If you’re looking for a durable, easy to lay and relatively cheap driveway material, tarmac might be just the thing for you.

Advantages of tarmac

If you have been longing for a nice new driveway then why not look into replacing it with a cheap and easy alternative? There tarmac driveway costare a number of possible materials to choose from; clay tiles have an elegant and rustic appeal, while something like gravel is easy and cheap to lay, although somewhat messy. If you simply need a thin resurfacing option that won’t give you a hard time, why not look into a tarmac driveway instead?

Tarmac is an extremely dark, bituminous material that needs to be laid as a hot liquid and subsequently levelled and compacted to form the right shape and gradient for your driveway. In a few hours it then must be allowed to cool, during which time the particles bind to form a solid, hard-wearing surface. It may not be the most attractive or elegant looking option, but there are a number of benefits to laying a tarmac driveway; tarmac is:

Easy to install : Unlike paved or concrete driveways, asphalt usually can be laid directly onto any existing surface whereas the other materials require a full depth bedding layer before work can even begin, although if you have a lawn this will need to be removed beforehand.

Very quick to lay : A professional driveway installer will mix the tarmac at a high temperature in a proper paving machine and usually get the job done in a matter of hours – which means less disruption for you and any other road or path users who might be affected.

Long lasting and incredibly strong and durable : Tarmac is particularly resilient to the weight of heavy vehicles or traffic flow that can otherwise crack or cause breaks in paving and concrete.

Impermeable : Tamac is resistant against any significant water damage that can cause a front lawn to flood – involving a long clean-up job afterwards.

Cheap and easy to maintain : Any scratches or dents can be quickly repaired by you or a professional with the correct polish, and even if your driveway suffers extensively you can add a new tarmac layer directly onto the old one – saving you the worry of excavation costs!

Easy to edge with other materials :  Clay tiles, stone or brickwork, for a neat and attractive finish to your driveway.

Weather resistant : Come rain or shine, your tarmac driveway will stay looking as good as new for many years to come!

Driveway Overlay

An overlay is a tarmac layer applied over a pre-existing driveway, generally a worn-out tarmac driveway which may be structurally solid but is probably in need of an upgrade.

This approach is only feasible if the following applies:

  • The additional covering won’t impact the damp course or house’s wall vents
  • The foundation under below the current driveway hasn’t sunk
  • There are no cracks in the base – these will get bigger and eventually transmit to the new    surface
  • All potholes are fixed to a depth of 300mm first

Overlays are not only faster to install they are also much cheaper. No extra base, sub-base or binding course is required. All minor repairs are done first and after that, a primer is sprayed prior to a 30-40 mm fine tarmac layer is applied and rolled.

Overlays aren’t suitable for all driveways, therefore it is important to get a professional opinion before proceeding.

How much to tarmac a drive?

The cost of a tarmac driveway per square meter (m2) will depend on the size and shape of the area, but to avoid ‘cowboy builders’ and a poor job you should always be prepared to pay at least £50-£60 per square meter. 

In general you should expect to pay more:

  • If the area is too small
  • If the job is too small
  • For irregular shapes
  • Poor access
  • Unusual slopes
  • For red coloured tarmac

Anything lower than £50-£60 per m2 is likely to be made of an unauthorized mixture that is sure to come apart in a matter of months.

To get the best value for money make sure you shop around and compare a number of different tarmac driveway quotes before you settle on a driveway contractor and try to include a guarantee into the final contract as well. As long as you’re careful, your new tarmac driveway could be planned and completed in a matter of weeks.

For a 30 square metre driveway with two tarmac layers totaling 75mm (base minimum 175mm), the driveway specialists we questioned quoted the following prices

Driveway tarmac overlay prices
Driveway size in square metresLondon and surrounding areasHome Counties (Buckinghamshire, Herts, Essex, Berkshire, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent and Sussex)Other regions of UK
Tarmac Driveways cost per square metre (overlay)

What should be included in a driveway work schedule?

The job should include all the materials, labor and waste disposal elements for the tarmac driveway project. More precisely the driveway company/contractors include in the work schedule the following:

  • Remove existing driveway.
  • Repair existing or create new tarmac base (if it is damaged or insufficient for a new tarmac).
  • Lay weed control membrane.
  • Connect drainage to existing pipework.
  • Lay sub base/base.
  • Lay concrete sand edging.
  • Lay 1st and 2nd tarmac course by machine or hand and then make it compact with a roller.
  • Remove and dispose all waste material.
  • Clean and tidy the site.

If you choose to reduce the cost but compromise on the quality, you could lay a single tarmac layer on the existing one, provided that it is in good condition. In this case, a bonding layer is first applied before the tarmac is applied and then rolled. Also, the existing drainage is raised to the correct position.

Do You Need to Resurface or Replace Your Asphalt?

Since it is only good for around 20 years and demands frequent maintenance just about every 3-5 years, property owners have to also think about what services they have carried out consistently to be able to preserve the strength and effectiveness of an asphalt driveway or some other paved area. Over the lifespan of your property, this means deciding between a complete driveway replacement and resurfacing, with the second option being significantly less costly.

Asphalt driveways replacement is required if the current surface is in disrepair or the underlying gravel foundation exhibits evidence of deteriorating. Getting rid of and replacing asphalt can also be required when the correct drainage of the driveway is not attained given that the surface is too flat. When your foundation continues to be solid, you can easily fix cracks and add strength to the surface by just placing a brand new coating over the old layer to resurface the current surface.

How long does it take to tarmac a drive?

tarmac_driveway_cost_ukThe time needed to excavate an area and then lay a tarmac driveway depends mostly on the shape, size of the driveway, drainage and edging. If there are any trees, shrubs or tree roots, this makes the job more difficult so it will take more time to complete. Rainy and snow weather can also affect the time needed, as it makes it difficult for contractors lay the tarmac, especially when it is pouring.

One other important factor is the number of workers on the project as if only one is working on it, the time doubles. As a general guide, a 30sq metre (m2) rectangular driveway should take a couple of days. The first two days the contractor will work on excavating, installation of sub-base, edgings and drainage and on the third day on tarmacking and completing the job.

If you are a looking for a quick solution, then the best solution probably is to lay a new layer on an existing one. Repairs usually take an hour or two as the tarmac has to be warm otherwise the material becomes unworkable. The worker starts by lifting and securing the drainage channel and then works on the tarmac.

How to find a tarmac driveway contractor?

If you have made your final decision to move forward with laying a new tarmac driveway after carefully estimating the tarmac driveway cost and time required based on the advice provided in this guide, it is time for you to locate a skilled driveway specialist to handle the job. You can ask for free quotes from sites such as RatedPeople, MyHammer, TrustaTrade, Mybuilder  and of-course our web site to get as many estimates as possible.

However, before you decide to hire any driveway constructor/company, always make sure that you ask for references or that you check the reviews provided by other people. Many driveway specialists, might also have a Google My Business page, which allows users to leave a review. Even though these reviews might not always be genuine, they can still help you get a good understanding of the quality of services offered.

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