*.

Values

Key Value Element Comment Rendering Photo
Paved
surface paved Mf way.png Mf area.png A highway feature is predominantly sealed along its length; i.e., it is covered with paving stones, concrete or bitumen. This value gives only a rough description; use a more precise value if possible.
surface asphalt Mf way.png Mf area.png This is actually short for asphalt concrete. It does not mean that the road surface is only asphalt. Most such roads are tagged as surface=paved. Surface asphalt.jpg
surface cobblestone Mf way.png Mf area.png Cobblestones are used as they are, thus they have no regular shape and a rounded top-side (true cobblestone). Pavings with cobblestones are rough and uncomfortable. Have a look at Wikimedia Commons to see a comparison between cobblestone and sett.

In Europe cobblestone is used for setts with a rounded top side ("Kopfsteinpflaster" in german, see this picture as an example). True cobblestones were largely replaced by setts in the 19th century.

ItalianStones.jpg
surface cobblestone:flattened Mf way.png Mf area.png Consider to use surface=sett instead for flattened stones. Kasseien.jpg
surface sett Mf way.png Mf area.png Flattened stone. These stones are manufactured to have a regular shape and near flat top-side. From Wikimedia Commons: "relatively even roughly rectangular stones that were laid in regular patterns". This gives relatively smooth surface wíth acceptable comfort. Kasseien.jpg
surface concrete Mf way.png Mf area.png Specifies surface=paved in greater detail. Please use surface=concrete:plates or surface=concrete:lanes if you know how the concrete is laid out. Dscf0221 600.jpg
surface concrete:lanes Mf way.png Mf area.png Specifies surface=paved. long, narrow concrete plates laid out for a two-tracked vehicle (motorcars) so that the tires always hit the concrete. There might be sand, ground, grass, pavers, asphalt, etc. in between them. note that if you tag a single-tracked way you just use surface=concrete, since there are no lanes. Concrete lanes.png
surface concrete:plates Mf way.png Mf area.png Specifies surface=paved. Heavy duty plates chained closely together on the short side. Might have tar or sand in between the connections. Dscf0222 600.jpg
surface paving_stones Mf way.png Mf area.png Paving stones are equally sized concrete stones, with a flat top. They are comparable to flattened cobblestones (and often used in the same cases), but the gaps between the paving stones are smaller because the stones have a perfectly regular shape (rectangular, or any surface-filling shape). Paving stones are often found in low-traffic streets (like pedestrian zones) because they can't endure heavy traffic. Surface paving stones.jpgDscf1620-800.jpg
surface paving_stones:30 Mf way.png Mf area.png Square paving stones with 30cm sides.
surface paving_stones:20 Mf way.png Mf area.png Square paving stones with 20cm sides.
surface User defined Mf way.png Mf area.png All commonly used values according to Taginfo.
Unpaved
surface unpaved Mf way.png Mf area.png A highway feature is predominantly unsealed along its length; i.e., it has a loose covering ranging from compacted stone chippings to earth. Unpaved roads may, in aerial imagery, show evidence of water along their course; in such circumstances, the waterway should not be tagged as a stream, though it might appear as such. This value gives only a rough description; use a more precise value if possible.
surface compacted Mf way.png Mf area.png A mixture of larger (e.g., gravel) and smaller (e.g., sand) parts, compacted (e.g., with a roller), so the surface is more stable than loose gravel. Used, for example, for park paths, better tracks, some service ways, … Best sort of ways below paving with asphalt, concrete, paving stones. Sometimes known as water-bound macadam Mixture and compacting leads to more grip and stability. Surface gravel.jpg
surface dirt Mf way.png Mf area.png Probably very similar to surface=ground. Like all this, it is prone to erosion and therefore often uneven. This value gives only a rough description; if possible, use a more precise value such as earth, clay or sand. Gravel is sometimes mistakenly called dirt. Some compacted roads are sometimes called dirt too, please consider the definition of compacted. Transportation in Tanzania Traffic problems.JPG
surface earth Mf way.png Mf area.png Probably a type of surface=ground. Usually natural, but may also apply to artificial preparations of soil. Dscf1832-800.jpg
