how much does it cost to tarmac a driveway

How Much Does It Cost To Tarmac A Driveway?

If you are looking for a cost effective, durable and weather resistant driveway, tarmac is a great option to consider. If its good enough for the road, it’s certainly good enough for your driveway.

To help you understand the cost to tarmac a drive, within this article, we discuss all the factors that add to the overall cost as well as anything else you need to know.

Fact: Tarmac is considered a sustainable material because it's made from natural resources such as gravel and bitumen.

Why Use Tarmac As A Surface For Your Driveway?

Tarmac is one of the most popular surface options for driveways for a number of reasons. The first and often the most popular reason is due to it being cost-effective. For example, the cost of a resin driveway can often be twice as much and apart from the aesthetics, their benefits are quite similar.

Other reasons why you may tarmac a drive include the ease of laying it and of course its durability. Tarmac can handle heavy traffic and extreme weather conditions (just like it can on the road). With regards to maintenance, tarmac driveways don’t require much upkeep, which is another popular reason for those that simply don’t want to be dealing with weeds or other issues that may arise.

Are There Any Issues With Using Tarmac?

Just like with other driveway solutions, tarmac also has some drawbacks. The most common reason why people don’t want a tarmac driveway is because there are limited design options. For example, tarmac is usually only available with a black or dark grey appearance but you can opt to change the colour at an additional cost. However, instead of changing the colour, we would recommend that you consider some of the modern tarmac design ideas that we discuss below.

How Much Does It Cost To Tarmac A Driveway?

On average, the cost to tarmac a drive is between £60 to £80 per square metre and this includes the cost of materials, labour and preparation work.

Due to the fact that tarmac driveways require edging, if you opt for a more decorative type of edging (highly recommended), this can cost an additional £10 to £20 per m2.

However, there are several factors that may add to the cost such as the size of the driveway, complexity, additional features (i.e. landscaping or drainage) and the amount of preparation work that’s required (i.e. removal of the existing driveway surface).

Therefore, taking into account the cost of a tarmac driveway per square meter, you can approximate the cost for standard sized driveways as shown in the table below:

Type Small, One Car, 11.5m² Small, Two Cars, 25m² Average, 50m² Large, 100m²
Tarmac £690 – £920 £1,500 – £2,000 £3,000 – £4,000 £6,000 – £8,000
Tarmac With Edging £805 – £1,150 £1,750 – £2,500 £3,500 – £5,000 £7.000 – £10,000

*Edging would be in the form of a decorating concrete/block paving

Factors That Impact The Cost To Tarmac A Drive

1. Size

The size of the driveway is one of the biggest factors that’ll impact the cost because a larger driveway requires more materials and labour, which results in a higher cost.

2. Preparation Work

Preparing the driveway is often the most time-consuming and costly part of installing a tarmac driveway. Therefore, if the driveway needs extensive excavation works and removal of debris, it all adds to the total cost (i.e. hiring skips for the removal).

3. Materials

The cost of the tarmac material itself will also be a factor and although it’s cheaper than block paving and resin, there is still a cost involved that differs depending on the amount, type and quality.

4. Labour

The cost of labour varies depending on the size and complexity of the driveway. On top of this, the location also impacts labour costs because certain areas in the UK cost more for contractors i.e. Central London compared to more rural areas.

5. Additional Features

Additional features such as decorative edging, drainage and landscaping all increase the cost to tarmac a drive. Although these are not essential costs, we would recommend factoring the extra features in because they can make a big difference to the overall look and feel of the driveway.

How To Tarmac A Drive

To give you an idea of why it costs what it does to tarmac a drive, below are the steps that are involved in the installation:

Initial Preparation

This includes removing any existing surface material and clearing the area of any debris such as rocks, grass or other vegetation. The surface should also be levelled and compacted to ensure a stable base for the new tarmac.


Depending on the condition of the existing surface, excavation may be required to remove any sub-standard material and to create a stable base. The depth of excavation will depend on the condition of the existing surface but it should be at least 150mm deep.

Installation of a Base

Once the surface has been prepared, a base layer of crushed stone or Type 1 aggregate is installed to provide a stable foundation for the tarmac. The base should be compacted and levelled to ensure a smooth surface.

Installation of a Sub-Base

A sub-base layer of Type 2 aggregate is installed on top of the base. This is used to further improve the drainage and ensure a stable base for the tarmac.

Installation of Edging

To create a clean edge and prevent the tarmac from spreading onto other areas, an edging is installed. This can be made from bricks, concrete or plastic but most modern tarmac driveways opt for a decorative block paving design.

Application of a Tack Coat

Before the tarmac is applied, a tack coat of bitumen emulsion is sprayed on the surface to help the new tarmac adhere to the base. The tack coat should be allowed to dry for at least an hour before the tarmac is applied.

Laying The Tarmac

The tarmac is then applied in a hot and liquid form using a specialized machine called an asphalt paver. The tarmac should be spread evenly and compacted to create a smooth surface (as shown in the image below).

tarmac driveway cost

Finishing The Surface

Once the tarmac has been applied and compacted, it should be finished using a roller. The roller is used to create a smooth and even surface with a consistent texture.

Curing Process

The tarmac should be allowed to cure for at least 24-48 hours before any traffic or heavy loads are placed on it. It’s important to avoid any water or heavy rain on the surface during the curing process.

Time To Clean Up

After the tarmac has cured, the work area should be cleaned up, which involves removing any debris or excess material. The new tarmac driveway can then be inspected for any imperfections or issues that need to be addressed.

Modern Tarmac Driveway Ideas

As your driveway gives visitors a first impression of your house, it’s important that you make it look as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

Although it’s possible to simply lay tarmac in front of your house, below are some modern tarmac driveway ideas that can be easily incorporated into any driveway:

  1. Add a decorative border around the edges of the driveway, which can be done using a contrasting colour or a different type of paving material such as brick or cobblestone. This is a great way to benefit from the aesthetics of a block paving driveway if you are struggling to choose between the two types of surfaces.
  2. Lay the tarmac in a circular or curving design, which looks visually interesting and provides a sense of movement to the driveway.
  3. Create a driveway with a two-tone colour scheme, which can be achieved using two different shades of tarmac or by incorporating a different type of paving material.
  4. Enhance the driveway with the addition of landscaping elements such as trees, shrubs or flowers along the edges of the driveway. This can create a welcoming and inviting entrance to your home.
  5. Incorporating lighting into the design is a great way to add a sense of drama and elegance to the space. This can be done by adding solar-powered lights along the edges of the driveway or by installing in-ground lighting fixtures.

Below is a great example of a modern tarmac driveway that we had recently installed at one of our rental properties. We incorporated both block paving edging and plenty of landscaping elements to make the driveway far more aesthetically pleasing.

tarmac driveway cost calculator

How Long Does It Take To Tarmac A Drive

The time it takes to tarmac a drive can vary depending on the size and complexity as well as the experience and skill of the contractor.

For a standard driveway, it can take anywhere from one to two days for the installation and this includes the preparation, laying and final clean-up.

The actual tarmac application process can take several hours to a full day depending on the size of the driveway and the thickness of the tarmac layer.

It’s also important to note that the weather can delay the process because it’s not advisable to lay tarmac in wet or freezing conditions.

Other factors that may increase the time it takes to tarmac a driveway include the installation of a dropped kerb, edges and any other additional work.

Therefore, if there is any additional work, you may want to add another day to the total time to tarmac a driveway.

cost of tarmac driveway


Hopefully our guide regarding the cost to tarmac a drive has answered all your questions. However, if you require further information, feel free to get in touch and we will try to help out where possible.

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