Tarmac Driveways Cost Guide & Advice

If you’re looking for a durable, easy to lay and relatively cheap driveway material, tarmac might be just the thing for you. Find out more in our guide about tarmac driveway cost and all the available options.

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



Tarmac (tarmacadam) is an extremely dark, bituminous material that needs to be laid as a hot liquid and subsequently leveled and compacted to form the right shape and gradient for your driveway. In a few hours, it must be allowed to cool, during which time the particles bind to form a solid, hard-wearing surface.


Benefits of  laying a tarmac driveway

It may not be the most attractive or elegant looking option, but there are several benefits to laying a tarmac driveway;

Easy to install: Unlike paved or concrete driveways, tarmac 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: Taρmac is resistant against any significant water damage that can cause a front lawn to flood – involving a long clean-up job afterward.

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!

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Driveway Overlay

An overlay is a tarmac layer applied over a pre-existing driveway, generally a worn-out tarmac driveway that may be structurally solid. Still, it 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 before 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 £45£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-colored tarmac

Anything lower than £40 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 several 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 meters 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 meters London and surrounding areas Home Counties (Buckinghamshire, Herts, Essex, Berkshire, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent and Sussex) Other regions of the UK
30 £1,800 £1,500 £750
50 £3,000 £2,500 £1,250
60 £3,500 £3,000 £1,500
100 £6,000 £5,000 £2,500
Tarmac Driveways cost per square meter (overlay)

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Additional costs to consider: 

Excavation: If excavation of the soil is required and not simply resurfacing, then expect to pay £15-£18 per square meter. 

Disposal: For the disposal of the soil, expect to pay from £55 – £110 per m3, depending on what option you will choose (4t Tipper Lorry,10t Grab Lorry,20t Grab Lorry, 30kg Rubble Sack and  2- 12 Yard Skip)

Geotextile membrane: Large sheets of the fabric provide extra ground stabilization, filtration, and drainage. The cost of the installation starts from  0.5 -1,5 per square meter. 

Sub-base: The sub-page provides strength and load-bearing capability. The cost depends on the material and the thickness. 

Material Depth  Cost Per m3
Crushed concrete 150 mm  £155
MOT Type 1 150 mm £148
Concrete (ready-mix) 150 mm £174 – £190
Concrete (mix on site) 150 mm £186

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 a new tarmac base (if 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 of 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 tarmac?

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 preserve the strength and effectiveness of a tarmac 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.

Tarmac driveways replacement is required if the current surface is in disrepair or the underlying gravel foundation exhibits deterioration. Getting rid of and replacing a tarmac 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 placing a brand new coating over the old layer to resurface the current surface.

For a quick overview of all tarmac paving costs, read what other homeowners are usually asking:

How much does it cost to replace a tarmac driveway?

The cost to replace a Tarmac driveway ranges between £120 and £380 per square meter. This option is cheaper than installing a brand new T driveway.

How much does it cost to have a tarmac driveway sealed?

Driveway sealant costs start at £22 per 5-Litre bucket. Prices can reach £42 per bucket. Each liter of sealant covers approximately 65 square feet.

What is the cost of one ton of tarmac?

One ton of Tarmac costs between £15 and £80 per tonne.

How much does it cost to resurface a tarmac driveway?

Resurfacing usually costs anywhere from £8 to £15  per square meter. The price varies depending on factors such as your geographic location, local competition, the season, and the condition of your driveway. So the cost to resurface a 30 square foot driveway would be anywhere from £2,400 to £4,500.

Tarmac Driveway Removal Cost

Removing the old tarmac driveway requires breaking it up, load it on a truck, and dispose of all the debris. The cost of loading the removed asphalt/tarmac on a truck comes around £400 per m3. There is also the cost to remove the existing base and debris, which comes to around £220 per m3. 

If excavation is required, there is a significant difference in the cost, depending on whether it is done by hand or machine. The cost will increase even more if you need to uproot and dispose of grass, plants, and trees. Expect to pay from 161 per m3 for a mini excavator to £280 per m3 for a 5-tonne excavator breaker. Excavating by hand will cost from £120 per m3. 

How long does it take to tarmac a drive?

tarmac_driveway_cost_ukRequirements: The time needed to excavate an area and then lay a tarmac driveway depends mostly on the shape, size of the driveway, drainage, and edging.

Trees, shrubs & tree roots: If there are any trees, shrubs, or tree roots, this makes the job more difficult, so it will take more time to complete.

Weather conditions: Rainy and snow weather can also affect the time needed, as it makes it difficult for contractors to lay the tarmac, especially when it is pouring.

Several workers: 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 30 square meter (m2) rectangular driveway should take a couple of days. In the first two days, the contractor will work on excavating, installing sub-base, edgings, and drainage, and on the third day, on tarmacking and completing the job.

    • Quick solution

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

Cost of tarmac vs. concrete driveways

Cost is an important consideration when installing a driveway in your home. Of course, there are many pros and cons when choosing between concrete or tarmac, and we will go over these next, but in cost terms, a tarmac driveway is a much better value for money. In general terms, a tarmac driveway costs between £55 per square meter whilst a concrete driveway cost £85 per m2.

Tarmac vs. concrete driveways

Tarmac and concrete are the two most commonly found driveway materials, and apart from cost, there are other important factors to consider above and beyond cost.

Firstly, regarding ease of repair, resurfacing, and general maintenance, tarmac driveways are far superior to concrete. Weathering is another important consideration: Clearing ice or snow from a tarmacadam driveway is much easier than from a concrete one.