surface fine_gravel Mf way.png Mf area.png A multilayer pavement with a stone or gravel basis and a topmost surface of firm, granular grit, basalt or quartz, as invented by the Roman empire. Easy to walk, jog, cycle or ride on. In hilly areas mostly with drainage channels and convex cross-section for proper water shedding. Motorized vehicles will not move stones if the way is maintained properly, and bicycles tires will not leave any imprints at least in dry weather. If the topmost surface is heavily eroded or loose gravel aggravate going please use surface=gravel instead. DSC05537a-Feinschotterweg.jpg
surface grass Mf way.png Mf area.png Grass covered ground. Mostly nice to walk. Less prone to erosion than pure ground. Might degrade through heavy usage. Grassway.JPG
surface grass_paver Mf way.png Mf area.png A sort of permeable paving using regular cell structure, where the voids in this structure enable rainwater to drain into the ground and the structure itself increases the load bearing capability. Often used for parking lots or infrequent used ways like for emergency-vehicles. Dscf1611-800.jpgDscf1614-800.jpg
surface gravel Mf way.png Mf area.png Broken/crushed rock with sharp edges, known as ballast on railways. Usually loosely arranged. Typical size for road and surface construction range between 4 and 8 cm. Gravel can be used as a ground-layer for surface=compacted. Dscf1582-800.jpg
surface ground Mf way.png Mf area.png No special surface, the ground itself has marks of human or animal usage. This value gives only a rough description; if possible, use a more precise value such as grass, earth, clay, sand, gravel, pebblestone or rock. Dscf1760-800.jpg
surface ice Ice roads, winter roads
surface metal Mf way.png Mf area.png Sometimes used for bridges, or for temporary tracks over fields for normal road vehicles or site traffic. Surface-Metal.jpg
surface mud Mf way.png Mf area.png Similar to surface=ground but most of the year wet which gives a soft ground with low carrying capacity. Mostly found on wetland like swamps or in tidal areas. Sometimes also found on slopes draining onto a way. Dscf1819-800.jpg
surface pebblestone Mf way.png Mf area.png Pebbles are stones rounded by waves or river flow. Typical size range from 2 to 8 cm. Describing a surface in OSM they are loosely arranged. Like gravel pebbles can be used as a building part of surface=compacted. Dscf1781-800.jpgDscf1829-800.jpgDscf1831-800.jpg
surface salt Salt lakes
surface sand Mf way.png Mf area.png Small to very small fractions (less than 2mm) of rock. Dscf0220 600.jpg
surface snow Winter roads.
surface wood Mf way.png Mf area.png Sometimes used for bridges and plank walkways for foot traffic through swampy areas. Wooden-bridge.jpg
surface User defined Mf way.png Mf area.png All commonly used values according to Taginfo.
Special (sports, etc.)
surface tartan Mf way.png Mf area.png A synthetic, all-weather surface typically used in running and other sport tracks. Although Tartan is a trademark, it is used as a generic term due to its widespread usage. Athletics track.jpg
surface artificial_turf Mf way.png Mf area.png An all-weather surface made from synthetic fibres to look and feel like natural grass. Often used for tracks and pitches of sports such as football, baseball, etc. Kunstgress.JPG
surface decoturf Mf area.png DecoTurf is an artificial surface used for some tennis courts.
surface clay Mf way.png Mf area.png Used for some tennis- and soccerpitch.

This table is a wiki template with a default description in English. Editable here.

Surface for foot- and cycleways

If a foot- or cycleway was tagged as a tag (not as a separate way) on a highway (i.e., highway=secondary + cycleway=track/lane), you can add surface by the following syntax:

footway:surface=paving_stones

Or if there is a foot- or cycleway only at one side from street, or there are different surfaces at both sides, you can use right and left (or both, to tag explicit both sides):

cycleway:right:surface=asphalt
cycleway:left:surface=paving_stones

With this syntax you also can add other relevant tags like: smoothness, oneway, bicycle, foot, width, segregated, and more.

See also

References

  1. for example, if there is one good unpaved road, where practical speed is 60 km/h, and second bad road with concrete:lanes surface and practical speed 10 km/h, if you add only tag surface=unpaved to first road, navigators can choose second road for routing, because they can think, that second road has asphalt surface (default for surface) and big practical speed