Tarmac will not crack during the winter, whilst this is a known risk with concrete.

Tarmac driveways are much faster to install, too – once the tarmac has been poured, it will cool and harden in between 5-8 hours, whilst concrete takes several days to cure.

    • However, concrete driveways also have their good points.

Concrete is incredibly durable and can easily last over 40 years; compared to this; tarmac will probably need replacing at around 20-30 years.

Concrete driveways do not need to be sealed, which means that concrete ultimately costs you less over the course of its lifetime.

You can also choose from various driveway designs if you choose concrete.

Cost of tarmac vs. block paving

Tarmacadam driveways cost less than block paving driveways. The cost of a paved driveway is higher mainly because of the cost of the pavers and the time it takes to install. On average block-paved driveways are 8%-10% more expensive than tarmac driveways.

Tarmac paving cost factors

Costs are always a key factor, and the size of your driveway and how much labor is needed to install it will drive the price of your new tarmac drive. Other factors can also cause costs to increase.

Driveway size: Tarmac is charged for by the square foot. Therefore the larger your driveway is, the more it will cost, simply because of the amount of tarmac it will need—the smaller the driveway, the lower the cost.

Initial installation: If this is the first time a driveway has been installed, the ground will need some preparation, adding to the timeline and the costs. Laying tarmac over an existing tarmac drive will lessen cost.

Permits: Be aware that you may need to apply for permits from your local authority. Things like excavations, removing trees, and so on. You should check your local rules beforehand as these can affect the cost of your project.

Drainage: There will need to be proper drainage. If this is not already in place, it could add up to £1000 to the cost of your tarmac drive.

Coats: You can choose to add as many coats of tarmac as you want to; although this will add to the cost, you can also choose colored topcoats and even stamped ones to make your driveway more original.

Labor costs: Local contractors often have different rates, so it is worthwhile shopping around. Be aware that more experienced contractors will charge more than those who travel from outside your area. It is important to remember to offset considerations of costs with considerations of quality.

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 website 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 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 understand the quality of the services offered.

Before Hiring an Asphalt Driveway Contractor

Before hiring any asphalt/tarmac driveway contractor, always pay attention to the following elements to get the best possible results and keep peace of mind.

  1. Members of the Better Business Bureau
  2. I have been in business for a while
  3. Offer a warranty
  4. Please have a portfolio of projects they have previously worked on.
  5. Use computer-generated 3D images, plan views, or photo-realistic design images to allow you to understand the final result.
  6. Have employees, not subcontractors
  7. Fully insured and bonded

Do I need planning permission to lay a tarmac driveway?

Driveways are often laid with hard materials such as traditional tarmac. Tarmac is non-porous and increases surface run-off of water, leading to the overflowing of drains and sewerage systems and causing localized flooding in urbanized areas. This flooding causes millions of pounds of property damage, and the government is keen to stop it. 

Planning legislation came into force in 2008 after some terrible flooding to try and tackle this problem. The legislation now states that planning permission is required for laying non-permeable driveway surfaces. Planning permission is also required for driveways if hard materials are being replaced with other hard materials. Planning permission is not required for non-porous driveways that do not exceed five meters squared.

How to maintain tarmac driveway

Constant ground shifting can cause cracks in driveways and sidewalks. A regular maintenance program is important to keep them in top shape.  Although tarmac driveways can withstand much of the abuse dealt them by the weather, they tend to develop cracks and pits over time that need to be repaired to ensure a long life for the driveway.

 A basic maintenance program for tarmacadam driveways involves the annual application of a blacktop sealer to protect the driveway against the sun, ram, and snow. The waterproof sealer comes in premixed 19L pails. The contents of one will cover from 20 to 40 sq m (200 to 400sq ft) depending on the thickness of the application.

Tarmac Driveway Design & Inspiration Ideas

If you struggle to find inspiration for your new tarmac driveway, we sourced several great images from the web to make it easier for you!

Tarmac Driveway Ideas

Tarmac Driveway Designs

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I resurface a tarmac driveway?

If the surface is damaged, then this is not a good solution at all. Instead, it is advisable to remove the top layer of 6mm topping and lay a new 6mm topping, as this way, the new layer will bond to the surface course.

Should I lay tarmac over an active driveway?

If you have a paved or concrete driveway at present, then the answer to the question is NO, as these materials may move/shift/split, and this will become visible on the tarmac’s surface – cracks/plunges may show up.

However, there are a few cases when you can apply a new layer of tarmac without laying another base first. Still, you will need to request your professional assess your current driveway first and give you recommendations on the choices available to you.

How long should tarmac cure before driving on?

You can walk on the tarmac driveway a few hours after. However, it is advisable to wait 7 days before you dive on. Furthermore, you should avoid driving near or across the edges of the driveway and also make sure you stay away from wheel spinning and sliding in the driveway as this may raise/misshape the tarmac.

Would you advise repairing a damaged driveway if the damage is not very severe?

Yes. However, it won’t look very nice; it will be evident that the driveway has been repaired.

How can I prevent weeds from developing through the driveway?

Placing a layer of hindrance membrane under the driveway when a new base is fixed; enables water to go through. However, it helps keep the weeds out. Seeds may, at present, sink into any little holes in the tarmac surface, so treat the driveway once per year with a powerful weed killer.

Will oil/diesel spoil the tarmac?

Yes. Oil and diesel may weaken the tarmac as they both work as a solvent. Always tidy up any oil drops as soon as they occur. Crunched-up cat litter can drench up extreme diesel/oil, and cleansers can disintegrate them. , always remember not to leave it on the tarmac for too long.